From creaking to whistling — five spooky sounds that mean your home needs repairs

From creaking to whistling — five spooky sounds that mean your home needs repairs

10/31/2020

THE Consumer Crew are here to solve your problems.

Mel Hunter will take on readers’ consumer issues, Jane Hamilton will give you the best advice for buying your dream home, and Judge Rinder will tackle your legal woes.

Jane Hamilton, Property expert

THINGS that go bump in the night give many folk the creeps. Two in five of us believe in haunted houses, a new poll reveals.

But tradesman Andy Simms, from mybuilder.com, knows noises are much more likely to be household repairs that need sorting.

He says: “Every spooky sound has a common explanation so before calling an exorcist, find a great tradesperson instead.”

Here’s five to look out for and how to fix them . . . 

WHISTLING: Gaps in your windows, either in the frame or the seal, can let air in and cause a high-pitched whistle when it’s windy.

A glazier or window fitter can make sure your windows are airtight, which will also help insulate your home and save money on heating bills.

CREAKING: This may be your stairs or floorboards. Changing temperatures can expand and contract wood, causing creaks and groans.

To fix, access the wood’s underside and replace loose fixing blocks or install extra ones, with wood glue and screws to make sure the treads and risers are secure.

If you cannot get under the wood, use thin metal brackets to make the joins better sealed.

GURGLES: If air gets drawn into your heating system, the air bubbles can travel through your pipes and radiators, causing strange noises as they go.

Bleed your radiators, starting at the top of your home and working down – you can do this yourself with a radiator key.

Make sure a Gas Safe engineer services your boiler once a year, too.

BANGING: If you hear a strange banging, rattling or vibration outside, that’s a sign something is wrong with your guttering.

Get a specialist to check the brackets and pipes.

SCRATCHING IN WALLS: Usually a sign of mice.

They are unhygienic so call in the pest controllers and fix up your house to stop reinfestation.

A carpenter can sort out skirting boards.

  • See more at mybuilder.com/blog/ghosts-or-guttering.

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It’s on for offers over £190,000 at onthemarket.com/details/9426940/.

Spooky streets

STREETS with Halloween-related names do not put off homebuyers.

In fact, quite the opposite, a study found.

Properties in roads with names containing the word “spook” sold for on average £475,000 – 47 per cent above the national average – while the words “dead”, “grave” and “night” also hiked up values.

Marc von Grundherr, of estate agent Benham and Reeves, which carried out the survey, said: “It would seem we’re not that squeamish about road names. ”

Deal of the week

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Judge Rinder, legal expert

Q) WE booked a cruise for September 2020 back in 2019, and paid a deposit of £526.

Obviously, it was cancelled – which I was notified about in April.

I have been exchanging emails with the cruise company and they have informed me my refund will be paid in January 2021.

I have told them this is simply not good enough.

What can I do to speed up this payment?

I am a senior citizen and can’t afford to be without this money.

Ken, Wiltshire

A) As soon as the cruise company agreed to return your deposit, they were legally required to get the money back to you within a reasonable period of time, which should certainly have been no longer than 28 days.

There is no legal justification for this company keeping your money until January 2021.

The problem is, your legal remedy would ordinarily be to take this company to the small claims court, which could take some time.

This case would be unlikely to be dealt with before January, which I suspect the cruise firm knows.

Your best option, therefore, is to email the head of customer affairs and demand a refund within seven days.

If this does not happen, I would urge you to publicise the firm’s unlawful behaviour.

Licence snag

Q) MY daughter was in a terrible car accident in 2016 and suffered a brain injury.

She had extensive rehab and made a remarkable recovery.

For the past two years we have been trying to get her driving licence back, with no success.

Her GP wrote a letter stating there is no physical or cognitive reason for her not to be able to drive.

Her eyes are fine, too. Susan, Essex

A) As you know, she had to notify the DVLA of her head injury.

But as soon as she had medical evidence her capacity to drive was no longer impaired, she should have been able to reapply for her licence to be returned to her, by filling out the DVLA’s D1 form.

Given the GP’s view, I’d suggest she email and phone the DVLA, making clear she requires a written justification for its refusal to return her licence.

If it refuses, or ignores her, she might have to take further action.

Citizens Advice, and her local MP, are useful ports of call in this situation.

Q) I WAS an agency worker subcontracted to a manufacturing company from August 2019 to January 2020.

Unfortunately, I broke my leg, so I phoned the agency to let them know and asked them to pass details to the company.

I also asked them to get the company to place my personal equipment, which had a value of around £1,000, in storage until I could go back to work to collect it.

In early June, I went to pick up my equipment but found someone had broken into my locker and taken parts of my equipment and fitted it to theirs.

I raised this with the boss but he said I could not take anything until I could prove it was mine.

I showed him receipts but he said he would not accept this.

Then I phoned the police but they said this was a civil matter.

I have since written to and repeatedly called the boss but he is ignoring all my communications.

What should I do about getting my equipment back?

Terry, Tyneside

A) The manufacturer is legally required to return your personal equipment or, in the event it has been lost or thrown away, to compensate you.

As you are able to prove you left these things at the premises owned by this company, it is up to the firm to prove it took good care of them, or if they had wanted to get rid of your stuff, to have given you and your agent adequate notice so you could make arrangements for their collection.

Send a final letter making clear that, unless      your equipment is returned – or you are properly compensated – you will be taking court action against the company.

If that doesn’t work, you will have to initiate proceedings in the small claims court.

Mel Hunter, Reader's champion

Q) I BOOKED four Virgin Atlantic flights to Orlando in Florida, flying in April, for myself, my husband, my brother and his wife.

The trip was to visit our brother, who lives there, but it was cancelled because of Covid-19.

I have exchanged messages with Virgin countless times, trying to get my money back.

For some reason, it has refunded me for only one flight when, in fact, all four flights were booked and paid for together.

I am stressed beyond belief. Joan Blackledge, Carrickfergus, Co Antrim

A) You had been waiting nearly five months for your £1,000-plus refund when you contacted me – a month longer than the already unacceptable 120 days maximum that Virgin had said it was working to at that point.

I asked the travel firm for an update on your case and was told there had been “an error in processing” and that the full refund would now be returned to you.

I’m pleased to say the money was back in your account a week later.

The Competition & Markets Authority has recently blasted Virgin Holidays for the time it has taken to refund customers – and rightly so.

It now has a commitment from the company to pay back customers.

Yesterday was the deadline for refunding those who had holidays cancelled before September, while customers with holidays cancelled in September or October will be repaid by November 20.

A spokesman for Virgin Holidays told me that from November 1 it aims to refund customers within 14 days.

It is not the only travel company leaving customers desperate.

I still get piles of letters from readers who haven’t yet got their money back from cancelled spring trips – with a handful of firms’ names coming up again and again.

Loveholidays and Iglu are among those that have been looking into readers’ outstanding refunds for me.

Q) THIS time last year I took out a contract with Scottish Power – but at the end of January I decided to change to another supplier.

I am £266 in credit with Scottish Power and have requested this back as a refund.

It agreed and said the cheque would be with me in around two weeks.

I did get a cheque but for £20, which it said was a “goodwill gesture”.

I am still waiting for the full refund. I contact Scottish Power at least twice a month and its response each time is: “The cheque is in the post.”

This has been going on for eight months and is causing me great distress.

Gray Pickering, Leicester

A) Scottish Power had left you in the dark.

I injected urgency into the situation and finally got your cheque in the post – for real.

It remains a mystery why it took so long.

A spokesman said: “We’re very sorry for the delays Mr Pickering experienced and the distress the situation caused.

"We have issued a cheque for the credit owed, as well as a further £100 by way of an apology.”

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