Cleaning & Organizing
13 Creepy Things Found in People’s Basements
There’s something about the basement that makes everything in it just a little bit disturbing—and that’s BEFORE you stumble upon something legitimately creepy, like these things…
A cherished (?) pet
Lorne Caplan, who provides free home clean-out services (with an emphasis on hoarders!) in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, has seen some downright disturbing things since founding Free Home Cleanup. For example, while cleaning out the basement workroom of an 1800s-era farmhouse in Hartsdale, New York, Caplan was surprised to discover a canister that contained the ashes of a deceased family pet—amid cans of paint, stain, and spackle. Find out 12 of the craziest things ever found during home inspections.
Their cups runneth over
When Caplan agreed to clean out the basement apartment of an old three-story apartment building in a neighborhood that, well, let’ just say it’s seen better times, he was happy to see that it was in fairly pristine condition. In other words, there was little garbage—or excrement—littering the floors, and you could actually see out the windows (often, the windows of a hoarder home will be completely blocked by “stuff” the homeowner has been collecting). That all changed when he opened the cupboards and discovered teacups filled with dead roaches. Don’t miss these things your exterminator won’t tell you.
Box o’ teeth
One time Caplan was cleaning out a home in New Jersey. The resident was an elderly woman whose husband had passed away. In the basement, among other cardboard boxes, Caplan found a cardboard box that rattled around quite a bit before he opened it. What did it contain? Dentures. Lots and lots of dentures, bridges, and even loose teeth. The strangest thing was: neither the woman nor her late husband were dentists.
In the home of an elderly man who had passed away, Caplan came upon boxes and boxes of photos, each one older than the next. In the oldest box by far, Caplan found a stack of glass negatives which, by definition, would have dated back to Victorian times. In fact, one of those photos appeared to be a Victorian Death Photo (during the Victorian era, a photo taken of a loved one after death… something to remember him or her by), but it later turned out to be “merely” a deathbed photo.
Bear with us
“I once opened the door to a utility room and came face-to-face with a bear,” says Welmoed Sisson, ACI, a licensed home inspector and one half of a husband-and-wife team of home inspectors. Luckily, it turned out to be nothing more than a bear… rug. But, as Sisson says, “It scared the bejeezus out of me!” Don’t miss the weirdest things found in storage units.
Termite be something you want to tell us about your house…
“Another time, we were inspecting a multi-million dollar home only to find the basement framing was riddled with termites,” Sisson recalls. “They were wriggling by the thousands.”
When your electrical panel makes a hissing noise
Beck Polder Photography/Shutterstock
Imagine opening up an electrical panel and finding a snake—a live black rat snake. That actually happened to Welmoed’s husband, Bob, who managed to extricate it and set it free in the backyard.
Jacquie Denny and Brian Graves, co-founders of Everything But The House (EBTH), a one-stop-shop for downsizing, decluttering, relocating, and taking care of the estates of loved ones, have seen a lot of strange things in the course of doing their jobs. For example, one time they found a speakeasy-esque prohibition-era bar that was hiding behind a staircase. On the other hand, there was the time they found a pair of skeletons. Jacquie later learned the bones dated back to World War II. How they came to be in the basement remains a mystery. Here are 13 more hidden rooms and secret passageways you’ll wish were in your house.
The EBTH duo once found an airplane in the basement of a condo. Not a model. A literal, actual airplane. It had to be completely disassembled to remove it. Turned out to be a Cessna. Now the question is: How on earth did it get there?
Jeff Miller, co-founder of AE Home Group, a team of local Maryland real estate agents who help buyers and sellers navigate the Baltimore real estate market tells Reader’s Digest of the time he entered the basement of a house only to find it filled with snakes and lizards. Luckily, they were all in aquariums, but still, getting them out of there was a memorable experience. “The gentleman from Animal Control arrived in an old beat up RAV4 and had completely forgotten his equipment. I then proceeded to watch him chase a snapping turtle around its glass enclosure while wearing no protection except a pair of oven mitts I gave him.” Find out more creepy things that have been found in people’s homes.
Better dead than… rubbing against your leg
Home organizer, Ben Soreff, has found more dead bats, rats, and snakes in basements than he’d care to recall. “Sometimes we’ll find mice that have been decomposing for so long, they’re nothing but a puff of fur.” Still, he says, “the dead animals aren’t as scary as the live ones… like when some mystery animal rushes past your leg and you don’t know what it was or where it went.”
Quit clowning around
“We often find water damage that has gone unnoticed or un-dealt with for years,” Soreff tells Reader’s Digest. “But there’s nothing like walking into a dark space and seeing a creepy clown face staring back at you.” Soreff is, of course, referring to handmade clowns, the kind kids make in school, and parents stow far, far away…
A big fish tail/tale
Rebecca Haidt, a homeowner from Ohio, tells Reader’s Digest that the previous owner of her home had been a “sportsman” who left behind a collection of mounted fish heads sticking out from wood wall plaques the way that deer heads are mounted on plaques. “There must have been ten of them,” Haidt says. “Everything else was cleaned out from the basement except those heads. We liked to imagine that the sportsman’s widow had been hating those fish heads for decades and that it gave her immense satisfaction to just leave them all behind when they finally moved.” Next, read on for the 14 craziest things plumbers have ever found in pipes.