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Why Are Basements Scary?

Why Are Basements Scary?

We have all seen or heard of scary movies that have a basement scene.

But fictional stories are based in reality, and basements can actually be quite scary! But why are basements scary?

Basements are scary for many people because they often have poor lighting, which causes shadows to appear. Basements are not well ventilated either, so the stale air and building odors can unnerve someone.

There could be a gas leak causing headache, and basements will have cracks, mold, and rodents running around.

If someone is too scared to go down into the basements alone, we completely understand why they would feel that way.

But with a little love and care and the right contractor, the basement can be a great place to be.

As long as you remove the creepy vibe, it can be a storage room, office, or a second living room.

Why Are Basements Scary?

If I watch one more horror movie where the protagonist has to venture down into the dirty, flooded, cramped basement to find out their family is being haunted by a vengeful ghost, I’m going to block the entrance to my basement! Those scenes are so unnerving.

But I understand why horror movies have a basement scene. Unless the homeowner spends a lot of time improving the atmosphere of their basement, it can be a very scary place.

But what exactly creates the atmosphere of a scary basement? Even if they don’t believe in ghosts and demons, nobody feels comfortable going down into a basement.

What is it about a basement’s structure, vibe, and neglected care that creates a creepy environment?

Here are six reasons basements can be scary.

A Poorly Made Staircase

What is it about a basement that makes the contractor throw away all of his or her aesthetic sense and build the creakiest staircase they possibly could without violating the building code?

The last thing a homeowner wants is to have a poorly made staircase in their basement.

Basement staircases have sizeable gaps in them, which often happens so the contractors can save on materials.

But if you have to run up the staircase, you can catch your foot in a gap and fall down the stairs.

Scary basement hall

Strange Noises

All houses make noise, especially when there is a lot of environmental activity going on.

In the springtime, homes creak and groan because hot hair and cold surfaces come into contact with one another.

If there is wind or rain, the house will creak and moan too.  

Contractors often place major appliances in basements as well, like the electrical fusebox, water heating equipment, and the washer and dryer.

These machines often randomly make noise when in use.

Also, basements are large and empty, so it will have an echo if there are not enough boxes or furniture to stifle the sound.

Being Scared of the Dark

For a very long time, evolution has trained our brains to be on the constant lookout for shadows, moving objects, figures in the corner of our eye, or anything else that could be dangerous.

Humans also have a natural fear of the dark. We do not have eyesight suited to dark environments, so our general sense of danger goes up when the sun goes down.

When you are in the basement, you may feel like there is always something behind you.

This feeling of danger will increase even more if the lighting in the basement is poor or flickers on and off.

We are also on the lookout for bugs and rodents, which are around our feet.

People Feel Anxious or Nauseous

Anxiety or nausea are definite signs that there’s something wrong with your basement. But it’s not a specter coming to take your souls.

Physical responses, especially nausea, can be a sign that gas is leaking somewhere in the basement.

If the basement has no ventilation, like a window or a cellar door, then there could be a lot of gas building up in the basement.

The most common gas that builds up in the basement is natural gas.

It could also be possible that the gas line that is connected to your stove is leaking into the basement as well.

However, the gas in a gas line has a chemical smell added to that gas so humans can detect it.

Without that smell, the gas would be completely undetectable.

How to Improve a Scary Basement

You may have to contact the contractor to install more lighting or improve the staircase, but improving the atmosphere of your basement should help end your fear of the dark.

Plus, ghosts will not be able to haunt the basement because the family who lives in the house will be having too much fun!

Basement stairs

Improve or Add Lighting

For such a big room with no windows or doors, it is odd that basements have only a single light in the middle of the room.

By installing electrical outlets around the basement, you can add more lights to the walls and ceiling.

Keep the Basement Clean and Tidy

Dust and other allergens can settle on all the surfaces in a basement.

Organize all the boxes and place them against the wall.

At least twice a month, take a cloth and wipe away the dust and cobwebs that have gathered on the furniture or boxes.

Mold can also cause terrible suffocating smells.

Getting rid of mold is not as easy as getting rid of dirt or stains. Since mold is a living organism, it can survive against strong cleaning products and grow back.

Plus, if you don’t take the proper precautions, you could end up breathing in dangerous toxins when you are scraping the mold off of the walls and floor.

Add a Natural Gas Detector

Forget about ghosts and evil spirits; a natural gas leak can not only poison a person if they stay in the basement too long.

And natural gas buildup is also dangerous because gas can explode.

With just a single flick of a flame, a house will explode and everyone inside the house will die.

A natural gas detector can save the lives of everyone in the house.

Improve Ventilation

Without proper ventilation, gross and nauseating smells can build up in the basement.

Even if there is no mold or leaks, stale air can make the skin and hair feel brittle and choke a person.

If your basement has a lot of humidity, invest in an effective dehumidifier to remove the moisture from the air.

Most contractors do not install air conditioning vents in the basement, so buy a powerful oscillating fan and keep it in the basement.

If you have the money, ask a contractor to install two or three windows.

Motion sensor

Purchase a Motion Sensor

Cellar or basement doors are great to have in an emergency, but the doors can also be a way for intruders to access the main house.

Treat the cellar door like any other door and have it attached to a sensor or an alarm system.

If your cellar or basement does not have a door but it has a window, place a sensor on the window too.

If the burglar is skinny or limber enough, they can slide through the window and hide in the basement.

Without an alarm or sensor, you will not know that there is someone inside your house.

Homes with basements that are not attached to the main house should also have a motion sensor or alarm on the door.

The invader in the basement will not have access to the house, but they will still be on your property without permission.

There are many stories of homeless people living inside cellars and basements without the homeowner’s knowledge.

Conclusion to Basements Being Scary

If you have a scary basement, there are a number of ways to improve the overall feel of the basement and turn it into an extra room.

Improve the lighting by adding more lights. Exterminate any bug or rodent infestations. Also, increase security by adding motion sensors, and install a natural gas detector.

Remove any mold, dust, allergens, smells, debris, and dirt from the space. If you can, hire a contractor to install a better staircase and have them patch any cracks or expose areas that allow water, bugs, and rodents inside.

Lindsay Reed

Hi, I'm the founder of! I created this website to be a resource for everyone who wants to make the best home possible.