Welcome! Here are the website rules, as well as some tips for using this forum.
Need to contact us? Visit https://heatinghelp.com/contact-us/.
Click here to Find a Contractor in your area.

Scariest job?

Erin Holohan Haskell
Erin Holohan Haskell Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 1,865
In the spirit of Halloween, let's tell some spooky stories. What's the scariest job you've ever worked on?



    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 12,023
    Just last week.

    Had to crawl into a dirt crawl space to replace some 1 1/2" condensate returns. The building is about 100 years old.

    The old pipe was insulated and then wrapped with roofing tar paper held on with tie wire.

    The dirt in the crawl space was about 1' below the bottom of the floor joists. Where the pipe was run they had dug trenches so basically you crawled in a trench on top of the pipe you had to replace. The trench was wide enough to crawl in but not turn around so you had to back your way out.

    I didn't like it one bit, stirring up dust, crawling through cobwebs did wonders for my allergies. Climbing over old 3/4" brass threaded water lines, BX and romex cable, brick, broken up cement, broken light bulbs and all the old pipe somebody ripped out and left behind was exhausting.

    We were about 50' in to where the leak was and with my allergies etc. I had the sense of a panic/claustrofobic attack..

    Had to get out.

    We found out that in the leak area the floor had previously been torn up to get better access to the crawl space.

    So we tore up the floor again.

    This helped a lot. Got some air flow with some fans, access for tools without dragging them 50 feet into the crawl space and also pipe and fittings.

    My helper (30 yrs younger) had to do most of this one. I crawled in their again and cut out some old pipe, got turned around and wedged in there....couldn't figure out how to get back out. LOL but not funny!!

    Replaced 40' of 1 1/2". It got done real fast with megapress. No room to turn wrenches in there. Someone had done the original repair with copper sweat. NO WAY was I lighting a torch down their.

    Definitely a confined space....unsafe.

    If we couldn't have pulled up the floor.....then they could get someone else to do it.

    As it was it was bad enough.

    Hopefully retired before the rest of it springs a leak!!!!!
  • Rich_49
    Rich_49 Member Posts: 2,692
    edited October 2017
    Early / mid 80's . Re plumbing creepy old house basement in Asbury Park , NJ after an extensive destruction of the property by NJSP . The home was occupied by John (Dherran) Fitzgerald and Richard Biegenwald prior to and at the time of their apprehension .


    Creepy , stinky , cold all around very bad feeling
    You didn't get what you didn't pay for and it will never be what you thought it would .
    Langans Plumbing & Heating LLC
    Serving most of New Jersey, Eastern Pa .
    Consultation, Design & Installation anywhere
    Rich McGrath 732-581-3833
  • Erin Holohan Haskell
    Erin Holohan Haskell Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 1,865
    HVACNUT Member Posts: 4,596
    I can't get into specifics here, but when I was a puppy, we did a big HVAC job at a psych center in Montrose NY. I laugh now thinking about it, but at the time I dreaded the place. Never been more scared before or since with the things that went on there.
  • Paul S_3
    Paul S_3 Member Posts: 1,257
    edited October 2017
    There's a church in Staten Island nyc called St Andrews church, it was built sometime in the 1600s. I still do oil burner service for them , the have a very old 2 pipe steam system. The church was actually on one of those ghost hunter shows I don't remember which one exactly. When servicing the oil burner your back is turned away from the boiler room door. There's a 40 foot hallway that leads to the door with about 10 unused rooms,for some reason all the rooms have no light and it's pitch black in the rooms.... the hall way light flickers constantly like in a horror movie.When servicing the burner you get a very bad feeling like someone is behind you. I was told that it's because of the large electrical panels and transformers near the boiler that give you that feeling of being watched. One night I was called for no heat, I arrived no one was on site. As I was working on the burner I heard a very loud howling noise as if it was a human and about three rooms down the hallway there was loud knocking , it was literally the scariest time in my life. I went around looking thinking it was an animal like a cat, but found nothing. To this day I try not go there by myself it's very creepy. I am convinced it was a haunting.
    ASM Mechanical Company
    Located in Staten Island NY
    Servicing all 5 boroughs of NYC.
    [email protected]
  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 15,989
    This is a great thread! I’m loving these tales. Thanks, guys.
    Retired and loving it.
    Paul S_3
  • RayWohlfarth
    RayWohlfarth Member Posts: 954
    When I was an apprentice, I worked for a major control company and was sent to check the controls in a psychiatric hospital. There were all sorts of rumors about the patients confined there. Many were hardened criminals and very, very dangerous. The complex had a maze of underground tunnels to connect all the buildings to each other. We were instructed to always lock the doors to the tunnels as a previous contractor was jumped by the patients and beaten severely. I was in the tunnel to check the controls. When I got to the air handler, the overhead light did not work and I had to calibrate the controls by holding my flashlight between my shoulder and head. As I was working on the controls, I heard a growl coming from the tunnel. I shined my flashlight and could not see anything. I thought my mind was playing tricks on me and went back to the controls when I heard it again. I whirled around and saw nothing. My heart was pounding and I just wanted to finish the service call and get out of there. It was then I felt a hand grab my leg and I screamed like a teething baby. My flashlight went flying in the air and hit the wall and broke. It was then I heard my boss laughing loudly and saw him holding his stomach as he switched on his flashlight. Well, you can imagine the words I wanted to call him. Instead, I started laughing. Place still scared me.
    Ray Wohlfarth
    Boiler Lessons
    Paul S_3RomanGK_26986764589Solid_Fuel_Manjamplumb
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 12,023
    @Paul S ,

    after today you will never have to worry about anyone stealing THAT service account from you!!
    Erin Holohan HaskellPaul S_3Solid_Fuel_Man
  • srd357
    srd357 Member Posts: 9
    I was working in an old Victorian, on a very hot summer day. After some time in the basement, sweating, the temperature dropped about 40 degrees, or at least it seemed, and the air was moving like being in a wind storm. I yelled out "I'm here only working on the oil burner. I mean no harm" The wind stopped and the temperature rose in an instant, back to normal. This was a hot water system with no central AC and I was the only one in the house. To this day, I truly believe it was a spirit.
  • Erin Holohan Haskell
    Erin Holohan Haskell Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 1,865
  • steamfitter
    steamfitter Member Posts: 156
    It's tough to single out just one job. I had many frightening situations on the job as a Steamfitter.

    As an apprentice, I worked in the basements of a 15 building housing project in Brooklyn. One day there was gunfire between a couple of teenagers around 8:00 in the morning. We did not turn around. Just looked at each other in amazement and continued to bring our tools to the tank room and work.
    On many occasions, cats would run along the covered piping in the dark basement and scare the hell out of us because the light bulb would cast a huge shadow of the cat on the wall. Not to mention you walk on a narrow concrete path down there. Everything else is dirt or sand which is graded up towards the walls making it easy for the cats to run around.

    On a different note, I have to say that working on a deck of a residential poured concrete building can be pretty scary.
    One day in 1989 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Times Square, NYC, a sudden wind started to peel back the wooden deck that was just installed, as approximately 50 workers on top of it scrambled for safety. Some made it down the straight ladders, but most, including myself grabbed onto to the crane for dear life. After a few very long "non-new york" minutes, we went down the ladder and found somewhere else to work for the day. After a quick visit to the bathroom, of course!
    I often wonder how that crane operator felt. He must have had nightmares about that day. The crane was literally swaying several feet back and forth.

    Construction in NYC moves at a really crazy pace. I could go on and on. Working on Rikers Island was my 1st job in the business. Not fun! But I could laugh about it all now.

    Great post idea Erin!
  • Erin Holohan Haskell
    Erin Holohan Haskell Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 1,865
    edited October 2017
    @steamfitter, like that cat, it sounds like you may have nine lives! Glad you're safe.
  • GW
    GW Member Posts: 4,544
    Back in my plumbing days I was in a basement checking out something (what exactly I was looking for--that memory has passed), when all of a sudden I heard this rather odd buzzing/humming sound. The problem with that? My ears and brain could not detect the direction it was coming from; it was all around me. Just like Linda Blair, my head spun so fast to find my point of egress, my head to shoulder connection may as well have been high grade sealed ball bearings.

    I concluded afterwards it may have been some bug infestation.

    I went upstairs to politely say I couldn't be of any help and the (bigger than me) bulky son of the woman that called me seemed miffed that I was going to leave without correcting the problem. I sweet talked my way out of the situation and drove home, a free man. From that day on I always took more merit in the very seldom occasions where my guys said, "something doesn't seem tight with this (customer/problem/ situation)".
    Gary Wilson
    Wilson Services, Inc
    Northampton, MA
    [email protected]
  • Jeff Perry_3
    Jeff Perry_3 Member Posts: 98
    Way back when I vaguely remember actually being young, my dad and I got a job to add a baseboard system to an old house. Now the owner, who we both knew fairly well, had previously told us stories of his and his wife's experiences while living there. They had seen visions of an apparition at the top of the stairs. And noises. But most interesting story is that they both had the same dream. In their dream they were viewing themselves from above sleeping when the apparition bent over the bed, woke them up and motioned for them to follow. She led them to the huge tree in the front yard, pointed to the ground at the base, and vanished. (No, they never dug there).
    So, both dad and I dismissed this and went about our job. They both worked so we were left the key to the back kitchen door. The front door, which took an old style skeleton key wouldn't open. They had no key. But they never bothered doing anything about it. Everyone that knew them knew to come to the kitchen.
    Dad and I would go to a room, move all the furniture away from the exterior walls, and proceed to mount the baseboard, stubbing into the basement. Our issues started while doing the living room. We had all the furniture in he middle of the room, including a small table with the phone on it. Since phones back then were corded we set it on the floor. We took a lunch break and when we came back the small table was back against the wall with the phone back on it. We heard the noises upstairs. We found the dumbwaiter in the kitchen either pulled upstairs with the kitchen hatch closed. The dumbwaiter downstairs with the hatch open. We mentioned all this to the owners, wondering if one of them was coming home for lunch while we were home doing the same. No, they said. This is just what living in this house was like.
    What finally got us was that we came back one day from lunch to find the front door wide open. The door the owners had no key for. The door the owners had never seen open since they owned the place. Even they said it was a strange step above their other experiences.
    This was all back when I was a teenager. I'm in my 60's and trust me, I believe.
    PS They sold the house several years later. The tree is still there and as far as I know no one has ever dug up the ground under it.
    I mean, would you?
    Jeff Perry
  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 15,989
    Perfect, Jeff. Perfect. Thanks, pal. Gosh.
    Retired and loving it.
  • Jackmartin
    Jackmartin Member Posts: 181
    edited October 2018
    I had a service call to a house that was on the market here in Winnipeg. The real estate people phoned because they had no heat in the house. Soooo, I go over, open the door with the keylock and went downstairs. The house is old 1905 and I do not think anyone has cleaned up since 1906. I noticed the whole basement was subdivided into little rooms. The rooms I supposed were bedrooms ,perhaps a large family lived in this small house? I was getting this creepy feeling and I just put it down to being alone in a old house in a squalid basement. They had a furnance I am sure was at least 50 years old it had a seperate pressure reducer.a blocking valve and the operator. Simple fix, the pilot thermocouple was shot changed it out and is my habit I never leave until the place I. am working at gets up to temperature. I thinks to myself,self, why don't we explore or as the old saying goes what you do not know will not hurt you. I take my flashlite and starting looking in the rooms dirty, some with pieces of broken furniture, nothing of much interest. Until I get to the last room, this room was the only one with a window and it had bars on the window, no big deal, lots of people have bars for security. It had an old bed and a ratty set of furniture the only piece still recognizable was an old set of drawers. I still had not learned my lesson, I open the thing and it is filled with newspaper clippings, old old clippings. I still did not get it, as luck would have it the realestate guy showed up and came downstairs to find me. He says immediately, does this place cteep you out like it does me? I said let me count the ways. He remarked on the thickness of the door to this room and he was correct it was a solid oak door, the type you use for an entry door to a house, we just commented on it absentmindly, until I spotted the feature of the door that made my blood run cold.The door had a commercial lock on it -- deadbolt--- and the bolt could only be opened from the outside. This hell hole had been a prision cell. The real estate guy said it was an estate sale and the old lady who owned the place had finally succumbed to nature. He also remarked ,the nieghbors would have preferred if the house was burnt down,instead of being sold. It seems the story was, one of her kids needed psychiatric help; but, being from the old country, whatever that means ,she did not believe in fancy doctors and the really old neighbors said ,one of her kids just diappeared one day,they thought he had finally gotten into a mental institution. Nope, the poor **** got a locked ward, only it was that filthy basement bedroom.
    Needless, to say, we looked at each other and raced each other up the stairs to the front yard. 30 below air never felt so good.
    All the best Jack
  • Gordy
    Gordy Member Posts: 9,514
    edited October 2018
    My previous residence had a rental home on same lot which started out as a detached garage for the primary home, then was later converted to a clinic, and lastly a rental home.

    I had three different tenants that did not know each other swear they would hear voices, and random sounds at night. The one family had a little girl named Carley, and a new born. Over the baby monitor they would hear can “Carley come out to play” when they told me I said that baby monitors can pick up other traffic if it happens to be same frequency. They said it was an elderly ladies voice at 2-3 am.......

    The other tenants said they would hear random sounds, and voices at early am hours.

    We lived there for a period of time while building a house. Before moving into this one, and having the tenants. My two daughters were 3, and 7 years old. The place was a bit of a maze being it used to be a clinic. My daughters would tell us how doors were opening, and closing on their own. Well at that age I was like okay, and laughed it off as imagination..

    I’m not one to believe in stuff like that, but the Carley incident kinda gave me chills.

    I know it’s not a job, but it is Halloween, and all true.
  • Gordy
    Gordy Member Posts: 9,514
    I will add this house down the same street on the river side built late 1800’s. Been a lot of people that have lived there for short durations.

  • 1Matthias
    1Matthias Member Posts: 148
    Well....I was working for a neighbor, helping move a radiator and the associated piping. To set the scene, this house is from the early 1900s, and it has a long and storied history. The previous owners had many, many encounters with whoever was still there, usually whenever they tried working on the house. The new owner is completely restoring the house, so that stirred up quite a bit of..stuff. Now, when I was there that day, at first there were the other contractors working on various projects. After a while, all the other contractors had left for lunch, and I was still working on the piping in the crawlspace under the house, trying to get everything pitched right. This crawlspace is about 2 feet high at maximum, and the space where the radiator pipe I needed to move was nestled in a small cave of water, sewer, and steam piping at the furthest place from either of the crawlspace entries, with enough room for me and a couple wrenches and nothing else. At some point, I realized I needed a couple tools that were outside, so I crawled out and went to the toolbox outside. Upon opening the door to go back in, I heard someone yell "CLOSE THE **** DOOR!", and at that point I decided I'd wait to go back into the crawlspace until after lunch was over, and everyone else was back..... A few weeks later, the other contractors left in the middle of the day, after they kept seeing..someone...at the bottom of the main steps. Working in this neighborhood is always an adventure.
  • Erin Holohan Haskell
    Erin Holohan Haskell Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 1,865
  • GroundUp
    GroundUp Member Posts: 1,406
    Not so much scary in terms of ghosts or anything, but creepy. Just about 2 months ago, I was changing out a handful of heat pumps in a facility in Minneapoils. This facility is developing a system for paraplegic folks to regain control of their legs using implanted robotics that operate off of the same brain waves that your nerves would, so that walking again may be a possibility. It was super interesting, BUT there were dozens of cadaver parts, from the waist down only, scattered about work stations that had their knees and ankles moving around at the demand of the computers they were connected to. It's awesome that they're working on this technology, but the whole thing gave me the heebie jeebies and I still have nightmares about the body-less legs chasing me around the place with crazy Dr Frankenstein running the computer
  • nibs
    nibs Member Posts: 470
    Scariest job I ever had;
    Living near San Diego on Halloween one year, we rigged a blind that dropped down behind the kids at the door, had a skeleton life size painted on. While kids got their candy I pulled the cord that dropped the blind, kids turned around and faced a skeleton with no way to get around it. Scared one or two kids to the point of crying.
    That was my scariest job........ 'course I wasn't the one getting scared.
  • Erin Holohan Haskell
    Erin Holohan Haskell Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 1,865
    It's that time of year again!
  • Intplm.
    Intplm. Member Posts: 1,379
    Inner city Water Heater replacement in a closet of an apartment in a four story walk up. Got the old one drained and removed from the building. Brought the new one up and started wiring and piping the thing when a gang fight broke out in a adjacent room or apartment. (This was before propress.) Soldered the cold and began filling the tank while soldering the hot side.
    Thank goodness there were no leaks. Packed and left faster than any other job before or since.
  • Zman
    Zman Member Posts: 7,334
    Did a bunch of work in the nasty crawlspace of a big game hunter. When he got tired of an animal he was displaying upstairs, he would toss them under the house. It was really creepy working with a flashlight and bumping into stuffed leopards and bears all the time. One day I pulled down some insulation and out jumped a huge live packrat. I never worked in there again...
    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough"
    Albert Einstein
  • Daiel1J
    Daiel1J Member Posts: 4
    Once I had to work as a security guard in an embalming house. Not that it was creepy, but it is definitely the most unusual place. They paid well, I had hard times, took up many strange jobs.
  • clammy
    clammy Member Posts: 2,740
    It wasn’t to scary for me but I’m a prankster so I like to make guys jump Nd flinch .this was like 25 years ago and we where doing a quick steamer in a well over 100 year old mansion ..the original boiler was coal to oil to gas and then garbage ,I set my older helper up cutting n threading in the coal room about 25 x 20 room it was the dead of the winter and temps where dropping so we had all the faucets just dripping so they wouldn’t freeze .i went to the 3 rd floor and made sure faucets where open and notice a flight of stair so I took it it was servants stairs from the 3 rd floor to the 1 st and then basement specifically the coal room ,I took them down ended up in the back of the coal room ,there was like 1 light bulb in there probably brought from Edison himself so it was dark I snook up on my poor helper he jumped so high scared the living hell out of him he nearly had to go home ,I of course was rolling on the floor dyeing laughing .i know I’m evil but just love make tough guys flinch me I m so nerve dead by the time I flinch the jobs done .The old home stood for a few more then disappeared and they threw in pre fabs and sold then .the home was the residence of the children of Abex which was a large foundry in my town which made brake shoes long since gone so you can kind of image home the owner had they also had residence workers home there and a lot of the home sales in my end of town where built by the company for there workers ,I drive past where it was once in a while and a re think and laugh about effy my 45 year old helper and his near goullie experienced heart attack lol, I have cave cricket stories for those like me who see them as kryptonite and lose there super powers peace and good luck clammy
    R.A. Calmbacher L.L.C. HVAC
    NJ Master HVAC Lic.
    Mahwah, NJ
    Specializing in steam and hydronic heating
  • Erin Holohan Haskell
    Erin Holohan Haskell Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 1,865
  • SeanBeans
    SeanBeans Member Posts: 487
    I am replacing a cast iron boiler down in a tiny crawlspace as I type this.. eeeek!

    My poor knees.
    These are the days where I need 3 helpers and I can point and yell from the crawlspace opening
  • Jellis
    Jellis Member Posts: 228
    I did a service call in an old school house, nobody was home but the homeowner left a key for me.
    The upstairs had been renovated into a very high end home,
    I found the stairway in the back of the room and at the bottom massive beautiful old oak door that looked like it belonged on a castle. I had to put my shoulder into it to open the door and reveal the un-updated basement, there were brick walls separating 8 separate rooms in the basement, each brick wall had a hole broken out of it about 4 feet square, they looked like windows in the walls perfectly lined up with each other... the bricks that once filled the holes were laying on the ground nearby seemingly smashed out one day and left there. the basement was very dark, with only light coming from the boiler room and a single bulb at the opposite end of the basement.

    I Went to the boiler room which was in the corner, i set my tools down and was observing the boiler room layout when i heard a noise at the far end of the basement.
    Spending most of my working days in basements has made them pretty comfortable to me, I don't scare easy and usually find amusement in investigating strange explainable noises.
    I peered through the knocked out holes in the brick walls and at the far end of the basement I could see the shadow of a person on the wall and their arms moving... (It looked to me like they were working on something on the wall)...

    "Hello!" I said loudly and made my way out of the boiler room and to the far end of the basement. I figured the homeowner had arrived. I got to the light and found nothing but an old wooden chair under it, the shadow on the wall was no where to be seen... i returned to my spot in the boiler room and looked through the openings the same as i had before... the shadow I had seen... was indeed gone... I heard a loud bang from down near the light, I felt like every hair on my body stood on end and i decided to wait for the homeowner outside :)
    I told the homeowner about it and he laughed and explained that him and his wife also hear strange noises in the house and they blame it on a ghost that they named Ted.
    Ted kept quiet while I was working on the boiler, the homeowner hung out with me :)

    Out of the thousands of basements I have worked in only 2 of them ever felt "different" to me when entering them. This one included!
  • Shalom
    Shalom Member Posts: 165
    Ha, if there ever was a thread for the Heating Hell board this is it...
  • Grega
    Grega Member Posts: 20
    Well my scariest moment was not on a heating call but a refrigeration call at a University med school where research and teaching is done. It always gave me the creeps even during the day but of course this call comes at 2am on a weekend and its raining and storming with lightning.

    I get there and have to check in and get a set of keys from the night shift guy. He is old as steam and has one eye missing and does not wear a patch. After getting the keys i am hoping its just a walk in but of course its the drawers that house the research bodies. Most of the lights were off and every step i took squeaked on the floor. It was exactly like a horror film. No one around, not even the night guy and of course its in the basement. My imagination took over for a few..lol. i did my work looking over my shoulder like i had just escaped prison. The smell of that place dis not help. Obviously all went well but man it gave me the creeps something fierce!
  • retiredguy
    retiredguy Member Posts: 607
    edited October 2019
    Way back in 1968 or 69 I had a night call for no heat on an old residential hot air furnace, in a residence in a very seedy neighborhood. It was Christmas Eve, the furnace blower motor was shot, so I replaced it. The very old lady that lived there asked how much the motor and service call would cost. I gave her an approximate cost. I went back into the basement to complete the repair. While I was fixing the furnace the woman called her son to complain about the cost of the repair and I guess to ask him to help pay for the repair. He arrived at her home and was totally impaired by alcohol. When I handed him the "bill", He pulled out a gun, held it to my head and asked if I was sure of the total on the bill. He said that since it was Christmas Eve I should volunteer to tear up the bill . The gun was a revolver and the hammer was cocked . He said that if I did not tear up the bill that he would end my life right there. I was scared to death. I tore up the bill, told my boss about my experience the next day. His response to me was "oh well", you worked for free last night. I stayed in the residential business a few more years then got a new job in commercial and industrial boilers and related equipment.
  • Erin Holohan Haskell
    Erin Holohan Haskell Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 1,865
    Wow...you guys have some stories! Glad you all made it out ok.
  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 15,989
    I love this thread! Gives me the willies.
    Retired and loving it.
  • retiredguy
    retiredguy Member Posts: 607
    Some day I may even tell you about the 3 boiler explosions I was involved in and the 2 others I witnessed when asked to be there with the state inspectors. I was there but they were caused buy others. They sure open your eyes as to how dangerous these devices can be.