Singapore Paranormal Investigators – Paranormal Investigation Unit (PIU)
You may not or yet to experience this. But I’m pretty sure majority had heard this “Marbles Dropping” case. In Singapore, this usually occurs for those living in HDB (Housing Development Board) flats. Very common on this sunny island. In some cases, other apartments like condos or even hotels had such occurrences. But mostly came from HDBs, where the residents claimed that they have heard marble sounds coming from the ceiling. Sometimes sounded like coins dropping. It can last for days, weeks, even months. And in some few cases, even sounded like a hammer knocking repeatedly or the shifting of furnitures.
Some had claimed it to be a paranormal issue, where they believed it could be spirits of children playing marbles or coins. This happens when they knew or find out that there’s no one living above them. But quite often this marbles dropping sounds could be attributed to real playful children playing with marbles. Even say so, what if there’s no one above them, especially when the unit is vacant?
This mystery has been going on for years and had affected many HDB residents for as long as anyone can remember. Ask anyone. Chances are most of them will told you or share with you their experience, that they do recall hearing those marbles. Till now, there seems to have no logical explanation behind this natural occurrence.
This occurrence usually was heard during the wee hours in the morning. Sometimes it can be heard during the day. But daytime is quite rare. Take note here, its usually occurs somewhere after midnight. Mostly people heard it anytime from 0100 – 0400hrs. On the dot of 0000hrs seems rare.
As phenomenon it may seem. But what happened if the noise is not directly on top of your unit but the other top level? If so you may want to ask the neighbour living next door whether do they heard any noise coming from above them. So it may not be necessarily above you, but can also be from the upper levels or lower levels. Due to the noise level, no doubt you can still hear it if it is loud enough.
Just to share as an example, we received an email from this person, saying that his unit which he had rented out to a family had been experience this noises. So bad that the noise even cause their 6 month old child to cry every time the noise was heard. According to the informant, this has been going on for a month.
Sometimes, as describe by his tenant, the sounds were like coins dropping and hammer knocking. The family thought the neighbour above them was responsible for causing the nuisance. However, the neighbour denied making those noises. Both HDB and Town Council were informed in this matter. But action is yet to be taken.
*The informant’s name and where the tenant resides were not to be disclosed as we respect their rights and privacy. Thought the informant did hear such stories whereby people claimed that the sounds were made by spirits of children playing marbles, he did not want to come to a conclusion where this got something to do with paranormal. He did not want to scare his tenant about this. So he request for our assistance, to see if there’s any logical explanations behind all this. Therefore the SPI – PIU began to seek any possible answers online. Even for us, we will not jump straightaway whereby this incident is just another paranormal issue which is nothing new, and what most people had claimed it might be. Cause a few of us had experience this before. Step by step as the team slowly research. We soon learned that the noises usually occurs when the HDB flats were old. Either it be marbles or coins dropping. And in turn, the piping network which runs within will age gradually, and might even turn faulty. And speaking of old, it was said that marble dropping was known to be very common to old age HDB flat during midnight. You don’t hear it during daytime. To top it up, these are the list of possible explanations that we had dig out from sources and those who have experience this and might know something about it.
1) When water flow is shut off suddenly, the change in pressure rattles the pipes, which may sound like marbles dropping after distortion through walls.
2) Marble sound may due to expansion and contraction whereby the contractors leave little ball bearings inside the floor in between the stories. So during expand and contract, the little metals balls start jumping and moving due to air circulation. And this is necessary so as to prevent cracks.
3) Some pre-fabricated floors used in HDB flats have an embedded high-strength steel cable which can give off creaking sounds (may sounded like marbles dropping) when they contract.
4) The pipes of some air-con units make popping sounds. These sounds resemble marbles dropping when they travel through the pipe embedded in walls. Another possibility is that in some old fridges, the compressor makes this noise which can be heard clearly only at wee hours when it’s quiet.
5) This may also occur due to the weather when its at night. If the sounds only happen when it is cold or when there’s a sudden drop in temperature, then it probably is the building materials (walls and framework) contracting and expanding with the weather. Even new buildings can do this. Steam pipes and water pipes can make some popping noises with the weather changes.
6) At the stroke of midnight, the water tank at the roof of the HDB will send a gush of water down the water pipes to flush the pipes of particles. For older HDB pipes as the pipes are old, there tends to be a few particles in them and get flushed down, causing it to hit the wall of the pipes thus causing the marble dropping noise.
7) Apparently water sounds gets distorted as they pass through pipes and it sounds like falling marbles. Odd but the most plausible.
8) Engineers had placed marble-liked things into the water pipe while they build to ensure the smooth flow of the water. So sometimes when you do hear it, its most probably due to them. Perhaps we hear them more at night due to the silence associated.
Then what about the hammering noise? These are as far as we had dig out.
1 ) Water hammering in PUB water supply pipes caused by prolonged period of no water activity in the water pipes. This causes air volume/pressure to built up in the pipe. When water is re-introduced into the piping system, pockets of air bubbles are formed as the water rushes in to replace the air.
2 ) Soapy water bubbles bursting in sanitary pipes. This usually occurs at night when the pipes are not so often used, and there is a sudden release of soapy water flowing down the pipes. This usually occurs when the higher floor units flushes down sufficient quantity of soap water. A similar bubbly situation would also occur when are already plenty of soapy water at the base of the piping system due to many residents bathing at the same time.
3) Each sanitary pipe stack has vents at the roof top to allow air to escape out. Thus the agitation of the soapy solution will cause bubbles to form and the resulting air pockets bursting will sound like “Pock! Pock! Pock!” echoing in the pipes, sounding like marbles as the bubbles ‘break’ on the surface of the water. Usually marbles sounds of this sort will be only singular sound of 1 marble (means only sound like 1 marble dropping) is heard.
One of us even inquiry with some of the piping contractors to see if there are more possible explanations than what we had dig out. Surprisingly most of them explain some of the things that we had research about. Ours and theirs tallies.
Are we close to conclude it? But then again, could the sounds of marbles dropping on the floor be really due to playful children? Or something else altogether? And you know what they are, as what many people claimed it might be.
Even with the most possible explanations, it still lies a mystery. Apparently there was never, at the present moment of time, to justify of what might have been the actual cause. This is something that most of us will be pondering for ages….
Written by: Mohd Ariffin
Chief of Paranormal Investigation Unit