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In "Residual Haunts: Why Is This Happening Again & Again?" Tim Mountain reviews the basics of a certain classification of paranormal activity: the recurrent haint, also known as a residual haunting, 

Whaley House staircase

A residual haunting is the most commonly reported type of haunt. It appears to be a recorded event that replays itself over and over again without any conscious thought or action behind it. The energy seems to be trapped in a never-ending time loop. The movie "Groundhog Day" comes to mind as an example.

The energy in a residual haunt can manifest itself in many forms. The most frequently reported phenomena are anomalous sounds. These anomalous sounds can range from footsteps going up and down the stairs or walking down a hallway to voices speaking, weeping or screaming in another room. There have been reports of hearing music playing in empty rooms, doorbells ringing when no functioning doorbells exits, to the smells of bread baking in an empty kitchen.It is believed that residual haunts are somehow imprinted into a dwelling or an area that has had a traumatic event occur in the past. It is also believed that residual energy can be imprinted into a location over a period of time by someone doing the same things on a daily basis.

Residual haunts seem to happen in the same place and often at the same time. If you happen to come across one of these types of haunts it should be reassuring to understand that it cannot harm you. Although this kind of paranormal activity can be quite startling when you experience it, if you remember that it is only a form of energy and not a spirit or entity, you can learn to live with it.