Homeowners who want to be sure there are no hidden leaks in their pipe system should get in touch with a tradesman who has completed professional plumbing courses, it has been suggested.

Ivor Bates, director of Ivor Bates Heating and Plumbing, explained on AboutMyArea that people can do an inspection themselves, but some maintenance procedures may be better dealt with by a qualified engineer.

He noted that technicians with plumbing course training may be able to fix problems such as noisy water flow, as well as more serious issues like burst pipes.

Mr Bates pointed out that the latter was a common gripe in December 2010 due to the weather, explaining: "When the water inside a pipe freezes, the ice expands and the pressure can cause a split in the pipe or damage to the joints where pipes are connected."

The skills gained on plumbing courses may be useful for the restoration of derelict homes as well, although Independent journalist Kate Watson-Smyth recently noted that it is important to be honest about one's limitations.

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