The jobs that are hiding in your home

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What problems might your home be hiding from view? From wiring to plumbing, some of the most important areas are totally invisible. And it’s almost impossible to find any problems - unless you know what you’re looking for.

We've taken a look at some well-hidden parts of the home - plus what can go wrong, how to fix it and who to call.

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Electrical wiring

We wouldn’t get much done these days without electricity, which is why our homes are filled with wires carrying power to every room of the house.

Generally, we only see the power outlets and light switches on the wall, but underneath the paint and plaster there's a lot more going on.

It's good practice to know where your consumer unit (sometimes called a fusebox) is, as sometimes this is hidden as well. It might be under your stairs, or in the back of a cupboard - somewhere that truly difficult to find if a switch trips and you're trying to find it in the dark.

Knowing where it is is useful, as you can use it to stop the power coming into your home in an emergency - or if a device trips the power, you can reset it there.

If your consumer unit is very old, it is a sign that your home may need rewiring to bring it up to modern standards.

Other issues to look out for include switches tripping regularly, flickering lights, or damaged plug sockets and light switches.

If you find any of these problems, get in touch with an electrician who can put these problems right.

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Plumbing

Plumbing is another area where there is more happening behind the scenes than you might first realise.

Although we’re all familiar with our sinks, showers and toilets, our homes are also full of pipework carrying water to and from our kitchens and bathrooms.

Blockages are an early warning sign that something is wrong with your pipework, and while you can tackle the problem yourself, a plumber can make sure there are no bigger issues.

Another issue to beware of is leaks. It is worthwhile checking the U-bend under sinks regularly to make sure there are no problems.

With pipes that are in walls and under floors, it is harder to check, but keep an eye out for damp patches that might appear, and address them as soon as possible to minimise any damage.

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Insulation

Insulation is more important than ever to our homes. With rising energy bills and more focus than ever on being energy efficient, our homes should have as much insulation as possible - even if you can’t see any of it.

Walls can be filled with insulating materials, while any loft space should also be insulated as deeply as possible for maximum effect.

Good quality insulation helps keep your home warmer when the weather is cold, and also works to keep your home cool when the temperature rises outside.

Another benefit is sound-proofing, helping cut down on unwanted outside noises.

Specialist insulation fitters can advise you on the best approach for insulating your home.

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The loft

The roof space above our heads is rarely seen, and rarely thought about.

If you haven’t converted your loft into an actual living space, it’s probably only used for storing Christmas decorations, old sporting equipment and a few other miscellaneous boxes.

But just because it’s rarely visited, doesn’t mean it isn’t important.

Being just below your roof means it is the first line of defence against bad weather coming into your home, so it’s always worth checking after a storm to make sure there's no water entering the loft space thanks to loose tiles or damaged flashing.

You could also get expert advice to make sure the beams and joists in the space are solid, as over time they can warp and become twisted, which can threaten the integrity of your home.

A roofer can check things out and make sure your hidden space isn't hiding anything nasty.

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Heating and radiators

When your central heating’s working properly, you don’t give it a second thought. Turn it up and your radiators get hotter. Simple!

But what’s really happening inside your radiators? There are some common problems that reduce efficiency and can lead to long-term problems.

The first tell-tale warning sign is gurgling noises from your pipes. It means air in the system, which tends to collect in your radiators. And a radiator with air in it is much less efficient.

If you suspect a problem, try the touch-test. When your radiators are warm (but not too hot!), put your hand on them. If they’re cold at the top, you’ve got air in your system and it needs a bleed. Or if they’re cold at the bottom, your system might need a professional clean-out.

Whatever the problem, a professional heating engineer can find and fix any problems - and get things running properly again.

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