Home Improvements, don't just mean shiny new things for the house. It also means upgrading and repairing some of those existing items in your house.

One home improvement, in particular, I guess could also be classified as maintenance, but many times gets overlooked.

A good friend of mine, remodeled her main floor laundry room. She had always wanted cabinets, and a bit of counter for folding, and more storage. The washer and dryer were still in good shape, so they did not bother to replace these items.

After her remodel was done, she was a happy camper, her laundry room, looked like something in a magazine, and the kids now put things away, it was great.

But one day, a few weeks later, as she was leaving for work, she realized she had forgot something and went back in the house. Luckily, she did, as there was water running out of the laundry room and down the carpeted hallway. She quickly went down to the basement and turned off the main supply of water with the hopes everything would stop. It eventually did.

When it was investigated further, they soon realized that the hose to the back of her washing machine had blown off. She never turned off those water valves on the wall, she had always just had them on ready for use. But in doing this, and being on town water, which can be high pressure, after five years the hose just blew. Luckily for her she had gone back in the house, can you imagine the damage 8 hours later! Keeping in mind this is a MAIN FLOOR laundry room?home improvementsCredit: morguefile.com

It would be like turning the hose on in your house and letting it run. It was the cold side of things, so she at least didn't have hot water running down the hallway, but also many main floor laundry rooms, do not have emergency drains in the floor like the basement does, so I guess it gets to the basement one way or another!

After talking to a plumbing supply store, she was informed, that really you should turn those valves off at the wall every time you are finished with the washing machine, and you should also replace the hoses on the back of the machine every 4-5 years. You are depending on the hoses to hold if those taps are turned on. She figures the hoses were about 5 or 6 years old. The hose actually formed a split and blew apart at the base of the back of the machine, and since the tap valve was on, water just poured out.

So, when doing any home improvements, it doesn't hurt to check on any equipment you are keeping. As we all check our smoke detectors every year and change the batteries, we should check hoses as well. Better yet, just try and turn off those valves. But actually as I have visited other friends new houses, I have noticed that these taps tend to get hidden, and are hard to get at, so many people leave them turned on. But after what happened to my friend, I now turn mine off!

It doesn't hurt to have a really good look at your plumbing and some of the tap sets you have in your house. We are presently working on home improvements, on a house we just purchased, and we noticed the laundry room sink taps oozing a little water. Didn't think much of it, until suddenly it started to spray a fine mist of water, luckily we were there. We have now decided, that until all this plumbing is really inspected, and/or replace many of the faucet and tap sets, that we will turn the house main water supply off at the end of each day, so that damage would be minimal if something did suddenly decide to blow its stack!

Ever since that happened to my friend, I am very conscious of water valves and taps. Another issue we noticed in our fixer upper, is that the outside water tap was not turned off, many homeowners forget this too, and this can be a huge problem when the thaw comes in March or April. If you live in the cold north, then you need to have a schedule for dealing with some of these maintenance issues, or you will be replacing plumbing and possible furnishings in the spring.

Many plumbing items do not really cost that much. But the damage that can occur by not replacing them is huge.

It is also a good idea, if you ever go away, to have someone check on your house, just to make sure everything is OK. Doesn't hurt to turn off your main water supply if no one is going to be at the house while you are away.

Call me paranoid, but after what happened to my friend, and some of the close calls other friends have had, I realized just how much we take our plumbing for granted.

So, if you are doing home improvements, take this opportunity to replace taps or faucet sets that you don't even know how old they are, or don't know the history. This is especially true if you are buying a older home, like we did. Those laundry room faucet taps in our place, may have been fine for the last 20 years or so, but after we kept using them for cleanups, I guess the act of turning them off and on, and they decided to start letting go. Once again, we were lucky we were there.

Go ahead and get some shiny new things for your house, and all your home improvements, but don't forget to check the "bones" of the house. The plumbing, electrical, heating, and drains. There is no point in getting all kinds of whirlpool tubs and more bathrooms, if the drains are dicey to begin with. Keep the "bones" of the house maintained and your home improvements will work nicely.

Just keep all this in mind the next time you do laundry! It doesn't take much. A simple five dollar hose could turn into thousands in damage in a short period of time. So, if you can't remember how old they are, then change them, and also turn off the taps to the washer when you are done.

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make sure to replace the hose hookups every 3 years or so.