As we shelter in place and socially distance because of the COVID-19 pandemic, everyday life goes on. Systems, appliances and devices in our homes break down and need repair. If a home service contractor or repair person must come into your home, how can you each protect the other from potential coronavirus infection?
Ask about the contractor’s safety measures
When you call to set up a service contractor visit during the COVID-19 pandemic, ask about the contractor’s hygiene and safety protocols for working in your home. In cases where you have a choice of contractors, such as for plumbing, electrical or HVAC, choose the one with the best safety practices in addition to a reputation for excellent service. Even where you don’t have a choice of who you deal with, such as when your cable or telephone stops working, you should still inquire about hygiene practices.
To ensure safe service contractor visits during the COVID-19 pandemic, the contractor should not be working if he has been sick recently, nor if he has been exposed in the last 14 days to someone diagnosed with COVID-19. He should wear a mask and foot coverings as well as gloves (if he is able to do the work in them). The contractor should speak to you from six feet or more away and should sanitize his tools before and after the job at your home. Finally, the transaction should be touchless for you, so the home service contractor should allow you to approve and pay online. If you must sign something, use your own pen or stylus without touching the document or tablet.
Understand that the concern for safety is mutual. You don’t want someone bringing coronavirus into your home, and the worker doesn’t want to enter a home where it could be present. If you or a member of your household has been sick, reschedule. Work together for mutual protection. Also, wear a mask for his and your own safety.
Preparing for the service contractor’s visit
Before the contractor arrives, use a disinfecting cleaner to sanitize the area where he will be working. Sanitize door knobs between the entry door and the work area. Clean whatever appliance or system he will work on, such as keypads, housing and handles. Mop the floor. After it dries, lay down paper or plastic for the worker to walk on. Do the same on surfaces where he may need to lay tools.
During the visit
When you open the door for a service contractor visit during the COVID-19 pandemic, step back so you and he can socially distance as he enters. Maintain that distance throughout the visit. Do not shake hands. If you must hand the contractor anything, or vice versa, wear nitrile gloves.
If you want to tip the worker, put cash in an envelope and lay it on a counter for him to pick up.
After the visit
Revisit all the surfaces you sanitized before the visit and re-sanitize with disinfecting cleaners. Gently pull up paper or plastic coverings on floors and counters by folding the edges in toward the center, so as not to stir up particles and pathogens that could be on the surface. Place the coverings gently into a plastic trash bag, seal it and dispose of it in an outside trash can.
After washing every surface, wash your own hands thoroughly.