A fridge on the fritz or a dead dryer can be annoying on a good day, but in the midst of a global pandemic, appliance issues can be much more stressful. Especially considering that with most of us stuck at home, items like stoves, fridges, and washers and dryers may be getting even more use than normal.
“I’ve seen it even more in my house,” says Rodger Delaney, vice president of Ace Appliance Service in Lafayette Hill. “I’m certain a lot more people are cooking way more than they used to. Washers and dryers are getting more use.”
With that increased burden, some may be experiencing more appliance problems as the COVID-19 outbreak wears on. But if your dishwasher or fridge goes down, don’t panic — you should be able to get it repaired. Here is what you need to know:
In Gov. Tom Wolf’s essential business order, “personal and household goods repair and maintenance” businesses are considered life-sustaining in Pennsylvania, meaning appliance repair companies can operate in Pennsylvania during the coronavirus pandemic. Ditto for Philadelphia, where “emergency or urgent household repairs” are considered essential, according to the city’s emergency order. New Jersey repair shops also continue to do business.
As a result, many local appliance repair companies that service the Philadelphia area are still operating, such as Dave’s Appliance Repair, Ace Appliance Service, Appliance Doctor, and Mr. Appliance of the Delaware Valley. Some larger, national companies, like Sears Home Services and GE Appliances Factory Service, are working, too. So if you have a preferred repair service, check with them to see if they are able to help.
Not all fixes are necessarily an emergency. With that in mind, some repair companies are prioritizing jobs according to the appliance. Dave’s Appliance Repair, which services the Delaware Valley from its home in Horsham, for example, is prioritizing requests to fix items like broken refrigerators and other large appliances, manager Julie Rishel says.
“Some customers are looking for outdoor grills and kitchen fans to be repaired. That stuff can wait until everything has settled down,” she says. “If it is something that can wait, we request that you wait.”
Ace Appliance Service is also focusing on refrigerators first, Delaney says, because people need to be able to safely store food and some medications.
Both companies can provide same- or next-day service on fridges, and may schedule other, less essential fixes for later.
If you can’t or don’t want to wait for a repair on something like an outdoor grill or dishwasher, and you have the ability, you may consider going the DIY route. Consumer Reports recommends checking with online resources like Repair Clinic, which provides parts and instruction. You can also contact your appliance manufacturer for help, or check with your local hardware store or repair experts.
Most repair companies are taking steps to protect their workers and customers from the coronavirus, based on recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“The main thing is to keep customers and staff healthy,” Rishel says.
Technicians at Ace and Dave’s, for example, wear masks, gloves, and carry hand sanitizer, and sanitize their trucks regularly.
And, when a repair person comes into your home, you may be asked to wait in another room while work is being done — often as far as 10 feet away or more. Dave’s, Rishel says, checks to see if there is a door close to your appliance so that technicians don’t have to walk all the way through your home.
Payment, meanwhile, can often be done over the phone or with a credit card, so you don’t have to handle cash or checks.
Generally, when you schedule a repair, companies will also check to see that no one in your home is sick or showing signs of being infected with the coronavirus. Sears Home Services, for example, says online that in the case that someone is sick or has traveled abroad in the past two weeks, technicians will not be able to provide service.
The Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers, an industry trade group, notes online that “bringing anyone into your home increases your chance of exposure” to the coronavirus. With that in mind, you should ask some questions before scheduling an appointment.
Specifically, AHAM says, you should ask whether the technicians have protective gear like gloves and masks, how payment is handled, and about their policies are on social distancing and handwashing. And you should provide a sink so that technicians can wash their hands.
Ace’s Delaney, meanwhile, asks that you be honest about your health when scheduling a repair to help keep everyone safe. And after the repair you should clean your appliance, as well as the area in which the technician worked.
“Take out the Lysol spray and use it on everything the guy might have touched,” he says. “Wipe everything down when we’re done.”
While appliance repair services are considered essential in Pennsylvania, electronics and appliance stores are not, so you may have limited options when it comes to shopping in person right now, unless you visit major retailers such as Home Depot and Lowe’s, which, as hardware stores, are considered essential.
But another option: you can buy appliances online. Both big box stores — as well as locals like Gerhard’s Appliances — are selling appliances online, though delivery and in-home installation may take longer to schedule or be limited, depending on your area. Some manufacturers, such as LG and Whirlpool, are also offering direct sales online.