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What to do if an appliance breaks during a pandemic

File photo
File photo (iStock / EricHood)

In normal times, when an appliance breaks, say, a dishwasher or range, you consider how old it is, how reliable it’s been, and the cost of a repair vs. the price of buying a new one.

But these are not normal times.

Consumer Reports has some advice about what to do if a major appliance in your home breaks during the coronavirus pandemic.

Companies like Sears, Home Depot, Lowes, GE, and LG say they have instructed their technicians and third-party providers to follow recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention when making service calls. That includes wearing masks, hand-washing, and social distancing.

If you’re using an independent or local repair service, Consumer Reports says to be sure to ask about precautions they’re taking before they arrive.

If a repair isn’t worth it and you need to buy a new essential appliance, the process will probably be different. In this difficult time, you might have to be more flexible about what’s available. A safer option for some people might mean skipping stores altogether and shopping online.

Home Depot and Lowe’s have on-site inventory and offer curbside pickup or delivery. Be sure to check for availability and delivery time before you place an order.

CR says some companies may decide to install or service only essential appliances right now, and that can be based on a customer's location. Many companies are also asking customers if everyone in the home is healthy to make sure the technician doesn’t get sick.

Another option is to do the repair yourself. You can contact the appliance manufacturer’s customer service or check the website RepairClinic.com for do-it-yourself videos. And you can always try calling your local repair shop to see if it can offer any free advice or walk you through minor repairs.