5 On Your Side

5 On Your Side: Pandemic options if an appliance breaks

Posted September 10, 2020 2:37 p.m. EDT
Updated September 10, 2020 5:14 p.m. EDT

The pandemic has made everything more difficult. Even before COVID-19, it was a pain when an appliance broke.

But now – with delays in delivery times, financial and economic strain and anxiety over social distancing – a broken appliance is more stressful than ever.

Especially during the pandemic and upcoming flu season, what's the best way to deal with a broken appliance? Should you shop for a new one online, from the safety of your home, but face potential delays in delivery? Should you venture into a store to purchase a replacement, or should you risk having a stranger enter your home to repair the appliance?

Melissa Collins faced this exact struggle when her refrigerator broke.

For a while, she used a mini-fridge to get by, but the lack of storage meant extra trips to the grocery store.

“It’s like, oh now we’re out of milk so we have to go to the store,” said Collins.

Repairing an appliance: Ensure repair services follow safety precautions

According to Consumer Reports, it depends how old your appliance is, and how much the repair will cost.

If a repair makes sense, companies like Sears, Home Depot, Lowe’s, GE and LG have instructed their technicians or third party providers to follow the Center for Disease Control recommendations on service calls – including wearing masks, washing hands and social distancing.

If you opt for a local repair service, be sure to ask about which precautions they take.

Purchasing a new appliance: The process has changed due to the pandemic

If the repair isn’t worth it, and you need to buy a new appliance, the process will likely be different than in previous years.

“In this difficult time you might have to be more flexible about what’s available," said Tobie Stanger, who works with Consumer Reports.

For added safety, consider shopping online.

Home Depot and Lowe’s have on-site inventory and offer curbside store pick-up or delivery.

Be sure to check for availability and delivery time before you place an order.

Collins lucked out at her local appliance center and was able to get a new fridge.

Another option, especially if you have time on your hands, is to do the repair yourself.

CR recommends.the website RepairClinic.com for a great assortment of DIY videos to get you started on repairing an appliance at home.

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