Back to the Jul-Aug 2020 issue

Share COVID-19 Safety Tips With Residents Needing Home Repairs

By Brianna Govoni

During the pandemic, we’re pre-paying for takeout, avoiding crowds, and skipping visits with at-risk loved ones. Many of us are practicing social distancing, but if your residents have a pressing repair issue, they may not be able to wait to address it.

Having repair technicians in your home goes against the advice we’re receiving from health officials, but some repairs can’t wait because they address safety, health, or sanitation issues. However, there are measures your residents can take to maintain their safety during a necessary repair.

Here are some easy-to-share tips for your residents:

  • Avoid problems and fix smaller ones yourself if you can. Most homeowners can address small projects like installing a thermostat, and one of the best ways to avoid plumbing problems is not treating the toilet as a trash can – only human waste and toilet paper should be flushed. Grease, wipes, paper towels, and cigarette butts should never be flushed.
  • Communicate by phone or text. Discuss the repair in advance, and, if you need to follow up, do so by text, even if the technician is in your yard or home. It may seem silly, but your technician will appreciate it.
  • Before a technician enters your home, ask what his or her social distancing protocol is and what personal protective equipment is being used. Let them know if someone in your home is at high risk for COVID-19. Agree to keep your distance from one another and forgo any handshaking.
  • Allow the technician to wash his or her hands at your sink. The skilled trades can be a dirty job. They ordinarily would hesitate to wash their hands at a client’s home, so take away the uncertainty and allow them to practice recommended hygiene.
  • Ask about a digital payment. Money carries germs at the best of times, and we should all be keeping six feet apart.

What technicians should be doing:

  • If the job isn’t urgent or impacting your quality of life, they may ask you to wait. Not only are we dealing with a pandemic, but many supply manufacturers are overseas, and some parts are difficult to come by. If this will impact your repair, they should let you know.
  • They should let you know that they are healthy when they arrive at your home. This may seem awkward, but these are unusual times. Most contractors are monitoring employees’ health and telling those who show symptoms to stay home and communicate this to customers.
  • Technicians should be wearing personal protective equipment, including an N95 mask and nitrile gloves, even under their work gloves.
  • They should avoid touching surfaces as much as possible and wipe down those surfaces they must touch. In addition, they should avoid touching their face, eyes, or nose.
  • Technicians should wipe down their vans or tools. The coronavirus can live for hours on hard surfaces, and this helps keep them and their co-workers safe.
  • They should wash their hands or use hand sanitizer. The International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials is recommending even more frequent hand-washing than usual.

With a few tweaks and some distance, your residents can take steps to protect their health in the event of a necessary emergency home repair.

Brianna Govoni is senior manager of business development with the NLC Service Line Warranty Program by HomeServe (www.servicelinepartner.com). The NLC Service Line Warranty Program is a member of the League’s Business Leadership Council (www.lmc.org/sponsors).