You're following the guidelines to reduce transmission of the COVID-19 coronavirus by staying home as much as possible, keeping your distance from others and washing your hands often—but then, one day, your air conditioning cuts out or your sink starts backing up. Should you call a repair specialist to come into your home to fix the problem? It's a dilemma you might really face, particularly if you're home more than usual and putting additional strain on your home's infrastructure.
Tim Dupre, the president and CEO of Conditioned Air, a Naples-based air conditioning installation and repair company that serves customers from Bradenton to Marco Island, says his company has instituted a number of new procedures to make sure its customers and employees stay safe. Conditioned Air has provided hand sanitizer and latex gloves to all its field technicians, in addition to making sure they have the masks, safety glasses and booties the company's employees already used.
"We also outfitted all of our trucks two weeks ago with a chemical that can be used to clean and disinfect things," Dupre says. "They can spray down their tools, their gauges, their cell phones." The company has also created a "no-contact call" system. Previously, customers were required to sign paperwork on a technician's phone. That is no longer necessary.
Dupre says Conditioned Air has seen a "slight dip" in the number of service calls it's receiving, but not a dramatic drop-off. Some of the company's 20,000 regular maintenance customers have postponed visits because of the pandemic, but some seasonal residents have actually moved up appointments in order to have the work completed before they return to their northern homes earlier than usual.
For people like air conditioning technicians, plumbers or electricians who work in other people's homes, the Florida Department of Health suggests calling clients ahead of time to ask if anyone in the home is sick or has been sick within the past 14 days. Employers should also be following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for maintaining a healthy work environment.
Dupre says that Conditioned Air is encouraging its employees to "use common sense," and that if a technician has reason to believe someone in a home isn't feeling well, he or she should "politely decline servicing the home." The company has also told employees to stay home if they even have an "inkling" of not feeling well, and is compensating them while they remain at home.
If you or someone in your home is sick or has been sick within the past 14 days, and you need work done in your home, the Department of Health recommends contacting your service provider to reschedule your appointment. If you're healthy and need work done, the department recommends following basic rules to stay safe: Maintain a distance of at least 6 feet from the person coming into your home, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and do not touch your face with unwashed hands. And when you call to ask for a service visit, ask the company what precautions they're taking to keep you healthy.