What’s the best way to set up a consultation or an appointment with an appliance specialist during the COVID-19 pandemic?
The best way to set up a consultation or appointment during the COVID-19 pandemic is virtually, with no in-person contact. After messaging the appliance repairman, you can ask to set up a video chat or phone call to discuss what work needs to be done. Make sure to ask them how they handle payments, keeping in mind that paying in advance may be safer than handling cash or credit cards until the pandemic is over. Ask the professional what procedures and precautions they have in place to ensure safety during this time.
If you decide to hire an appliance service specialist or repairman, check your local news for community guidelines and follow the CDC’s guidelines for social distancing. Discuss safety protocols with the appliance repairmen before they enter your home. And when they enter your home, stay at least 6 feet apart, don’t shake hands, sanitize all involved surfaces and use digital payments instead of cash or a check.
If you decide to postpone the work, consider buying a gift card from them or paying for future work. This is a great way to give back to the community, as many small businesses and individual contractors are feeling the economic effects of social distancing.
How can I find out if an appliance repairman or specialist is considered an essential COVID-19 service provider?
The definition of an essential provider varies based on state, city and local guidelines. Visit the official government website of your state or city to see which services are considered an essential in your area.
For more information on a national level, read CISA’s publication on critical infrastructure workers. However, note that not all jurisdictions follow CISA’s definitions of critical infrastructure.
Many appliance professionals accept digital payments through Venmo, PayPal, Square Cash, Zelle and other online platforms. You should contact the business or individual before hiring them for the project to see how they handle payments, especially during this time of social distancing. Many businesses also list their methods of payment in their profiles.
If the faulty appliance is located in your home (e.g., a washing machine, refrigerator, toilet, dishwasher, etc.), the appliance repairman will most likely need to come inside to complete their work. However, if your appliance is outdoors (e.g., a grill, outdoor kitchen, etc.), it may be possible for them to complete the work without entering your home and with limited person-to-person contact.
You should contact appliance repairmen and specialists near you before hiring them for the project to see if they can offer their services remotely or virtually. Appliance repairs are typically done in person, but you can ask if it's possible to have a virtual consultation or an online walk-through. If you see that a pro is offering remote services in their profile, message them to find out what those services include.
Refrigerator repair generally costs a fraction of the price of a new fridge and shouldhave your appliance up and running again in no time. The problems your refrigerator is experiencing and the parts required to fix it will affect your repair costs. Where you live can affect labor rates, which will raise or lower your costs. Here are some examples of average costs:
- Diagnostic fees: $50-$100. Repair pros often have a service call fee or diagnostic fee to account for their time traveling to your location with all their tools to assess the problem. If you choose to have them repair the fridge, most pros then credit this fee toward your repair cost.
- Parts: $20-$500. A new compressor averages $200, an icemaker $300, and computerized components such as touch screens and control boards average $300 or more.
- Basic repairs: $180-$400, including parts. This price range can include repairing the evaporator or fan motor.
Refrigerators can last 10 to 20 years, although the most common lifespan is about 13 years. If your fridge is acting up, consider its current age when deciding whether to invest in repairs or buy a new one. Common easy fixes include faulty thermostats, dirty coils and clogged drain lines. Thermostats and dirty coils can be generally be fixed for an average cost of $80-$100. Clogged drain lines, which usually cause leaks, can often be fixed for under $200.
More complex refrigeration repairs such as replacing a bad compressor or replenishing low refrigerant can cost more because of expensive parts and higher labor. A new compressor costs an average of $200, not including labor. If labor is an average of $75-$100 per hour, and the repair takes 3 hours, you’re looking at roughly $500. Consider the age and purchase cost of your fridge; investing $350 in a $600 fridge that is 8 years old may not be cost-effective.
Typically, appliance repair technicians who offer refrigeration repair also work with washers, dryers, dishwashers and other household appliances. While there is no formal training required to be an appliance repair technician, consider certification requirements, as the technician should know how to safely work with refrigerants (the chemical that keeps your fridge cold) and substitute refrigerants such as HFCs. You should also read reviews to get a sense of the pro’s experience and reputation. The appliance repair pro will come to your home, bringing all the necessary tools for diagnosis. They may need to order parts to complete the job, but all the work will take place in your home. For more, check out our tips for smart hiring on Thumbtack.