The Healthy Way to Handle Home Repair Providers

Here are seven expert-recommended ways to keep everyone safe and healthy when hosting a home repair contractor.

Emergency home repairs like leaky pipes and faulty furnaces can happen at any time. Of course, that includes cold and flu season, or any other time when a nasty virus is making the rounds.

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to host a home repair provider and keep everyone healthy, too. Follow these seven tips from the pros to help ensure repairs are made as safely as possible.

  1. Schedule only essential jobs. Before calling a home repair provider, decide if the repair is truly necessary to keep you, your family and your house safe. (Maybe your own know-how, with an assist from Family Handyman can solve the problem.) Postpone any repairs that aren’t urgent until a time when the risk of anyone getting sick is lower.

  2. Conduct as much business via computer and telephone as possible. Many contractors offer online and/or phone consultations and virtual meetings. Go this route whenever possible. Request online or telephone quotes and bills to further cut down on in-person contact.

  3. Be upfront about your concerns. Many contractors can take extra steps to keep your household safe. “They can reduce the number of workers needed for a job to a minimum, even if that means the job takes longer,” says Mark Soto, owner of San Ant Roofing in San Antonio, Texas. Fewer people in your house means less risk of infection.

  4. Ask the provider to wear shoe covers, remove outerwear and wash his or her hands. Wearing shoe covers or taking off shoes entirely will help limit the spread of bacteria and viruses. (Bonus: It will keep dirt from being tracked into your house.) Karen Tobin, a public health expert with the Erie County Department of Health in Pennsylvania, also recommends asking the contractor to remove his or her coat and any other outwear. All should be left at the door to limit the spread of germs. Make any other special requests clear. “It is perfectly acceptable to ask them to wash their hands before they begin working,” says Tobin.

  5. Keep your distance. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends avoiding close contact with others to thwart the spread of illnesses. Skip shaking hands; instead, kindly wave the contractor into your home. Maintain a six-foot distance at all times to limit the transmission of any airborne germs. If at all possible, have the contractor enter through a side entrance to lessen contact with others in your home. Finally, retreat to a separate area of the house while work is underway.

  6. Ask about their cleaning routine. Team Electric, Plumbing & Air, out of Westwood, New Jersey, recommends asking home repair providers how often they clean their tools and equipment. “To keep your family safe, a contractor should clean their tools on a daily basis,” marketing coordinator Ryan Hanson says. Also ask providers about how they sanitize the work site. Ideally, they should bring their own cleaning supplies to properly disinfect the area when they leave for the day.

  7. Be extra vigilant about cleaning and disinfecting. Once the contractor leaves, it’s time to break out your cleaning supplies and disinfect commonly touched surfaces like tables, door knobs, light switches, toilets, faucets and sinks. The CDC recommends using any of the following solutions: EPA-registered disinfectants, alcohol solutions that are at least 70 percent alcohol, or a mixture of four teaspoons of bleach per quart of water. Learn more about how to clean your house to avoid getting sick.

Amanda Prischak
Amanda Prischak is a freelance writer based in Erie, Pennsylvania.