Consumer Reports: Getting home appliances repaired, replaced during COVID-19 pandemic

In normal times, when an appliance breaks, say a dishwasher or your range, you'd consider how old the appliance is, how reliable it's been and the cost of a repair versus the price of just buying a new one.

But these are not normal times. Consumer Reports has some advice about what to do if a major appliance breaks during the coronavirus pandemic.

Melissa Collins' fridge broke during the coronavirus outbreak.

"Having the fridge is a necessity, even in just regular, day-to-day life, but even more so now," she said.

For now, she's using a mini fridge but that increases trips to the grocery store.(

"Not having a working refrigerator in the house it's like, oh now we're out of milk so we have to go to the store," she said.

Melissa knows the mini-fridge is not a sustainable solution.

"If it's something that's really going to have an impact on your family's ability to live safely and healthy then you have more of a reason to call a repair person," said Consumer Reports Home Editor Tobie Stanger.

Companies like Sears, Home Depot, Lowes, GE and LG say they have instructed their technicians or third party providers to follow the Center for Disease Control recommendations when making service calls. That includes wearing masks, handwashing and social distancing.

If you're using an independent or local repair service, Consumer Reports says be sure to ask what precautions they're taking before they arrive. If the repair isn't worth it, and you need to buy a new essential appliance, the process will likely be different.

"In this difficult time you might have to be more flexible about what's available," Stanger said.

A safer option for some people might mean skipping the store altogether and 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.

As for Melissa, she lucked out. Her local appliance center opened up the store specially for her, so she was able to safely and quickly pick out her new refrigerator.

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