Angie's List: How can I hire safely this winter?

By Paul F. P. Pogue
Angie's List

With the onset of winter, the threat of COVID-19 is an even more important factor in our lives. But home maintenance never quits — at some point you're going to need a plumbing, electrical or HVAC emergency to be repaired, and this kind of work requires bringing someone into your home. Consider these six steps to protect yourself, your family and your workers when you need home services.

1. Use technology to connect with home service pros.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, ( CDC), avoiding exposure to the virus is the most important thing you can do to protect yourself and others. Connect with contractors via phone, video and email to discuss project details as much as possible.

Mask-wearing is an absolute must when contractors work in your home.

2. Sanitize according to CDC guidelines.

The CDC offers cleaning guidance on their website specific to protecting against COVID-19. If a pro is coming to work on your home, be sure you're following this guidance to sanitize before, during and after their visit. In particular, be sure to clean and disinfect the work area. Also, be sure to disinfect frequently touched surfaces like doorknobs, faucet handles and light switches.

3. Communicate precautions (both yours and theirs).

Let pros know about the precautions you're taking to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in your home. Ask that they take precautions as well. Make sure everyone wears a mask and sanitizes frequently.

4. Maintain the recommended 6-foot separation.

The CDC recommends keeping a distance of 6 feet from others, and avoiding gatherings to minimize the spread of COVID-19. So, be sure to keep a safe distance from pros working inside your home. And never invite a pro into your home if you're feeling ill or have been ill.

5. Combine multiple projects into one visit.

If you need to hire a pro for essential home maintenance or repairs, see if they can tackle other projects at the same time. These projects may be additional repairs or improvements to enhance your health and wellbeing during your time at home.

For example, if an HVAC pro is coming out to repair your heater, they may also be able to help with projects to improve indoor air quality, like installing a humidifier, installing new air filters or clearing out your home's ventilation system.

Be sure to ask your pro ahead of time if you'd like them to look into other projects. Combining jobs will reduce the number of visits and entries into your home.

6. Approach hiring with the same care you normally would.

When it comes to hiring home service pros, it's still a good idea to:

— Check that they're licensed and insured to do the kind of work you need done.

— Compare quotes from at least three pros to ensure you're hiring the right pro for your project and budget.

— Stay patient. Keep in mind that home pros are dealing with the same kinds of challenges you are.