If you follow me on Twitter, you already know we've had a stressful week here at A Home in the Making. On Sunday afternoon, our furnace wouldn't come on. It sounded like it was working, it made all the right noises, but the blower - which blows the air out the ducts - wouldn't work, so the furnace would shut off. Tease. Chris knows a lot about this type of thing, so he started working on it, sadly to no avail. We were left with calling furnace companies at 6:00 sunday evening. We found a company that would actually come out and take a look - at a cost, of course. They diagnosed the problem, needed a part and would be back Monday. We did all this on Sunday because first thing Monday morning Chris flew to the east coast. For the week. Leaving me all alone to deal with the repair guy. Did I mention overnight lows were in the low 30's?
I - sort of irrationally - freaked. First, I fully believe that one of the biggest perks of marriage is that my husband takes care of this stuff. Second, I was completely weirded out by having some random guy we pulled off the internet in my home with only me, when my husband is 3,000 miles away. I watch the news way too much to think this was going to end well. Third, I don't know the first thing about furnaces and wouldn't know how to handle the situation if things went awry.
I gained a little perspective Monday after a good night's sleep. But, it got me thinking. I can't tell you how to fix your furnace (ha!), but - three days into a furnace repair issue - I can pass along some tips for dealing with what can be a pretty stressful situation.
Research. Before committing to working with a repair person, do your research. Our research was quickly don't over about 30 minutes, but it involved asking friends via text and via facebook, looking up online reviews, checking their licensed contractor number and looking them up on the Better Business Bureau.
Know Your House. Whether you have a repair person fixing your furnace, your refrigerator or your natural gas line, know the important details. When was it installed? When was the last service? Have there been any other issues lately? A good contractor will ask you questions and having knowledgeable answers will make their job much easier.
Communicate. Communicate. Communicate. First, have them talk you through the issue. For me, this helps me feel like I'm more of a level playing field. Get in there and have them show you what's wrong and why. Talk to them about their plan for fixing the issue, how much money it will cost and how much time they think it will take. Make sure you talk about the bigger picture at your first meeting so that everyone's expectations are on the table.
Ask Questions. If at any point things don't make sense, you feel like the project is off task -- ask questions. Be nice, but be assertive and ask. It's important to nicely remain in control of the situation and know what exactly is being done in your home.
Be Safe. I'm not gonna lie. I'm a paranoid girl. Period. I lived alone for a few years and I am very careful in situations where I'm home alone. With that said, if there is a repairman in your house and you are not comfortable, make sure there is someone there with you. A very dear friend brought her kids over to play Monday afternoon so I wasn't alone. At the very least, let someone who is a quick phone call away know the situation.
If you own a home, the chances that you'll be in this sort of situation, at some point, are pretty high. I hope this helps you feel better prepared when that time comes! :)