JANUARY 6, 2022
A pipe bursts in the basement. The air conditioner stops running in the middle of a heat wave. The roof loses shingles after a big storm. You’ll likely need to hire a repairman, exterminator, or other home service professional at some point during your tenure as a homeowner. And chances are these workers will be on their best behavior. Their job, after all, depends on it. It doesn’t hurt, however, to take a few extra precautions to protect you, your home, and your peace of mind — especially if you’re home alone. Here are tips and tricks to help you feel even safer at home during maintenance visits, taking extra care if you live alone.
Before any repair person arrives at your home, plan to remain within close proximity of the project and the person. For instance, if a plumber is fixing a leak in your bathroom, it may be a good time to organize a shelf in the adjacent hall closet. Maybe a carpenter is stopping by to replace a board on your deck. Plan to repot flowers or weed the garden while they’re working. Your nearby presence will keep a team on their best behavior, and you’ll be on hand to answer any questions that may arise.
An HVAC repair person may need to access your attic and backyard, while the contractor laying new hardwood in your living room may want to inspect the subfloor in your basement. Ask where the maintenance person will need to work and why, so you both establish expectations for the visit.
Do you have a trusted pal who would enjoy a coffee date? Invite them over when the refrigerator repairman schedules a visit. Having someone in the house with you will not only make you feel safer if you’re living alone, but it will also deter any suspicious behavior.
Before your internet service provider arrives to hook up the new modem in your office, take note of nearby valuables, whether it’s that antique clock sitting on your bookshelf or your iPad stowed in your top desk drawer. Be sure to lock up prescription medications and secure any sensitive information, such as financial records or any documents exhibiting personal information like your Social Security number or birthday.
It pays to know your neighbors when you live alone. Give your next-door neighbor a call the day before your scheduled appointment. Ask if they’ll be home to keep an eye and ear out should you need anything. Report what company the repairman is working for and why they are visiting. If the weather permits, open windows facing your neighbors’ houses or leave the front door open if you have a screen door.
It’s always good practice to write down detailed notes about your appointments, whether it’s a repair person visiting your home or a routine doctor’s appointment. If you’re expecting a contractor or maintenance person, include the name of the company, the reason for their visit, and the company’s contact information on your calendar.
Avoid saying “I won’t be home,” or “I’ll be out of town” if the company or repairman suggests a time that doesn’t suit. This helps minimize the chances that any less-than-reputable contractors know your comings and goings. Also ask for the name of the technician servicing your home as well as their badge number so you can confirm their identity upon arrival.
Chatting is the easiest way to glean valuable information. Where do you work? In what park do you typically walk your dog? Do you have any big plans for the weekend? If you don’t want to appear rude, you can answer questions vaguely. “Oh, I work downtown.” “I choose a different park every time.” “I’m not sure what I’m doing this weekend.” Don’t divulge any information to expose your regular schedule, habits, or future plans.
This is always a good idea whether you’re trying to stay safe during home repairs or escape a home emergency, such as a fire. Consider every room or area in your home, and route the fastest way out. Never put a repairperson between you and an exit either. Offer the contractor a polite “After you” when you enter a space, so you can keep a visual on them and exit the room as needed.
When the contractor or repair person completes their project, walk the worker to the door, bid them farewell, and lock the door behind them. Always check your home’s other entrances, including back doors, garage doors, and windows to ensure they’re secure, too.
Consider incorporating a Smartcode deadbolt that connects to Brinks Home™ Mobile App so you can monitor your home while you’re away. You can remotely unlock the door at the scheduled time, monitor the worker on indoor or outdoor security cameras, and lock the door when they leave. Installing a video doorbell allows you to greet the contractor and confirm their identity before granting them access to your home.
Jason Stevens is a senior writer for Brinks Home™. He is a "tech guy" who enjoys sharing home security and automation tips with others.
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