Ordering an appliance in the age of COVID-19
May 19, 2020 5:10 PM   Subscribe

Has anyone recently bought a new appliance during the last few months? My mother needs a new range and microwave and I can't figure out how to make this work... and I'm kind of catastrophizing. Did they install it? Did they haul it away?

Her stovetop works, but the oven has issues, so she hasn't been using it. Also, coincidentally, her microwave is broken as well! So this is just great. I feel like I have to risk my mother not eating/eating more poorly w/o a microwave OR the general risks of COVID-19.

If you've ordered a major appliance in the last few months? How did it go? How was the process? Did they install it for you? Did the haul the old appliance away?

I'm finding it very difficult to get this information from appliance stores! I'm already taking a week off of work to check on my mother (we talked about it and considered the risks), as I haven't checked on her since late February. I was hoping that I could have her new range and microwave delivered during my visit. She doesn't want people delivering/installing it without me there. Whatever, I get it.

There are options on the Home Depot for hauling away the old appliance, but... are they ACTUALLY hauling stuff away? It's very unclear to me! Same with installation. Her microwave is an above the range microwave, so replacing that myself would be a nightmare. I'm having difficulty even contacting the store to determine this. I feel like I'm really in a bind here.

The old range absolutely has to be hauled away once it's delivered, where does one keep an unused range in their house?! And the new one absolutely has to be put in the house, again, I can't do that on my own! I can't haul in an oven to the house myself. I called another major appliance dealer in my mother's city and the guy almost laughed at me when I asked about installation and said they're only doing curbside drop off. Well, obviously curbside drop off is not a solution for us at the moment when it comes to receiving a new range. I get it, but I also don't get how I'm supposed to solve this issue for my mother!

I guess I can wait until this is all over (who knows when that is) and buy her a countertop microwave to use in the meantime? I'm really stressed out about this and I can't figure out a solution that makes sense.
posted by VirginiaPlain to Home & Garden (25 answers total)
My friend's installed microwave broke a few weeks ago. She got a countertop one for now. It's not ideal but it's much better than not having one at all. I also own a powerful toaster oven that I really like and use much more than my oven. Perhaps just ordering a toaster oven and a microwave and using those for the duration would greatly reduce the stress. If counter space is an issue, maybe a rolling cart could hold one or both appliances?
posted by k8lin at 5:21 PM on May 19, 2020 [8 favorites]

Home Depot has a special phone number specifically for questions about appliance installation. Did you call it and ask them? 1-877-WIN-WTHD

I've never had an appliance install from Home Depot, but I have from Sears. At least for the appliance I got from Sears they handled their installs via third party, and there was a lot of variance in what they would do. Sears took my order, but Sears wasn't who physically came and did the work. I was contacted the day after purchase by a local contractor to arrange the install. (They hauled away the old appliance, for what that's worth to you.)
posted by phunniemee at 5:22 PM on May 19, 2020

We purchased a washing machine for my ailing brother in law from Home Depot. They came, installed it, and took the old one away. It was seamless, he was delighted. I recommend that. We're doing the same with a fridge for our rental property in a state thousands of miles away on Thursday. We've also had plumbers out and they've worked with us to do the work with no contact with us.
posted by shadygrove at 5:24 PM on May 19, 2020

Home Depot has a special phone number specifically for questions about appliance installation. Did you call it and ask them? 1-877-WIN-WTHD

I've actually been on hold with Hope Depot Canada for almost an hour and a half (!!!!). I'm not sure if I'll actually be able to ask them my questions myself.
posted by VirginiaPlain at 5:35 PM on May 19, 2020

I just did a version of this: ordered a new range for the stove and wiped it down with disinfectant spray when it arrived. In my case, a friend was able to come over and install it, which he did while I remained in another part of the house. I just left the door open for him to come in and out so we had no contact whatsoever. He wore a mask, came in and did the work, then I sanitized door handles and surfaces when I went back into the space. I would imagine you could have a conversation with whomever comes out to install the appliances for your mother about setting up a similar process, and that this is probably pretty standard for businesses who are doing any kind of home installation at this point.
posted by sleepingwithcats at 5:35 PM on May 19, 2020

Seconding k8lin. Get a $100 induction cooktop (e.g. Duxtop 9600LS), any microwave, and a Breville Air Oven (big enough for a turkey). All set.

We have a fully functional range and oven, and still do all our cooking on the above.

Outsourced install service from Home Depot and Costco are highly variable. Our last install of a fancy double oven from Costco took 3 months and several delays.
posted by dum spiro spero at 5:37 PM on May 19, 2020 [1 favorite]

I've had to replace both a washing machine and a refrigerator since this started. I am living without a microwave now because mine is over the range, and I just don't think that's worth the hassle of replacing it. I can share my experiences with you and maybe it will help.

I used a local appliance store instead of a big box store because I wanted to be able to talk to a salesperson who would help me out. So that is the first thing I'd recommend if it's an option where your mom lives. I worked with the same person throughout what turned out to be a long process. I ordered both the washing machine and the refrigerator at the same time. I was told that they did not require their employees to go in the house - which I theoretically support, but which created a problem for me. I was very clear with the salesman that I would refuse delivery if the person wouldn't bring it in the house, so we went with that. I also told him that I would not accept delivery if they would not take the old appliances away. The refrigerator was going to take longer to deliver, so I started with the washing machine. The first delivery person to bring it told me he was not allowed to come in the house, so I refused the order. I also wrote the salesperson an angry email (which I regret) because I had told him that I could only take it if it the person brought it in the house, and they had apparently changed their policy. He told me that the person was allowed to come in the house and was probably trying not to hurt my feelings (he didn't get anywhere near the house, so it wasn't based on an assessment of my house). So it wasn't actually a change in policy and was nothing the salesperson could have foreseen (I apologized profusely). Anyway, the salesperson was very committed to getting me the washing machine (I did tell him I am being treated for cancer and absolutely could not use a laundromat), and he found two guys who agreed to definitely bring it in and install it. They did that, and there was no problem with it. I sent them a $100 tip through the salesperson (I later wished I'd given them cash on the spot for my own peace of mind, but I think it worked out OK).

The refrigerator also had some problems because the first refrigerator they sent was very damaged - the seal was broken - so I turned that down (those were the only delivery people who weren't masked, which did bother me). But the second one was brought in and the old one was taken away. I also tipped them $100.

I think an important thing to remember is that things are changing all the time. When I first placed the order, I was told that they were currently still allowed to bring stuff in the house, but that they couldn't guarantee that wouldn't change by the time of delivery. I ended up with a total of four delivery days, since in each case, the first delivery didn't work out. This created a lot of anxiety for me - it was not fun.

Throughout both deliveries, I stayed far away from the delivery men. But the first guys to bring the refrigerator didn't seem to get the social distancing thing. They came straight to my door and handed me the paperwork - the others stayed far back and put the paperwork on a table.

So it's very possible this is doable, but if it's not, in your place I might consider a countertop microwave. Also, since the range still works, would one of the larger toaster ovens be an option for now? They make some that might be large enough for your mom's needs, assuming she's not cooking a Thanksgiving turkey.

Good luck.
posted by FencingGal at 5:38 PM on May 19, 2020

sleepingwithcats I think what makes the delivery part tricky for my mother is that she wants me to be there for her physical safety (versus COVID-19 concerns), because she's elderly and lives alone. I think she's more afraid of something happening with the deliverers or installers than catching the virus. I doubt anything WOULD happen, but as an older woman living alone (and with all her issues), I don't blame her. So if something is delivered, I'll have to be there.

dum spiro spero Okay, I'm intrigued by the Breville Air Oven! I didn't know such things existed. I'm curious about that, but it's almost as much as the range she'd buy lol!

I think I'm really more concerned about the delivery drivers not hauling the old items away. I know that sometimes people ran into trouble with that pre-covid. I remember my dad having to fight like hell for an appliance retailer to take away our old washer and dryer after they delivered his new set, even though they said they haul away old appliances!
posted by VirginiaPlain at 5:46 PM on May 19, 2020

You are overthinking here. Installation and haul-away are very common aspects of appliance delivery. You will be able to select or decline these options when you order. When you order from Home Depot or Lowe’s you will be contacted by the delivery service and you can also confirm the services that will be performed upon delivery.
posted by gnutron at 6:06 PM on May 19, 2020 [4 favorites]

My fridge died a couple weeks ago. We called the repair guy. He arrived wearing a mask. He wore it the while time. Fridge was not repairable. I called the store the guy was affiliated with. Told them what I wanted, they've ordered. They delivered a rental fridge and took the old one away. My new fridge is coming Thursday.

Look for a local small guy. If you dont like their answer move to the next one.
posted by Ftsqg at 6:14 PM on May 19, 2020 [2 favorites]

When you order the item you should be able to choose both Installation and Haul-Away during the checkout process. You will have to pay extra for each. It is worth it.
posted by nkknkk at 6:20 PM on May 19, 2020

My fridge just conked out. Long story, but I've ordered a new one, due to be delivered/installed next Tuesday. I checked the option for them to take the old one away and should get a call about delivery closer to the delivery date. It sounds like the delivery folks should be wearing masks & taking all precautions. Good luck!
posted by wiskunde at 6:40 PM on May 19, 2020

If you want this taken care of rapidly with as little fuss as possible at the cost of perhaps needing to do things again later:

1) countertop microwave
2) countertop oven (Cuisinart, Breville, and so on)
3) portable induction "burner" like the Duxtop mentioned above
3a) if her existing cookware is magnetic, she's set. Otherwise, an inexpensive skillet and sauce pan should be purchased as well since induction requires magnetic cookware.

...the only cooking she will not be able to do with this setup is Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter feasts that involve turkeys, large hams, etc. with multiple side-dishes that need different temperatures and prep methods.

When I lived in Chicago, with a double wall oven and a countertop like the Breville Smart Oven, the only time I used my wall oven was when I was making something like Bo Ssam that needed a huge hunk of meat. Roughly 95% of my "oven" use was on the countertop model.

Induction is ludicrously safe and just plain excellent -- rapid response, high power, accurate settings, and ultra-low "melt" temps that will never ever burn. I used to love gas, and I will never go back to gas.

Buying the items above, along with tossing the old microwave, will mean that you can deal with everything else later. She'll be set to cook, and nobody is setting foot inside the house.
posted by aramaic at 6:48 PM on May 19, 2020 [2 favorites]

My inclination would also be the Breville, a microwave, and one or two induction burners. Pick up a couple-three-four commercial quarter-sheet baking pans for the Breville - they're sturdy, don't buckle, and they get a weird funky patina if you put them through the dishwasher but I just do that and cover them with foil or a silpat so food doesn't touch it.
posted by Lyn Never at 7:24 PM on May 19, 2020 [1 favorite]

My local Home Depot has a $25 charge for moving or hauling away an oven so I would assume that if they charge you they will do it.

Since your mother is mostly concerned about her safety, how about if you AND she both stay in another room while the workmen are there and then you take charge of wiping down the kitchen when they finish.
posted by metahawk at 7:47 PM on May 19, 2020

My mom's dishwasher died in early April and Home Depot's guys came in and installed a new one, hauled away the old one, and it was easy peasy. They did wear masks into the home.
posted by choochoo at 7:51 PM on May 19, 2020

Canadian federal government list of essential services includes appliance sales and installation, so a local appliance dealer might be worth contacting rather than one of the big online ones. My mum lives in a very small Ontario town and shopping local ended up being simpler than going through Rona, HD or Costco. They had a couple guys on speed dial who swapped in the new one and took away the old unit.

Stoves don't require any installation as long as they fit in the same space, so delivery will include setup. Can your mum live with the microwave on the counter until such time as it can be mounted? (Again, I'd shop for one the same dimensions and it might be no biggie to get it put in place).

If your mum is like mine, she's not going to want to deal with any sort of new cooking tech right now. Have her measure the old stove and then either go online and filter by dimensions or call/email locally. I found the delivery times kind of long when I was looking, which was another reason we went with a small local shop. The price wasn’t lowest but it was certainly the most convenient.

I was in touch with big retailers by phone and in person and assured by each that the fridge would be carried inside and set in place. This was just a few days before the quarantine went into effect...so maybe some things have changed but a I can’t see that it makes sense for anyone to drop a stove in the driveway of an elderly person.
posted by bonobothegreat at 7:53 PM on May 19, 2020

Anyone with a truck can haul away the old range. If the range is electric, installation is pretty simple and can also be done by pretty much anyone. When we got a new range a few years ago we had planned to have it installed but ended up having to do it ourselves and it wasn't hard. I would order from Home Depot and if it turns out they aren't currently doing installation or hauling away old appliances then I would just find someone else to do that work for you. (If they are delivering to your house, it's hard to imagine they wouldn't at least be willing to bring it into the house for you, even if they're not doing installation.) There's probably some kind of local forum where you can post that you want to pay someone to move in a new range and haul away an old one. Or your mom may know someone who has a young, strong college age kid who would be happy to make a little money coming over with a friend to do the work.
posted by Redstart at 8:04 PM on May 19, 2020

Why not just buy an Instant Pot and use it for everything in the meantime? I would buy the six quart instantly if I could afford one.

When the pandemic dies down, you can get everything replaced properly.
posted by whitelotus at 8:13 PM on May 19, 2020

My washing machine failed right at the beginning of of lockdown. Home Depot brought & installed new washer and dryer within the week, and hauled the old ones away. As noted above, you have to order these services when you buy the appliances at a fairly nominal charge. Delivery guys were masked and kept distance. It was actually the smoothest appliance replacement I’ve had!
posted by tinymojo at 9:08 PM on May 19, 2020

another vote for a toaster oven in the interim — I use mine 10x more than my actual oven, which is pretty much cookies-only.
posted by changeling at 10:16 PM on May 19, 2020

Don't buy a new and different appliance for an elderly woman used to an oven.
posted by quaking fajita at 3:54 AM on May 20, 2020 [10 favorites]

I've been in the habit of buying appliances from a particular local store. They're knowledgeable, help you deal with the manufacturer if you later have warranty issues, and deliver, install, and remove the old thing. I've compared prices with the big box stores and after adding in what the big box stores charge for delivery and installation, this store is at least within a few dollars in price.

And by dealing with the same people, I have peace of mind. I'm not against big box stores. For many things--a special light bulb, a particular piece of replacement hardware--they're often the only choice.
posted by tmdonahue at 6:01 AM on May 20, 2020

My oven died a while ago, and Ikea had a sale on ranges, so I ordered a new range.

Ordering came with plenty of warnings about delivery delays due to Covid. So far, they're on track to meet my delivery window.

I got an update email today, saying that because of Covid, the delivery guys will only deliver to my door. Not to the room I need it in.

For me, this is not necessarily a problem. Just that you need to see in the fine print if the usual delivery procedures will even apply. Also, the delivery guys are independent contractors hired by Ikea, so who knows what the story is when they actually get here.

They will also not haul my old range away. Again, for me this isn't a huge problem, as I'll wheel it out to my corner, and in my town some scrap trader will take it away before sundown.
posted by Capt. Renault at 6:57 AM on May 20, 2020

Thanks for the advice.

I'll go ahead and order the new range as it sounds like they WILL take the old one away. I'll ignore the over the range microwave at the moment and just get her a countertop microwave.

I've tried to call the local Home Depot store near my mother's house AND the corporate Home Depot Canada to schedule an installation for the over the range microwave, but it's been excruciatingly difficult to even get a hold of anyone. Corporate says I'm supposed to contact the store directly, but no one is ever available to speak to at the store about this. The woman at the customer service desk actually got upset with me for calling and told me to just come into the store to arrange it and hung up on me!!!
posted by VirginiaPlain at 10:17 AM on May 20, 2020

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