Do You Tip HVAC Installers - and How Much?

Written by Jim Belt in How Much To Tip

Getting an AC installed or repaired, and not sure if you should tip the guy? I wanted to find out what most people do, so I went after it. Here is what I found.

Should you tip HVAC installers, and how much? Most people agree you don't have to tip HVAC installers. Like most tradesmen, they are paid by the hour by their employer. They don't depend on tips to complete their income. People that do tip, give on average $20. Most people offer some drinks and maybe even lunch. Restroom use is appreciated.

There are no real standards for tipping tradesmen. Some people think you really shouldn't. But what do the HVAC installers think of it? Read on to find out.

Tipping Customs

Tipping not customary

In this article:

  1. Should I Tip HVAC Installers, and How Much?
  2. What Do HVAC Installers Make?
  3. What Do HVAC Installers Think Themselves?
  4. If You Don't Tip, Just Be Kind
  5. In Conclusion

Should I Tip HVAC Installers, and How Much?

HVAC installers are paid reasonably well for their labor. That's why most people don't tip them. Most people do offer them drinks or even breakfast or lunch. HVAC installers appreciate some cold drinks and restroom use. They don't expect you to tip. However, if you do, chances are it will be appreciated.

By the way, you should only tip if you have the money to spare.

"While it’s not an uncommon occurrence, it also doesn’t happen with regularity."
Christina Johnson, owner of Supreme Heating & Air Conditioning Co. Inc. on The ACHR News

Some people are afraid to offend the installer by offering a tip. That's really not necessary. Just don't push the matter if they say no. Also, I've found it really helps to make clear you're tipping because you like the work so much, not out of charity.

Bottom line: If you don't want to tip your installer for whatever reason, you really don't have to. It's not customary. If you do want to, you definitely can. Most HVAC companies don't have a 'no-tipping policy' in place.

To tip or not to tip

I've read dozens of forums and hundreds of people's opinions on the matter. Almost everyone agrees: you really don't need to tip tradesmen in general. However, that doesn't mean that you shouldn't. In some cases, it might be a great idea to tip someone for extraordinary work. Below I'll list the most common reasons people have for tipping.

Most people consider tipping when:

  • the installer has to work at odd hours (at night, early in the morning)
  • the installer has to work in extreme heat or cold for a long period of time
  • the installer does his/her utmost best to wrap up the project quickly
  • the installer leaves the job site cleaner than he/she found it

Most people don't tip when:

  • the tradesman is the business owner or employer
  • you already pay top dollar for a ordinary job (the hourly rate clearly has a built-in premium)
  • the HVAC installer does a bad job
  • he or she makes a mess or is impolite

This is what people tip on average:

If you do decide to give the installers a tip, here's what most people give:

  • On average, people tip $20 - $25 per person
  • Helpers get around $5

Only a small percentage of people do tip, however.

What Do HVAC Installers Make?

HVAC installers make on average $15 - $20 per hour, averaging at $16.68 per hour (based on 2,006 salaries - source).

What Do HVAC Installers Think Themselves?

Installing AC and heating is hard work. Installers have to work in tight spaces, like crawl spaces, the attic, and so on. It's often extremely hot or cold. Obviously - there's no heating, ventilation, and air conditioning installed. This makes the work tiring.

Most installers like the work and think they work for decent companies. They have decent benefits. However, some think their pay seems low. The workload can be intense, with long hours, dirty job sites, and unpredictable schedules.

(Based on 71 reviews, source)

“If a customer is so pleased with the work of our technicians and feels they went above and beyond what was expected, receiving a tip boosts their egos and improves morale.”
Christina Johnson, owner of Supreme Heating & Air Conditioning Co. Inc. - Source

It's patronizing to tip a tradesman

Some people think it's patronizing to tip a tradesman. They take pride in their work and are paid well. That may be true, but in my experience, the problem isn't so much that you want to tip them, but how you do it. Any tradesman is flattered if you tell him or her you think highly of their work. Offering to tip them is simply offering additional payment for an excellent job.

Also, if you do decide to tip, tip them well. A $5 bill will definitely seem like charity for anyone that makes triple that an hour.

If You Don't Tip, Just Be Kind

There are other things you could do, though. Here are some common ones:

  • provide early access to the job site with extreme heat
  • provide temporary heating at the job site with extreme cold
  • make sure the job site is clean and accessible
  • be kind

Provide early access to the job site with extreme heat

Here's a great tip I found - I think it's really smart. If it's extremely hot in your area, you could offer the installers early access to the job site (ie. your attic). It can get very, very hot up there around noon. They might actually really like the idea of getting started early in the morning and finishing the job before noon. You have to wake up real early though since installation can take up to 9 hours on average.

Provide temporary heating

If it's extremely cold where you live, and there's no real heating yet (that's why the installer is coming right?), you could consider providing some form of temporary heating. Placing an ordinary Space Heater at the job site will probably improve the installer's mood a lot - maybe even more than a big old tip.

Be kind

While most people don't tip for HVAC installation, almost everyone agrees you should respect any workers coming to your house trying to fix stuff. They are, after all, here to help YOU out. Yes, you're paying for the work, but in return they are investing their time in your quality of life. The least you could do is being appreciative.

Most people will offer some drinks, cold water or coffee - or buy lunch or dinner. Some even prepare a homemade fry up themselves! That's really something.

Also, most tradesmen really appreciate being able to use the restroom. I always let people use my toilet - and in my experience they're always really tidy and polite about it.

In Conclusion

There you have it. It's not mandatory and not even customary to tip the AC guy. But you definitely can, if you want to. Most will appreciate it. As with any skilled laborer, a real conversation, some drinks and real appreciation for the work go a long way. And if you want to do something extra, you have plenty of options.


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