When to Give (or Not Give) a Tip for In-Home Services Like Plumbing

Is there ever a scenario where you should tip your plumber or cleaning lady? According to these professionals, yes.

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Most people generally leave a tip at restaurants, hair salons, and for food delivery. In fact, a 2022 survey by CreditCards.com on tipping habits found that 73% of people always tip at sit-down restaurants, and 57% tip for food delivery. While there are clearer rules on tipping etiquette at restaurants and many other service scenarios that usually require tips, what about services in your home such as plumbing, cleaning, moving, or gardening? Do you need to tip a plumber who fixes a leaky sink, for example? The rules can vary and are less clear.

"Generally, in-home services don't require a tip in the same way the service industry does," says Chaz Wyland, former handyman and carpenter. "That said, it does happen—and I'll tell you through first-hand experience, it's much appreciated," adds Wyland. While it's not always the norm to tip for these services, there are a few situations where it would be a good idea to tip a service provider for work in your home.

Tip Etiquette for Home Services

Professionals Who Come to Your Home Often

Giving yearly tips to those who work in your home often is "a good rule of thumb when it comes to tipping home service professionals," says Gene Caballero, co-founder of lawn care company GreenPal.

For regular service professionals that come to your home, you could give seasonal tips, such as around the holidays. "A seasonal tip would be a nice gesture. It would be nice to give that person a tip equal to the cost of one week's service," says Ted Rossman, senior industry analyst at CreditCards.com. You could also give a gift as a token of appreciation during the holidays.

Emergency Service Calls

If someone goes above and beyond or comes in on a weekend for an emergency repair, give them a tip. Jake Romano, who works for plumbing service John the Plumber, recalls when one of his colleagues had a clogged drain explode all over him. "That family tipped him very generously, and it managed to make his day a little better after such a terrible experience," says Romano. "The truth is that so few people tip plumbers that anything is very appreciated," he adds.

Tipping people for providing exceptional service in your home is a good way to maintain a relationship with that person, and show your appreciation. "I always tip the cleaner at my rental property whenever she does something beyond her scope of work," says money-saving expert Andrea Woroch. "It just goes to show that I appreciate the extra effort and am not taking her services for granted," she explains.

Again, how much you give doesn't matter as much as the gesture itself when it comes to tipping for at-home services, so feel free to base it on the level of service and nature of the job (i.e., leave a tip if it's a particularly difficult or strenuous repair). "I don't think it's expected by any means, especially if you negotiate a rate for regular monthly or weekly service," she adds.

Workers From Bigger Agencies or Organizations

For those who rely mainly on tips, such as if they work for an agency, it is a good idea to tip. "You should be tipping 15 to 20% based on the quality of service," says Carter Seuthe, CEO of debt reduction platform CreditSummit. "This tip goes specifically to the worker(s) who did the job, whereas the full cost of the contract is split between the organization and the workers," explains Seuthe. Woroch says if a service professional owns their business, they're likely keeping most of the money you give them, so tipping regularly isn't always necessary.

Bottom Line

Tipping isn't generally required for at-home services, but it is always appreciated. If you get exceptional service or if they provide regular services in your home, leaving tips on a seasonal basis is recommended.

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