Solved! Do You Tip a Plumber?

Find out whether it’s ever appropriate to tip a plumber and, if so, how much of a tip is suitable for an exceptional job.

By Timothy Dale | Published Oct 26, 2021 10:51 AM

do you tip a plumber

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Q: I recently hired a plumber to fix a leak in my home. When the job was finished I tried to offer a tip, but the plumber informed me that he wasn’t allowed to accept tips. Do you tip a plumber or is it inappropriate to offer a tip?

A: In a society where hard work and excellent service are often rewarded with tips, it’s no surprise that people still ask do you tip plumbers and do you tip contractor workers? It’s true that some companies discourage customers from tipping contractors by instituting rules that prevent workers from accepting tips. In extraordinary circumstances, however, such as when a weekend plumber responds to an emergency flood in your basement, it may be appropriate to offer a tip for excellent service. Also, keep in mind that you don’t need to tip plumbers with money. You can instead offer to make them coffee while they’re working, or even give them a bottle of water.

Related: How Much Do You Tip Movers?

In general, plumbers do not expect tips.

Although you may be wondering whether you should tip a plumber or how much to tip general plumbers, it’s important to understand that plumbers don’t expect you to tip them. They are highly specialized professionals who have gone through years of training. With this in mind, plumbing companies pay licensed plumbers well. They don’t need to rely on tips from clients to supplement their income.

Recognizing that the cost of plumbing services is already high, and to prevent employees from demanding tips, some companies institute policies or rules that forbid their employees from receiving tips. The consequences for breaking these rules vary from company to company, but it’s possible that accepting a well-intentioned tip could cost a plumber their job, so always check the company website for any policies against tipping, and ask the plumber before offering a tip.

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Consider tipping for exceptional work or an especially difficult job.

Some plumbers are on call 24 hours a day. They are often pulled away from family time or even asked to come out to emergencies in the middle of the night. Some jobs require plumbers to spend hours running pipes, repairing existing plumbing, and installing toilets, faucets, and other plumbing fixtures. While it isn’t necessary to tip for standard work, such as fixing a leaky faucet or clearing a clog, when it comes to emergency calls, difficult repairs, or exceptional finish work, you should consider offering a tip.

If you know that you want to offer a tip but are unsure how much to tip a plumber, consider the amount of work that is being done, the time of day, and the difficulty of the job. In general, tips for plumbers should start at about $20 for less involved tasks, like drain cleaning, and should increase with the complexity of the job. It is typical to offer a tip of about 10 percent for difficult leak repairs, while a larger tip between $100 and $200 is suitable for extraordinary work, such as installing a new water line in the home.

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Sharing your positive experience online is as good as—if not better than—a tip.

Sometimes, instead of worrying about how much you should tip a plumber, you can show your appreciation for their hard work by talking to your friends, family, and neighbors about their service. Word of mouth helps companies grow and also helps them establish a customer base in an area.

Some companies maintain customer feedback sections on their website, where you can submit a positive review along with a short explanation of why you think the plumber did a great job. Other companies are listed on sites like Yelp. Positive reviews on these sites can go a long way toward improving the online presence of a company, generating more work for the plumbers they employ. This is one method of “tipping” for excellent service that is always appreciated.

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Offering a snack or cold drink is another alternative to a cash tip.

Offering a tip is a reasonable response when you are impressed with your plumber’s customer service or simply appreciate the job they did. If, however, a plumber is not allowed to accept cash tips, there are many other ways you can show your gratitude. Consider brewing a pot of coffee and offering some to the plumber if he’ll be on-site for a while. If the job is relatively short, offer prepackaged snacks or even bottles of water in place of a cash tip.

Just keep in mind that the plumber may have already eaten or may be too busy to accept a cup of coffee. Whether or not the plumber accepts the snack or drink, they will typically appreciate that the offer was made, so don’t push too hard if the plumber politely refuses. At the end of the day, the plumber will be paid well for the work and will know that you were grateful.

Related: 10 Plumbing Tips Everyone Needs to Know