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How to Handle Friends That Want Free HVAC Work

Repairing Air Conditioner
The HVAC field is a popular pick these days, with a much faster than average projected job growth outlook through 2026 as proof.
Not only are there HVAC jobs aplenty to be had, but in this field, you'll gain a skill-set that qualifies you to work in a variety of settings. Whether you work for the government, a private heating/cooling company, or yourself, you probably don’t want to work for your friend, sibling, or neighbor — especially not for free.
Take a look at the top tips for handling those people in your life that want to benefit from your HVAC skills for free.

Set Clear Boundaries

You’re not alone if you want to help your friends and loved ones. But you need to understand the difference between lending some professional advice and being taken advantage of. While answering a question or two probably won't throw a major wrench into your day, installing a new thermostat may.
If a friend or family member asks for help, set boundaries immediately. Be clear about how far you'll go to help. You might have to get specific and stick to your own rules. Let your friend know that you feel uncomfortable crossing these boundaries. Chances are they don't even realize they're asking too much of you. After telling them, they will likely understand and respect the lines that you've drawn.

Talk About Prices

Do you feel comfortable working free? If the answer to this question is yes, you still have another issue to contend with — the costs of materials. Before agreeing to help out a friend, neighbor, or family member, discuss the possible process of the materials you'll need.
Ask your friend if they prefer to buy the items necessary for the repair themselves or if they want you to get them. If you have a professional supplier, you may be able to get the supplies at a reduced rate. Never use parts (or any other supplies or repair items) that your employer stocks — that is, unless you're doing the job in an official capacity and charging your friend or family member a customer rate.

Trade Services

If you are certain you don’t want to work for free, talk to the friend or family member about the possibility of a trade. A trade allows you to get something in return for your time without having to awkwardly ask for money. Think of this as a friendly, favor-for-a-favor transaction.
The key to making this method work is finding an equal trade. A friend repairing a light switch isn't on par with your new air conditioning condenser installation job.

Recommend Your Employer

Referring business to your place of employment is always a positive act. If you don't feel comfortable working for your friends for free, encourage them to call the company that you work for (as long as you work for a residential HVAC service provider).
The friend or family member will have peace of mind, knowing that they can trust the quality of the workmanship that you'll provide. You may also be able to get your friend a special discount or schedule them a priority appointment.
Along with your friend benefiting from this type of arrangement, you'll get to provide help to someone who you care about without losing money. The referral will likely score points with your boss, making you look like a top-notch employee.
If you do go this route, you should separate your personal and professional relationships. Treat your friend or relative like they're any other client.

Gain Experience

The person asking for you to help them out isn't the only one who can benefit from this type of arrangement. If you do decide to work for free, pick situations or services that can add to the existing experience you have.
This doesn't mean that you should try something new that you've never done before. Leave that for on-the-job experiences that you engage in under the supervision of an expert technician. But if you're looking to add hours of experience to your resume, this is one way to do it.
Are you ready to start your HVAC career? Contact DeHart Technical School for more information.