Buying new water heater now could save you time and headaches later

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- If your hot water heater is in the attic, the changes coming next year could cost you hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars when it comes time to replace the unit, but if you act now you can save money.

Replacing a hot water heater was not on Charles Wheeler's New Year's Eve list, but...

"It went out during the night and leaked water everywhere," said Wheeler.

The Houston resident bought his new water heater for a very specific reason.

"We choose this one because it is the same size that went out, so it will slide right into the existing area we have," said Wheeler.

But that simple project is about to become much more difficult and cost a lot more, too.

Thanks to new federally mandated efficiency rules, hot water heaters are getting taller and wider, by as much as two inches. Repairmen say that small change will cause big problems for some home owners.

"Two inches does not seem like a lot until you try to get it up the attic stairs," said Jeff Thomas with John Moore Services.

Thomas says current hot water heaters barely fit through the attic stairwell space in most homes. Adding two more inches in width to the units may require homeowners to hire a contractor to widen the opening, adding hundreds to the cost.

Since water heaters in Houston last about 10 years, technicians like Brandon Knight with Wedgeworth Plumbing are warning customers about the changes now, before the higher costs come into play.

"We're seeing the age of them and we are going to recommend to people they go ahead and change them out, because the cost of the water heaters is going to go up dramatically too," said Knight.

The newer and bigger hot water heaters hit the market in April, so if you are thinking about replacing your hot water heater, now is the time to act.
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