PlumbLine Services of Centennial sent customers a postcard outlining new government-mandated changes to water heaters that could affect restricted spaces. Photo by Tom Barry
By Tom Barry
In mid-April, homeowners may now have two things to dread – taxes and new government regulations on water heaters. Homeowners with a restricted space could literally and figuratively be in hot water if they need to replace their current water heater due to age, corrosion or other issues.
On April 16, the U.S. Department of Energy is mandating that the Energy Factor ratings on residential water heaters be more efficient. This action has resulted in manufacturers adding two to four inches to the size of new heaters, along with two inches in height.
While a few inches might not sound like much, consumers with limited or restricted spaces could face a real challenge squeezing in the new stainless-steel tank, especially with significantly more insulation blanketing the unit.
Recently, this reporter received a promotional postcard from Centennial’s PlumbLine Services. The card noted, “Higher priced units – up to 35 percent more expensive [and] more complicated installation requirements. Possible significant home remodeling costs if your water heater is located in a small space like a closet or attic.”
After requesting a water-heater inspection, two licensed plumbers checked out the existing unit that had survived well beyond its normal lifespan. They pointed out the flue and gas shut-off valve would have to be updated to meet current code and suggested other safety improvements. The servicemen provided a written estimate, along with six choices of units with labor that escalated to around $1,500.
“The industry is already experiencing problems obtaining new stock from major manufacturers in advance of the new government mandates,” said Bob Logan, general manager of the 16-year-old company. “Once the new stock comes in, whatever the new costs are, we will have to pass them on to the customers. Some manufacturers will increase the size of the heaters by two to four inches in the overall diameter, along with increasing the height by an additional two inches.”
Logan noted that prices would increase significantly and he anticipated that by June most manufacturers would have depleted their stock of the older units.
“You get what you pay for,” said Logan, noting that customers should check out the longevity and customer service of the company installing a new heater, making sure it maintains a professional license and provides a city/county permit.
Current water-heater models can still be purchased, but by the middle of the month manufacturers will no longer be able to produce the units.
For more information, visit www1.eere.energy.gov.
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