PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — It’s hard to imagine an American home without a working water heater, but if your heater fails this month, be prepared.

“I am still waiting to hear back from a couple of the guys to see what they have left on their truck,” a Mr. Waterheater telephone operator tells a customer.

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A new federal law that recently took effect requires water heater manufacturers to make a more energy efficient water heater.

But here’s the problem — the new heaters have not yet been delivered to area plumbers.

“Probably looking at the first of May before we have the new product on the shelf,” predicts Rob Eadie at Matt Mertz Plumbing.

So in the meantime, plumbers are selling out of the old heaters no longer allowed to be made.

“That was a 50-gallon power vent is what you had in there,” another operator says.

At Mr. Waterheater — one of the area’s largest installer of water heaters — the old ones have been going fast.

“We’re running very low. We need heaters soon no matter what they are,” Mr. Waterheater co-owner John Sembower told KDKA money editor Jon Delano.

Normally, Mr. Waterheater’s warehouse is completely full of water heaters, up to the ceiling. But that’s not the case now with a supply that might last a week or two.

And it’s possible customers won’t get the water heater they want.

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“Some people are out completely of different size heaters,” adds Eadie.

Like the popular 50-gallon gas heater which is sold out in some areas, including Matt Mertz Plumbing.

“Right now, we have a hold on 50 gallon gas heaters. We’re just waiting for the truck to come in,” says Eadie.

What’s exacerbating the problem is that many people decided to replace older but still working water heaters for one big reason — the new heaters will cost more.

“Thirty percent increase over the old style product,” says Eadie.

That’s a hundred fifty to several hundred bucks more expensive than the old models.

“Yeah, it was $619.97 for the standard installation,” the Mt. Waterheater phone operator tells a customer.

The next couple weeks are critical.

“We’re going to be crossing over,” says Sembower. “We’re going to be selling the old heaters until they’re gone.”

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