Soothe sore muscles and ease tension with the help of a new whirlpool
Climbing into a whirlpool tub is like lying down on a masseuse's table.
Tension, pain, stress and discomfort all fall away while powerful jets of
water massage your body and gentler streams soothe it. Once considered a
high-class luxury item, whirlpool tubs, also known as air tubs or bubble tubs,
are becoming more readily available and increasingly popular in both new homes
and remodeled bathrooms. With a wealth of styles, colors, sizes and features
available, you'll have little trouble finding one that fits your budget and
your bathroom. Consider the following questions as you shop:
Installation Considerations, Construction and Design
The hydro-massage of a whirlpool tub has countless benefits, ranging from relieving stress to promoting better circulation and soothing sore muscles. While top-of-the-line units with fancy features are expensive, basic units won't break the bank and offer the same array of benefits. Because of their larger size, you may find whirlpool tubs are easier to use than a conventional tub when it comes to activities such as bathing children or pets. Showers may be incorporated into some units, allowing you to choose between a quick clean and a slow soak. Air and water jets both provide effective massages, though water jets will require a little more maintenance, so determine how much time you're willing to spend maintaining your tub prior to purchasing.
Installation Considerations: One of the first things you'll have to determine is what size whirlpool tub your bathroom can accommodate. If you're replacing an old tub, you may be somewhat limited in your options. You may also need to upgrade your water heater or consider adding a second one. As a general rule, your water heater should have a capacity around 2/3 of the tub's capacity to provide enough hot water. If you install a heavy tub, particularly one made of a material like cast iron, you may need to reinforce the floor below to support it. If your old unit had a wall-mount faucet and your new tub has a deck-mounted spout, you'll need to reconfigure the plumbing.
Parts and Materials: Pumps, motors, switches and wiring are all
necessary components in a whirlpool tub. You'll also need to choose a finish
that will hold up well over time, resist scratches and dents and complement
the surrounding décor. Consult the chart below for quick overview of each of
these vital elements.
|Part||Application||Points to Consider|
Jets: Whirlpools may use air jets, water jets or a combination of the two to move water throughout the tub. All jets have a vented constriction at the opening called a venturi, which injects air into the water. Water jets provide a strong, powerful stream and generally have fewer, larger openings. They recycle the water in the tub, meaning that there may be some water residue left in them once you're done bathing. If not regularly cleaned, this can lead to a buildup of mold and bacteria. You'll also have to avoid using aromatherapy salts and oils, as they may leave residue in the pipes as well. Air jets are a more recent development that uses a larger number of smaller openings to provide a full-body massage. No water flows through them, so they're less likely to be clogged by hair and other debris and are safe for use with bath salts and oils.
Design Configurations: As with regular tubs, whirlpool tubs are
available in a number of different configurations. Recessed, or alcove, tubs
butt up against walls on one side and both ends and feature one finished side,
which is called the apron. Corner whirlpools are ideal in smaller bathrooms or
for providing a more open feel. Platform tubs, also called drop-in tubs, are
placed in their own platform. This style requires more carpentry work but
offers tremendous placement and design versatility. If you want a larger,
two-person whirlpool, a drop-in unit may be just what you're looking for.
Heaters: Some tub materials retain heat fairly well, but without a heater, water will eventually become cold. If you like to relax and soak in the tub for a long time, look for a whirlpool with a built-in heater that will keep water warmer longer so you can soothe your aching muscles.
Slip-Resistant Floors: Tubs can be slippery, so look for a whirlpool with a slip-resistant floor to help avoid accidents.
Protected Jets: Motors can be expensive to repair. Protected jets save wear and tear on the motor by automatically cutting the power as soon as the water level drops below the jets.
Mood Lights and Entertainment System: Chromatherapy, which uses a dazzling array of lights to soothe your tired body, is a recent trend in home comfort. Whirlpools that incorporate lights can be used to help you recuperate after a long day or set the mood for a romantic evening. Flat-screen televisions and a stereo system give you the ability to watch your favorite movies and shows in complete comfort.
Waterproof Pillow: Take some strain off your neck and make your time in the tub more enjoyable with the addition of a waterproof pillow.
Handheld Showers: A handheld shower makes rinsing off or washing your hair much easier than trying to contort your body to fit underneath the faucet.
Grab bars will make it easier to climb into and out of your new whirlpool.
Choose a faucet that perfectly complements the design of your whirlpool tub.