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What do know about walk-in bathtubs?
Why walk-in tubs:
Walk-in tubs are becoming more common in homes with elderly members who have mobility issues. It’s an easy way to access a bathtub for those who experience difficulty getting into a regular tub. A walk-in tub has been designed where an elderly person can easily walk into the tub using safety rails and other safety procedures to wash themselves.
- Walk-in tubs are also becoming popular with active members of the household who would like a personal sitting tub that functions like a hot tub for soothing muscle and joint pain. These tubs are an alternative to a sauna room and/or larger hot tub that you must maintain on the outside.
- Unlike regular hot tubs, you simply fill up the tub and turn on the jets. It a nice way to get a hot soak without the chemical and maintenance upkeep of a regular hot tub.
- INFO: Why You Might Want to Consider Walk-in Tubs
INFO: Pros and cons of walk-in tubs
Notes on what to know:
You need to easily walk into the tub and close the door:
That’s the purpose of the tub – easy walk-in access without having to climb over a threshold of a regular tub; perfect for elderly members who find it difficult to use a regular tub.
- So when searching for a walk-in tub, make sure the door entrance is wide enough for you to enter. Likewise, check the height of the threshold. Can you easily step over the lip to get in the tub without much difficulty? You want to find a tub with the lowest threshold possible to allow access for years to come.
- Almost all walk-in tubs have the door that swings inward. The tub needs to be large enough so that you can easily enter, find your place to sit, and then close the door without you having to crunch up or maneuver awkwardly to get the door securely closed.
- Some tub doors swing outward, giving you full access inside the tub to maneuver. But you will need to secure the closing of the door before you sit down that could be somewhat difficult with mobility issues.
- It’s best to physically try different models of walk-in tubs for maneuverability and comfort before making a purchase.
- INFO: the complete guide for walk-in tubs
INFO: Buying A Walk-In Bathtub – Your Biggest Mistake?
- YOUTUBE: Consumer Guide to Walk in Tubs
YOUTUBE: Walk-In Tubs Prices – How Much Do Walk In Bathtubs Cost?
You need to fill the tub quickly:
Once you are securely inside the tub with the door closed, it’s time to fill the tub. But note that tub takes about ~50+ gallons of water to fill up. Depending on your water pressure and plumbing, you could spend 10-15 minutes in the tub waiting for the tub to fill up – making your tub experience chilly and not enjoyable.
- Many walk-in models come with fast fill-up technology – which means they have a pump that pulls the water from the plumbing to quickly fill the tub. Other models come with two fill-up faucets – both working together to quickly fill the tub.
- But to get a quick fill, you need to have high capacity faucets that can accommodate higher volume and pressure. This only works if your currently plumbing can support the added pressure at about 60 psi.
- It’s important to have a professional plumber check your plumbing before installation. You might need to install new high capacity pipes so that you can fill the tub within 2-3 minutes.
- Another item that must be consider is the size of your current water heater. Walk-in tubs generally use 50 gallons of water or more. If you have a small water heater (40-60 gallons), you won’t be able to fill the entire tub with warm water.
- You may need to install a new water heating tank of 100 gallons or more and/or install a tank-less water heater to support the walk-in tub fill-up. Again, ask your plumber for best option.
- INFO: How long does it take to fill a walk in bathtub?
INFO: Hot Water Requirements for Walk-In Tubs
- YOUTUBE: Walk in Tub Electrical & Plumbing
YOUTUBE: Why Proper Walk-in Bathtub Installation is Important
Use the time to reduce inflammation:
The purpose of the tub (besides access for family members with mobility issues) is to soothe muscle and joint pain, along with any inflammation that you may have. Soaking in a warm tub is a perfect remedy. But as you can appreciate, the tub water starts to cool down after a few minutes.
- Some of the higher-end tub models come with built in water-heating that circulates and heats the water. It’s a nice feature to have to keep the water warm as you soak. If not, you might find yourself partially emptying the water to fill it up with hot water.
- Your walk-in tub will have sitting area where you can sit to enjoy the warm soak. Double check the sitting area for comfort. You might find some models that are not very comfortable for seating depending on your health issues. Also look for sitting areas that can be warmed – this is particularly useful if you have hip and back pain.
- INFO: The Ultimate Guide to Walk-In Tubs
INFO: 7 Benefits of Walk-In Tubs
- DEMO: Ella Ultimate Walk-In Tub
DEMO: American Standard Brands: Walk-in Bath Video Vignette
- DEMO: Belay™ Walk-in Bath
DEMO: Safe Step Walk-In Tub
- YOUTUBE: 10 Best Walk-In Bathtubs 2020
YOUTUBE: Top 5 Best Walk In Tubs 2020 Reviews
Some amenities to consider:
Walk-in tubs come with varying amenities that may be worth the purchase. These include the following:
Handheld shower head:
for those who prefer to take a quick shower without filling the tub.
Easy access faucets:
tub faucet and other controls that can be easily accessed from the sitting position – some coming with electronic controls for water intake, draining, jets and heating.
jetted water at varying locations to message certain areas of the body where you experience pain.
other therapeutic features such as water massage, air massage, chromotherapy, and aromatherapy. Many of these add-ons increase the cost of the tub.
very important feature for safety and mobility – especially with elderly care takers who must assist an elderly mother or father. These safety rails allow for easy entrance and exit.
the last thing you need is for an elderly member slip trying to exit the tub. These textural surfaces help keep steady footing.
some models are designed for a two-person walk-in tub – a seat for him and a seat for her. But larger tubs require more water that can add to your operating costs.
Wheel chair access:
for family members confined to wheelchairs, some walk-in tubs come with wheelchair access that makes it easier for entering and exiting the tub.
- FIND: walk-in tubs
FIND: walk-in bathtubs with jets
FIND: walk-in bathtub outward swing door
Finished – time to exit:
after spending some therapeutic time in the tub, it’s now time to exit and get dressed. But you must fully empty the tub before you open the door to exit. If you current plumbing drains are too small, your wait could be 10-15 minutes.
- Most walk-in models come with fast-draining technology – again like the water intake, they have a pump system that pumps the water out for quicker drain. Some models come with dual drains for double draining.
- But again, this all depends on your drain size if you want these features to fully work. You need to address the size of the drain with your plumber. The goal is to drain the tub within a 1-3 minutes for quick exit. That may require a bigger pipe drain than what you currently have.
- INFO: How much do walk-in tubs cost?
INFO: Walk-In Tubs: Everything You Need to Know, From the Pros
- YOUTUBE: Are Walk-in Bathtubs for seniors a good investment or a waste of money?
YOUTUBE: Walk-In Tub Review: The Disadvantages of a Walk-In Tub
We strongly suggest you complete a thorough research such as the following before you invest in any walk-in tub system:
Physically test different models:
thoroughly test different walk-in tub models by trying the access, sitting, accessing the controls, and exiting. Don’t just buy something online that you have not tested.
Meet with your plumber:
discuss your potential purchase with your plumber. Make sure your current plumbing can support the fast fill and drain technologies and other needs for a functioning tub. Also determine whether your current water heater can support the amount of heated water to fill the tub or whether you need a larger water heating system or tank-less system.
Research product reviews:
complete an internet search for product reviews. What is advertised might not be what other consumers have experienced. Check reviews of elderly care centers who have used varying walk-in tubs for several years.
- INFO: Best Walk in Tubs reviews
Understand the costs
– many walk-in tubs plus installation can cost anywhere from $4k on the low end to $10-15k or more for a tub that meets all of your requirements and specifications.
- INFO: How Much Does It Cost to Install a Walk-in Tub?
Check the amenities
Do you need them? Perhaps not. But if you are planning to make a big investment for health purposes, you might want to consider a few amenities that will make this tub function as you like
Will it give you re-sale value
That depends. If you live in a retirement community for 50+, then a walk-in tub could add to the resale value of the home. If you live in a regular neighborhood, it may not. A family with kids will find the walk-in tub not useful that may negate the value of the home.
Complete a cost-benefit analysis
The purpose of the tub if for therapeutic relief with easy access. If that is important for your health, then a walk-in may be worth the investment. However, if you a looking for a system for washing your body, than a walk-in shower may be a better investment. The walk-in shower with seating and safety rails has a better resale value that walk-in tubs.
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Cover image credit: what’s needed for walk in bathtub by gvdrenovationsinc.com
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