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How to Choose a Whirlpool Bathtub as Per its Types and Your Needs

How to Choose a Whirlpool Bathtub as Per Your Needs
It calms, soothes, and relaxes; it is a luxury that now most people can afford. A whirlpool bathtub is a worthy investment, only if you read and understand the fine print.
Puja Lalwani
Last Updated: Aug 12, 2017
High Maintenance
Whirlpool tubs require a fair amount of time for cleaning and maintenance. Are you willing to spare that time?
Soaking in a bathtub after a long day is what most of us want. And you know what the icing on the cake is? Having a bathtub that massages those sore, aching muscles, soothes our tired bodies, and relaxes our very overworked mind. Say hello to the whirlpool bathtub, designed for the very active-but-exhausted-and-stressed modern individual.
What Does a Whirlpool Bathtub Do?
Man taking bath in bathtub
A whirlpool tub contains strategically located jets that push water or air, or a combination of both, at high pressure to massage various parts of the body. What you can now call a motorized masseuse, the whirlpool tub is known to relieve stress, muscle aches and pains, and even improve blood circulation.
What Should You Consider When Buying a Whirlpool Bathtub?
Your massage on demand comes at a price, and though once a luxury, it is now much more affordable, but there is a lot you need to look into before purchasing one. Here's a guide for you.
When to Start Looking
A whirlpool tub should ideally be purchased and installed during the construction of a home, in order to accommodate its civil, plumbing, and electrical requirements. While consulting a plumbing and electrical contractor before your purchase is mandatory, doing so in case you are looking to replace your existing regular bathtub with a whirlpool bathtub is more important. This is to understand if it will be feasible in the current setup.
Types of Jets
Whirlpool tubs offer two types of jets: air jets and water jets. Some may offer a combination of both.
Water Jets: A water-jet whirlpool tub contains multiple strategically located jets that push out water at a high speed to target different parts of the body for a rigorous massage.
These jets recycle the water in the tub; because of this, the use of bath salts and aromatherapy oils in the tub is not recommended as these may collect in the jets along with water and result in their malfunction, and/or the growth of bacteria and mold. Though there are cleaning instructions in place to eradicate these, the process is extremely tedious.
Air Jets:An air-jet whirlpool tub has a number of small jets that push air out at a certain pressure to provide a soft massage. No water runs through these jets; only air is pushed out of them to create pressure in the water. Because of this feature, you can use bath salts, aromatherapy oils, and other products in the water in such a tub.
If you are looking for a thorough therapeutic massage experience, then water jets are a better option for you. Air jets are great for general relaxation and a gentle massage experience.
Size, Shape, and Configurations
Whirlpool tubs are available in multiple sizes and configurations. First, consider the size of your bathroom, and whether it has the space for a corner tub, an alcove tub, or a drop-in tub. In all likelihood, if your bathroom can accommodate a regular tub, it may be able to accommodate a whirlpool tub as well. The standard size is 60" x 32". There are options for taller and multiple people as well. You can actually sit in the tub and check whether it is suitable for your height and comfort.
⦿ A corner tub fits into a corner in a bathroom. It is quite convenient and provides a more spacious feel to the bathroom.
Corner bathtub
Corner bathtub
⦿ An alcove tub fits into a specific spot or alcove in the bathroom, and is fixed to three walls while exposing one side, called the apron.
Alcove bathtub
Alcove bathtub
⦿ A drop-in or platform tub usually requires a specific platform or deck within which it is placed. Though this requires much more space and height, it adds tremendous aesthetic value to the bathroom.
Drop-in or platform bathtub
Drop-in or platform bathtub
Whirlpool tubs are available in shapes that will cater to every taste. From round to oval, to square and rectangular, to a soft heart-shape and a sharp diamond shape, you'll find one to suit your taste easily.
The most popular materials used to make whirlpool tubs are fiberglass, acrylic, and cast iron.
⦿ Fiberglass is the most economical of them all.

⦿ Acrylic is much more durable than fiberglass, as it is fade and stain-proof. However, abrasive material should not be used on it, to prevent it from chipping. Both, fiberglass and acrylic are plastic compounds and quite light (60-70 pounds).
⦿ Cast iron is a durable product too, but it is quite heavy. If you intend to install it in an old bathroom, you should ensure that the floor is reinforced in order to bear the weight of the tub as well as its occupants. It is also prone to chipping over time, and may not be able to retain heat very well.
Based on your budget, you may decide on what the best choice is for you. Experts suggest choosing an acrylic tub, though it is more expensive than fiberglass, for the simple reason that it is the most durable of the lot and very easy to maintain.
A whirlpool tub has certain essentials without which it cannot function.
Pump: The pump creates pressure for the jets. It should be placed such that it is easily accessible so that it can be repaired when necessary.
Motor: The motor operates the pump and may be a little noisy, though less-noisy and even silent motors are now available. Because of this drawback, it is located in a position away from the tub. The motor may also be available with a multispeed feature where the speed of the jets can be adjusted as per your liking.
Heater: The heater you need for a whirlpool tub should have 2/3 the capacity of the tub you are purchasing so that you have enough hot water for a relaxing bathing experience. With a long soak, it is natural that the water will eventually cool down. For a longer pleasurable experience, you may opt for a tub with an inline heater that maintains the temperature of the water (it does not heat it). This will add to your costs and may require additional wiring.
In most cases the seller or manufacturer will guide the installation process along with your civil, plumbing, and electrical contractor.
Additional Fittings
Additional fittings and features will only enhance the relaxation you experience when soaking in your whirlpool bathtub.
Handheld Shower
Handheld Shower: Whirlpool tubs may be combined with a shower, but there are certain considerations when doing so. For one, a hand shower, while convenient for rinsing your hair or cleaning out the tub or even a quick shower, should be attached to only alcoves. Also, for this, it is essential that your entire shower area be tiled to protect the walls from mold and mildew.
Experts recommend against the use of a shower with a drop-in unit because it may not have the lip that projects excess water back into the tub. This will cause water to go out of the tub and collect, resulting in the growth of mold. Also, unless you have an impeccable tile job done, in areas with unsealed grout, mold can become a serious problem.
Waterproof Cushion: Choose a tub with an integrated cushion to rest your neck and truly enjoy your massage experience.

Handles/Armrests: Handles aid the process of getting in and getting out of the tub with ease. And armrests just add to the pleasure of relaxing in a whirlpool tub.
Handles/Armrests bathtub
Slip-resistant floors: While this is a given in most jet tubs, it is still important that you confirm the presence of this feature before you purchase it.

Water and Air-jet Combination: This is best for individuals who like varied levels of pressure during a massage. Keep in mind that these use more energy than a regular whirlpool tub, as the water and air pumps have to function together.
Water and Air-jet Combination in bathtub
Adjustable Jets: In water-jet tubs, the jets can be adjusted so that the affected muscle group can be targeted.

Mood Lights/Chromatherapy: Whirlpool tubs are available with mood lights that allow for chromatherapy, thus allowing you to soothe your senses completely, or simply to enjoy a romantic evening with your significant other.
Mood Lights/Chromatherapy in bathtub
Mood Lights/Chromatherapy in bathtub
Woman cleaning the bathtub
The cleaning of the tub will depend on the material you opt for, and your tub will come with cleaning instructions. However, what is more important is cleaning the jets, which over time, buildup bacteria and gunk, and seep into your bath water unsuspectingly, turning your relaxing experience to a disgusting one. The general method to clean such tubs is to fill the tub with warm water, add to it a little powdered dishwasher detergent and bleach, and turn on the jets for about ten minutes. Then drain the water and fill the tub with cold water, and run the jets again for another ten minutes. If followed regularly, the jets should remain clean.
Another important factor you have to consider is the maintenance of the jets. If the jets are turned on without sufficient water in the tub, they can easily go out of order. Always keep the tub filled with water 2" above the level of the jets before you switch on the pump. Tubs with protected jets automatically switch off when the water level in the tub is below the level of the jets. This helps save power, and reduces the wear and tear of the motor.
Other Considerations
⦿ It is important that you check with your physician before using a whirlpool tub, particularly if you suffer from bone and joint conditions such as arthritis, or from high blood pressure. The water pressure should not aggravate your condition.

⦿ Test the water pressure before you buy the tub. Most stores have a running whirlpool tub that allows you to immerse your hand and check the pressure. Compare the pressure between a water-jet tub and an air-jet tub, and see what suits you best.
⦿ Consider the water and energy costs that will be elevated with the installation of a whirlpool tub. You will need more energy to run the motor, heat at least 70 gallons of water, and clean the tub regularly.

⦿ Any of the aforementioned additions are likely to add to the cost of the tub. So, keep a watch on your budget while investing in any of these. The prices of basic models start at USD 300, but can go up to USD 6,000 based on the size and features installed in the tub.
So, the best way to choose a whirlpool bathtub as per your needs is to first analyze the space in which it will be installed, your regular schedule (are you going to use it that often or get tired of the entire process?), and then chat with your sales representative as well as your contractors to understand the nitty-gritty of owning this marvelous contraption.