Some Basic Facts:
1. At least 75%-80% of the Walk-In Bathtubs sold in the United States are made in China
2. At least a 50-gallon water heater is required to adequately provide enough hot water to fill most Walk-In Bathtubs with water at a temperature of 104F.
3. Whole House Tankless Water Heaters, sometimes referred to as Instant Hot Water Heaters, can not be used effectively with 80-90% of Walk-In Bathtubs. There is NO model of the above on the market that offers a fast enough flow rate for the water capacity/requirements of a Walk-In Bathtub that is 50″ in length or greater. There is no point of use tankless water heaters with a great enough capacity to fill a Walk-In tub, they are intended for sinks.
4. Regardless of how good the water pressure or the flow rate of the faucet is, the vast majority of Walk-In Bathtubs take at least 5 minutes to fill. Most take 3-5 minutes to drain. That’s the trade-off for a door in a vessel that holds water.
5. Almost every Walk-In Bathtub 50″ long or more holds at least 75 gallons of water without a person in the tub. Many vendors indicate their tubs have a 45 to 55-gallon capacity, which just isn’t true. For example, without a person in the tub, The Olivia holds 110 gallons to the waterline
6. A human being’s body displaces a gallon of water for every 8.5 lbs. of body weight.
7. BOTH air and water jet piped hydrotherapy systems are highly susceptible to bacterial growth, mold & mildew.
In testing conducted at Texas A&M University, 100% of water samples taken from piped whirlpool and air baths from locations throughout the United States tested positive with high concentrations of infectious bacteria. AT MINIMUM any jetted bathtub, Walk-In or not, should be disinfected weekly. This can be done by filling the tub to the waterline, adding 2-4 cups of bleach (dependent upon the size of the tub), and running all jetting systems for at least 15-20 minutes. Many Walk-In Bathtubs are available with ozonators. Ozone is not a primary sanitizer, and cannot be used by itself to keep tubs safe and healthy.
Many Walk-In Bath sellers contend that air jet systems do not pose sanitary concerns, either because they have check valves to prevent water from backwashing into the hoses, or because they have an “automatic purge” system. Both contentions are ludicrous. Check valves are not 100% reliable, and the air blowing in the “purge” is DEFINITELY not hot enough to kill bacteria.
8. NO WALK-IN BATHTUB IS SELF-CLEANING, as many vendors contend.
9. Many Walk-In Bathtubs have what is referred to as “bidet” jets located in a notch at the edge of the platform of the seat, facing towards the opposite wall of the tub, where the fixtures and overflow are located.
According to Wikipedia: A bidet is a low-mounted plumbing fixture or type of sink intended for washing the genitalia, inner buttocks, and anus.
There is no way any seated person would be able to position their body in a manner that would enable the air bubbles to be properly aimed at the above-mentioned body parts. I leave it to the reader’s imagination as to what type of posture would be required. Further, ALL of those “bidet” jets must be manually engaged – that means one must reach between their legs with a wet hand and pull the cover of the jet outwards, not an easy task.
“Bidets” in Walk-In Bathtubs are exclusively a marketing tool. They are not functional.
10. Some Walk-In Bathtubs offer electric drains that claim to empty the tub 4-8 times more rapidly than conventional drains. NO plumbing or safety certification of any kind is available on any of these devices. I repeat, no electric drain has any third-party certification. The reason: except in new construction, and sometimes even then, the sudden rush/velocity of water into the house/apartment drain system is simply more than the piping is equipped to handle, This is particularly true if hard water and/or other deposits are causing partial blockage under the tub, or elsewhere in the piping which takes wastewater out of the domicile. If such is the case, there is a Very Good chance that water will make its way, quickly, back into the bathroom, somewhere it shouldn’t be, i.e. the sink, the toilet, or under the tub from a connection or pipe cracked by velocity.
11. Double Drains. Quite a few Walk-In tubs have two drains. One vendor even claims that their tub will drain in 80 seconds because of its’ two 2″ drain holes. First of all that is nonsense on its face, and secondly, unless an additional drain hole is drilled through the floor, the 2 drains effect no difference at all in drainage time. Having two bathtub drains emptying into one egress from the tub accomplishes nothing.
Third, if the drain pipe leading from the tub is only 1.5″, as is frequently the case, and the drains in the tub are 2″, well….have you ever driven on a two-lane road that narrows to one lane?
12. Only Walk-In Bathtubs (or any bathtubs) that have water jets can have inline heaters. THE ONLY way to reheat water in a bathtub, is to RECIRCULATE the water in the tub. In order to accomplish that, there must be an intake valve, and an aperture or jet, to reintroduce the water into the bathtub. In other words: the water already in the bathtub is sucked out through an intake valve and circulated through the tubs piping which has a heating element.
13. A LOT of Walk-In tub companies Claim that their air jet systems will keep the bathwater warm, or have a “Hydrotherapy Temperature Maintainer” or a “built-in warmer in blower motor” which “…helps maintain the temperature of the warm bath water providing you with a warmer and longer bathing experience.” NOT TRUE. Some (but not all) air jet systems do have heating elements (300-600 watts). In no case does that make the air hot enough to make the water remain warm. In fact, all blower systems, heated or not, actually cool down the water. High-efficiency air-induction jets have less of a cooling effect, but I am unaware of any tub that offers those.
14. A LOT of websites display the IAPMO (The International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials) and UL (Underwriters Laboratories) logos, even though their products do not carry certification from either. Check here to see if Walk-In tubs are actually certified by IAPMO:
Verify Underwriters Laboratories Certification HERE
15. Despite the fact that Premier Care/Gainsborough Baths, formerly known as Premier Bathrooms, has amongst the highest pricing for Walkin tubs at $12k-$30k+, they have the shortest guarantee/warranty on their tubs of any major Walk-In Bath manufacturer: 1 year. In my opinion, they also make the worst quality products on the market – vastly inferior even to most Chinese imports.
16. In line with the above, some of the most expensive tubs on the market have a drain, chain, and stopper, instead of a mechanical cable drain and overflow. Premier is one of those companies. Some websites even refer to the same as a “Safety Drain”, contending that mechanical drains can fail and leave a bather trapped in the Walk-In tub. My opinion about this is that the incidence of mechanical drain failure is extremely minimal, to say the least. I can not help but wonder if the fact that a stopper on a chain probably costs around $2 wholesale, and that a cable drain system costs between $35-$75 wholesale isn’t more relevant. It is counterintuitive that having to bend over to put a stopper in a drain hole is advisable, or easy, for someone who has need of a Walk-In Bathtub…