Figure 6-4x: (C) J Wiley, S Bliss Guide to Choosing Soaking Tubs and Jetted Tubs

  • SPAS WHIRLPOOLS SOAKING & JETTED TUBS - CONTENTS: Guide to installing jetted tubs, spas, whirlpool baths, soaking tubs. Soaking or Jetted Tub Designs & Shapes: tub/shower units, primary bath units, two person tubs and spas, and tubs/spas for tight spaces. Handling Noise Issues with Jetted Tubs & Spas. Guide to Types of Jets Used in Whirlpools & Spas or Tubs, recessed, individually adjustable, in-line tub water heaters, built-in cleaning systems for jetted tubs; Jetted Tub or Spa Mechanicals: Pumps & Heaters for Whirlpools, Jetted Tubs, Spas. Recommendations for Heaters for Whirlpools & Spas or Tubs
  • POST a QUESTION or READ FAQs about jetted tubs or whirlpool baths

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Jetted tub & spas: this article series discusses current best design practices for kitchens and bathrooms, including layout, clearances, work space, and accessible kitchen and bathroom layout, clearances, turning space, grab bars, controls, etc.

We include advice on choosing and installing kitchen countertops, cabinets, and kitchen or bathroom flooring, sinks, and other plumbing fixtures and fixture controls such as faucets.

A list of kitchen and bath product manufactures and sources is included.

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Guide to Choosing Soaking Tubs and Jetted Tubs

Japanese style bath tub installed in a Minnesota home (C) Daniel Friedman Steven Ostrow

Our photo (left) illustrates a Japanese style bathing tub installed in a Minneapolis home. Traditional Japanese bathing (wash thoroughly before ever entering the soaking tub) also includes deep tub designs, often fed from a natural hot spring and sometimes installed in a cascade of several tubs of varying temperatures.

As discussed in Chapter 6 of Best Practices Guide to Residential Construction:

Material choices for jetted tubs and other oversized “soaking” tubs are the same as described above. However, with the added stress of higher water levels, multiple bathers, and the vibration of jets, the choice of material is more critical.

The most durable type of tub, enameled cast iron, has limited offerings and are very heavy so they are not often used. Acrylic is an excellent choice, as are some of the proprietary materials, such as Americast (American Standard), Vikrell (Sterling/Kohler), and Armacryl (Kallista/ Kohler). A tub with a nonslip surface is recommended for safety.

Soaking or Jetted Tub Designs & Shapes

Jetted tubs come in a wide range of shapes, sizes, and depths and are designed for either a drop-in or niche installation with a tile flange. Typical rectangular or oval units range from 5 to 6 feet long, 32 to 45 inches wide, and 18 to 24 inches high, and many offer an optional skirt to finish the front and conceal the motor and plumbing. A drop-in requires a custom-built surround and requires more floor space (see Figure 6-52).

Figure 6-4x: (C) J Wiley, S Bliss

Figure 6-52

[Click any image or table to see an enlarged version with additional detail, commentary & source citation.]

  • Tub-showers. Some models are available as tub shower combos and others can be adapted for use as a tub/shower. However, most designs do not lend themselves to showering due to placement of controls, impractical shapes for doors or curtains, high walls, and rounded interiors. A hand-held shower is always an option.
  • Primary bath. If this is the home’s only tub, be aware that deep tubs with a wide top edge or tile ledge can be awkward for bathing small children. Also pay attention to the number of gallons required to take a bath, often double the volume of a standard tub.
  • Two-person. For two people, look for a tub with a center drain, or a triangular corner model. Taller people will generally need larger tubs to stretch out.
  • Tight spaces or retrofits. Many manufacturers make a tapered model designed to replace a standard 30x60–inch tub. Corner models can also save space in a tight layout.

How to Fix Noise Issues with Jetted Tubs & Spas

Jetted tubs can be rather noisy. If this is a concern, look for a unit with flexible hoses connected to the pump, which helps reduce the vibration and noise transmitted to the tub. Some manufacturers also offer quieter jet mechanisms as an upgrade.

Types of Jets Used in Whirlpools & Spas or Tubs

Jetted tub needing cleaning (C) Daniel FriedmanSome manufacturers offer different types of jets with different flow characteristics.

Some jetted tub fittings circulate air, some water, and some both, producing the most vigorous massage.

It is best to try out a system at a showroom if possible. Also pay attention to jet locations.

Jets high and on the sides will provide swirling water, while jets placed where bathers will sit and directed toward the back and other stress points will provide a more effective massage.

Some manufacturers will customize jet locations. Other options to consider are:

  • Recessed jets that do not protrude
  • Individually adjustable jets, including on-off controls
  • An in-line heater if long soaks are desired
  • A built-in cleaning system to keep the internal plumbing free from mold and other residues.

Mechanicals: Pumps & Heaters for Whirlpools, Jetted Tubs, Spas

Jetted tub pump assembly(C) Daniel FriedmanPumps for jetted tubs or spas are usually located at the opposite end from the drain and fill area. Some manufacturers allow the buyer to specify the pump location for better access.

Look for a pump with automatic protection against burn-out if accidentally run dry.

Pumps range from 1/2 to 3 horsepower, and many manufacturers offer a horsepower upgrade for a modest price increase, often a worthwhile expense.

The pump comes with a cord and plug that requires a GFCI-protected receptacle.

Watch out: Since the receptacle is inaccessible, it should be either downstream of an accessible GFCI-receptacle or on a circuit with a GFCI breaker. Locate the receptacle where it does not block access to the pump.

To ensure safety, make sure that the unit purchased is UL-listed for the entire system, not just the individual components.

Heaters for Whirlpools & Spas or Tubs

If the occupants expect to take long soaks in the tub, an accessory heater is advisable.

Energy-efficient models capture waste heat from the motor and pump to provide a modest degree of supplemental heat, while others use a conventional electrical heating element that can maintain the water temperature indefinitely.

For installations where the volume of the tub exceeds the capacity of the home’s water heater, some manufacturers offer an instantaneous water heater that will heat the water as it enters the tub.

Jetted and Soaking Tubs Manufacturers

  • American Standard
  • Aqua Glass Corp.
  • Aquatic Industries
  • Bains Oceana Baths
  • Eljer Plumbingware
  • Hydro Systems
  • Jacuzzi Whirlpool Baths
  • Kohler Co.
  • Lasco Bathware
  • Maax
  • MTI Whirlpools

-- Adapted with permission from Best Practices Guide to Residential Construction.


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