Choosing a Walk-in Tub – Part 4: Features

Four part blog on Choosing a Walk-in Bathtub

Fill and Drain Time.

stopwatchIt can take a long long time to fill and drain your tub and when you are wet, you might quickly get cold waiting for the tub to drain. Make sure that your tub has fixtures that fill the tub quickly. Best Bath walk-in tubs will fill in under 6 minutes. Slide-in bathtubs like the Aquassure ADL Spa will fill in less than 3 minutes. Some other very popular walk-in tubs may take up to 15 minutes to fill.

Drain times range form 90 seconds to 5 minutes or more. 2″ drains and multiple drains speed drain time.

Seat Size and Height.

Many walk-in tubs are not very large inside and need clearance for inward opening doors. Make sure that the seat is large enough for comfort and at at least 17″ high for easy use. Low seats are very hard to stand up from. Some manufacturers don’t provide these measurements. Ask for these measurements in writing before you commit to buy.typical walk-in bath bather position

Outward vs. Inward Opening Door:

Outward opening doors need clearance for the door and mean that you need to move any assistance equipment, like walkers, out of the way to close the door. Outward opening doors can also burst open, flooding the bathroom and whatever is below it, if the bather fails to properly lock the door before filling.

Inward opening doors will not open accidently, but require clearance to swing the door shut while the bather is standing the tub area. This can be accomplished by having a fold-up seat, like in the Liberty tub, or by changing the shape of the door and making the inside of the tub larger to clear the bathers knees. There is also an entrapment issue for inward opening doors. If the bather slips off the seat into the footwell, then the door cannot be opened.

Heated Seats.

A way to make your tub more enjoyable is to have heated seats in the tub so you don’t cool off while waiting for the tub to fill and drain. This is important in walk-in tubs because of the deep footwell and extended fill and drain time. These are not needed in the Aquassure slide-in bath, as they fill and drain quickly.

Fixtures:

It is important to have fixture sets that are safe to use.

Pressure balance valves set the mix of hot and cold water, but need to be readjusted every time you bath or shower and can have temperature fluxuations due to other household water demand.

Thermostatic limiters are pressure balance valves with an upper temperature limit control to prevent scalding.

Thermostatic valves offer precise temperature control and anti-scald limits. This is important for those that cannot feel temperature changes due to paralysis, nerve damage or that have cognitive challenges that might make it easier to mix up the temperature controls.

3/4″ high flow valves fill faster than 1/2″ valves. High-flow fixtures 15 gallons or more per minute, standard fixtures fill at 6 gallons per minute. This makes a big difference in how fast your walk-in tub fills. Higher flow fixtures are worth the extra investment.

Safety Plus thermostatic valve

Safety Plus thermostatic valve

A handshower with a glide bar enables stand-up showering in a walk-in bathtub.

Water or Air Hydrotherapy Choices:

Water jets are stronger than air jets. Water jets need to be cleaned monthly and can harbour bacteria so you should get an automatic ozone disinfection system with water jet systems. Air jets do not need ozone. It is important that you ask about whether the air blower or water jets are heated. If you blow cold air into the tub it will cool off quickly. And always ask about the sound levels of the water pump. Some pumps have the same sound levels as a jet taking off and others are extremely quiet. You may not be allowed to use a non-Syllent water pump in an apartment due to the loud fan noise.syllent_noiselevels

Shower Doors vs. Curtains

Right door Liberty with wall surround, deck extension, curtain and towel rack.

Right door Liberty with wall surround, deck extension, curtain and towel rack.

Curtain are less expensive than shower doors. Usually a corner rod will need to be used and the shower curtain will need to be shortened. Shower doors cannot be used on all models of tubs, and must be top-hung for walk-in bathtubs. Only some walk-in bathtubs have the right configuration and deck design to accommodate sliding glass doors. Rainglass or clear glass is available. A straight rod with a shortened curtain can be used with the Aquassure slide-in bath.

Liberty Walk-in Bathtub

Liberty Walk-in Bathtub with glass sliding doors and colour accents on the tile surround.

Colours

The standard walk-in bathtub colour is white. Most walk-in bathtubs are also available in a variety of stock colours such as bone, biscuit, and almond. Non-white toilets are more expensive than alternative colours, so it may be more economical to put in a white tub and put in a new white toilet to match.

Best Bath walk-in bathtubs are also available in a wide range of granite-look solid-surface and custom colours from red to black to grey for an additional cost. They are also available with tile-insets on the shower walls and colour accents on the shower wall surround.