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Let's Talk About Whirlpool/Jacuzzi/Jet Air Tubs.
Old 01-18-2011, 12:58 PM   #1
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Let's Talk About Whirlpool/Jacuzzi/Jet Air Tubs.

I'm presently gathering all the material/supplies to redo a main bathroom and am at the point of picking out a bathtub. I'm going to take down a wall to extend the 60" X 31" tub to either 72" or 66" by 34", but am finding that the price doubles in price since it's not a standard size anymore. OK, I'll have to live with that since I really want a larger tub.

Question, do I spend even more and get a whirlpool etc since apparently I'll have more time to take baths and relax based on er. I'm a bit concerned about the life expectancy of the jets, seals, pump etc. We plan on staying in this home for many years and this bathroom should last at least 20 years with no issues but will the whirlpool tub?

Anyone have any experience or thought they would like to share?
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Old 01-18-2011, 01:19 PM   #2
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I have a very nice whirlpool bathtub with adjustable jets that give gentle to strong water flow. And I love soaking in a tub with the jets on. But I have osteoarthritis and had to have a hip replacement done five years ago...at age 54....and I can no longer lower or raise myself in and out of a tub.

I am interested in re-doing my master bath, and having a walk-in tub with massage jets. Have you considered this....and does anyone have any experience with walk-in tubs?
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Old 01-18-2011, 01:30 PM   #3
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I am planning on remodeling our masterbath and I am also considering the addition of a whirlpool tub, so I am interested in the answers to this thread... Any good brands for whirlpool tubs?
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Old 01-18-2011, 04:29 PM   #4
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There are many name brand whirlpool tubs, e.g. American Standard, Crane Jacuzzi, Kohler just to name a few. Price depends on options such as size, amount of jets, finsih, etc. Lots to choose from.
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Old 01-18-2011, 04:38 PM   #5
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The whirlpool jets are pretty nice. If it doesn't break the bank, I'd say consider it. We've only been here 3 years, so I can't give any review on how long everything lasts.

Something else to take into account with a big tub...hot water. When we built our dream home, I pushed hard for a long tub, to accomodate my length. We ended up with a 72" tub, which is great (I'm 6'1"). However, even though we have an 80 gallon WH, the tub can barely be filled up with hot water before running out. I like my bath pretty hot, so after soaking for a while, I would like to add more hot water to keep the temperature up, but we don't have any left. You might want to add a dedicated water heater for it (Rinnai or similar). Just something to keep in mind.
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Old 01-18-2011, 04:42 PM   #6
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We are in process of renovating and DW just ordered a 72" combo whirlpool/air tub with lumbar package and heaters. Was abut $2,400 at Lowes. They have a special of up to $400 off on bathroom purchases (10-20% from $250-$2000) through 1/24/11.

It was her "splurge" - but I think I'll enjoy it too.
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Old 01-18-2011, 08:15 PM   #7
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They have a special of up to $400 off on bathroom purchases (10-20% from $250-$2000) through 1/24/11.
Is this sale in Canada or the U.S.? The 72" tub what is the width, 36"?
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Old 01-18-2011, 09:49 PM   #8
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Is this sale in Canada or the U.S.? The 72" tub what is the width, 36"?
Well, If you want a 60 X 60 whirlpool tub for free, come and get it. Just restore my house to the condition it was in before you removed it.
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Old 01-18-2011, 09:59 PM   #9
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Get a really big hot water tank to go along with the tub. I had friends with a jaccuzzi type tub and they never had enough hot water to soak in it.
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Old 01-18-2011, 10:19 PM   #10
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A tankless water heater might be the way to go rather than getting a larger one, though I don't have experience with one myself.

The decibel level of the jets would be an important factor. It's not so relaxing if the jets are too loud in a confined space.
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Old 01-19-2011, 07:00 AM   #11
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Well, If you want a 60 X 60 whirlpool tub for free, come and get it. Just restore my house to the condition it was in before you removed it.
Thanks for the offer although that size won't fit. I know, it's that thought that counts.


I've talk to several friends that have one and they all say it's really nice when you first start using it but the novelty wears off. There issues were.

The motor is too loud to actually relax in the tub.
If you don't use it enough there’s always residual water left in the lines that stagnates
They're on a time of use hydro and did notice the difference when it came to the heating the water feature.

On a good note, non have had issues with maintenance. They did mention if they had to do it all over again, they'd get a soaker tub instead.

I guess its to each there own?

Sounds like they're talking me out of it.

Unfortunatly the tankless water heater wouldn't support the thermostatic shower systems I'm going to be installing. In other words it wouldn't keep up the water supply demand.
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Old 01-19-2011, 07:43 AM   #12
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..............The motor is too loud to actually relax in the tub....................
I've never owned one, but every one I have ever used that was small enough to fit into a bathroom was noisy and vibrated in an unpleasant way. As the whole idea is to relax, I should think this would be critical.
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Old 01-19-2011, 10:31 AM   #13
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We have one, wife loves it. But they are making them so cheap anymore, one of the pipes cracked at an elbow where it enters the tub. I had just finished putting in a new kitchen, low and behold one day, I hear a strange noise while wife is in tub, next thing there is water pouring out of all the ceiling lights. I fixed the tub and my ceiling, but told her if this happens again, the tub is gone.
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Old 01-19-2011, 10:47 AM   #14
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one of the pipes cracked at an elbow where it enters the tub.
Can you please tell us the brand and model this happened to?
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Old 01-19-2011, 10:50 AM   #15
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Thanks for the offer although that size won't fit. I know, it's that thought that counts.

I've talk to several friends that have one and they all say it's really nice when you first start using it but the novelty wears off. There issues were.

The motor is too loud to actually relax in the tub.
If you don't use it enough there’s always residual water left in the lines that stagnates
They're on a time of use hydro and did notice the difference when it came to the heating the water feature.

On a good note, non have had issues with maintenance. They did mention if they had to do it all over again, they'd get a soaker tub instead.

I guess its to each there own?

Sounds like they're talking me out of it.

Unfortunatly the tankless water heater wouldn't support the thermostatic shower systems I'm going to be installing. In other words it wouldn't keep up the water supply demand.

First... even if someone has had the tub for 20 years.. you can not compare to today as they are built using different materials.... (isn't everything)...

My sister has had one for 30 years... not breakdown... but as mentioned, the novelty wears off fast...

We have one in our house that is 20 years old... I do not see any maintenance problems... but, we have used it maybe 3 times in 2 years... (we also have a hot tub ouside which the wife and kids use.. much better)...

The stagnate water is a problem... I remember reading that there was a study on these tubs and when people turned them on they just bombarded their body with germs... so you will need to run something to clean it out before use if you do not use regularly...

as for a tankless waterheater... you can buy a bigger one... I had one at the old house and I can tell you that it would keep up with a pretty decent amount of water flow... in fact, it would not turn on without at least 1gpm... if you had a low flow shower head you did not get to this level... Now, when it turned on it was loud.. but it was in the garage, so no big deal...
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Old 01-19-2011, 11:10 AM   #16
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I have had jet tubs in three homes. Used 6 times in the first home. Used it once in the second home. Never used it in the last home.

I spent more time cleaning them, than using them.

Now I wait till it has been 100 degrees and jump in the stock tank.

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Old 01-19-2011, 11:33 AM   #17
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I'm presently gathering all the material/supplies to redo a main bathroom and am at the point of picking out a bathtub. I'm going to take down a wall to extend the 60" X 31" tub to either 72" or 66" by 34", but am finding that the price doubles in price since it's not a standard size anymore. OK, I'll have to live with that since I really want a larger tub.
In 1990 we bought a 48"x72" Jacuzzi-brand whirlpool tub from a local dealer for $3000. This was back before the era of Lowes & Home Depot and we basically paid through the nose for the name and the convenience, but the tub has held up very well. Never had a problem with the pump or the jets or the plumbing or the fiberglass, but there was a pump-switch problem. Never had a problem with "stagnant water" in the plastic lines that move the water around, but the house has a water conditioner so there's no problem with minerals. Of course mildew can accumulate under the nozzles and the suction filter just like any tub. The tub has done fine with tenants in our rental.

In early 2003 in our "dream house" we went with a 48"x72" from Plastic Creations (www.whirlpoolbath.com/) in Georgia. You can tell a lot about a company by whether they're willing to ship to Hawaii (let alone how much they charge for it), and our total price was just $1655. We learned that you have to have a good plan to get a tub that big up a stairwell (we had about a quarter-inch to spare turning the corners) and an even better plan to get an old cast-iron tub down the stairwell. We looked at 54"x72" and 60"x72" models but I think they're just too big for the average master bath. Good thing we felt that way because we hadn't thought about the stairwell issue.

Plastic Creations custom-built the tub with raised flanges on three sides and a regular rounded rim on the room/open side. That way we could rough in the tub against the studs, put drywall or cement backer board above the flanges, and know that the tile/plastic could come all the way down to the top of the tub for a good seal without having to worry about water getting underneath. (If water gets behind the seal it's still held back by the raised flange.) We cared because we added a shower diverter to the tub and didn't want problems with shower spray. (We got rid of both the old tub and the old glass-enclosed shower so the new tub needed the shower.) One side of the tub isn't up against the wall-- instead it's up against a waterproof (rigid thermofoil) cabinet. The raised flange butts right up against the cabinet and looks fine while making it easy to get a caulk seal. They also made the tub without holes for faucets or spouts so that we could drill our own. That way we could install the faucets & diverter/spout on the open/room side of the tub, which greatly simplified the plumbing & installation.

Instead of an 80-gal or 120-gal water heater (or a tankless heater) you might want to look into a whirlpool pump with its own heater. When the tub is full (about 50-60 gal) the pump heater can raise the temp about five more degrees in 10 minutes. It's enough to run the pump 10-20 minutes out of every hour and keep things from cooling off. The pump is very quiet but you can surround it with a small enclosure of drywall or Acoustiblock to make it nearly silent. (If the pump heats up in the enclosure, well, it pumps hotter water.) Bubblers come with just about every pump, but the problem with bubblers is that they're circulating cool room air into the water you're trying to heat. We don't use the bubbler unless the water gets hot enough.

We learned a few installation tricks for working with tubs mounted next to walls. It's worth fussing with the 2"x4" frame that holds up the tub rim on the walls. You don't want that to flex at all when you fill the tub with all that water (and people), or the wall's grout/caulk line at the tub will eventually separate to let water behind the wall. To err on the safe side you could mount them 1/8" or even 1/4" high (which tends to lift the tub) and then put the bottom of the tub in a 2" bed of thinset. When the thinset cures then the sides of the tub won't flex and the bottom is fully supported against squeaks or groans. Of course if you someday wanted to remove the tub then you might need a jackhammer to get it out of the thinset.

If the tub is going against the wall then consider whether you want the rim to be flat/horizontal with drain grooves molded into it, or whether you want it slightly tilted toward the inside of the tub. The former is better for wineglasses and candle holders while the latter is great for draining off the water after a shower (easy cleanup/drying). Worst of all is flat without grooves, because you'll have to squeegee or mop up after every shower.

While you're going with a custom configuration, see if you can have the pump switch (and the bubbler knob) mounted inside the tub instead of on the rim, and on the open-room side instead of up against the wall. The water level inside the tub won't get high enough to cause problems with them, the rim of the tub stays cleaner, and if (heaven forbid) the switch breaks then you can more easily replace it. Our Jacuzzi has an air-bellows pump switch on the rim against the wall and it's always getting puddles drying around it. When it broke I thought I was going to have to go through the wall from the outside of the house to remove it, but I finally got it out. But maybe a modern tub will have low-voltage electronic controls instead of pneumatic.

See if they're flexible on the location of the pump/heater. You want it on a side of the tub where you can actually get at it if it develops a leak or trips its overload or burns out a motor. Otherwise you'd have to consider building an access door into the bathroom wall or even the side of the house. We ended up having our pump/heater on an end near the cabinet and putting a small access door in the side of the cabinet. But in seven years we've never had to touch it.

Most tubs are made with a textured bottom to keep your feet (or other parts of your anatomy) from slipping around. You want something that looks good and doesn't build up dirt or mildew in its channels. Our rental's tub has a cross-hatch pattern that looks OK but doesn't have a firm grip. Our home's tub has a random pebbled look that does much better.

We went with light gray in the rental, which is a perfect color for hiding soap scum and mineral stains. We went with white in our home, which looks snazzy but should have been colored "red dirt" instead. OTOH cleanup isn't too bad-- a couple times a year with Tilex and a fiberglass-safe scrunge pad. If we were buying a new tub we'd go with almond or gray/beige instead of white or dark.

Even if you live in a warm climate with a big water heater, insulation around the tub will help keep the water warm and avoid excessive heater/pump use. We used fiberglass batts around the sides and filled in the cracks with expanding foam.

Go with the expensive quality brass overflow/drain and faucets/spouts. Access is nice if there's a problem but you'd rather avoid problems in the first place. A brass overflow/drain will have a better plunger lever on it to prevent the tub drain from leaking after you fill it, and it might be easier to work on if it ever does start leaking.

Consider plumbing the tub with 3/4" pipe instead of 1/2". It'll take a little less time to fill so that you don't have to plan way ahead (or so that the party buzz doesn't die off before it fills). If installation access is awkward then it might be easier to use Sharkbite or Gatorbite solderless connectors on copper pipe.

If you use a shower diverter then make sure the shower pipe is tightly screwed down under copper brackets before finishing the wall. Over the years, pressure surges and water hammer will vibrate against the cheaper nail-in brackets and eventually loosen the shower pipe. I also mount the shower pipe at 78" or even 84" because I hate having to crouch down under a shower nozzle to rinse my hair.
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Old 01-19-2011, 03:50 PM   #18
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In my case it is a Jacuzzi only about 3 years old or less when the pipe failed. Good thing it failed on the side that I could easily get to and fix. There is no excuse for them to put in thin cheap plastic pipe,which is subject to strong vibration from the pump. You should have seen me throwing a fit, while the gallons of water poured out of the ceiling lights in the new kitchen,had to replace a lot of drywall in the ceiling,not fun. It must have looked funny,trying to get wife to turn off the pump,while I was trying to save the digital phone,and not get electrocuted. As I said before if it fails again in any way,it gets trashed.
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Old 01-19-2011, 03:56 PM   #19
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We went with Sanijet. This is a different kind of tub, and not particularly cheap. It uses 6 small motors to circulate the water rather than a central pump. There is no exterior pipes, the water never leaves to tub during circulation. Never a problem with gunk collecting in the plumbing. You can take off the impellers and stick them in the dishwasher to clean them. If a motor goes out, which one has not in 5 years, you unscrew three screws, take the motor out, unplug it form the back, and plug a new one in. All this is done from inside the tub. It is not as strong as some of the others but DW is very happy with it. SANIJET - The Only Pure, Clean, Ultra-Quiet Pipeless Whirlpool Spa Bath Tubs and Pedicure Equipment
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Old 01-19-2011, 07:09 PM   #20
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My sister had a whirlpool tub put into her dream bathroom in her dream home. It was a beautiful dark blue color which looked great but it was a nightmare to keep clean. It always showed water drops and then if you used any soap in the tub it had a ring of soap scum and whatever else floats to the top when you take a bath.

She had little kids at the time so the tub was only used for soaking and kids splashing, all real bathing with soap was done in the shower.

It was rarely used as the cleanup involved climbing inside of it to scrub the walls and then having to dry everything off because the dark color showed the dried water spots.

I used it once when they were on a trip and I stayed with her kids. Their dream bathroom was huge and had high ceilings and was too drafty to stay warm from the water in the tub.

I know many people love a long soak in the tub so for some it would be worth the effort and expense.
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