Walk in bathtubs are designed to allow people with limited mobility to once again enjoy taking a bath. One can enter through the door and sit down to bathe safely. For some, these tubs are the perfect solution but they are not for everyone. Before buying you’ll want to consider the following:
- Tub features like door swing and seat
- Bathroom layout and installation of fixtures
- Certifications and warranty
These tubs are usually designed to fit into the same space as a standard bath which is 60” x 30”. In most cases the door opens into the bathtub which may require the bather to maneuver around the door to close it. It’s a tight space so make sure this will work for you. The door will have a locking mechanism that may require some strength to close. The seat should be high enough to allow a person to rise easily, about 17”. Be sure the height of the step into the tub allows safe entry and exit.
The faucet and drain must be located where the bather can reach these from a seated position. Reaching too far is at best inconvenient and can be the cause of serious accidents.
Walk-in tubs require the bather to sit and wait while the tub fills and drains. A high flow faucet that will fill the tub quickly is recommended. In addition, many manufacturers are starting to develop systems which will speed up drain time. American Standard offers a “Quick Drain” option that includes a user operated pump. Aquatic Industries has a system on their “Ava” tub that will drain the water in 30 seconds. Without such a system the bather will have to wait until the water drains below the door.
A tub like this is a major investment so buying from an established and reputable manufacturer is a good idea. One way to assure quality is to look for certifications from IAPMO (UPC), ASME and CSA. To get these certifications a manufacturer must build to a certain standard and pass inspection by the issuing organization. You may also want to review the warranty and understand what is covered. Manufacturers rarely cover labor costs if repairs are needed so we also strongly recommend that you use a professional installer who will warranty the work. That can save a lot of headache in the long run.