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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 discuss the following: 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.
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.
Our photo 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.
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
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/
A tub with a nonslip surface is recommended for
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).
[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
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
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.
Some 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
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
Pumps 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.
For modern hot tub & spa installations, the water circulating pump comes with a cord and plug that requires a
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
To ensure safety, make sure that the unit purchased
is UL-listed for the entire system, not just the individual
If the occupants expect to take long soaks in
the tub, an accessory heater is advisable.
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.
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.
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