Walk-in bathtubs–What smart consumers should know

The most important considerations when planning for a walk-in tub are available space and access. Walk-in tubs come in different lengths, heights and widths. They are designed to fit in the same space as a regular tub. Check your doorways and hallways to make sure you have enough room to get the tub into the bathroom.

Before you buy:

Since the standard bathroom door is only 24″ wide, the doorway would have to be widened or removed to get the tub in and then be replaced. If you are not comfortable measuring, enlist the help of a carpenter. The tub specifications will tell you how much water the tub will hold

walk-in-bathtubAsk your plumber if your current water heater will be able to supply enough hot water. You may want to replace your hot water heater with a larger and more efficient model. There would be nothing worse than to go through the process of buying and installing a beautiful walk-in tub only to find you don’t have enough hot water. If you choose to add whirlpool jets or an inline heater, consult with your electrician regarding your electrical service. You may have to add new circuits. If your service panel is filled to capacity, you will have to upgrade your electrical panel.

Buying a tub:

There are four options for purchasing a walk-in bathtub:

1) Buy it and install it yourself. You should know enough about carpentry to make the necessary modifications to get the tub in the room and install it. This is a two person job so you’ll need a helper. A plumber and possibly an electrician will need to be subcontracted. You’ll be responsible for a correct installation in order to protect the warranty.

2) Have a general contractor purchase and install it. You should make sure the contractor supplies a good quality tub, is familiar with the installation process and is willing to manage and service the warranty process Walk-in bathtubs–What smart consumers should know. The Funny Bone should you need it. Ask if you will have to pay for service calls if there is a warranty issue. A contractor with little experience with this product is probably not a good choice.

3) Buy the tub from a marketing company. These companies market mostly through newspapers and magazines. They do not have a local store. If you do purchase a tub through a marketing company you will be responsible for receiving the tub and installing it. If they do offer installation, it would be through a subcontract network. If you have a warranty issue it will be up to you to get it resolved; the subcontractor has no responsibility past the installation. Buyer beware!

4) Buy from a franchised bathroom remodeling company. These companies furnish AND install so you deal with one company that specializes in the product and the installation. Franchised companies are held to certain standards to assure their customers of a good job. Typically, their installers are employees that have passed drug and background checks. The companies are required to have the proper licenses and insurance. Best of all, if you do have a problem, one call will take care of it.

Questi ons to ask before you hire a company:

  • How long have you been in business?
  • How many walk-in tubs have you installed?
  • Do you have a showroom where I can see the product before I purchase it?
  • Does your product have certifications, such as IAPMO, UPC, UL, ANSI? These are independent testing organizations that assure the products meet safety and mechanical standards.
  • What licenses do you have? (Business, contractor, plumbing, electrical, etc.)
  • Will you furnish me with a Certificate of Insurance? (This assures you the company has Liability and Workmen’s Compensation insurance).
  • Check their rating with the Better Business
    Bureau.
  • Do you have references from customers who have purchased this type of product?
  • What is your warranty on the product as well as the installation?

By Tim Koehler, CBD, ASID, CAPS