The Bathtub Debate: Jetted vs. Soaking
There’s nothing better than a long, hot bath for relaxing and recuperating. The most popular therapeutic bathtubs are soaking tubs and jetted tubs. In case you’re planning a home remodel, deciding between a soaking tub and jetted tub can be tricky, especially if your bathtub is selected for therapeutic purposes, such as relieving mental stress or improving circulation.
Take the time to weigh the pros and cons of both soaking tubs and jetted bathtubs before making a decision.
Jetted Bathtubs: Whirlpool vs. Air Tubs
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There are two types of jetted bathtubs: whirlpool and air tubs. The differences between whirlpools and air tubs aren’t obvious at first glance. The jets in both tubs provide a relaxing massage. When you are shopping for one or the other, you’ll quickly notice that they differ in important ways. The main difference between the two is how the jets operate. Air tubs use jets of air, whereas whirlpools shoot jets of water. In terms of upkeep, function, and personal preference, this can have several implications.
The most noticeable difference is the sensation. A whirlpool has the classic, deep-massaging jets associated with hydrotherapy. This type of tub is likely to be found in a physical therapist’s office. In contrast, air tubs provide a more generalized, effervescent sensation. The air tub has numerous air jets that shoot millions of bubbles instead of a few concentrated jets. While it’s gentler, it’s still very relaxing.
Now that you know some of the basics and differences between whirlpool and air tubs, let’s look at some of their pros and cons.
- Hydrotherapy: An air tub stimulates lymphatic flow, soothes muscles and joints, and increases circulation. Those suffering from chronic pain or the elderly may benefit from the air tub’s effervescent bubbles and gentle massage. The air tub also gives you the feeling of a “runner’s high,” as it releases endorphins. The body’s endorphins work as painkillers and promote feelings of happiness and elation. Additionally, endorphins promote immunity, alleviate pain, and improve tissue healing
- Heating Element: To ensure the bubbles that soothe your muscles remain warm, air tubs usually have a heating element. As an optional upgrade, some brands offer a feature called Hydro Fusion that keeps the bath water within 1 degree of the temperature that you set.
- Mold Resistant: After draining the water out of an air tub, you can run the pumps to clear any sitting water around the jets. This helps prevent bacteria and mold buildup. A “purge cycle” is also available on some air tubs which blows air through the lines after the tub drains. Using this feature will help prevent mold growth.
- Quiet: Air tubs are quieter than some whirlpools. Nevertheless, whirlpools with virtually silent pumps are available.
- Installation: Air tub installation is more complicated (and expensive) than installing a traditional tub without jets. To install the air system, you’ll need an electrician, as well as a plumber, to hook up the jets.
- Price: Air tubs are significantly more expensive than non-jetted tubs and a bit more expensive than whirlpool tubs. Installing a jetted tub requires more effort and expense than installing a non-jetted tub.
- No Targeted Massage: Air tubs aren’t ideal for powerful, targeted massages on a specific area of your body. That’ll require a whirlpool.
- Targeted Massage: In comparison to air tubs, whirlpool baths provide a more powerful, targeted massage. The powerful water jets of the whirlpool bath can effectively knead knots out of sore back and shoulder muscles.
- Retain Heat: Because whirlpool baths reheat the water they use to create their jets, they tend to stay warmer for longer. Air tubs use warm air to maintain bath water temperature, but this is less effective, so they aren’t as resistant to cooling. Despite this, there are heaters you can add to your tub so that it stays nice and warm.
- More Difficult To Clean: Compared to air baths, whirlpool baths require more frequent cleaning. Because whirlpool baths’ internal components accumulate dirt, mold, scum, and mildew more easily, they require more frequent cleanings. Using a scrub brush or toothbrush, you must wash each jet manually multiple times after flushing the pipes.
- Tend To Be Louder: Feel like you’d like a particular kind of atmosphere? The best way to achieve it may be to use an air bath since they run quieter than whirlpools.
A soaking tub is similar to a standard bathtub, except it’s slightly longer and oval-shaped. The tub can be built-in, freestanding claw foot tub or some other configuration, but it does not move water or air. You just fill it with warm water and soak. The only thing you need is a waste and overflow kit and a faucet. Because there’s no movement of water or air, soaking tubs are less expensive than their jetted counterparts.
Also, soaking tubs are deeper so you can easily soak your entire body. When compared to longer traditional tubs, this shape takes less water to fill.
Now, let’s look at the pros and cons of soaking tubs compared to jetted tubs:
- Low Maintenance and Easy To Install: Soaking tubs are easier to clean than jetted tubs. Acrylic soaking tubs, for example, require only baking soda and water to clean – and they’ll last for years. The jetted tub requires much more elbow grease due to its many nooks and crannies. Furthermore, jetted tubs have complicated plumbing and electrical systems that can be expensive to repair.
- Require Less Water: Soaking tubs use a lot less water than jetted tubs, which makes them more environmentally friendly and economical. The energy savings with a soaking tub are significant, especially if you’re on a budget or concerned about the impact on the environment.
- More Affordable: You might get more value from a soaking tub than from a jetted tub if you plan to sell your house in the near future. In addition to having a sleek, minimalistic look that complements diverse design styles, soaking tubs are often more affordable than jetted tubs.
- Not The Best For Hydrotherapy: Often, jetted tubs are used for hydrotherapy, a method of treating pain with water. Furthermore, whirlpool jets can reduce inflammation and relieve tension, anxiety, stress, and muscle soreness. If you have chronic pain, you could benefit greatly from a jetted tub. But you won’t get the same experience with a soaking tub.
- Don’t Provide As Much Heat Retention: A jetted tub often has an inline heater with a thermostat built in, so that the water circulated in the tub is always kept at the desired temperature. The result is superior heat retention and a longer bathing time. Standard soaking times don’t allow this same level of heat retention.
While there are many differences between jetted and non-jetted bathtubs, there are many more types and features to choose from when selecting a bathtub. For more information, check out our Ultimate Bathtub Buying Guide.
Jetted Tubs vs. Standard Soaking Tubs: Need Help Making a Choice?
There are many advantages to both soaking tubs and jetted tubs. A freestanding soaking tub is probably your best choice if you are searching for a relaxing and low-maintenance bathing experience. However, if you want to enjoy an all-over, relaxing massage with jets, you might prefer a jetted tub.
At McManus Kitchen and Bath, we can help you choose the best tub for your bathroom and get you started with your bath remodel. Get in touch with us today for more info.
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