Thinking about installing a new tub that will give you a place to get away from the world and just relax? If so, you're likely wondering about a spa or a whirlpool. Many people use the two terms interchangeably, not understanding there are differences. While you can create a 'spa experience' using either, a true spa bath is more relaxing and gentle. In fact spa baths (or air baths) were originally developed to provide water therapy to patients who might have been injured, using the force of moving water. Here's some things you might consider when thinking about installing a spa bath.
What's the Difference Between a Spa Bath and a Whirlpool?
Both spas and whirlpool baths have a number of jets running into the tub to create the flow of relaxing bubbles; however, spas only use air to create the bubbles while home whirlpools use a combination air and water. The spa's 'air only' bubbles provide a smoother, softer bubble massage, making them better for the total feeling of relaxation. Whirlpool jets are stronger, and the combination of water and air move with more force, making them better suited for massaging muscles and joints.
You can use soap, bubble bath, and bath salts in an air spa; however, with most whirlpools, using any of them will quite likely void your warranty. Mold and mildew can easily form in the jets of a whirlpool bath because of the moisture left there when it's not running. Since there is no moisture in a spa's air jets, there are no worries about mold and mildew.
How Does a Spa Bath Work?
Similar to a whirlpool tub that uses a blower and a pump to move both water and air, a spa bath uses a blower to push air through air holes/jets/ports along the sides and bottom of the tub.
Features to Make Your Spa a Comfortable Experience
A heater in the air system is important to ensure the water stays warm and comfortable while enjoying a long soak. Adding unheated air to the water in the tub will quickly cool the water, forcing you to be continually adding hot water to stay comfortable.
Look for a system that provides a 'volume' control that lets you control the bubbling effect,from a low simmer to vigorous motion, to suit your mood. Even at the highest setting a spa bath will provide a gentle massaging effect and will never have the concentrated force of a whirlpool jet.
The more air holes, the more bubbles; however, you may not want all the ports to be working all the time. Look for a tub that allows you to control which ports are open at any time so you can use different configurations to provide different massages.
Things to Consider With a Spa Bath
Spa baths are heavy when filled with water. Particularly if your installation is on the second floor, you need to be sure your bathroom framing is strong enough to support the weight that will be concentrated in one place. A separated circuit to power the air pump is recommended for most installations so rewiring your bathroom prior to installation may be a necessity.