The Pros and Cons of Air Tubs for Seniors

A walk-in tub for seniors is one of the best bathing options for seniors with mobility issues. Some even have special features like whirlpool jets, an air massage system, and grab bars that provide maximum safety. For those interested in purchasing a new bathtub, an air tub comes with many pros and cons.

For the pros, a walk-in tub provides a soothing experience after a long day on your feet. Using an air blower, the bathtub gently massages your body with water jets. They are also easy to clean and relatively energy efficient. However, installation can be costly for those who are on a budget.

Pros of Air Tubs for Seniors

Walk-in tubs that have air jets have several pros and cons for your loved one. While soaking bathtubs are designed for total immersion, the main focus of the air walk-in tub soaking experience is their jets, which provide a relaxing bath experience.

Less noisy compared to whirlpool walk-in tubs

In general, whirlpool walk-in tubs have more powerful jets that come with noisier pump motors to generate power. While they can be a great choice for those looking for a powerful massage, the whirr of the motor might annoy those looking for some peace and quiet.

On the other hand, a step-in or walk-in bathtub with an air spa uses warm air blasts that help you unwind during an evening soak. For intense relaxation, an air-equipped walk-in tub should give your body a spa-like experience minus the noise.

Easier to clean and drain after a bath

One of the major cons of whirlpool or jet-powered walk-in tubs is that cleaning them can be difficult given their size and features. They require in-depth injector cleans, solutions, and dry jet runs—otherwise, mold can quickly grow and cause issues for homeowners.

On the other hand, air bath walk-in tubs are much easier to clean because the airflow helps with dirt removal. The majority of modern air-based walk-in tubs today also come with a "burst" dry option that helps blast out any grime and buildup, while ensuring optimal water drainage.

Less energy consumption

According to statistics from Energy.gov, water temperature heating accounts for approximately 18% of home energy usage. Because of this, choosing an energy-efficient walk-in bath can help reduce your monthly bills. The good news is that air baths use up less energy compared to their jet-powered counterparts.

The way that an air-powered walk-in bath is heated through the air delivery system, which reduces the need for heating systems and hot water use and makes them much cheaper to use. Instead of forceful jets, the slow bubbling of the liquid is powered by energy conservation tech in many air-based walk-in tubs.

Cons of Air Tubs for Seniors

Whether you're installing a step-in or walk-in bath for your home, it's important to pay attention to key safety features that many older adults are lacking in their bathrooms. One of the cons of any tub is the lack of railings or grab bars that can make it easier for the elderly to use on their own. In addition, there are also cost-related challenges related to the installation of an air-powered walk-in tub.

May require additional floor supports

An air-based walk-in tub with a high water capacity means that it might need additional floor supports compared to a standard walk-in tub. To carry the full weight of the bathtub and the bather, you may need to pay anywhere between $100-$300 to install each floor joist.

On the other hand, a ground floor shower or bathroom in your home is more likely to need less support, so location something you should also take into account.

Installation can be more complicated

Compared to a normal walk-in tub or shower system, installing an air tub can be slightly trickier. You'll need to think about the details, such as where to position the air system, and you may need the assistance of an electrician in addition to a plumber.

The hourly cost of installation may add up over time depending on the complexity of your walk-in tub model, and it's worth checking whether this cost might be included with your purchase.

Massage feature may not be powerful enough for some

While one of the pros of a walk-in tub with an air spa is its softer massage, this may not give the bather the deep tissue massage experience they're after. It's true that air valves in a walk-in tub can stimulate blood circulation and provide a calming massage, but a whirlpool walk-in tub can provide a more powerful experience for those that don't suffer from sensitive skin or other issues.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is an air tub worth it?

For those looking for a more relaxing and luxurious bathing experience, an air tub can be well worth the extra investment. Air baths provide some of the same benefits as whirlpools but are also gentler on sensitive skin because there is no risk of scalding or exposure to chemicals in traditional bath oils that may irritate your skin.

Can you use bath salts in an air tub?

Bubble baths are acceptable for an air-jetted tub, but they can cause damage when used with a water-jetted model. Bath salts and oils are not recommended for jets because they can cause damage to the fixture's operation when used with water-jetted models.

Are air tubs noisy?

The traditional whirlpool or air tub can be a wonderful way to relax. With the right adjustments, you'll find that water flow and force are just perfect for your needs. Just be sure to think about noise as well, as some models can be a bit noisy.

Do jetted tubs get moldy?

Manufacturers of these jetted tubs products recommend flushing the jet system every few months to keep them clean before you use your next relaxing soak in one that has not been flushed yet. Flush with water first before dumping out any soapy residue or else this can clog up everything, causing an expensive repair bill afterward when they break down from all kinds of sediment buildup over time.

Now that we've covered the pros and cons of investing in an air-powered walk-in tub for the elderly, it's important to think about your specific list of requirements before adding it to your shopping cart. Do you need the benefits of features such as a softer massage or a targeted whirlpool deeper massage?

Is your chosen model affordable, and can you cover the costs of installation, cleaning, and reinforcement if needed? Lastly, does your walk-in bath have safety features like a scald prevention valve for seniors?

For more ways to make your tub safer, read up on the role that bath lifts play in ensuring a safe bathing experience for the elderly at Senior Strong!

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