Should we install a walk-in tub in our bathroom?

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Q: My husband and I’ve rather a lot fewer aches after a heat bathtub. However getting out and in is turning into hazardous as we age. We’re pondering of getting a walk-in tub. Is {that a} good thought?

A: A walk-in tub does scale back the chance of falling. That’s an enormous profit particularly for aged individuals, 1 / 4 of whom fall yearly — 80 % of the time in a rest room, in accordance with the Nationwide Institute on Getting old. A fall that breaks a hip may be life-changing, confining somebody who was impartial to a wheelchair.

An everyday bathtub often has partitions about 15 inches excessive. Relying on the mannequin, a walk-in tub has a curb three to seven inches excessive — an enormous distinction for somebody who’s unsteady. A walk-in bathe additionally has a low curb, but it surely’s not a bath. You may take a protracted bathe, however when the recent water runs out, it’s no enjoyable. So these are the professionals of a walk-in tub: security and the power to soak.

The cons? One is the worth — usually $2,000 to $10,000 for the bathtub and $1,000 to $20,000 for set up, in accordance with the Nationwide Council on Getting old. Medicare and different insurance coverage applications usually don’t cowl the change as a result of walk-in tubs aren’t thought of sturdy medical gear. Nonetheless, the Nationwide Council on Getting old says that exceptions could also be attainable when you’ve got Medicare Half B (supplemental insurance coverage) or Half C (Medicare Benefit). The Medicare web site says some state Medicaid applications could cowl the fee. And veterans could qualify for a house modification grant to assist pay for it. So whereas there is no such thing as a assure, in case your physician is keen to put in writing a prescription stating {that a} walk-in tub is a medical necessity, it’s value checking to see if you will get a minimum of a number of the value lined.

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One other con is the effort of set up. Changing a daily tub with a walk-in mannequin requires an electrician, in addition to a plumber and no matter specialists are wanted for tiling or different particulars. Hiring an organization to deal with the entire set up will virtually actually get the job completed quicker than in case you attempt to line up subcontractors by yourself. Get a number of estimates and, particularly if your own home has just one lavatory, consider bidders’ assurances that after work begins, it’s going to end promptly. If you examine references, ask particularly about how lengthy the work took and whether or not there have been lull durations after demolition started.

Can Yavuz, proprietor of Seattle Tub and Bathe, says his firm can change a bath and bathe to both a walk-in tub or a walk-in bathe in at some point, though for the crew, which means an 11-hour shift. Nonetheless, in the event that they discover rot or different issues as soon as they take away the previous tub and bathe, it’s going to take longer.

Yavuz says a lot of the conversions he handles are for walk-in showers. Stroll-in tubs appear to be fashionable largely for very aged individuals, he says — one other problem to think about in case you would possibly wish to promote your home sooner or later. A walk-in tub, even when it’s pretty new, may give your lavatory a dated look that many potential patrons may not need — particularly in the event that they know the way a walk-in tub works.

A walk-in tub has a door, often one which swings inward over the deepest a part of the bathtub, and a built-in seat, the place the water reaches solely a part of the way in which up. For instance, a Kohler walk-in bathtub that’s 39 inches excessive has a most water depth of 31½ inches. The seat is 17 inches excessive, so the water there may be as much as 14½ inches. To make use of the bathtub, you’ll stroll in, sit down, latch the door, then activate the tap.

A typical residential 50-gallon water heater ought to be capable of fill the bathtub with scorching water, however when you’ve got an previous water heater, it may not be satisfactory — one other attainable value to consider. And on the finish of your soak, you would need to keep within the tub whereas the water drained out — most likely not so nice, particularly if the toilet is even a tiny bit chilly.

That is the place the mannequin you purchase and the dimensions of the pipes in your house could make an enormous distinction. One mannequin would possibly take 4 minutes to empty (rely the 240 seconds to appreciate how lengthy that may appear) whereas one other would possibly empty in 30 seconds as a result of the drain is linked to a pump, Yavuz says.

“Model names make a distinction,” and so do particular fashions, he says. Kohler advertises that every of its walk-in tubs has a heated backrest for the seat, which “retains your neck and again heat as the bathtub fills.” The warmth additionally helps because the water drains. The truth that a heated backrest is even a function hints at how disagreeable it may be to attend for the water to empty. Ask to see the technical set up directions before you purchase. Plans that decision for ½-inch pipe connections received’t carry out the identical as ones that want pipes a number of inches large.

Are there higher choices in case your lavatory has a bathe over the bathtub? Switching to a walk-in bathe additionally solves the security problem, particularly in case you select a slip-resistant ground and handrails the place you stroll in and alongside a seat, in case you set up one. Stroll-in showers look elegant, regardless of the age of the house’s occupants. There’s no disagreeable ready for the bathtub to fill or drain. Simply alter the temperature, step in and bathe, then minimize the water and go away.

Yavuz says he all the time recommends including a fold-up seat that’s securely connected to studs so you’ll be able to bathe whereas seated if standing appears too dangerous. He costs round $15,000 to transform a bath and bathe to a walk-in bathe — rather a lot lower than the $20,000 to $35,000 that he costs to put in a walk-in tub. One massive supply of financial savings is that he doesn’t want to rent an electrician for a bathe.

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