Walk-in tubs provide comfort and safety, particularly for the elderly and people with disabilities, because the user no longer needs to make that step up and over the side of the tub. Instead, the step up can be as little as a few inches, which helps people with mobility issues feel much more confident getting in and out. One common drawback with walk-in tubs is the time it takes to drain, so it’s good to keep this in mind while browsing.
This guide covers a selection of popular walk-in tubs that are quick to drain and/or fill, and why that’s an important consideration.
AmeriGlide is one of the leading retailers of stair lifts in the United States. Since its founding in 2004, it has branched out to provide other mobility solutions, such as walk-in tubs. It’s based in Raleigh, NC, and has dealers, installers and technicians serving all 50 states.
AmeriGlide’s Sanctuary Full Bather is one of the fastest draining walk-in tubs available when fitted with the auto-drain add-on, and the most popular that’s within reach of the general public in terms of price. By using a pump instead of relying on gravity, the auto-drain add-on empties the tub in under 60 seconds. Auto-drain is optional and costs an additional $268 on top of the tub’s base price of $2,035.
Unlike many other walk-in tubs, the Sanctuary Full Bather allows the user to recline fully, just as they would in a traditional bathtub, rather than remain in a seated position. The step-up clearance is just 5 inches, and it has an inward swinging door. The tub has a front enclosure and is designed to be covered on all other sides, for example, installing it against a wall with cabinets on both ends.
Ella’s Bubbles was founded in 2005 and is based in Chicago with a network of distributors throughout the country. This company specializes in acrylic walk-in tubs and has dozens of configurations available in most common sizes, including two-person walk-in tubs and therapeutic options.
All currently available walk-in tubs from Ella’s Bubbles are equipped with Dual Drain technology, which empties the tub in approximately 80 seconds under ideal conditions. The technology is gravity-driven, with no pump or external power required, and uses two independent 2-inch drains to remove water much faster than the single 1.5-inch drain in most household tubs.
Ella’s Bubbles offers many add-ons for its models, such as hydro and air massage, infusion microbubble therapy and cushioned headrests. Large tubs are available, including lay-down and wheelchair-accessible models, as well as hoist transfer tubs.
American Standard produces luxury walk-in tubs with many innovative features. The company was founded in 2008 and is based in Piscataway, NJ, with a nationwide presence. In 2015, a study by Builder Magazine showed that American Standard was the most well-known brand among respondents.
Walk-in tubs manufactured by American Standard use its patented Quick Drain technology to quickly empty the tub with the use of a pump, and it doesn’t require plumbing modifications for the majority of homes.
Other features of American Standard tubs include seating at chair height, which is more comfortable and easier to get used to, and a fast-fill faucet to speed up the bathing process. Most current models also include a Deep Soak drain, which raises the maximum water level without the need for a taller tub. Deep Soak works by allowing the overflow cap to be placed at a higher level without wasting space above it.
The main benefit of a walk-in tub is that the user can simply walk through a door to get in and out with ease. This is particularly useful for seniors and others with reduced mobility. However, due to the door, a walk-in tub must be empty before the user can get in or out, which makes the drain time very important.
Some walk-in tubs can be drained in under 60 seconds, while other models take multiple times longer. A tub with a fast draining system is more convenient and safer in case of an emergency compared to one that drains slowly. This increase in safety and ease of use makes a walk-in tub a valuable resource for seniors.
It’s important to evaluate the size of a walk-in tub — both the internal and external measurements — as well as the placement and configuration of its buttons, add-ons and other features. The external tub size needs to be appropriate for the area where it will be installed, and internally, it needs to be big enough for the intended user to relax in comfort.
It may also be worth assessing the plumbing in the home, because the draining speed of any tub is dependent on adequate plumbing in terms of drain size and the configuration of pipes. The most common walk-in tubs on the market are only enclosed at the front, which means additional work is involved if it’s not installed against a wall at the back and with cabinets or other objects at the ends.
As a general rule, a fast draining walk-in tub from a reputable brand will cost a minimum of $2,000 to over $10,000. Jets, massagers and other add-ons can raise the price significantly, and even more so in the case of two-person tubs and wheelchair-accessible models. Shipping costs and installation must be taken into account to come up with an accurate cost estimate.Read more about costs, add-ons and other specifics in our article about the top eight walk-in tub brands.