Wonderful Whirlpools

Forget a week at the spa. More and more people are putting a whirlpool bath right in their own homes. As part of its special issue on bathroom renovations, Consumer Reports just tested Jacuzzis and other whirlpool tubs.

Like one out of four people who have recently remodeled their bathroom, Amy Greeenstein decided to put in a whirlpool tub.

Tiny jets force air into the water so that it bubbles and froths.

Our tub is relaxing. When you put the bubbles on, they just help alleviate the stress in all the right places.

Consumer Reports just tested six whirlpool tubs, including ones with air jets, like Amy's. Others have bigger jets that force out water. And a third type uses both kinds of jets.

Once the tubs are filled with water, testers measure the amount of force coming out of the jets. It turns out water-jets give a more vigorous, concentrated massage. Air-jets are gentler, and nosier, and they cool the water more quickly.

In the course of testing, Consumer Reports found a problem = a leak. It happened with two of the three Jacuzzis.

It is a good idea to fill the tub before you install it, to make sure that are no leaks. Because once the sides are in, it is going to be hard to fix.

And Consumer Reports is concerned about this $2,700 American Standard tub. Its Fiberglas walls are so think, you can see through them.

Controls are another consideration.

It is a little uncomfortable to have to reach all the way over for the controls. It is much nicer to have them right here by your hands.

In the end, one of the best turned out to be the least expensive. It is this 750 dollar Kohler Devonshire model K-1357. Its controls are conveniently located in the middle, and the water-jets give you a good massage.

Consumer Reports says if you get a water-jet whirlpool, you need to prevent bacterial buildup by cleaning the jets thoroughly at least twice a month. That involves cycling low-foaming detergent and bleach through the system. You can get more advice on installing and taking care of a whirlpool tub. You will find it free at ConsumerReports.org. Just clock on the Home and Garden tab.

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