Whirlpool and Air Baths

The whirlpool bath is probably the favourite bathroom appliance for those who wish to add a touch of luxury to their refurbished bathroom. 

The whirlpool concept is not new; in fact the use of moving water to invigorate or relax the body is as ancient as the Romans. But in more recent times it was the Jacuzzi brothers who developed the domestic whirlpool bath back in the mid 1950s.

Today domestic ‘hydrotherapy’ baths go by many descriptions. The most common are: whirlpool baths, jetted baths, hydropool, hydrospa and airspa baths. 
Some appliances combine whirlpool with airspa and even chromatherapy (which uses changing coloured lights, under water) to give a relaxing effect. Some products also include ozone generators to enhance the experience.
All, however, are baths which use the vigorous pumping of water and air through special nozzles to massage the body. 

Systems are available which are as simple or as sophisticated as the budget will allow. Baths are available in reinforced acrylic or enameled steel. 
Most manufacturers now supply whirlpool baths which have self draining pipework and some have disinfection systems which can be used to thoroughly clean the hidden pipes.Whirlpool and Air Baths




Acrylic Bath

Warm to the touch. Manufacturing method allows more exciting shapes

‘Air spa’ action

Gentle massage. Most suitable for the very young, elderly or infirm

Enameled steel bath

Robust. Very tough surface

Whirlpool action

Massaging, relaxing or invigorating depending on the settings. Warming. Some health benefits

Safety Cut Out

Will stop the system dead if hair or body parts come too close to the water suction pipe

Chromatherapy Lighting

Additional therapeutic effects


Checklist: What to look out for/ things to ask about

  • How easy is the product to access for cleaning?
  • Is the hidden pipework and jetting self draining?
  • What system is in place for disinfection of the pipework? Is it an automatic or manual system? Are the disinfection chemicals easy to obtain and what do they cost?
  • For how long has the manufacturer and retailer been trading? Is the manufacturer a member of any trade organisation such as the BMA?
  • What controls are fitted as standard to the bath? Are they electronic touch-pad or manual?
  • What does the manufacturer and retailer offer to service the whirlpool system?
  • What length of warranty and what conditions does the manufacturers give?
  • Are the whirlpool jets fully controllable for both direction and force?
  • Is it made from flexible hoses or are the pipes rigid? (rigid pipework is generally accepted to be better.)
  • What safety features are fitted to the bath? Automatic shut down if the inlet becomes blocked?
  • What system is in place to stop the whirlpool system running dry if it is switched on without water in the bath?
  • Does the control system have a timer facility and an alarm to wake you up should you drop off to sleep in the bath?
  • Does the bath have a water temperature gauge?
  • What electrical safety devices are built into the system? As a very minimum there should be an RCD cut-out device.
  • What spare parts are available and for how long in the life of the product?

Frequently asked questions

Q Do I need any special water supply for a whirlpool bath?

A No. Whirlpool baths use a standard hot and cold water supply found in all households. However some manufacturers quote a minimum water supply pressure, perhaps 1 to 3 bar minimum. In such cases an external booster pump may be required to increase the existing household water pressure.

Q Are whirlpools noisy?

A No, not really. If they are installed correctly according to manufacturer’s instructions they should work quietly and efficiently. However there will always be the sound of the pump and of the swirling/rushing/gushing turbulent water.

Q Are whirlpools safe for children or elderly people to use?

A Children should always be supervised when using a whirlpool bath but all systems will be fitted with safety cut out and timing devices. Some whirlpool systems are fitted with a timed cut out which only allow the user a short period of vigorous massage – this may be particularly suitable for the elderly.

Q Do whirlpools baths need specialist fitting?

A A whirlpool bath should be installed by a competent and qualified plumber and electrician. 

Q I want a whirlpool but my bathroom is tiny. I doubt that I would be able to get a whirlpool system in there. Any ideas?

A Many British bathrooms are small but manufacturers have been clever to design and build whirlpool systems which can fit in smaller spaces. For instance if you have room for a standard 1700mm x 700mm bath then you have room for a whirlpool. 

Q I am pregnant and I have been told not to use the whirlpool. This can’t be right, can it?

A Well yes - it is correct that pregnant ladies should not use a whirlpool bath. The vigorous action of the jetted water and the heating effect on the body is not recommended. Likewise elderly people or people with a heart condition or high blood pressure should avoid using them. 

Q How long does it take to install a whirlpool bath? 

A Provided that the site is cleared of all the previous installations and the services are fixed according to instructions a whirlpool bath should be installed within a day. 

Q Does a whirlpool need any special drains?

A No. However, drain positioning is important so that the outlet to the bath is close to the drain system.