Walk-in tubs are sometimes small enough to install where your current tub sits. Larger walk-in tubs, like a bariatric walk-in, usually require more space. If you don’t have enough space for a walk-in tub, you have two options: remodel the bathroom or add on an extra bathroom that’s spacious enough for the walk-in.
A professional installer should perform the installation of the walk-in tub. You may void the warranty on the tub, if you have one, if it’s not installed by a professional installer. For now, let’s take a look at questions to ask your contractor and the steps involved in the installation process.
What Questions Should You Ask Your Contractor?
Since you're the homeowner, this means you get to choose between the seller’s contractor and an independent one. As you search for a contractor that installs walk-in tubs, make sure to ask these questions.
Do You Know How to Use Extension Panels?
Much of the time, a walk-in tub won’t have a perfect fit with your regular bathtub. Because of this, you need a contractor that knows how to use extension panels in order to achieve a retrofit. These panels go up to 60″.
Can You Convert a Regular Tub Into a Walk-In Tub?
Converting your current tub into a walk-in is possible. Even better, the conversion kits don't normally require any type of remodeling. This makes the project easier and more affordable while still providing an excellent way to improve bathing mobility.
Will My Plumbing Provide Sufficient Water Pressure?
The filling time of the tub all depends on your plumbing. You may want to have a professional installer check your plumbing before you begin shopping for a walk-in tub. This will let you know how large of a tub you can get without having to redo any of your plumbing. It also gives a good idea of how much plumbing work would have to be done if you do get a larger walk-in tub.
How Long Does the Installation Process Last?
Before installing a walk-in tub, a contractor will assess how much remodeling or demolition must be done. You may spend a couple of days to a couple of weeks on remodeling or demolition. But the installation process of the walk-in tub itself only takes about four to six hours.
What Types of Installations Do You Specialize In?
There are four basic types of walk-in tubs: freestanding, corner, back-to-wall, and side-to-wall. You want your installer to have lots of experience in installing the type of tub you buy. If you buy a corner tub and a contractor says he's only familiar with installing freestanding tubs, this is a clear sign to search for another installer.
What Are the Steps in the Walk-In Tub Installation Process?
The first step is preparation. The installer will most likely put down some type of protective material around the installation area to keep from damaging any existing surfaces.
Removal of Existing Tub
Removing an existing tub can be tedious and time-consuming. It often requires special skills and equipment. The goal is to remove the old tub without damaging any walls, flooring or plumbing.
Align Plumbing Drain With Electrical
The walk-in tub installation process involves both electrical and plumbing work. If you buy a tub with hydrotherapy jets, the electrical connections become all the more important. The hydrotherapy can’t be enjoyed without an electrical connection.
If necessary, this is the point in which the doorways in your home will be widened to accommodate the installation of the tub.
Installation of Faucet
The faucet to the tub is usually installed before the tub is taken to its final destination.
Level the Tub
Once the tub is brought to its final destination, the installer will determine whether it needs any leveling legs. Many walk-ins come with six adjustable leveling legs to help ensure the tub is completely leveled.
Retrofit to Extra Space
End panels built onsite are added to the tub to ensure it has a perfect fit.
This is when the installer starts cleaning up any messes he made.
Talk with Homeowner
Most installers will have thorough knowledge on the tubs they install. They can provide you with instructions and tips on how to use the tub.
Is Installation Included with a Walk-In Tub Purchase?
Some sellers of the tubs include the cost of installation in the purchase price. Some don’t. It’s important to ask about this before buying a tub. The installation itself could be upward of $1,000, especially if you have to remodel the bathroom or perform any electrical or plumbing updates.
If Not, How do Seniors Find a Walk-In Tub Installer?
When the cost of the installation isn’t covered in the purchase price of the walk-in tub, you will have to find an independent installer. It’s important that the installer has certification for installing the type of tub you want installed.
How Much Does Installation Cost?
The installation for a walk-in tub usually cost anywhere from $15,000 to $20,000. In homes where remodeling, plumbing updates, and electrical work are needed, the installation cost typically falls closer to the $20,000 mark.
Before you fret about the installation cost, make sure to call different companies and ask whether they provide an in-home consultation. The agent from the company can help you estimate the total installation cost as well as help you find financing options.
Does Medicare Help Pay for Walk-In Tub Installation?
Most Medicare policies don’t cover the cost of a walk-in tub. However, if you have Medicare Advantage, you should call an insurance representative and ask whether coverage for the tub is available to you.
How Long Does it Take to Install a Walk-In Tub?
The installation of the tub can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days. If you have to remodel your bathroom, you can expect the entire process to take two weeks or longer.
Can Walk-In Tubs be Installed in a Rental or Senior Living Community?
Whether you can install a walk-in tub in a rental or senior living community depends on the property owner’s rules. Some landlords allow you to make adjustments to their properties, while many others do not. If you rent or live in a senior living community, never install a walk-in tub without the permission of the property owner.
Always let a professional installer install your walk-in tub. The installation will not only be faster, but you can take comfort in knowing it was installed correctly.