Understanding Walkin Bathtub Rapid Drain Systems
Is there a need for a rapid drain system and are they worth the extra expense when purchasing a walk in tub?
As a dealer representing several different manufacturers of walkin bathtubs and handicapped bathtubs and who offers a range of walk in bathtub prices I am frequently asked about the cost and effectiveness of the rapid drain systems now being offered by some handicap bathtub manufacturers.
The question arises out the fact that with all handicapped bathtubs for wheelchair users and regular walk in baths all require that the user remain in the tub until it is completely empty before opening the door to exit the bathing zone. The concerns seem to be:
1. How long will I have to sit and wait for the handicapped bath tub to empty?
2. Will I get cold while I am waiting?
The time it takes for the water to completely drain from all handicap bathtubs or any walkin bathtub depends on two main factors. These are primarily the size of the tub and how much water is required to operate it as well as the size and weight of the user and how much water they will displace based on their size and weight. With all this taken into account and considering an average situation most walk in baths will drain completely in an average of 3-5 minutes.
By the time the user is ready to exit the handicapped bathtub they have been submerged in warm water for an extended period of time so feeling cold is unlikely to occur in the time it takes for the unit to drain completely. In cases where one chills rapidly or in just addressing the concerns at hand, a solution is readily available. I recommend installing a bathroom fan over handicap bath tubs that blows warm air over the user while they are waiting for the water to drain. Although I have favorite units, most models available today are code compliant and safe when installed over the walk in tub shower on a ground fault interrupter (GFI) outlet and on a dedicated circuit.
The jury is still out in regards to the actual effectiveness of the rapid drain system versus its additional cost. The applications I am familiar with all include larger and additional drain piping included within the body of their walk in bath tubs. Many of these drain systems also include a small pump to assist pumping the water through the pipes. All rough wall or floor drain piping is usually 1 ½” - 2” in diameter which means that no matter how quickly the water evacuates the bathtubs for handicapped users it is going to slow down once it reaches the narrower drain line resulting in a bottle neck effect. To truly have an effective rapid drain system one will need to incur an added cost to their walk in bathtub price by enlarging the rough drain line from the tub location to where it connects either with the City waste system or septic. The bottle neck will need to be eliminated in order to allow the water to flow more rapidly than it would with a regular drain line.
If maintaining your walk in bathtub price at an affordable level is important I recommend staying with the standard drain system offered with your walk in tub shower and utilizing one of my suggestions in this blog should you still feel that an issue exists. My extensive experience has shown me that in reality these concerns are normally not in issue.