When to Replace a Whirlpool Bathtub

When to keep an old whirlpool and when to replace one. Many people get concerned over the hygienic safety of an old whirlpool bathtub. Whirlpool bathtubs can have a life in excess of 30 years and still perform and look as good as when they were new. Others will have problems with water retention in the pipes if they were not manufactured on installed properly. One way to test this is to fill the whirlpool and run the pump for about 15 minutes. You should not see any black algae or flakes of dried algae in the water. The presence of live or dead black algae is an indication the pipes or pump is retaining stagnant and unhealthy water. This is basically bacteria infested water or what is left after the water has evaporated. A well functioning whirlpool will not do this.
Black Algae from water retention in a whirlpool bathtub
If you have a black algae problem, you can’t immediately assume that the whirlpool has to be replaced without inspecting the pump first. Make sure it is elevated above the bottom of the bathtub and that water is not being trapped. This is most common in cultured marble whirlpools that were manufactured in the late 1980s to about 2000. Many of these bathtubs were jetted on the job site and the quality control was random. If this is your situation, you can elevate the pump with a block of wood about 4 inches and it may solve the problem, if there is not additional water retention in the pipes. You can make this correction and then run the bath with cold water and 16 ounces of bleach or 2oz of pool shock. This will temporarily solve the problem. If it reoccurs then you will have to re-plumb or replace the whirlpool.
Removing to whirlpool without damaging it
Removing the whirlpool is difficult to do without damaging the shell. If the bathtub is sitting on top of the tile it may be possible to remove it without damage to the shell. If the whirlpool is tiled in, you should plan on replacing it. If you can successfully remove the whirlpool without damaging it, you can bring it to a local tub jetter and have it refitted with new jets pipe and pump. In most cases people choose to replace the whirlpool bathtub for the small difference in cost between a new whirlpool and the repair. In general, culture marble bathtubs are the most difficult to remove due to the weight and that they are very easy to crack.
Determining the condition of the whirlpool bathtub pipes
After you remove the whirlpool you can cut one of the flexible water pipes and inspect the color of the interior pipe. If it is black with discoloration, then it has to be re-jetted or replace. If it is in good shape, see if you can identify a low pipe that may be retaining water. If you a diligent it is sometimes possible to make the repairs and save the whirlpool without re-jetting.
Whirlpool bath Finnish considerations
Acrylic finished bathtubs tend to hold their finish and shine for years unless they have been exposed to harsh cleaning chemicals or where damage by cleaning after the original construction of the home. This is usually the case with finish issues. On the other hand culture marble tends to yellow with age and it is often replace for cosmetic reasons. If the cultured bathtub is exposed to direct sunlight over the years it will definitely have discolored.
Whirlpool Jet and component replacement and refinishing
Many older whirlpools are replaced because the jet finish is no longer in style or does not match new bathroom hardware. It is possible to replace the interior jets and whirlpool fittings on all bathtubs. Your best course of action is to go to the whirlpool manufacture and check if they are still available. Most will be, if under ten years old. It is important to photograph each component of the system in addition to the model number and year of the bathtub. Most whirlpool manufactures do not make their own jets and therefore the manufacture of the jets may have several versions. There are over a Thousand different jet models and brands. Many of these jet systems look the same but have different thread size or diameter. If you are handy, it is also possible to paint the jets with an enamel spray paint. Don’t attempt this without removing the whirlpool components first.

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