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Taking the plunge.

HOME IMPROVEMENTS

TAKING THE PLUNGE

Hot tubs, spas, and whirlpool baths are the

hottest things in home additions.

A good soak in a steamy whirlpool is the ticket to a soothing retreat from the daily beat. Hydrotherapy, as it is known, has been massaging man's minor aches and pains for centuries, and aside from its therapeutic value, soaking is simply a very efficient and enjoyable way to relax. But until recently, spas were reserved for the glamorous and affluent or enjoyed only after enrolling at an expensive health club.

No longer. Home spas are appearing more frequently on the requisite lists of prospective home buyers who firmly believe the costly investment is worth every cent. The benefits of a home spa are particularly appealing to the thousands of users who find therapeutic relief from physical ailments ranging from strained muscles to arthritis.

Choosing a hot tub, spa, or whirlpool can be somewhat bewildering. To meet the growing demand, the hotwater industry, as it fondly refers to itself, has produced an almost endless variety of options. When you go shopping for spas, buy only from a reputable dealer. A list of dealers in your area is available from the National Spa and Pool Institute, 2111 Eisenhower Ave., Alexandria, VA 22314.

Before shopping, consider the amount of space and money you wish to devote to your spa. Determine which of the three types of equipment best suits your needs. Whirlpool baths, basically similar to the ordinary bathtub, are outfitted with a built-in pump that aerates and automatically recirculates the water. Whirlpool baths are emptied after each use, unlike spas and hot tubs, which are kept full of water and treated regularly with chemicals. A hot tub is a freestanding wooden structure; a spa, usually made of fiberglass or concrete, requires a supporting structure, or must be installed into the ground--or you can choose a portable spa suited for indoor-outdoor use. Hot tubs and spas require careful maintenance. The water quality must be tested daily and the chemicals balanced to prevent the growth of algae and bacteria.

Nearly all spas come with filters, pumps, blowers, and covers. Half of them have thermostats and heaters--and a few include cleaning systems, skimmers, lights, and chemical feeders. That's a lot to worry over, not including the cost of power to run them.

A safer, cleaner, and less expensive jet tub offers most of the spa's hotwater features, but not nearly as much maintenance. However, the typical jet tub is also smaller (bathtub size), meaning it's a solo rather than a social experience.

Before purchasing a unit, actually sit in the tub. Is it the size and shape you want? Are you comfortable sitting in it? A simple test dip can help you avoid making an uncomfortable and costly mistake.

Exercise some caution when using your spa or hot tub. Don't set the temperature above 104 [degrees] F. Don't drink alcohol before or during your hot bath. And don't stay in too long.

People with high blood pressure, heart disease, or diabetes should stay out of hot tubs and spas. If in doubt, consult your physician before taking the plunge.
COPYRIGHT 1988 Saturday Evening Post Society
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1988 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:hot tubs, spas, and whirlpool baths
Author:Hayes, Jack
Publication:Saturday Evening Post
Date:Nov 1, 1988
Words:523
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