by Glynn Sheridan
In the 1950s, the Jacuzzi bathtub was the first tub of its kind to feature a hydrotherapy pump, designed to circulate bathwater and soothe sore muscles and joints. Today's Jacuzzi jetted tubs offer the latest pump technology and a variety of air-jet placement options. While installing a Jacuzzi bathtub is similar to installing a standard tub, there are some additional framing and wiring considerations you should know about.
Framing: Build the bathtub frame as directed in the tub's specification sheet. Jacuzzi makes many whirlpool tub sizes, but each one will have either a right-hand or a left-hand designation. You will need to make sure that your tub's orientation fits your current plumbing layout. The frame will hold the Jacuzzi, water and one or more people, so your existing floor joists need the strength to support the weight if you're installing a large jetted tub.
Installing a GFCI: You will need to install a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) in the space within the tub's frame. Jacuzzi recommends a GFCI outlet, and your local building code may require it as well. Although the pump and tubing are sealed units, if a leak occurs, the GFCI will trip, preventing electrical shock. Some Jacuzzi models require two GFCI outlets if the tub includes an independent heating source. Position these outlets as high as possible beneath the frame.
Access and arrangement: A removable panel covers the parts of the Jacuzzi tub's mechanical components. It's important to have access to the panel in case you ever need to repair or replace any mechanical components. If you want a custom tub skirt or you must slide your tub into a narrow space, make an access in the wall on the opposite side of the motor and plumbing components or build an access panel in the ceiling of the floor beneath these components.
Leveling and securing: Secure the flange of your Jacuzzi tub to the wooden frame. Before using the screws that came with your tub, place a carpenter's level on the top edge of the tub to make sure it is level. The inside bottom of your tub has a manufactured slope for drainage, so only the edge of the tub should be level. Place shims beneath a low area if needed.
Anchoring and padding: Attach any anchor straps that may come with your tub to the floor or to wall studs to stabilize the Jacuzzi. In addition, the tub may come with foam pads to insert between the tub bottom and framing. Make sure these are in place to reduce tub vibration during use.
Trimming and caulking: Trim out your Jacuzzi as desired and use silicone caulking in the creases between your new tub and the adjacent wall or tile. Seal any area where water can splash with caulk to prevent moisture from seeping between the cracks.
Have a licensed electrician install GFCI outlets.