The Difference Between Air Tubs, Jacuzzis and Whirlpool Tubs

Alvaro Air Tub

When shopping for a tub with massaging jets, understanding the difference between an air tub, whirlpool and a Jacuzzi can be confusing. While each of these tubs is deisgned to relieve soreness and tension, they each have distinct features. If you're considering buying one of these models, it helps to get to know the differences.

Whirlpool Tub
Whirlpool Tub
Whirlpool Tub
Air Tub



Jacuzzi is a manufacturer of hot tubs, a company started in America by Italian immigrant brothers in the 1900s. The Jacuzzi brothers began by developing aircraft propellers, hydraulic pumps and, eventually, hydrotherapy tubs.

In the late-1960s, a third-generation family member created the first tub of its kind with jets installed. The first whirlpool tub was patented by Jacuzzi. The company's products have since become synonymous with in-home spa tubs and, while Jacuzzi is a brand name, it is often used interchangeably with "whirlpool" or simply any jetted tub.

Whirlpool Tub

Whirlpool is the generic term for any tub with water jets installed. Designed initially for therapeutic purposes, the whirlpool tub features jets that propel water, particularly focused on areas that benefit from the effects of hydrotherapy. Jets on a whirlpool tub are located on the sides of the tub and can typically be adjusted to direct soothing warm water where you need it.

Since whirlpool tubs circulate the water inside a tub, a heater may or may not be installed. Filling the tub with warm or hot water keeps the bath comfortable for a certain period of time, so periodically adding warm water might be needed. Depending on your climate and preferred bathing time, a whirlpool tub heater might be a desirable feature.

With a whirlpool tub, it's often recommended that you avoid using bubble baths, oils or salts while bathing, which can clog the tubing or damage the motor. Always read the owner's manual before adding these enhancements to a jetted tub.

Air Tub

Just like a whirlpool tub, an air tub features jets and a pump. But rather than water, air is circulated through the jets. The air jets are typically smaller in size than whirlpool water jets and located on the bottom perimeter of the tub. The jets on an air tub release effervescent, champagne-like bubbles. Both types of tub deliver massaging, rejuvenating benefits, but air jets produce a subtler effect that many people find pleasurable for everyday use.

A heating element is standard with an air tub. The system's fan sucks air from within the room, warms it over a heating element, then sends the air out through the jets. If not for a heating element, room temperature air might actually cause the tub water to become cooler. The heating element in an air tub thus provides a comfortably warm temperature for bathing.

Other features in an air tub include anti-return and water relief valves. These are designed to prevent malfunction by keeping water from flowing into the blower and from draining into the air jets.

Cleaning Jetted Tubs

One of the perks air tub owners can enjoy is relatively easy cleaning and maintenance. After each use, simply turning on the jets once water has drained will dry out the lines and conveniently prevent mildew.

After each whirlpool use, a small amount of water can remain in the tubing. Many whirlpool owners can attest to the fact that, if left unused for a length of time, hard water deposits, bacteria and soap scum can build up, causing a release of debris once the tub is turned back on.

Cleaning with dish detergent or a special jetted tub cleaner on a regular basis can help keep the lines clean and free of debris. Note that anytime you clean a whirlpool tub, water must be filled to a certain height before the jets are turned on to prevent damage to the pumps.

To clean the acrylic on a whirlpool or air tub, use a non-abrasive liquid cleanser to prevent scratches to the surface. Consult the tub's manual for specific cleaning directions. Some manufacturers, for instance, advise against using bleach to clean the tub as it may dry out and damage fittings.


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