Here's why taking a bath was risking disaster for a Bay Area couple

Alameda, Calif. (KGO) -- A bath should be a time to relax but for an East Bay couple, it brought fear of another calamity.

"Fifty gallons of water all over the place,'' said Ron Bigelow of Alameda. "You never knew when."

The couple said the problem was their new whirlpool bathtub. It has a door to allow easier access.

"We both have arthritis in the back, knees,'' Ron said. "It's the only way I can get in and out."

But one day while Ruth was relaxing in the tub - a shocking thing happened.

"The door goes whomp and the water goes whoosh,'' Ruth said.

The bathtub door had suddenly burst open. Fifty gallons of water gushed out across the floor. The force washed away rugs, shoes, and almost Ruth


"It was such a strong force,'' she said. "I was going, 'Oh my god it's going to take me with it. I had to hang on to the side"

The water drained through the bathroom floor and into the ceiling below, flooding the downstairs, soaking furniture, floors and rugs -- a huge mess.

At first they thought the door opened by some fluke. Or maybe that Ruth hadn't locked it correctly. She was extra careful to secure it next time.

Then it happened again.

"Ruth got in the tub, filled it with water, thought it was locked, " Ron said

"And then the door opened up again. Great!" Ruth recalled. .

The bathtub company, American Standard, sent a technician who could not find anything wrong with the tub, door or the latch.

And yet, it happened again, and again, and again -- five times in all.

"I don't want to get in the tub anymore,'' Ruth lamented.

Technicians said it must be the fault of the bather.

"We said no, not four times, five times in a row," Ron said.

Each time it happened, the couple spent hours sopping up water, drying out furniture, washing towels.

What's worse, it damaged sheetrock in the walls which, they said, will cost thousands of dollars to replace.

The couple figured the water pressure was too great for the outward-opening tub door. They asked American Standard to replace the tub with one that has an inward opening door.

"They said, for another $10,000 we'd be glad to," Ron recalled.

"We don't have that kind of money,'' Ruth said. "And we didn't think we should have to pay for another one. "

On top of everything, their insurance carrier is now refusing to renew their homeowners policy because they made too many claims for damage.

The couple contacted 7 On Your Side. Our team contacted American Standard and after reviewing the case, the company agreed to give them a new tub after all saying:

"We replaced the bathtub at no charge to demonstrate our commitment to providing the best possible experience for all of our customers. We stand by our product and the thousands of successful installations."

American Standard says the door latch was working properly, and did not say why it kept opening, but did provide an inward opening door.

For now, the couple is happy just to sit in their new tub. -- without fear of disaster.

"it's so nice to lay back there,'' Ruth said, "and know i'm not gonna get washed out of the tub. "
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