What is a Dishwasher Air Gap?

Erin Easley

Written By Erin Easley

Published 03/25/20
What is a Dishwasher Air Gap

No matter how long you have owned your home, you will always something new come along to learn. Brand new homeowners to long-time homeowners, from the rooftop to the landscaping, everything around, below, in between, and inside, there will always be something new or unexpected regarding the maintenance and upkeep of your home. Things like dishwasher home warranty coverage and more come to mind.

The kitchen is one of the most important parts of your home. Not just the food storage and cooking part of this room, but the plumbing and sanitation functions are an area that you should know about. For instance, dishwasher air gap – what is this and do you have it, do you need it?

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Do You Have A Dishwasher Air Gap?

So, what is a dishwasher air gap exactly? This is a small piece of equipment that will give you sparkling clean dishes. Without this piece, you will most likely have smelly mess instead. That alone should tell you that you do not want your dishwasher without an air gap! But, keep reading to learn more about this small, but important, piece of equipment.

If you don’t know what a dishwasher air gap is, you’re not alone. Most homeowners, new or long-time, don’t know what it is until they find out they don’t have one or find out theirs isn’t working. This small, metal, cylinder-shaped piece is located near the sink and essential to the plumbing in your kitchen.

The Purpose Of A Dishwasher Air Gap

You may hear it referred to as a kitchen air gap, kitchen sink air gap, or as we are referring to it in this article, a dishwasher air gap. Albeit is a small piece, it does a lot of work! The dishwasher air gap purpose is to take that dirty water that is traveling through the drain line and keep it from seeping into the clean water.

As the dirty, grimy water is pumped out of the dishwasher, it goes through this cylinder-shaped piece and the holes in that will keep that dirty, grimy water from returning to the dishwasher. If it is malfunctioning, or missing, that is when you get the dirty, smelly dishes instead of the sparkling, clean dishes you expect.

In this way, the dishwasher air gap provides a cleaning purpose that protects you, and your family, from the contaminated dirty water that comes from the dishwasher. There is a delicate balance when it comes to  your home’s plumbing, especially in the kitchen. With hoses and pipes directing water in and out, the possibility of them crossing into each other could lead to contamination from harmful bacteria and overall nastiness.

Is Your Dishwasher Without Air Gap?

Not every home with a dishwasher has a dishwasher air gap, and if yours doesn’t, no need to be concerned. The actual metal cylinder that is normally found on the counter may be replaced with a loop underneath the sink and is connected through the garbage disposal. Either way, it serves the intended purpose and the gravity created moves the dirty water away from the clean water.

If your dishwasher isn’t providing the clean, sparkling dishes you expect, then check that you have either this piece of equipment on your counter or check the drain line. Under the sink, the drain hose should be running to and through the high loop to the garbage disposal drain line and lower than the hose incoming clean water line.

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