In the plumbing industry, air gaps are an essential design element to understand! The experts at Watters Plumbing are here to help you learn more about air gaps, what they are, why they are important, and what you should look for.
Everything You Need to Know About Plumbing Air Gaps
Air gaps are an important plumbing design element for homeowners to understand. They’re easy to overlook, but you may have noticed them when looking at the faucets in your bathroom or kitchen. Let’s explore what air gaps are, why they are important, and what you should be on the lookout for.
What is an Air Gap and Why is it Important?
In plumbing, an air gap is a vertical space (usually one inch or more) between the end of a pipe or faucet and the top of a nearby basin or sink. It creates a separation between the water supply and potentially contaminated water in a sink or other plumbing fixture.
The use of an air gap is required by plumbing codes for certain plumbing fixtures, such as dishwashers, to prevent the backflow of potentially contaminated water into the clean water supply. If contaminated water backflows, it can cause serious health risks.
Without the air gap, wastewater could siphon back into the drinking supply. This can happen when a city main is shut off, causing a drain-down of the system with plumbing done improperly. Sometimes it is a hose left in a mud puddle or maybe a hose lying in bleach water. People have died this way. Though rare, the plumbing code helps protect the general public from these dangers.
Current improvements include antisiphon faucets for garden hoses, the air gap for the dishwasher, proper installation of water heater T&P relief drains, and backflow preventers for irrigation systems.
Air Gaps in Sinks
One of the most common air gaps you’ll see is in sinks or bathtubs and the faucet.
Ever wondered why the faucet is so much higher than the sink rim?
That gap ensures water can get from the faucet to the sink, but no contaminated water can get back into the faucet, even if the sink overflows.
Air Gaps in Dishwashers
You’ll also see air gaps when it comes to your dishwasher installation. The air gap is typically located on the top of the sink or countertop, next to the dishwasher.
The way it works is quite simple: when the dishwasher is running, water is pumped out of the dishwasher and into the drainage system. If there is a clog or problem with the plumbing system, dirty water, and food particles may flow back into the dishwasher’s clean water supply.
The physical separation between the dishwasher’s drain line and the drainage system means wastewater cannot flow back into the dishwasher. Instead, the dirty water flows out of the dishwasher and into the drainage system through the air gap.
If there is a blockage or other problem that keeps water from flowing, the water will spill out of the air gap onto the countertop or sink, alerting you to the problem.
Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or plumbing issues in your Fox Cities home. With over 60 years in business, the professionals at Watters Plumbing can help handle any leaky repairs or remodels that you’d like done in your home!