DIY Tips to Keep Your Dishwasher Air Gap Running Smoothly
One of the most common plumbing mistakes in a home is the lack of the air gap or drain loop by the dishwasher. That lets kitchen sink wastewater enter the dishwasher, so you won’t want to wash your dishes with dirty water.
A dishwasher air gap is a fitting mounted about two inches above the sink that prevents contaminated water from re-entering the dishwasher from the drain via backflow. An air gap is a simple way to make certain wastewater and contaminants never re-enter your clean water supply.
It’s possible you’ve never heard of a dishwasher air gap, but it plays an important role in keeping your dishwasher operating properly and protecting your family’s health.
So, what exactly does a dishwasher air gap do? Put simply, it prevents drain water from backing up into your dishwasher and contaminating your freshly washed dishes with dirty drain water.
When the dishwasher is discharging water, a lot of water floods out of the air gap. … When the gap leaks, it is normally due to a kink or blockage in the tube from the air gap to the tail piece (drain line) below the sink. The gap may need to be cleaned, or the drain line below the sink may be plugged.
This is how the Dishwasher air gap works:
- The air gap is usually located right by your kitchen faucet.
- The water discharge from to dishwasher, and goes up in a loop in the air gap, and falls down in the sink trap.
- The air gap should not leak, but it is normal to hear gurgling as the water goes through the loop.
- If you don’t have an air gap you would want to look underneath your sink to make sure you have a loop on your drain hose. Your dishwasher drain hose needs to be higher than the sink drain.
The drain hose that goes from your dishwasher to the drainpipe or garbage disposal should have a loop and be mounted higher than the sink. Very often the drain hose goes in slop from the dishwasher to the drainpipe, that is an improper way and you will very likely get kitchen wastewater in your dishwasher.
Picture your kitchen faucet and sink. If the sink drain becomes clogged and water backs up into the sink, that water can’t reach the faucet outlet because of the “air gap” separating the two.
The faucet outlet is always higher than the rim of the sink, which creates an air gap between the two. The backed-up sink water won’t reach the faucet outlet and contaminate your water supply.
The same principle applies to your dishwasher air gap. The device is usually a small cylinder sitting on your cabinet top near the sink and faucet. As your dishwasher cleans your dishes, the wastewater is pumped out of the dishwasher and carried by a hose to the air gap.
Like your faucet opening above the sink, the outlet from the dishwasher hose in the air gap is higher than the opening to the drain hose leading away from the device. As with the faucet and the sink, an air gap separates the two hoses.
If you still are having problems with dirty dishes there is a couple of other simple things you can try:
- Run your kitchen sink on hot water until the water that comes out of the faucet is really hot, then start the dishwasher.
Think of when you start to run your faucet on hot, it usually doesn’t come out as very hot right away. That is the same for the dishwasher as well.
Doing this prevents cold water from entering the dishwasher, and as you know cold water does not do as good as hot water when it comes to cleaning.
2. Try to change your soap
Using a bottle brush, simply extend it down the air gap (not the line from the dishwasher, but the line leading into the disposal) and twist it until the debris in the line comes loose. Or, with a wet/dry vac, place the hose over the air gap, turn it on, and wait forty seconds to a minute.
If everything works properly, the dishwasher pumps wastewater to the air gap where it’s moved away by the drain hose to the garbage disposal. And the air gap separating the openings of the two hoses normally prevents wastewater from backing up and contaminating your freshly washed dishes. You can find an illustration of a dishwasher air gap here.
Things do not always work as they should, however, and a clogged air gap can create a huge mess in your kitchen, as shown in this video. If water is flowing or gushing out of the air gap, there are some DIY solutions you can try to correct the problem.
DIY Tips to Keep Your Dishwasher Air Gap Running Smoothly in 2021
- One involves a roll of paper towels. Remove the cover of the air gap, place the paper towel tube over the hose openings and blow into the air gap. This may remove food particles interfering with the normal water flow.
- If this technique doesn’t work, use a long-handled bottle brush to dislodge food particles or other debris that may have jammed the drain hose.
- If either your garbage disposal or dishwasher has been recently installed, it’s possible the installer forgot to remove the “knockout plug” on the disposal unit. To fix this, detach the hose linking the air gap drain hose to the disposal. Take a hammer and screwdriver and tap the knockout plug that’s preventing water from draining into the disposal. Then reconnect the drain hose to the disposal. Finally, unplug the disposal, reach inside it and remove the knockout plug.
If none of these tricks work, you may need to have a plumber snake out your drain lines to remove debris you can’t reach. Calling in the professionals can be expensive. To help avoid these high repair costs, consider purchasing a home warranty from American Home Shield.
Call us today at 866-223-7938 or contact us online and let us give you a free, no-obligation estimate on the American Home Shield warranty that’s best for you.