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no air gap for the dishwasher - risks?
Old 12-08-2009, 10:03 PM   #1
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no air gap for the dishwasher - risks?

My dad helped us install our dishwasher a few years ago (maybe 2003?) and we didn't know to put an air gap in the line. But we didn't have any problems, either. Then a year or so ago when we were living elsewhere and renting out the house, there was some kind of (unrelated) water leak under the sink, and while the property manager's handyman was repairing the damage, he also installed the air gap (which is apparently code in CA).

How necessary is that air gap, really? I've been reading some other forums and most people seem to disregard them with no consequences. A few people are adamant that they're critical for preventing contamination although they admit that several things would have to go wrong before a problem occurs. These posters also say that the "high loop" method for connecting the line doesn't solve the problem.

I want to take out the air gap and get my soap dispenser back. I would put in a high loop instead for whatever that might get me, realizing it's not the same. Regarding the code issue, if/when we ever sell, I'll just take out the soap dispenser and put the air gap back in.

I can't find the manual for my dishwasher, even online, and the only thing the use and care guide says is that an air gap may be required by code but is not part of the dishwasher and they're not responsible, etc.

So - anything I'm missing here? Anyone have real-life terrible experiences due to not having the air gap?
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Old 12-09-2009, 08:07 AM   #2
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Most states don’t call for air gaps.

I’m all about using a high loop and not having to see the air gap all the time. The pump in the bottom of the dish washer acts like a check valve and it would have to fail before you would have issues. With or with out an air gap you would still get the nasty water and bacteria that’s been breeding in the hose.

You can mount the air gap under the counter if you find an L bracket with the right size hole in it but you need to mount it as high as possible
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Old 12-09-2009, 08:26 AM   #3
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I don't have an air gap on my dishwasher and I've experienced plugs downstream, where the disposal could have conceivably pumped waste into the dishwasher, but it didn't happen. I have even used a plunger on the disposal, with no ill effect.

I would hesitate to install an air gap under the sink, though, as when they do their job, they spill water that you want to go into the sink , not under the counter.
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Old 12-09-2009, 09:15 AM   #4
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After we moved into a newly built house, we had occasional flooding under the sink. It turned out an air gap had been installed underneath the sink, so that every time there was a clog in the garbage disposal, we had a major discharge of water there.

Plumber found this and said "you don't need an air gap."

I have no air gap in our current house. Works fine.
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Old 12-09-2009, 09:33 AM   #5
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I'd agree with the observation that "A few people are adamant that they're critical for preventing contamination although they admit that several things would have to go wrong before a problem occurs."

I've noticed that a lot of plumbing and electrical codes are there to protect against a multiple fault scenario, and even then you might have to do something while both faults were occurring. But that does help keep us safe.

I don't have an air gap, and I don't think they are required here (I've never seen one installed that way). The risk I am taking is that if my drain backed up, and if it got all the way into the dishwasher, and if the valve failed (I know mine has a shut off valve in the drain line) and if I had clean plates in there when it happened, and if I didn't notice it, I might end up eating from a contaminated plate, and I might get sick.

The high loop (higher than the drain in the sink) would at least probably alert you to a back up - you would see it in the sink for it to possibly get high enough to get back to the dishwasher. I've never had a backup that I wasn't painfully aware of.

All in all, seems like a very low risk, and is probably why not all places require it.

BTW, this applies to Water Softener drain lines also - there should be a gap there, for the same reasons. That is something I need to fix on mine - being in the basement, that drain is the lowest point, so it would be the first to backup, so something bad could possibly happen before I noticed it. Also low risk, but I really should do it right, just in case.

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Old 12-09-2009, 03:15 PM   #6
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Installed dishwashers in three different residences without the air gaps.
No issues to report.

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Old 12-09-2009, 03:20 PM   #7
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No airgap in our dishwasher either. The dual sink would be full to within an inch of the countertop to have a problem. No backflow problems so far. Had a clogged trap in the sink once. Still no backflow to the dishwasher. Even after pluging. Had there been an airgap, I'm sure there would have been a mess to clear out from under the sink.

The problem with dual sink is, at the time of the clog, had to have DW hold a plug over one sink drain while I plunged the the other to clear clog. Really did not feel like dropping the trap...
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Old 12-09-2009, 06:19 PM   #8
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Ok, thanks for the replies. I think we'll probably risk it.
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