Did you ever run the dishwasher only to return to water everywhere on your countertop, sink, and floor? The strange protrusion that is next to your faucet could this be the source of the water? It was a strange protrusion that you have seen in your faucet. “That thing” is actually called an air gap, and it prevents wastewater from siphoning back into the dishwasher, which can occur when sinks become clogged and no air gap is present. Without an air gap, contaminated water could be sucked back into the dishwasher, dirtying your clean dishes and making you ill.


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In a properly functioning air gap, the dishwasher hose attaches to an input on the air gap, and the water is expelled out the end. The water falls into the hose and is carried to the disposal by gravity. The air gap, where water falls through the air rather than a hose, serves to prevent siphoning and stop backups into the dishwasher. The air gap can become clogged with food over time. Another problem is when a garbage disposal is being installed, the installer forgets the to pull the plug from the line that connects to it. Either of these situations is quite easy to fix, and below we’ll show you how.


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One of the most common reasons for an air gap clog is failure to remove the knockout plug from the input where the water line enters the garbage disposal. This can block the water line from entering the garbage disposal and cause a backup. This can be solved by disconnecting the water line from your garbage disposal and inserting a screwdriver in the input. Then, tap the input with a hammer until the knockout plug is removed. Make sure you reach into the garbage disposal to remove the plug before using it.

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To remove softer clogs, take off the cap and place a cardboard tube made from a roll paper towels over the hole. You can blow the top of the material with a lot force. If this doesn’t work, though, you can use either a long bottle brush or a wet/dry vacuum to remedy the issue. Simply extend the bottle brush down the air gap (not from the dishwasher but the line leading to the disposal) and twist the handle until all the debris is gone. Use a dry/wet vac to clean the air gap. Place the hose in the air gap, then turn the vac on. Wait for about forty seconds to one minute. Anything in the air space should be removed by this time.

Ultimately, with a few simple steps, you can prevent contamination of your clean dishes from whatever evil microbes lurk in your sink, and that can’t be a bad thing. Baker Brothers Plumbing is always available for assistance if you have any further questions.

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