Home » What role does an air gap play in your home’s plumbing system?

What role does an air gap play in your home’s plumbing system?

We know what you’re thinking: what does air have to do with plumbing? Doesn’t plumbing deal with, you know, water?

And of course, you’d be correct.

Talk to your Cheltenham plumber on the other hand, and they’ll tell you that air is actually an important part of your home plumbing system.

In particular, they might mention two words: “air gap”.

But what exactly is this gap, and what does it do? Our plumbers in Cheltenham have the answers.

New modern faucet and kitchen room sink closeup with island and granite countertops in model house home apartment

The role an air gap plays in protecting drinking water

What is an air gap?

In plumbing, air gap refers to a prevention method that protects the water in your fixtures from being contaminated with backflow.

This gap can be found in many common fixtures like taps and faucets, physically preventing backflow from re-entering your water supply.

They’re essential for maintaining healthy, clean drinking water, even if your drains are clogged.

Why air gaps matter

Every time you turn on a water fixture, the water that comes out is either consumed, used, or goes down the drain.

That changes when you have a blocked drain. All of a sudden, water isn’t draining out, potentially requiring a call to your emergency plumber.

However, a bigger problem arises when the water floods back into the affected water fixture.

In the event of a clog, backflow can mix with the fresh water in your water fixtures. This has the potential to contaminate and compromise your water (known as “cross-connection”).

That’s where air gaps come in.

Air gaps are a backflow prevention method, designed to protect you from accidentally consuming backflow.

By leaving space between the flood line and the fixture, air gaps eliminate the risk of cross-connection.

Thanks to this distance, it’s physically impossible for dirty backed-up water to make its way back into your fixtures.

Kitchen Sink and Cooking Area Close Up

Air gaps in your taps

Where’s the air gap in your faucets?

Is it underneath the sink in the cabinet? Or is it in your walls, hidden behind the bathroom mirror?

The answer is that it’s in none of those places!

In fact, the flood gap for faucets and taps has probably been staring you in the face for years without you even realising it: it’s the unobstructed vertical space between your tap and the rim of your sink!

Let us explain…

When your kitchen drain gets clogged, water starts to fill up.

This water is often dirty and potentially unhealthy.

However, since your taps don’t go low enough to come into contact with this water – even if the backflow fills up your entire sink – it can’t pollute your water if you need a drink.

Take a look for yourself. Check your bathroom, kitchen or any other tap – you’ll notice that the tap is always set well above the edge or height of the sink rim.

Dishwasher air gap

Your sinks and taps aren’t the only fixture with an air gap in it. Another common place you’ll find them is in your dishwasher.

In most dishwashers, the air gap will be located near the drain hose. This is the hose, tube or pipe that drains used water out of your dishwasher.

When your dishwasher drain backs up, there’s a chance of backflow flowing back down the hose that connects to the drain.

This leads to contaminated water making its way back into your washing machine, and results in dirty dishes.

To get around this, most dishwashers come with an air gap in the drain hose.

The drain hose will snake upwards before turning downwards again, where there’ll be a gap.


Planning a renovation or extension?

Partner with our plumbers in Cheltenham for safe and efficient kitchen, bathroom, and commercial fit-outs.

If you’re planning a renovation or extension for your home or workplace, it’s crucial to ensure that all plumbing work is carried out safely and efficiently. This includes the planning and execution of air gaps, which play a vital role in protecting your home’s water supply from contamination.

Our team of plumbers will work with you closely throughout the project to ensure that all plumbing work is completed on time, on budget, and to the highest possible standards.

At Watermaster Plumbing, we take pride in delivering top-quality plumbing services to homeowners in Cheltenham and surrounding areas.

Contact us today to discuss your upcoming renovation or extension project and how we can help ensure that your plumbing needs are met safely and efficiently. Our team of highly-trained plumbing professionals can be reached on 1300 156 650.

2023-04-26T02:27:46+00:00 April 23rd, 2023|Blog|