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”.
Ever wondered what this mysterious gap does and what makes it so essential to your plumbing? If so, we’ve got the answers!
The role an air gap plays in protecting drinking water
What is an air gap exactly?
Air gap: the name isn’t terribly descriptive, is it?
It certainly doesn’t help that the term has been appropriated by the IT industry either!
In plumbing however, 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.
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 drinking 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.
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!
Given up? Okay, we’ll tell you – it’s the 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.
While you won’t be drinking out of your dishwasher, you will be drinking and eating with the utensils that go in – hence, the importance of an air gap here too!
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.
Don’t DIY – instead, choose a Cheltenham plumber for all your plumbing needs
Maintaining an air gap is just one of the many, many less well-known considerations that need to go into your plumber.
They’re also a strong argument for why you should never opt for DIY plumbing for anything bigger than unclogging a toilet with a plunger.
If you need plumbing work, call your local Cheltenham plumber – call Watermaster Plumbing!
Our team are ready to help you out with all of your plumbing needs:
Whether you’re planning a plumbing upgrade or need a routine inspection, our team of highly-trained plumbing professionals can be reached on 1300 156 650.
Call today to find out how we can help!