Garbage disposals are the needed friend to bury those unwelcome scraps from view. However, there are important needs to consider when it comes to our disposal friends. This includes the necessary space to properly dispose of the scraps that we give them.
Garbage disposals need an air gap to prevent any possible cross-connections and contaminations that can occur by waste or discharged water. This is especially necessary to prevent cross-contamination with any connected dishwasher.
Although this friendly air gap may be helpful to your garbage disposal in properly disposing of waste without any extra issues, there are issues that can occur if the air gap is not functioning correctly, especially if the air gap is not in the right position.
The general purpose of an air gap
So what is the general purpose of an air gap? And what difference can it possibly make in any appliance?
An air gap is designed to prevent cross-contamination and build up. It is most commonly applied to the facet of a sink, with a gap strategically placed to prevent build up behind the fixture.
One specific air gap example is the gap between the facet and the drain underneath it. Thanks to this gap, the dirty water can never reach the facet. This also prevents the contamination that would come to the tip of the facet itself were the gap to not exist.
Warning: Without a proper gap in certain appliances, it could ruin the water that is coming through to the appliance itself. Be it a dishwasher, sink, or garbage disposal system.
For your information: There are places that allow for you to have a direct connection between your dishwasher and your garbage disposal. However, such ideas would require a more complicated method known as “The High Loop Method”.
Warning: “The High Loop Method” is not nearly as safe as the air gap and many other risks and issues may still occur. In order to avoid these issues altogether, it is far better to continue by having the air gap to begin with.
(Source: Under Sink Air Gap Installation | Hunker)
The proper placement of the air gap
The air gap should be placed where it will be able to intervene between any interconnecting clean or dirty water.
The effect of an air gap in disposal systems
As described above, the air gap is a necessary friend that will prevent your dishwasher from going to war over waste contamination with your disposal system. The air gap acts as a median, or parental guide to intervene and keep the two from clashing together.
This brings about the desired affect of peace between the two, providing that the air gap does it job properly. In which case, the two should never meet.
Warning: Cross-contamination can cause damage and or, thick build up that is far more difficult to deal with. It is better to install the air gap to begin with, then to risk cross-contamination and thick waste which will clog and or damage your disposal pipes.
As described above, with the general purpose of the air gap to a facet and sink, the air gap will separate the two hoses, as it would with two dogs that would potentially war over their respective territories, leaving damage behind for us to clean up.
Dishwashing waste versus air gap
If there is not a proper parental guide, or gap between both the dishwasher pipe and the garbage disposal, then dirty water from the dishwasher will flood the disposal, decreasing the capability of the disposal to drain the sink and clear any scraps or debris that it contains.
This could cause many unwelcome issues or damage with not only your disposal, but for septic tank and the pipes as well. This damage would require extra cleaning and repairs that wouldn’t be necessary otherwise.
Tip: If something does happen to any of these items in your home, then please call a professional to repair or clean the items that have been affected by the rising sludge.
Required by a plumbing code
Having an air gap will prevent unnecessary mishaps, and bring life back into our disposal system. As many of us know, there tends to be build-up that prevents your sink from draining properly at times.
These sort of issues usually occur when your disposal is cross-contaminating, or the drain below is built up with thick sludge and debris from the previously discarded scraps.
Most of these requirements or plumbing codes, demand a minimum of a two inch air gap. This gap normally applies to a pipe that is two inches in diameter. The gap is usually double the diameter of the pipe.
Two inch pipe -> four inch air gap
three inch pipe -> six inch air gap
And so on. adjust the gap as needed. Or even consider seeking professional help so as to provide the most exact help necessary for your precious garbage disposal system.
Air gap assembly in connection to garbage disposals
There are typically two air gap houses that interconnect in an upside down ‘Y’ formation with other piping from under the sink. If your are concerned of whether or not your garbage disposal will accommodate the air gap, then you should know that every garbage disposal are designed to have this accommodation.
Tip: be sure that the pipes are coated in a faux-chrome finish, and a cap is placed over the top of the air gap.
(source: Under Sink Air Gap Installation | Hunker)