Your dishwasher does more than clean your dishes; it is an important part of maintaining your family’s health. One way it does that is by draining away wastewater through the air gap. When your air gap leaks, it indicates a problem. The last thing you want is for wastewater, with the bacteria it contains, to flow back into your dishwasher. You need to eliminate that air gap leak. In this post we’ll look at several ways of dealing with a dishwasher air gap leak.
New Garbage Disposal
If you have just had a garbage disposal installed, and suddenly your dishwasher is backing up all over the place, the likely culprit is the small insert where the hose connects to your garbage disposal. This knock-out insert should be removed at installation, but sometimes it isn’t. Obviously with nowhere to go, the wastewater goes everywhere. Simply disconnect the hose, hold a screwdriver against the insert and tap the end of the screwdriver with a hammer until the insert is pushed into the disposal tank. Once this blockage is removed, your dishwasher air gap should work perfectly.
The most likely cause of a dishwasher air gap leaking is a clog. Most of the time, you can make this dishwasher repair yourself. First remove the metal casing from the air gap and then take off the plastic top. Depending on your make of dishwasher, this plastic top may unscrew or it may lift off after pinching the sides. Once you have access to the air gap itself, check if you can see any material clogging any part of the air gap. If so, simply remove it with tweezers.
Blowing Clog Away
If no obvious clog is visible, try blowing the clog away. Simply place a roll of paper towels over the air gap and blow hard through your end of the tube. You’ll be able to tell how significant the clog is from the air resistance. Hopefully, a couple of powerful blasts will dislodge any clog. Finally, pour hot water down the air gap to deal with any greasy particles. If you can’t get any air movement or a clog is still present, you may need to snake it out.
Snaking Clog Out
Just like snaking other plumbing features, you can eliminate a clog in your air gap by forcing a tool through the pipe. Traditional snakes are too big, though, so you’ll need to use something else. A long bottle brush works well, or a length of cable. Push the tool through the larger hole at the bottom of the air gap outlet and work it back and forth as you progress. Be careful not to exert too much force as you could puncture the tube, creating an entirely different problem. Watch the drain in the sink or garbage disposal, and when you see the end of the tool emerge there, you know you’ve dislodged the clog.
Another strategy when your dishwasher is clogged is to vacuum the clog away. Take your wet/dry shop vac and put the hose end on the air gap outlet. Be sure the switch is turned to suction. Fill the sink or disposal area with hot water, then turn on the shop vac. The force of the suction should dislodge the clog. Allow about a gallon of water to run through after the clog is cleared, about 30 – 40 seconds.
Keeping your air gap in good working order is important for your dishwasher’s proper function, and more importantly, for your family’s health. If you have concerns about your dishwasher air gap leaking that you’re not comfortable dealing with, call the expert’s at Dave’s Appliance.
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