Open Maytag® dishwasher with bowls on top rack

What is a Dishwasher Air Gap?

A dishwasher air gap is a cylinder fitting that connects the kitchen sink drain to your dishwasher and prevents dirty water from entering your clean dishes. It also prevents water from flowing back out during a cleaning cycle. Maytag® dishwashers have powerful features that keep dishes clean, but the dishwasher air gap is a small yet mighty tool that helps to protect dishes. Because your dishwasher drains directly into your kitchen’s plumbing, the dishwasher air gap blocks any dirty water that may re-enter your dishwasher.

Get to know more about dishwasher air gaps and if you need one in your kitchen.

Kitchen sink with dishwasher air gap icon Kitchen sink with dishwasher air gap icon

How does a dishwasher air gap work?

Dishwasher air gaps prevent used water from flowing between the dishwasher and drain by separating two branches of hose with an unpressurized gap of air. One branch of the air gap connects to the dishwasher, while the other connects to the garbage disposal. The dishwasher pumps out the dirty dishwater into the air gap through the first hose, where it is then released to the drainage site through the second hose.

What is the purpose of a dishwasher air gap?

While your dishwasher tackles dirty dishes, the air gap’s purpose is to lead the wastewater away from your appliance and ensure your dishes are thoroughly cleaned. There’s a chance that the dirty water from your drain can re-enter your dishwasher through a process called backflow. The dishwasher air gap blocks this backflow, helping to protect your dishes. 

An air gap effectively keeps the used water away from the dishwasher, pushing it through the drain hose and into the garbage disposal, preventing backflow.

Side view of open dishwasher with racked filled with plates, glasses and bowls Side view of open dishwasher with racked filled with plates, glasses and bowls

Do I need a dishwasher air gap?

When it comes to protecting your dishwasher from dirty water entering or exiting the drain, an air gap is a dependable tool. Most states even enforce plumbing codes that require dishwasher air gap installation in residential and commercial sinks. If your drain hose is connected to house plumbing lower than 20 inches above subfloor or floor you will need to use an air gap.

You can also prevent dirty water from entering your dishwasher by routing the drain hose to the underside of the counter, at the same height as a full sink of water. This counteracts the gravity from letting water from the sink get into the dishwasher.

Water flowing through dishwasher racks filled with plates and glasses Water flowing through dishwasher racks filled with plates and glasses

Do all dishwashers come with an air gap?

Select Maytag brand dishwashers are designed with built-in air gaps on the drain end. These air gaps are not recognized by local codes, so you will need a through-counter air gap if your state mandates it. In the case that a stand-alone air gap is not mandated, the built-in air gap is a helpful alternative.  

It’s important to note that some dishwashers don’t require an air gap, so they won’t always come with one, but there are alternatives that help keep your dishwasher water safe, like a high loop or standpipe. Whether you’re using a top control appliance or a front control appliance from Maytag brand, you can always rely on an air gap to prevent backflow no matter the circumstance.

Where is the dishwasher air gap located?

The dishwasher air gap is a chrome or stainless steel cylinder fitting that can be found at the back of the sink near the faucet. Under the countertop, you’ll find two branches of hose which allow the air gap to connect your dishwasher to the sink drain, preventing dirty water from coming in contact with your clean dishes.

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