Air Gap/Soap Dispenser or other solution?

tinanFebruary 15, 2013

In CA, code requires an air gap for dishwashers even when the dishwasher doesn't require it (Bosch). I am changing my sink, countertop and faucet and want a single hole faucet... but now I have to deal with the ugly air gap and put in another hole for it!

I found some clever air gaps that double as soap dispensers, but they appear very cheaply made and the reviews say they leak soap under the counter etc. I rarely use soap (everything goes in the dishwasher except non stick pans) so I don't want to add something that will cause me problems. I'd rather have a plain air gap than one that creates a mess!

Are there decorative air gaps or other solutions that you have found?

I have heard that some people put in a soap dispenser and put the air gap under the counter, then remove the soap dispenser and install the air gap "properly" in that hole when and if required. I don't understand how that works - does one just take the current hose setup and anchor it as high as possible underneath the countertop? Not saying I plan to try that, I'm just curious!

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The purpose of an air gap is to keep the DW water out of the freshwater system, i.e. backwash. Another way to accomplish the same thing is to install the DW hose with a "high loop." That just means that a section of the hose is lifted higher than the level of the inflow. DWs are pretty much made that way these days, and for those few that aren't, the plumber simply pulls up a section of hose. To give you an idea of how antique the requirement for installing an air gap is, only a few states require it any more, CA being the most prominent. The goal is absolutely necessary, but there is more than one method of getting there.

If your kitchen work is permitted, you'll need to have an air gap in place when the inspector does his/her thing. It's a simple matter to remove it afterwards and replace it with a soap or lotion dispenser. Maybe an instant hot water thingie? You do have options. Your plumber will be happy to explain how it works.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 10:39AM
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We replaced ours with our reverse osmosis water faucet (and have the high loop situation going on.) -- WA state.

The air gap was in place until we moved in. From there, it was replaced simply.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 10:48AM
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Fortunately the work is cometic and does not require permits, but of course I need to stick to code so that when and if we sell the place we don't run into problems. I'm doing it all myself.

Here's the Soap/air gap combo I found, but the quality seems poor and the reviews include many complaints about leaks. I saw the same item sold in an online faucet tore for 3x the price, but it's the same item. I wonder if there is a better quality brand out there? Link below

Here is a link that might be useful: Soap Dispenser/Air Gap combo

    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 10:50AM
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I'm so glad you asked this question. I live in Texas and had never seen an air gap until I bought my current house, which was built around 2000. All my other houses were older and didn't have one. My granite guy told me it used to not be required in Texas, but is now. He said I don't have to have it, but now I'm wondering if it will be a problem when I try to sell. Would they really make you change something like that?

    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 12:20PM
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it depends - sales in California are "as is" so I don't really know what the legalities are regarding code issues. You can of course be fined if it is discovered that you did work without required permits or violated code. I figure better safe than sorry, it will be much easier for me to put the hold in my countertop now (I am pouring concrete) than to try and drill one later. Someone really needs to create a solution to this problem, there has to be a more attractive way of implementing an air gap - even the combo soap dispenser looks slightly better (I guess if it leaks I could just not put soap in) but it's way too tall for a dispenser and looks cheap. I'm sure faucet designers could do better!

    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 12:59PM
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FWIW, we got an exception to skip the air gap for our dishwasher because the manual called for installation without an air gap, and CA code also requires that appliances be installed in accordance with manufacturer instructions. Not every city has a policy on this (ours is at the discretion of the individual inspectors, although we had different inspectors for rough-in and final and both allowed this) but depending on where you are, there may even be a policy on the books to allow for the exception. (Several Bay Area cities have them.) Worth checking!

    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 1:13PM
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I can't really find specifications for that combo soap dispenser/airgap but maybe you can use it with the Never MT kit so you don't have to refill often (it says it holds small amount) and may also prevent the leaking issue. Do a search on "never mt" to see more about it. Basically a long hose you can put into a large container of soap that sits in your sink base rather than attaching directly to your soap dispenser.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 3:58PM
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I am in CA bay area and in our town, the inspectors require the airgap. My dishwashers don't need it. My pumber is planning to do the high loop and will swap it out for the soap dispenser after the inspection.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 4:53PM
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I'm in Washington, another state which requires the air gap. All of the plumbers, and there were many, I spoke to along my reno journey all said they routinely do a high loop and swap the air gap out for a soap dispenser later. Over the years, I've read many people here say they have done the same thing. Another option is a Johnson's Tee instead of the air gap.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 7:21PM
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If you have a hole for the air gap but use it for soap or whatever instead, you can always pull out the soap dispenser/lotion dispenser/reverse osmosis faucet etc., and put an air gap in there if you need to. It's a very simple swap.

I certainly wouldn't encourage you to just opt out of the air gap if that would cause a health problem, but it doesn't. High loop and air gap are two approaches to the same issue - backflow. Air gap is the old fashioned way to deal with it, high loop is the modern way. Generally speaking, I'm a big fan (big fan!) of doing everything to code, but this is an exception. I don't know what TX is doing, but in CA I believe this code to be a remnant of older technology that's just waiting to be written out.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 9:02PM
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Perfect! I will make a hole in the countertop, and use it for the soap dispenser that came with my faucet... then if/when I need to I'll swap in the air gap. Which will be all the time right? :)

So I removed my old sink and popped the air gap down, can I just tie that up high or so I need to remove the plastic parts and join the 2 hoses together continuously? There is also a disposal involved.

cathy725, I don't think that kit would work with the combo items, the soap contain is all above the countertop (that's why they are so tall) and you wouldn't be able to pass the tube through to under the cabinet.

This post was edited by tinan on Fri, Feb 15, 13 at 23:46

    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 9:14PM
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I live in an area that requires air gaps. In my previous house we had the air gap below the counter and it did not cause a problem when we sold the house. The buyer's home inspector noted that it was not typically installed that way but said it was acceptable.
When we redid the kitchen in our current house I looked into the combination soap and air gap fixture and decided they probably did not work well for either job. We put the air gap in for inspection but changed it out after that and put it below the counter.
Below is a picture of how it looks in the cabinet.
Even if you rarely use soap, I think you will like having a soap dispenser. It is quite convenient.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2013 at 1:21AM
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Oh, I meant to mention that of all the houses I've lived in during my life, not one has had an air gap. It's never been an issue for buying or selling on any report or inspection. I wouldn't say, however, that any of those areas have been real sticklers for following every intent of every law and ordinance to the nth degree though.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2013 at 5:19AM
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Rachiele, LLC

Waterstone happens to make a very attractive soap dispenser and airgap. They are made right here in the USA. In fact, they're made in California.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2013 at 7:58AM
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I'm in San Diego and when we remodeled 12 years ago we got rid of the unsightly air gap and have the loop set up instead. Don't recall it being a big deal. Is it a new code? I hope I don't have to put it back this time around!

    Bookmark   February 17, 2013 at 6:05PM
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island AKAIK it is an old code but it is up to the city/municipality whether it is required. Our city likes to be very picky about these things.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2013 at 1:05AM
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