Ever wondered why your faucet has a small hole near the base? Or, ever thought about why your dishwasher hose loops up before connecting to the drain? Well, these are examples of air breaks and air gaps. Air breaks and air gaps are both methods of water backflow prevention.
So, air brake vs air gap, what is the difference? The easily understandable difference between air breaks and air gaps is air breaks are usually found in faucets, showers, and toilets, where they prevent water from splashing or siphoning back into the fixture. And air gaps are typically found in dishwashers, washing machines, and water heaters, where they prevent water from flowing back into the appliance.
But there’s a lot more to know about them. So, we will break down everything about these right in this article for you.
Air Break vs. Air Gap: Differences At A Glance
Now, let’s get to know some of the major differences between an air break and an air gap:
Air break: To make it easier to understand, you can think of an air break as a pipe that ends above a bucket but below its rim.
The water from the pipe can flow into the bucket, but if the bucket overflows, the water won’t go back into the pipe.
Air gap: An air gap is a vertical distance between a fixture’s water outlet and the flood level. A typical example of an air gap is a sink faucet that is above the rim of the sink.
|Air break||Air gap|
|1.||A physical arrangement where the drain pipe terminates above the waste receptor, but below the flood rim||A vertical separation between the end of a drain pipe and the flood rim of a waste receptor|
|2.||Not to be used for food-related applications, such as sinks or dishwashers||Required for fixtures and equipment used for food preparation, food handling, or food storage|
|3.||Prevents backflow of wastewater into a plumbing fixture or appliance||Prevents backflow of wastewater into a plumbing fixture or appliance|
|4.||An air break must be at least twice the diameter of the drain pipe and not less than one inch||An air gap must be at least twice the diameter of the drain pipe and not less than one inch|
Air Break In Plumbing: How Does It Work?
Imagine you have a big bucket of water and want to pour some of it into a smaller one. You can use a hose to do that, right?
But what if the smaller bucket is already full of water?
If you keep pouring water from the big bucket, the water will overflow from the smaller bucket and go back into the hose. That’s not good because the water in the smaller bucket might be dirty or have germs in it.
You don’t want that water to go back into the big bucket and make it dirty too. So how can you prevent that from happening?
You can use an air break. An air break is when you make a gap between the end of the hose and the smaller bucket. You don’t put the hose inside the smaller bucket, but you hold it above it.
That way, if the smaller bucket is full, the water will just fall down from the hose into the smaller bucket and not go back up.
The air in the gap will stop the water from going back up. The air is like a wall that blocks the water. An air break in plumbing works the same way.
In plumbing, you often have pipes that carry water from one place to another, like from your sink to a drain. But if the drain is full or clogged, the water might try to go back into the pipe.
So how can you prevent that from happening? You can use an air break. An air break is, as already mentioned above, a gap between the end of the pipe and the drain.
Air Gap In Plumbing: How Does It Work?
An air gap in plumbing is a space between two pipes or hoses that lets air in and prevents dirty water from going back into the clean water.
For example, you have a faucet and a sink in your bathroom. The sink collects the dirty water and sends it to the drain. There is a space between the faucet and the sink that is called an air gap.
This space is at least 1 inch high, and it makes sure that the dirty water in the sink cannot go back up to the faucet and contaminate the clean water.
Another example is your dishwasher. It uses clean water to wash your dishes and then pumps out the dirty water to the drain. There is a small device on your sink that looks like a little faucet, but it is not. It is called an air gap device.
It has two hoses connected to it: one from the dishwasher and one to the drain. The device has a hole in the middle that lets air in and out. The hole is higher than both hoses, and it creates an air gap.
This air gap makes sure that the dirty water from the drain cannot go back up to the dishwasher and contaminate your dishes.
Why Are Air Break And Air Gap Important?
Air breaks and air gaps are both vital in pumping systems for many reasons. Such as:
- Preventing backflow: The primary purpose of both air breaks and air gaps is to prevent the backflow of contaminated water into the clean water supply.
By introducing a physical barrier or a gap of air into the system, they ensure that water only flows in one direction, from the clean source to the intended destination.
- Maintaining water quality: Backflow of contaminated water can introduce harmful chemicals, bacteria, and other contaminants into the clean water supply.
By preventing backflow, air breaks and air gaps help maintain the water supply’s quality and safety.
- Protecting equipment: Backflow of contaminated water can also damage pumps, valves, and other equipment in the plumbing or pumping system.
Air breaks and air gaps help to protect this equipment by preventing backflow and reducing the risk of damage.
Seems like we’re at the finish line now!
So, air break vs air gap, which system should you have in your plumber? Well, they both have different vital advantages. Therefore, you should use both air break and air gap whenever possible to ensure maximum safety and reliability.
If you have any feedback or questions about this topic, please feel free to share them in the comments section below. We would love to hear from you!