Dirty water in your dishwasher after the cycle? Clean out your air gap

When’s the last time you cleaned out your dishwasher’s air drain gap? Check out this blog post by acreativeengineerinnevada.wordpress.com and see how she checked and cleaned out her dishwasher’s air drain gap when she discovered dirty standing water at the end of her dishwasher’s cycle. Check out the photo of the gunk she found inside her drain gap!

Dishwashers and air drain gaps

What’s an air drain gap?

The air gap is a cylinder looking item on your countertop above the sink. An air gaps helps prevent drain water from the sink from backing up into your dishwasher and contaminating your clean dishes.

Signs of a clogged air gap or garbage disposal hose include:

  • water coming out of vent holes in the air gap and spilling on to the counter when you run your dishwasher
  • white crusty residue on, or leaking from, the air gap

It’s important to note that you might not have an air gap as part of your dishwasher’s installation, but in case you do, here’s how to fix it following these tips from Greg Chick of Ramona’s Plumber.

First, remove the metal outer cover and inner plastic cover (unscrew or unsnap) to expose the drain gap.

  1. Cover the air gap opening with an empty paper towel tube and blow into the other end of the roll from above. Sometimes the force of your own breath can free any clogged food particles blocking up the gap.
  2. Use a bottle brush to clean out any fat or deposit build ups inside the pipe (see video)
  3. Use a wet-dry vacuum to suction out the air gap. First, run hot water down the sink drain. Place your wet-dry vacuum hose over the air gap opening and turn on for 30 – 40 seconds. The hot water will help dislodge any clogs.


Note: not all dishwashers have air drain gaps as part of their installation, so this may not apply to your appliance.

If you are still getting water coming out of your air gap, check your dishwasher drain hose and the hose running to the garbage disposal. Look for kinks or clogs in these hoses.

For fast-shipping dishwasher parts and garbage disposal parts, visit EveryApplianceRepair.com.

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