When it comes to preventing contaminated water from flowing back into the clean water supply, there are two popular methods: a high loop and an air gap.
But which is more effective? In this blog post, we will examine both options and compare their effectiveness in preventing backflow.
Is A High Loop As Effective As An Air Gap?
A high loop in a dishwasher drain hose is an alternative to an air gap. An air gap is a physical gap between the dishwasher and the sink or countertop that prevents dirty water from flowing back into the dishwasher.
A high loop involves routing the drain hose up to the underside of the countertop before connecting it to the sink drain or garbage disposal.
Both the air gap and high loop help to prevent the contamination of clean dishes by dirty water.
However, some local plumbing codes require an air gap and may not consider a high loop a sufficient alternative.
In general, both options are effective in preventing backflow, but an air gap is a more reliable solution.
Ultimately, whether to use a high loop or an air gap should be based on local plumbing codes and personal preference.
Features of High Loop
A high loop installation is a simple and cost-effective alternative to the traditional air gap. The following are the features of high-loop installation:
In a high loop configuration, the drain hose is looped up and attached to the underside of the countertop, above the sink drain or garbage disposal.
A high loop configuration is much more affordable than an air gap.
High loop installations do not require extra space for the air gap device.
Adequate Backflow Prevention:
A high loop installation provides adequate backflow prevention as long as the loop is higher than the sink rim and secured to the underside of the countertop.
Features of Air Gap
An air gap is a device that connects the dishwasher to the sink drain and provides a physical separation between the dishwasher and sink drain. The following are the features of an air gap:
Effective Backflow Prevention:
An air gap provides effective backflow prevention and protects against contaminated water entering the dishwasher.
Meets Building Codes:
Air gaps are required by many local building codes and regulations.
Air gaps provide a visible indication of proper installation.
Easy to Clean:
Air gaps are easy to clean and maintain.
Comparison of High Loop and Air Gap
Here is a comparison of high loop installation and air gap:
Both high loop installation and air gap provide effective backflow prevention, although air gap is considered more reliable.
Air gap is required by most local building codes, while high loop installation is not always accepted.
High loop installation is less expensive than the air gap.
High loop installation requires less space than an air gap.
Air gap requires regular cleaning and maintenance, while high loop installation does not require much maintenance.
How to install a high loop?
Here is a step-by-step guide on how to install a high loop:
Gather the necessary materials:
You will need a section of flexible hose, a clamp, a screwdriver, and a pair of pliers.
Turn off the power and water supply:
Before starting the installation process, ensure that the power and water supply to the sink is turned off.
Disconnect the dishwasher drain hose:
Locate the dishwasher drain hose, which is usually connected to the garbage disposal or sink drain.
Disconnect the hose from the disposal or drain by loosening the clamp with pliers.
Install the high loop:
Take the flexible hose and create a loop that is higher than the sink drain or garbage disposal. Secure the loop in place using the clamp and tighten it with a screwdriver.
Reconnect the drain hose:
Reconnect the dishwasher drain hose to the garbage disposal or sink drain and secure it in place with the clamp.
Turn the water and power back on Once you have completed the installation, turn on the water and power supply to the sink.
Test the high loop:
Finally, run a test cycle of your dishwasher to ensure that the high loop functions correctly and prevents any backflow of contaminated water into the dishwasher.
What To Consider Before Installing A High Loop?
Here are some considerations to keep in mind before installing a high loop:
Local codes and regulations:
Check with your local building codes to ensure that installing a high loop is compliant with local regulations.
Make sure there is enough space under your sink to install the high loop, as it requires some extra space.
The high loop should be installed as close to the sink as possible to reduce the length of the drain hose and ensure optimal performance.
The high loop should be at least as high as the sink’s rim to prevent backflow. Ideally, it should be higher.
Make sure the high loop is securely fastened and won’t come loose or fall out of place.
High loops need occasional cleaning to prevent debris buildup and ensure proper function.
Consider how accessible the high loop will be for cleaning and maintenance purposes.
Type of sink:
Some types of sinks, such as farmhouse sinks or sinks with built-in garbage disposals, may require special installation considerations.
Be sure to consult the sink manufacturer’s instructions before installing a high loop.
How to install a Air Gap?
Here are the steps to install an air gap:
Gather the necessary tools and materials
- Air gap kit
- Pliers or wrench
- Teflon tape
- PVC cutter (if necessary)
- Drain line
- Turn off the water supply
Before installing, turn off the water supply to the dishwasher or reverse osmosis system.
Mount the air gap
Mount the air gap onto the sink or countertop, depending on the type of air gap you have.
Install the gasket on the underside of the air gap. Use pliers or a wrench to tighten the mounting nut securely.
Install the drain line.
Attach the drain line from the dishwasher or reverse osmosis system to the smaller fitting on the air gap.
Attach another drain line from the larger fitting on the air gap to the sink drain or garbage disposal. Use Teflon tape to secure the connections, if necessary.
Test the air gap
Turn the water supply back on and check for leaks.
Turn on the dishwasher or reverse osmosis system and check if water flows out of the air gap.
If the air gap works properly, water should flow out of the top of the air gap and into the sink.
Maintain the air gap
Regularly clean the air gap to prevent clogs and buildup.
Check the air gap periodically to ensure it is functioning properly.
What to Consider Before installing a Air Gap?
Here are some things to consider before installing an air gap:
Local Codes and Regulations:
Before installing an air gap, you should check the local codes and regulations for your area.
Many areas require an air gap to prevent contamination in the event of a backflow.
Sink or Dishwasher Compatibility:
Air gaps are typically used with sinks or dishwashers.
You should check if your sink or dishwasher is compatible with an air gap and what type of air gap is suitable for your appliance.
The location of the air gap installation is critical for its effectiveness.
It should be located above the flood level of the sink or dishwasher and must have adequate space for installation.
Size and Style:
Air gaps come in different sizes and styles. You should choose the appropriate size and style depending on the size of the sink or dishwasher and the available space for installation.
Like any plumbing fixture, air gaps require regular maintenance. You should check the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning and maintenance requirements.
The cost of installing an air gap will depend on the type of air gap and the complexity of the installation.
You should consider the cost of the air gap and the installation before making a decision.
If you are not comfortable with installing an air gap, it is always advisable to seek the services of a professional plumber.
Professional installation ensures that the air gap is installed correctly and functions efficiently.
Do You Need A High Loop If You Have An Air Gap?
A high loop is unnecessary if your dishwasher is already equipped with an air gap.
The air gap provides adequate protection against the backflow of dirty water from the sink into the dishwasher.
However, if your local building code does not require an air gap, a high loop is a suitable alternative to prevent dirty water from flowing back into the dishwasher.
Sometimes, local building codes may require an air gap and a high loop to protect against backflow.
It is important to check with your local plumbing code to determine the specific requirements for your area.
Frequently Asked Questions.
Why Is A High Loop Necessary If An Air Gap Is Already Installed?
A high loop is recommended as an additional safeguard against potential backflow in case the air gap fails or becomes compromised.
What Is The Purpose Of An Air Gap?
An air gap is designed to prevent contaminated water from flowing back into the potable water supply by creating a physical gap between the two.
How Does A High Loop Work?
A high loop creates a vertical loop in the dishwasher drain line, ensuring that the drain line is higher than the sink rim, preventing wastewater from flowing back into the dishwasher.
Is A High Loop Required By Building Codes?
In many jurisdictions, a high loop is required by building codes as a backup measure to prevent backflow. However, the specific requirements may vary by location.
Can A High Loop Be Used In Place Of An Air Gap?
A high loop can be used as an alternative to an air gap if permitted by local codes.
However, an air gap is generally considered the more effective solution.
How Do I Install A High Loop?
To install a high loop, create a vertical loop in the dishwasher drain line and secure it to the underside of the countertop.
The loop should be at least 18 inches above the floor and higher than the sink rim.
Can A High Loop Or Air Gap Be Added To An Existing Dishwasher?
Yes, a high loop and air gap can be added to an existing dishwasher, although the specific requirements and installation process may vary depending on the model and local building codes.
Both a high loop and an air gap are effective in preventing backflow, but they have some differences.
A high loop provides a continuous flow of water, which means that dishes will be washed faster and more efficiently, but it may not always be possible to have a 32-inch gap between the highest point of the high loop and the floor.
On the other hand, an air gap is a safer option, but it can be expensive to implement and operate, and difficult to manage and maintain.
Ultimately, the decision on whether to use a high loop or an air gap depends on the specific situation and the requirements of the job.