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There is many times i have seen kitchen sink flood out the dishwasher, The airgap is to protect your dish's, But much more important it is to prevent a cross connection between sewer water and the potable water fill valve at the bottom right corner of most dishwasher's,
CALIF. LIC. PLBG,HEAT,DRAINS,ELECTRIC,WATER HEATER, BOILER, POOL AND SPA HEATER
FIRE SPRINKLER CONTRACTOR,
SINCE JAN. 1989
I believe jerrymac is right on. The airgap is to keep the clean water from the dirty water.
An airgap is required by the UPC and local jurstictions, it outperforms the high loop allowable by the IPC.
Ugly or not, it is for the safety of not only your potable water system, but others also.
The same with hose bibb vacuum breakers, there isn't really a chance of chemicals going back into the water system from the chemical areators, or from the hose being left in the mud, but it is for everyones protection and should be done with the intent of the code.
i am closing on a condo in los angeles, california, and the dishwasher is connected directly to the garbage disposal with no air gap (although the dishwasher outlet line is looped up high in the cabinet). the unit is on an upper floor. i did some research and found that air gaps are required by code in los angeles. can any of the professionals here confirm that finding for me (off the top of your heads, im of course not asking that anyone do physical research).
also, i am relatively handy, and i think that i can install the air gap myself. but how much would you all suggest that i ask as a credit from the seller for this indiscretion? ie, how much do you pro's usually charge for installing an air gap to an existing dishwasher set up?