Dishwasher Air Gap Leaking? Easy Fix 2023

Dishwasher air gap leaking can lead to more trouble beyond a mere leak if left unattended. The air gap is a necessary component to ensure the hygiene of the dishwasher. Therefore, eliminate this problem by troubleshooting it as soon as you observe the leak. 

To fix this, you need to know the basics of locating the air gap and how to handle it. This guide brings you all the possibilities of air gap leaking and the required knowledge on solving them. As a safety precaution, always disconnect the dishwasher from the power supply before troubleshooting the components. Use necessary safety equipment to avoid any potential hazards and personal harm.

The Purpose of a Dishwasher Air Gap


dishwasher air gap leaking - The Purpose of a Dishwasher Air Gap

The air gap prevents the used water from returning to the dishwasher after draining. The air gap does this to prevent cross-contamination and hence avoid the backflow of water. However, if the air gap is not installed properly, water from the dishwasher will not drain correctly and cause contamination of the dirty washer on the cleaned dishes. 

Components of an Air Gap

The air gap consists of two hoses and hose clamps that match the specific air gap model. The clamps fix the hose to the air gap and the drain or garbage disposal. It is necessary to verify the sizes before you purchase these parts. The normal sizes used are 7/8 and 3/8 inches.

Where is the Air Gap Located?

The air gap can easily be located as it is a silver metallic fitting located on the sink, near the faucet. It is preferable to locate the air gap on the sink as it is a backup in forcing the water out of the air gap into the sink. This is advantageous as the water runs into the sink and not under it during a problem. However, it may not be a wise idea to locate it on the counter since there is a possibility that your dishwasher air gap leaks water on counter if it gets clogged. Although most dishwashers may not have such an air gap, they must have one according to most state codes.

Reasons for Air Gap Leakage

dishwasher air gap leaking - Reasons for Air Gap Leakage

There are three possible causes for water coming out of air gap. 

  • The clogged air gap or a clog in the hose passing from the dishwasher to the air gap or leading to the garbage disposal
  • Damaged or faulty air gap 
  • Loose drain hose connection with the air gap or a leak in the drainage hose

How to Check and Remove Clogs?

First, check the dishwasher air gap leaking, and if you think it’s due to clogging, you can fix it using the steps below.

  1. Turn off the power supply to the dishwasher and remove the electrical wiring before beginning. This is a precautionary step so that you wouldn’t damage any wiring.
  2. Access the drain hose, find where it connects the sump pump, and disconnect the drain hose.
  3. Remove the metal covering from the air gap, and then you will find a plastic fitting. Remove it by pressing the tabs on the top of the air gap.
  4. There will be two holes, of which the smaller hole is where water from the dishwasher enters. The larger hole takes water to the garbage disposal or drainage. Check these holes for any clogging and clean them using any of the following methods.
  • If there is no visible clogging, try blowing into the hose to push away any possible obstructions. Place a paper towel rolled on the end of the tube and blow hard on the hose. This would dislodge any invisible clog, and then you can pour some hot water into it to remove any greasy debris.
  • Another solution is to push a plastic tubing or a cable into the hole to break any clogs and then set the dishwasher on a drain cycle to remove all debris. Make sure not to push it too hard, or you may puncture and damage the tube. The clog has been dislodged if the tool emerges out of the sink or garbage disposal. So, if this clears everything, the water leak would be solved, and check whether the problem is solved.
  • You can also use a wet/ dry vacuum to remove the debris from the air gap after removing its cover. Put the end of the vacuum on the air gap and turn it on for suction. After the clog is cleared, pass a gallon of water for about 30 seconds.
  • If this does not solve the problem, check whether the garbage disposal plug has been removed. This should be done at the installation if done correctly. It is located where the hose meets the garbage disposal. If present, remove this plug gently using a screwdriver and a hammer.

How to Fix Air Gap Leaks?

If you still couldn’t rectify your problem with the above method, then the problem might be due to a leak in a hose. This can also be fixed by locating the leak correctly.

  1. Turn on the drain cycle and examine the hoses under for possible dishwasher air gap leaking under the sink. 
  2. If you see any, mark them and if there are no visible leaks, rub a paper towel on the hoses and mark the area if you feel it wet.
  3. Apply epoxy putty on the marked wet areas for over an inch outward. 
  4. Let it dry for about 24 hours, and then you can use your dishwasher to check whether the issue has been solved.

Replacing Air Gap and Drain Hose

If there was no clogging of the air gap or a leaking hose, then you might have to replace the air gap to fix the problem. For this, you need to purchase an air gap, drain hoses, and stainless steel hose clamps that suit your dishwasher. 

  1. Remove the drain hose from its connection to the drain or garbage disposal.
  2. Turn off the power to the dishwasher and pull it out from the wall.
  3. Take off the cover from the new air gap and fix the drain hose to the nozzle to be attached to the dishwasher. This hose might be 5/8 inches. Tighten the hose onto the air gap using a stainless steel clamp.
  4. Attach another hose to the outlet on the air gap, which is used as the drain line. It is connected above the P-trap or fixed directly into the garbage disposal. This hose is most likely to be 7/8 inches. Tighten the hose onto the air gap using a stainless steel clamp.
  5. Now, as the hoses are attached to the air gap inlet and outlet, you need to insert the air gap through the hole in the sink. Use a washer in between the nut to tighten it against the underside of the sink or counter.
  6. Fix and tighten the nut and washer on the top side of the air gap. This helps in holding the fixture in the correct position. Then place the cover on the air gap.
  7. Finally, attach the 7/8 inch hose directly into the garbage disposal or the P-trap as needed. Tighten the hose in place using another stainless steel clamp. Make sure not to let the hose sag below where it is connected. If it sags, water will not drain properly.
  8. You can then connect the 5/8 inch drain hose to the dishwasher. Attach the drain hose directly into the sump pump and fix the drain hose with a stainless steel clamp to prevent possible water leaks.

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions about dishwasher air gap leaking

Why is water coming out of my dishwasher air gap?

The air gap leaks mostly due to a kink or clogging in the hose from the air gap to the drain below the sink. Cleaning the air gap or the drain line can solve this problem.

Do new dishwashers need an air gap?

It is necessary to have an air gap for a plumber installing a new dishwasher. Your house will not be up to code without an air gap. Also, if you plan to sell your house, the inspectors will need you to install an air gap.

Why does water leak from the air gap?

You might find the water coming out of the air gap is due to improper installation of an air gap or some obstruction preventing water from flowing to the drain. For example, resistances in the line may cause the water to backflow and leak from the air gap.

Can I get rid of my dishwasher air gap?

You may be able to remove the air gap on a dishwasher only if your municipality has changed some of its water codes. If so, you can move ahead with another mechanism to prevent the backflow of water. The alternative would be installing a high loop, which is necessary to avoid contamination of drained water with your cleaned dishes in the dishwasher.


It is necessary to attend to any dishwasher air gap leaking to ensure the proper function of your dishwasher and secure your health and hygiene. If you have difficulty in handling this troubleshooting, then you need to get the support of your appliance repair technician to solve it for you. 

You can identify similar issues in GE Dishwasher Not Draining Problems to fix yourself. Here is how you can troubleshoot if your dishwasher smells like eggs. If you plan to purchase a new dishwasher, here are some Dishwasher Brands to Avoid, and you can choose from the recommended brands instead.