Kitchen faucets are an essential part of every household, providing us with a convenient water supply for various kitchen tasks. When it comes to choosing the right faucet, there are several factors to consider, one of which is the presence or absence of an air gap. In this blog post, we will explore the differences between air gap and non-air gap kitchen faucets, their functions, and why you might choose one over the other.
Air Gap vs Non-Air Gap Kitchen Faucets
1. What is an Air Gap Kitchen Faucet?
An air gap kitchen faucet is a type of faucet that includes an additional component known as an air gap. The air gap is a small cylindrical device located on the sink’s rim or countertop, typically close to the faucet itself. Its primary purpose is to prevent the backflow of water from the sink into the household’s plumbing system.
How it Works:
When the air gap kitchen faucet is turned on, water flows through the faucet spout and into the sink. If the sink becomes clogged or backed up, and there is a risk of water flowing back into the plumbing system, the air gap provides an alternative route for the water to escape. It creates a physical barrier of air between the faucet’s discharge point and the incoming water supply, effectively preventing any contamination.
2. What is a Non-Air Gap Kitchen Faucet?
A non-air gap kitchen faucet, as the name suggests, does not include the air gap component. Instead, it relies on an alternative method to prevent backflow, such as a check valve or an integrated backflow prevention system within the faucet itself. These faucets are often more straightforward in design and installation compared to their air gap counterparts.
How it Works:
When a non-air gap kitchen faucet is turned on, water flows through the faucet and into the sink as usual. If a backflow situation occurs, the integrated backflow prevention system or check valve closes, blocking the reverse flow of water and preventing any potential contamination.
3. Key Differences Between Air Gap and Non-Air Gap Kitchen Faucets
a. Backflow Prevention:
1. Air Gap Faucets:
Air gap faucets are ingeniously crafted with an air gap device seamlessly integrated into the faucet’s base or handle, making them a highly efficient and reliable choice. The air gap is a physical barrier that prevents backflow by creating a gap of air between the faucet and the sink’s water supply inlet. This setup ensures that contaminated water cannot flow back into the main water supply, reducing the risk of cross-contamination.
2. Non-Air Gap Faucets:
Non-air gap faucets achieve backflow prevention through different mechanisms, such as check valves or backflow prevention devices within the faucet body. Check valves are one-way valves that allow water to flow in only one direction, preventing water from flowing back into the water supply lines. These mechanisms are effective at preventing backflow but do not offer the same level of protection as an air gap.
Research indicates that air gap devices are more reliable in preventing backflow than non-air gap mechanisms. Air gaps provide a physical separation, eliminating any risk of water contamination through backflow. In contrast, non-air gap mechanisms might be susceptible to failure due to debris buildup or other issues, compromising their backflow prevention capabilities.
b. Installation Complexity:
1. Air Gap Faucets:
Installing an air gap kitchen faucet is generally more complex than installing a non-air gap faucet. Air gap faucets require an additional hole in the sink or countertop to accommodate the air gap device. The extra hole necessitates precise measurements and drilling, which can be more challenging for some homeowners or require professional assistance.
2. Non-Air Gap Faucets:
Non-air gap faucets can be installed in the same manner as standard faucets, requiring only one hole in the sink or countertop. This simplicity of installation makes non-air gap faucets a more straightforward and accessible option for homeowners or those with limited plumbing experience.
c. Aesthetics and Design:
1. Non-Air Gap Faucets:
Non-air gap faucets are often preferred for their streamlined and minimalist design. Since they lack the additional air gap component on the sink’s rim, they provide a clean and unobtrusive look that can complement various kitchen styles. The absence of the visible air gap may appeal to homeowners seeking a sleek and modern aesthetic.
2. Air Gap Faucets:
While air gap faucets are highly functional and essential for certain plumbing codes, some people may find them less aesthetically pleasing due to the visible air gap on the sink’s rim. The air gap protrudes from the sink’s surface and can be considered a visual drawback for those looking for a more seamless and elegant kitchen appearance.
4. Which One to Choose?
Choosing between an air gap and non-air gap kitchen faucet involves considering several factors, and it’s essential to be well-informed about their functionalities and advantages.
1. Air Gap Kitchen Faucet:
a. Strict Plumbing Codes: Some areas have stringent plumbing codes that require the installation of an air gap kitchen faucet to prevent backflow. Backflow occurs when water flows in the opposite direction, potentially contaminating the potable water supply. The air gap creates a physical separation between the faucet and the sink’s drain, minimizing the risk of contaminated water entering the clean water supply.
b. Backflow Prevention: The primary purpose of an air gap faucet is to provide an additional layer of protection against potential water contamination. It acts as a physical barrier that prevents wastewater from flowing back into the water supply, ensuring safe and clean drinking water.
c. Water Contamination Concerns: If you live in an area where water quality is a significant concern or if you use well water or have other potential sources of contamination, an air gap kitchen faucet can offer peace of mind.
d. Aesthetics: On the downside, air gap faucets come with a visible gap between the faucet and the sink, which may not be visually appealing to everyone. Some people find the appearance of the air gap unattractive and may prefer a more streamlined faucet design.
2. Non-Air Gap Kitchen Faucet:
a. Local Plumbing Codes: In certain regions, local plumbing codes permit the use of non-air gap faucets for backflow prevention. These faucets are designed to incorporate other backflow prevention mechanisms, such as check valves and vacuum breakers, which serve to protect the water supply without the need for a visible air gap.
b. Streamlined Design: Non-air gap faucets offer a more streamlined and aesthetically pleasing design. Without the visible air gap, the faucet has a cleaner look that seamlessly integrates with the sink, making it a popular choice for those who prioritize visual appeal in their kitchen.
c. Installation Simplicity: Installing a non-air gap kitchen faucet is generally simpler than installing an air gap faucet. Non-air gap faucets require only one hole in the sink or countertop, while air gap faucets need an additional hole for the air gap itself. This can make the installation process quicker and easier for non-air gap models.
d. Backflow Prevention: Modern non-air gap faucets often feature advanced backflow prevention mechanisms that comply with plumbing codes and ensure water safety. These technologies work effectively to prevent backflow and maintain the integrity of the water supply.
In summary, both air gap and non-air gap kitchen faucets serve the essential purpose of providing water for daily kitchen activities. The key difference lies in their backflow prevention mechanisms, installation complexity, and overall design. Before making your decision, be sure to check local plumbing codes and consider your preferences in terms of aesthetics and functionality. Whichever type you choose, a quality kitchen faucet will undoubtedly enhance your culinary experience and make daily tasks more efficient.
The best choice between an air gap and non-air gap kitchen faucet depends on your specific circumstances. If you live in an area with strict plumbing codes that mandate air gaps or you want an extra layer of protection against water contamination, an air gap faucet is the way to go. On the other hand, if your local codes permit non-air gap faucets, you prefer a sleeker design, and a simpler installation process, then a non-air gap faucet might be the better option for you. Always consult local plumbing regulations and consider your preferences and needs before making the final decision.
1. What is an air gap kitchen faucet, and how does it differ from a non-air gap faucet?
– An air gap kitchen faucet is designed with an additional component called the air gap, which creates a physical separation between the faucet and the drain line. This separation helps prevent contaminated water from flowing back into the main water supply. In contrast, a non-air gap faucet lacks this air gap feature and relies on other methods to prevent backflow.
2. Why is an air gap necessary in some kitchen faucets?
– An air gap is necessary in certain kitchen faucets, particularly those connected to a reverse osmosis (RO) system or a water filtration unit. It helps to comply with plumbing codes and regulations by providing an extra layer of protection against cross-contamination of the drinking water supply.
3. Are air gap kitchen faucets more expensive than non-air gap faucets?
– Generally, yes, air gap kitchen faucets tend to be slightly more expensive than non-air gap faucets. The air gap mechanism adds an additional component to the faucet, which can increase the manufacturing and production costs.
4. Are there any maintenance requirements specific to air gap kitchen faucets?
– Air gap kitchen faucets require regular maintenance to ensure proper functioning and to prevent clogs or blockages in the air gap. Cleaning the air gap periodically is essential to avoid any buildup of debris or contaminants that may compromise its effectiveness.
5. Do air gap kitchen faucets have any limitations or drawbacks?
– One potential drawback of air gap kitchen faucets is their design, which may be bulkier and less aesthetically pleasing compared to non-air gap faucets. Additionally, they might require more frequent maintenance due to the air gap component.
6. Can I retrofit a non-air gap faucet to include an air gap feature?
– In most cases, it’s not possible to retrofit a non-air gap faucet to include an air gap feature. Air gap faucets are specifically designed with the necessary components and plumbing connections to accommodate the air gap functionality.
7. Are air gap kitchen faucets more effective in preventing backflow?
– Air gap kitchen faucets are generally considered highly effective in preventing backflow. The physical separation created by the air gap significantly reduces the risk of contaminated water from flowing back into the main water supply.
8. Do air gap kitchen faucets have any impact on water pressure or flow rate?
– Air gap kitchen faucets may have a slightly lower flow rate compared to non-air gap faucets due to the additional component and plumbing required for the air gap feature. However, the difference in flow rate is usually minimal and shouldn’t significantly affect regular kitchen tasks.
9. Are there any special installation considerations for air gap kitchen faucets?
– Air gap kitchen faucets may require specific installation guidelines to ensure proper functioning and compliance with local plumbing codes. It’s recommended to hire a professional plumber to install the faucet correctly, especially when connecting it to a reverse osmosis system or water filtration unit.