air gap built into Fleck 7000 drain?

Discussion in 'Water Softener Forum, problems, installation and r' started by lifespeed, May 14, 2012.

  1. lifespeed

    lifespeed Member

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    Location:
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    I was just looking at the waste pipe install my plumber did. It is 1-1/2" ABS with P-trap serving both a carbon filter and softener tank that are timed not to overlap. It does not have an air gap.

    I have observed them in operation. At the end of the drain cycle the clear hoses to the valves quickly fill with air, leading me to believe the valve does not allow a cross-contamination situation to occur.

    Is this an OK situation or should I install an air gap just so a theoretical building inspector will pat me on the back and tell me I did the right thing, even though it is safe as-is? No, I'm not going to get this inspected.
  2. F6Hawk

    F6Hawk New Member

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    Location:
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    Air gap. Absolutely. I put mine into a cap with an air gap above the p-trap in the septic lines, and went one step farther and drilled 3 or 4 air holes in the cap so no vacuum between the septic and softener drain lines could occur.
  3. Tom Sawyer

    Tom Sawyer In the Trades

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    Post a picture of the trap please.
  4. lifespeed

    lifespeed Member

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    Location:
    California
    Here it is. The 1/2" drain hoses are a good 14 - 16" above the P-trap. It is hard to see, but there are actually two entering the 1-1/2" drain via a tee.

    Perhaps all I need to do is drill a couple holes where the tee adapts to the larger ABS drain to break the vacuum.

    softener and filter drain (960x1280).jpg
  5. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    An air gap is meant to prevent contaminated sewage water from touching the end of the drain line if the drains in the house were to block up. That's to prevent possibly contaminating the water in the softener. Nothing to do with a vacuum.

    The down side is that with an air gap and a blocked drain, you get sewage water all over the floor.

    Now IMO and you may agree, if you have a blocked sewage line, you have much more to worry about than if the water touched the end of your softener's drain line, but that's just me...
  6. johnjh2o1

    johnjh2o1 Plumbing Contractor for 49 years

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    The two lines should just go into a open line very much like a clothes washer. There should not be a solid connection between the waste line and the backwash lines.

    John
  7. Tom Sawyer

    Tom Sawyer In the Trades

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    johnjh is correct here. As long as there is not seal between the crain lines and the standpipe you are in good shape.
  8. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    As you should know, an air gap is a distance of twice the ID of the drain line from the softener above the rim of the stand pipe or sink I.E. a standard 5/8" OD (nominal 1/2" ID) drain line would be 1" minimum above the high water overflow line of a sink or stand pipe. Otherwise it does not qualify as an approved by code air gap.

    So in essence pushing a drain line into a stand pipe, or sticking it into a sink, is no different than a hard connection except air can't get into the stand pipe as it would in a washer stand pipe. BTW, that hard connection would help to prevent the water in the trap from being sucked out. I do not like hard connections and would push the drain line into a stand pipe about 2-3" and anchor it so it can not be knocked out easily instead. Drilling holes is good too, as long as drain water doesn't leak out of them during regeneration.
  9. lifespeed

    lifespeed Member

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    Location:
    California
    Exactly. There is plenty of distance from the freshwater to the P-trap. I think all I need to do is drill holes to the side of the drain water 1/2" hose tee entry point to the ABS adapter (so it doesn't spill out) and by definition it becomes an air gap. I don't think it has anything to do with whether it is a "hard" connection or not. In fact, Air Gaps are sold, which are hard connections, but do what I just described by venting to the outside air.
  10. lifespeed

    lifespeed Member

    Messages:
    329
    Location:
    California
    Yes, I'll break the seal with a drill bit.
  11. F6Hawk

    F6Hawk New Member

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    Location:
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    But it does have to do with a vacuum... you can have an air gap between the discharge hose of a softener and the sewage, but a seal between the stand pipe and the discharge hose, and if there is a malfunction with your valve, it can suck raw sewage into your DW lines thru the valve as long as there is enough water to fill the stand pipe. Likely? No. But possible. (think valve malfunction that allows the drainline to suck water at the same time a toilet is flushed, thereby providing enough water to fill said stand pipe). I am sure it would never pass a code inspection.

    I'd also propose that what he is showing (and what I described in my house above) is an air BREAK, not an air GAP. Sticking a washing machine drain line into a stand pipe is an air break as well. An air gap requires vertical separation between the lines, with nothing touching.

    AirBreak.gif
  12. Tom Sawyer

    Tom Sawyer In the Trades

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    My apolgies for not being clear on this. Filtration discharge piping may be connected to the drain by means of an air gap or an air break. In his case, the plumber opted to use an air brake which is acceptable by code.

    I.P.C. 802.1.5 Nonpotable clear water waste. Where devices and equipment such as process tanks, filters, drips and boilers discharge nonpotable water to the building drainage system, the discharge shall be through an indirect waste pipe by means of an air break or an air gap.

    Securing the discharge line so that it does not come loose or out of the stand pipe is highly recommended also. So, what I am sayin here is that the OP's installation does indeed meet code requirements and no changes need to be made.
    Last edited: May 16, 2012
  13. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    Nope, I can't come up with any valve malfunction that can cause a vacuum. All valves have an internal valve that is opened to allow flow out to the drain line and there is no way for a vacuum to be created to reverse flow in the drain line.

    An air gap is meant to prevent cross connection contamination of potable and non potable waters.

    Yeah that's what I said, an air gap is a gap (read separation) of at least twice the ID of the drain line from the end of the drain line to the top of the stand pipe or sink rim. BTW, some approved air gaps are not vertical.
  14. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    He said;
    Here it is. The 1/2" drain hoses are a good 14 - 16" above the P-trap. It is hard to see, but there are actually two entering the 1-1/2" drain via a tee.

    The tee is screwed into the top fitting of the stand pipe which seals the stand pipe which sounds to me as if it is not an air break. It will be unsealed and an air gap when he drills a few 1/4" etc. holes in the top part of the stand pipe.

    Now you need to get into whether the drain water from his filter and softener is potable or non potable.

    BTW, what do the other 4-5 national plumbing codes say about this? I ask because in the past here'n other where you have always said an air gap was required.
  15. F6Hawk

    F6Hawk New Member

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    Location:
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    Thanks for posting the actual rule, Tom. Good to know it meets code. I wasn't about to change mine, and wasn't suggesting he change his. But it IS good to know we are legal for future home sales. :)

    Gary, I'm sure you know the inner workings of the valve better than I, so if it's not possible for a malfunction to suck waste water into the valve, so be it. In my case, my drain runs overhead into the sewer lines which are in the ceiling, so I know drain water lays in the tube after a cycle. I would think it would be more prone to cross contamination than a drain that only runs down hill. But I drilled the holes you mentioned, and it's a fairly good air break, IMHO, so perhaps I will be safe.

    Thanks for the input!
  16. Tom Sawyer

    Tom Sawyer In the Trades

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    Location:
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    The plumbing codes define the discharge of filtration equipment as nonpotable because obviously.....it is not drinkable. I probably have said air gap on several occasions when I should have been more specific and said air gap or air break is required. At any rate though, as long as there is not a hard connection between his drain lines and the stand pipe what he has meets IPC, UPC, National Standard and BOCA codes which is not to say that some states or localities have not amended it and is a good reason to check with local inspectors before forging ahead. Is the code nonsense? Possibly. After all the chances of contaminated waste water backing itself all the way up through the drain lines is pretty slim. There would have to be a chain of unfortunate and improbable mechanical failures for back-flow to occur but we don't write the codes we just follow them which keeps us from having to tear stuff out and re-do it when the inspector looks at it.

    The picture is not very clear either, I would like to see a better view of the tee arrangement but I also see a couple other things that are not right one of which is that he has glued PVC to ABS which is not acceptable under the code. I think that in one of my earlier posts I said that the drain lines could not be hard piped to the standpipe.

    BTW, a point of clarification. There are no national codes. There is a code called the National Standard Plumbing Code but it is neither national nor is it the standard that everyone has to go by. States adopt whatever code they decide to use. I suspect that is based on heavy lobbying by the publishers that write them. Most things in all the codes though are pretty much the same. There are some minor differences though that if you live on the boarder of a couple states that use different codes can be confusing. New Hampshire is an IPC state and Maine is UPC and to make matters worse I work in Mass. occasionally and they have their own code. It would be nice if everyone had the same code but money and politics will never let that happen.
    Last edited: May 17, 2012
  17. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    I see "Tom" has changed things in a later post. Your drain line going up, he says it has non potable water in it.

    Now that means everytime the control valve opens its flow to the drain, you are going to have a cross contamination between that non potable water in the drain line and the potable water in the control valve and there is no way to prevent that unless you run the drain line downhill from its connection on the control valve and ensure that the drain water always drains out of the drain line.

    I agree with the more prone to cross contamination.

    Since you drilled the holes, you now have an air gap because now if the sewer lines back up, the water goes out the holes and can not touch the end of your drain line; unlike an air break.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 21, 2012
  18. Tom Sawyer

    Tom Sawyer In the Trades

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    My post # 7

    johnjh is correct here. As long as there is not seal between the drain lines and the standpipe you are in good shape.

    My post # 16

    The plumbing codes define the discharge of filtration equipment as nonpotable because obviously.....it is not drinkable. I probably have said air gap on several occasions when I should have been more specific and said air gap or air break is required. At any rate though, as long as there is not a hard connection between his drain lines and the stand pipe what he has meets IPC, UPC, National Standard and BOCA codes which is not to say that some states or localities have not amended it and is a good reason to check with local inspectors before forging ahead.

    So show us where I have said anything different here or otherwhere (which by the way is not a word)
    Last edited: May 17, 2012
  19. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    The problem is that johnjh was talking about the two lines so he was replying to the OP, not f6hawk. And the OP has those two lines connected to two points on a Tee and the Tee screwed into the top of the stand pipe, a hard connection, and you agreed with johnjh saying he was right, now since then you say it's not allowed then all's well and right with the various codes unless this'er that here or there etc. etc..

    And you've got me screwed up and me forgetting he used an end cap and drilled holes in it so he does have an air break.

    BTW, you didn't use your current name while running down water treatment dealers and DIYers for not installing air gaps.

    I think you said the code said IF the water was non potable, that's why I asked what determines that. Now millions of people won't drink their tab water because it is not "drinkable" but, that doesn't make it non potable.
  20. Tom Sawyer

    Tom Sawyer In the Trades

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    I run down everyone that does not use either an air break or an air gap including plumbers.

    There are degrees of water hazard. The discharge from a softener is not highly toxic but it's not potable either in that drinking it would most likely make you pretty miserable. And you are correct in that a lot of folks won't drink their tap water for various reasons. I lived on Lake Michigan for a few years and the tap water was so nasty smelling and tasting that everyone in town drank bottled water but, it was city watr and the city certified that it was safe to drink. The tap water at my Florida house is also pretty rank smelling and tasting.
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