Dumb Question - Air Gap?

Hi Everyone –

New member to NACHI this past weekend though I’ve been lurking several months while I moved to TN from CT and got settled down here in Greater Knoxville.

Anyhoo, I am taking the NACHI online pre-licensing courses and keep seeing an “Air Gap” mentioned in various plumbing discharge discussions.

I’ve never seen one; are these common and/or required now? Is this something that will be on the TN Inspector’s test or a thorn in my side?

Definitely a foreign concept to me (this Air Gap thing). I was a Real Estate Broker/Realtor in my previous life up north, and having been involved in about 600 real estate sales personally over the 18 years that I sold used houses I don’t remember ever seeing this, or hearing it mentioned during any home inspection up there.

Could someone please clue me in? I’ve seen it mentioned so many times now in the online course materials that I am becoming fixated on it.

Plumbing is a bit of a weakness for me, electrical is more my bag interest-wise historically, so any guidance or advice is most definitely appreciated.

Thanks in advance, and, howdy again everyone. :slight_smile:

Al in TN

This is scary, on several levels.

I am sorry if I am offending you but you need to know that while you may be a test or two away from a license, you need to spend a lot of time studying (and possibly apprenticing) before doing a home inspection.

Primary purpose is to prevent backflow into water supply (e.g., dishwasher discharge) or provide visual observation and prevent pressure build-up in the event of a stoppage (e.g., T&P discharge). It can be a self contained device (e.g., dishwasher) or a configuration parameter (e.g., tub spout elevated above the flood rim of the tub).


No offense taken James. I understand that although I’ve attended several hundred inspections as a Buyer’s Rep, it doesn’t necessarily qualify me to start doing them and that I have a learning curve to go through; just like back when I joined the real estate profession after 16 years of being an auto mechanic.

I’ve dealt with dozens of inspectors over the years and have seen wide variations in qualifications; hence my asking such a basic question here - I know after lurking here for the past six months that there are some sharp people on this Board who would likely steer me in the right direction.

Thanks Chuck for your reply as well. I’ll follow those links and do some more reading.

I can’t believe I’ve never heard this term mentioned before, unless we were talking about setting up the clutch on our Nostalgia Funny Car. Can’t remember it ever being mentioned in an inspection in CT.

Thanks again guys, much appreciated :slight_smile:

Al in TN

Hey William,
I’m curious, why home inspections as a third career.


Honestly Mark, this is something I’ve been interested in since selling my first listing in 1991 and attending that inspection, having never seen one before.

I’ve toyed around with the idea for years and figured that since I am starting over from square one down here in TN (long story, related to my wife’s health) I would go ahead, take the chance and make the career/business change.

It was either this, go back to owning/managing automotive repair shops like I did before selling used houses, or turn my hobby (building and setting up race car chassis, I weld to relax) into a business. I decided to keep the hobby a hobby. My hope was/is that having gone through hundreds of inspections as an agent I might have a leg up on this deal, as opposed to someone who had little or no previous exposure.

My plumbing air gap question was because after seeing a term I had never heard of before mentioned something like 20 times in the online it had me scratching my head as to maybe something really important I was missing.

So I asked. I’ve always believed that there are no such thing as stupid questions, just being stupid in not asking.

I’ve been hanging around here lurking for about six months and have seen some really smart and experienced folks here. I got an 87 when I took the entrance test here last Fall, most of my issues on that test were plumbing (mostly terminology and specific numbers on things like how high a pipe stack was supposed to be - stuff I can study for) so this is where I am concentrating first.

I guess that was a long answer to a simple question, sorry about that.

I know a little something about marketing, mass mailing, etc. (I was even the technical editor for IDG Books ‘The Unofficial Guide to Buying A Home Online’ some year’s back) so hopefully I can contribute back to the Forums in some small way :slight_smile:

Shoot, I was dying to answer/post a couple months back about that mold question where the (attic?) boards had been used previously for foundation forms. I’ve seen it a bunch of times but felt it better to keep my yap shut at the time as I wasn’t yet an official, paid member here nor a licensed inspector.

Back to reading about plumbing…

Al (my middle name) in TN


I apologize for coming across offensively…but you have to know and understand that as a professional home inspector, you are taking on a lot of responsibility.

I don’t mean just the liability from litigation.

I mean your duty to your profession, your fellow inspectors, your clients…and the people who they will be talking to about you.

Long before you need to begin marketing your skills…you need to obtain them. Then, when you know enough about what the inside of the electrical panel is supposed to look like (and what it’s not) you need to know how to communicate these defects in a meaningful way to a young couple who knows even less than you do about “air gaps” and electrical service panels.

The thousands of closings you have attended mean nothing. If you hang in long enough and apply yourself fully, you will soon come to see what I mean.

Welcome aboard Al…keep asking questions…

I’ve heard the term “air gap” but never saw it on a licensing test. The only air gap I know of is when I make a batch of my homemade chili or my wife makes red beans and rice for dinner. (I think it’s the hot sauce I smother it with) Anyway, congratulations, you’re a certified inspector now. Have you applied for CMI yet? Your 600 closings should qualify you. Just go out there and make friends with realtors and get some inspections under your belt, if you don’t know if something is wrong on an inspection, just defer it to a building engineer for further evaluation.

Good luck with the continual education Bill.
At least you have the guts to ask.

I doubt my knowledge would be anywhere at all if I did not ask a thousand questions myself.

My worry is the guys who have to much pride or are to lazy to come on line and learn.
Those are guys that might be out there missing everything.

I just spent 3 hours at a 750 square foot 1 bedroom Condo and freaked the Broker/Client out with all the stuff I kept finding.

The only bad part about this job is the better you get the more work it becomes.
The good part is if you are into it, you do not mind.

Welcome aboard William, and there is no such thing as a dumb question around here. We are all here to help.
Please take advantage of all the learning tools that Inachi provides here. Combine that with all the info that is available on this board and after about two years, you should be close to being ready to tackle a HI on your on without too much problem.
Hooking up with ridealong with a seasoned inspector would excellerate that time frame.
Good luck in a new career, it is tuff out there right now. :):smiley:

Good answer Marcel. I agree with that totally.

Thanks guys. Man did I have one of those DOH! moments when I followed Chuck’s links earlier. It showed up again later on in the course materials (after I asked about it here) with an explanation but at least I got to break the ice here.

At least youse guys know I’m not afraid to ask a question, no matter how basic :wink:

Hope I can return the favor and help someone down the line…

Al (passed the module with a solid ‘A’… WooHooo!) in TN

The reason I ask Al is that Ive seen many inspectors go into the business cause it sounds good, you know, be your own boss and all. And they get educated and open for business. They run around checking this and that but dont have the investigative drive or the hands on repair knowledge needed. For example, you here a strange noise in a certain part of the engine of your funny car or its just not running right. Having an intimate knowledge of what the inside of that motor looks like you have an edge on what to do next. Same with inspections. While we say we are not experts in the different feilds of construction most good inspectors have had contact with the different trades spread out over numerous years. So my advise would be tha same as Marcels only buy some construction tools and start fixing or building or even performing maintenance on the homes in your target area. The homes in Tn are most likey different than those in Ct. Just my two cents.


One more thing. Learn to read plans and the installation instructions for everything. A much skipped over step in the construction industry.


>>>…So my advise would be tha same as Marcels only buy some construction tools and start fixing or building or even performing maintenance on the homes in your target area.>>>

Thanks for the advice Mark, it makes good sense to me. I have tools (other than car stuff), and have roofed, wired, sheetrocked, built furniture, etc. for years – Just completed an addition up at my sister in-law’s place where I added a couple bedrooms and a bathroom; doing the carpentry, wiring, insulation, sheetrock and some of the heating & plumbing (but not all of it, just the initial prep and later the fixture installations) plus a dang egress window…the town inspector put his final blessings on the project with a C/O a couple weeks ago; and since added a sub panel, along with GFCI and welder outlets to my garage down here last weekend so I could start on another funny car chassis for a buddy.

It’s funny to me that you mentioned this though; last month while I was back in CT my father in-law (a retired civil engineer and the town engineer/public works director for the town of Berlin, CT for 35 years) suggested that I start a handyman business down here if I wasn’t going to sell houses anymore.

25 years ago I was his mechanic (that’s how I met my wife, he sent her to my shop one day), then his Realtor, now apparently his handyman, LOL.

Anyhoo, I’ve been self employed since I was 23. I’m used to starving for myself :wink:

Enough yakking & goofing off by me, I need to go back and figure out why I got only a 95 on the Electrical Module/Course tonight…I really expected to ace that one so it’s bugging me…

Al in TN

You can ace any online test by opening up the test on another computer to find your answers. Like an open book test.

Now why didn’t think of that.

Nobody said you were sharp as a tack Wayne.:stuck_out_tongue:


How many ICC exams have you “aced”? They are all open book.