Dishwasher air gap - whatsit???

Moved into my house last September. Previous owners left all pertinent owners manuals except for the dishwasher. In this newsgroup, I've seen dishwasher air gaps mentioned a few times, and they're also discussed (badly) in a plumbing book I own. What exactly is the purpose of an air gap? How do they work?
I'm asking because my dishwasher has a little more leftover water than I think is normal after a cycle. The drain hose is clamped up as high as possible under the counter, which I understand is a good thing to do. (It drains into the sink disposal). Today, I'll be running the thing with a bunch of large beach towels nearby, just in case. :-) But, if sounds are any indication, the thing seems to be draining fine, so maybe I've just never noticed what the normal residual water level is.
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The air gap is there to prevent water form siphoning back into the dishwasher in the event that the sink drain is clogged and backs up. Some areas may require this by code and it's recommended by some dishwasher manufacturers. If you dont have the air gap, then a high loop is the other alternative and that is what is in most installations. If you have too much water remaining in the dishwasher, I'd check how it's draining and make sure it's coming out fast and unobstructed.
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Doug Kanter wrote:

pumps out

sensor
could
Hi,
sensor
Most are timed....timer/control allows so much times for the drain outs, slow or poor draining and the time could "run out" before all the water has left the d/w. D/w make, model#? -Some- common draining trouble makers that may help... http://www.applianceaid.com/drain_wash.html
jeff. Appliance Repair Aid http://www.applianceaid.com /
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out
sensor
Soap scum and food particles can clog the checkvalve where the drain tubing attaches to the pump.
This especially if you have hard water.
--
SVL

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the hose maybe partially clogged with gunk usually where it attaches to the sink.
Mark
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Thanks. I'll be standing there with a flashlight today.
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Tested, not draining right. Just a trickle. Not sure if the thing pumps out water for a specific period of time ONLY, or if it's got some sort of sensor to know when most water is out. So.....is it likely that what's left could be above the level of the door seal?
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It's a Kenmore model 665.15595792 Serial # FJ2215800 and below that, alone: 15595 (repeat of the 5 digits in the model number)
I removed the drain hose this morning and found it totally clear (visually and by testing). Reinstalled the sink end and pushed water from the dishwasher side with a garden hose. No obstruction where the hose meets the disposal. The hose attaches to a white plastic fitting, and that attaches to a darker material, probably metal, but hard to tell. The plastic fitting has ridges, and I wondered if they were there for pliers to grip. Tried unscrewing the plastic from the "other" tube to see if the junction was obstructed, but it wouldn't budge and I didn't want to force it. That's where I left it before heading to the garden for a few hours.
I was about to remove the bottom water "propellor/impeller", or whatever it's called, but when I looked into the center of its hub, I noticed what appears to be a jesus clip. :-) I was in no mood for jesus clips.

Thanks, Jeff. I'll check it out after dinner. Or, by then, I may unload six ..40 caliber rounds into the dishwasher. Depends on my mood.
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Hmm. Notice what I wrote to Jeff in the previous message. Couldn't remove the white plastic fitting from the "probably metal" tube it's attached to. If that's the pump's output point, maybe it's time to horse around the plastic fitting with a little more vigor.
Our water authority calls our water "moderately hard", but after 20 years of living with it, I've seen far worse.
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By the way, thanks to all of you for all the suggestions so far, even though this mess isn't finished.
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Tested, not draining right. Just a trickle. Not sure if the thing pumps out water for a specific period of time ONLY, or if it's got some sort of sensor to know when most water is out. So.....is it likely that what's left could be above the level of the door seal?
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Hmm. Notice what I wrote to Jeff in the previous message. Couldn't remove the white plastic fitting from the "probably metal" tube it's attached to. If that's the pump's output point, maybe it's time to horse around the plastic fitting with a little more vigor.
Our water authority calls our water "moderately hard", but after 20 years of living with it, I've seen far worse.
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Hmm. Notice what I wrote to Jeff in the previous message. Couldn't remove the white plastic fitting from the "probably metal" tube it's attached to. If that's the pump's output point, maybe it's time to horse around the plastic fitting with a little more vigor.
Our water authority calls our water "moderately hard", but after 20 years of living with it, I've seen far worse.
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Hmm. Notice what I wrote to Jeff in the previous message. Couldn't remove the white plastic fitting from the "probably metal" tube it's attached to. If that's the pump's output point, maybe it's time to horse around the plastic fitting with a little more vigor.
Our water authority calls our water "moderately hard", but after 20 years of living with it, I've seen far worse.
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By the way, thanks to all of you for all the suggestions so far, even though this mess isn't finished.
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Hmm. Notice what I wrote to Jeff in the previous message. Couldn't remove the white plastic fitting from the "probably metal" tube it's attached to. If that's the pump's output point, maybe it's time to horse around the plastic fitting with a little more vigor.
Our water authority calls our water "moderately hard", but after 20 years of living with it, I've seen far worse.
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