The other day I got a nice email from someone in San Francisco wanting to know where they could find a Johnson Tee air gap device for the dishwasher they were installing. They said they had been asking around and no one had ever heard of one. They had found a previous post that I had done about these air gap devices and were looking for additional information.
These devices are a great way to vent the dishwasher as the washer will then have its own trap and you won’t have to have that unsightly cap attached to the sink or the countertop. It also ensures that the air gap is well above the sink rim. It can be vented either through the countertop backsplash or wall—or to the exterior of the home. It also eliminates one more hose running through the cabinet space under the sink.
I replied that I thought they would be readily available at Lowe’s or Home Depot type stores or just do a Google search for them.
Much to my surprise, I could not find even a hint of them on the Internet in terms of where I could actually buy one. There were several articles about them—of which several were my own blog posts.
So I went to Aurora Plumbing, one of the big local plumbing supply stores, and bought one. This was proof that I was not in the Twilight Zone or that I had not otherwise lost my marbles—well regarding this topic at least.
But to go back to the Twilight Zone a minute, a very strange coincidence occurred at the plumbing supply store. While I was at the check-out line the area rep for Johnson Industries, Inc was standing there and overheard me talking to the cashier about the Johnson Tee. It turns out that they are manufactured right here in the NW and were invented by the owner of the company, Bob Johnson, in 1979.
The device has a registered patent dated 1980, which is just about the time I started using them in my houses in the early 1980’s all the way over on the other side of the country in Oswego, NY. The rep told me that they are only sold to plumbing supply distributors—hence you won’t find them at the wannabe plumbing stores like Lowe’s and Home Depot. This explains why when you Google “buying Johnson Tee’s” there just is not very much information.
It kind of makes one wonder what else Google doesn’t know.
The devices have a UPC stamp on them and should be acceptable in most jurisdictions, so check with your jurisdiction or ask your plumber. If your plumber has never heard of them you might want to find another plumber.
Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector
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