Dry cleaning of an auto air conditioner with your own hands
You can order the service at a car service, paying about 1,500, but there is a way to perform this technical procedure yourself. In this case, you will spend about half as much money. Before cleaning an auto air conditioner with chemical method it is desirable to blow out with compressed air (5-6 bar) the system cooling radiator (condenser). You should also blow the dust out of the air intake grille in front of the windshield and the air deflectors in the cabin.
How and what to clean the automobile conditioner
Very often the reason for the unpleasant smell in the car interior comes from the air conditioning system. Let’s consider why there is a musty smell in the cabin when you turn on the air conditioner, how to determine that the cause in the evaporator, and how to clean it with your own hands.
The occurrence of unpleasant smell cannot be written off on the fact that air conditioner is faulty.
The reason for this lies in both the natural laws of nature, and in the specific design features of the climate system of your car.
It is a heat machine, the key elements of which are two parts evaporator and condenser.
Air conditioner actively takes heat from evaporator and transfers it to a condenser in course of its work. This is how the condenser heats and cools the evaporator.
The condenser is placed as close as possible to the main radiator of engine cooling, as such an installation can provide high-quality blowing with counter currents of air and increase the heat output of this element.
The evaporator is usually located in the interior of the vehicle.
This element is hidden under the center console, and the air passing through it is cooled and flows directly into the interior.
This is the implementation of air cooling in hot weather.
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This is where the problem lies. The air that comes from the street carries a certain percentage of humidity.
In the summer period the humidity level fluctuates around 50-60%, which means about 10-15 grams of water in one cubic meter of air.
When the air is cool, it is no longer able to hold moisture, and condensation occurs in the form of water droplets on the evaporator.
One hour of driving with air conditioner on will yield about 2-3 liters of such liquid.
The constructors have taken into account the peculiarity of how air conditioner works. The outflow of accumulated water to the outside occurs through a drainage tube, which is fixed in the area of the bottom of the car. This is how the water is discharged.
The main reason of smell is that the evaporator is humidified and perfectly collects dust and other debris, which are in the incoming air.
It has the effect of vacuum cleaner with a wet filter. To clean a domestic appliance is rather easy, but everything is different with the evaporator, because cleaning of air conditioner in a car is not the most ordinary procedure.
You switch off a car air conditioner, a vaporizer heats up and the dirt accumulated on it becomes ideal environment for emergence and reproduction of bacteria, mold and fungus.
All this wealth is able to produce a characteristic musty smell, which considerably lowers comfort from using a climatic system.
That’s where the need to clean the air conditioner comes in.
Next, it’s important to get rid of dirt and bacteria by cleaning the evaporator. Such actions are capable not only to get rid of odor, but also to increase the top level of productivity, which an auto conditioner is able to provide.
The matter is that a dirt coat plays a role of insulator, not allowing the air to cool down to the potentially possible maximum.
The car’s air cooling system is somewhat similar to a split system. It has its own external unit. the condenser with a radiator to cool the compressed freon. It gives off heat to the environment. And also the internal block. the evaporator. In it, the transition of freon in the gaseous state, heat is extracted from the plate-type heat exchanger. The air blown by the fan onto the evaporator cools and enters the passenger compartment.
While operating any air conditioner, and moreover a car one, accumulates dirt. Outer unit gets dirty purely mechanically. from dust and moisture falling under the hood. Moisture on the grill of a working air conditioner evaporator coil is the condensate that forms when the air cools. And it is only a matter of time before it turns into dirt from dust and microorganisms present in the air in the cabin.
The effects of contamination vary from unit to unit. The heat exchange worsens in the condenser radiator, which leads to increased load on the compressor, accelerated wear and tear and failure. Dirt on the evaporator hinders efficient cooling. Even worse is the unpleasant smell that appears in the cabin, and it is not only a discomfort, but also a sign of a high concentration of pathogenic bacteria in the air.
Cleaning the air conditioner evaporator with your own hands
The car has long ceased to be a luxury item. It is a convenient and practical means of transport for millions of people. And not surprisingly, the manufacturers pay a lot of attention to create comfort in the car. And it is impossible to maintain it without the climate control system, an integral part of which is an air conditioner evaporator.
All motorists have seen the radiator of the cooling system. It’s the first thing you see when you open the hood. The evaporator is very similar in structure to the radiator, but smaller in size. The refrigerant flows through its pipes and the air from the cabin or outside is blown around the external elements of the evaporator and cooled.
The heat exchange between the cold freon inside the evaporator and the warm air outside is performed. The cooled air enters the passenger compartment ventilation system and is distributed according to the set configuration of distribution dampers. Since the cooled air has a certain percentage of humidity, the condensate appears on the evaporator. To collect and drain it, there is a drip tray underneath, connected to a drain pipe.
After a while when you switch on the air conditioner you start to feel an unpleasant smell of rot, mold and stink in the cabin. It is caused by colonies of pathogenic bacteria settling on the evaporator. The combination of moisture from condensation and dirt creates the perfect breeding ground for them.
Besides stinky “fragrance”, such situation is also dangerous for the health of the people inside the car. Inhalation of fungal spores and pathogenic microorganisms leads to allergic reactions and respiratory diseases. That is why there is no question about advisability of cleaning the air conditioner evaporator. All car owners agree that it must be done, but everyone chooses the most suitable way.
Car manufacturers recommend different time intervals between cleanings depending on the condition of the car and its operation mode. In a new car, you should first clean the air conditioner evaporator after two years of use, and then every year thereafter.
If the vehicle is operated in a hot and humid climate with frequent activation of the climate control system, the time between servicing the air conditioner is cut in half. In countries with colder climates, evaporator cleaning is less necessary. Appearance of unpleasant “smell” is the sign of necessity of unscheduled air conditioner maintenance and removing of contamination with colonies of microorganisms from its elements.
There are two basic methods how to do it: with the help of chemical reagents and mechanical. The first method is quite simple and can be used by any car owner. At the second variant it is necessary to remove air conditioner evaporator, and the tightness of freon system will be broken. Such work requires both knowledge of the car structure and special skills of work with freon. It is not recommended to do it yourself, it is better to apply to professionals.
Choosing a ready-made remedy at the auto chemical store may take a lot of time: dozens of new products appear every year. It is enough to ask the seller what agent is most often bought. Most likely, it is the most popular chemistries that will turn out to be the most effective.
Aerosol products are able to remove minor dirt. They are great for the first cleaning in a new car. The foam preparations are capable to cope with the strong dirt.
If it feels stale and damp inside the car for a long time, it means that there is a lot of dirt on the surface of evaporative radiator. In this case it is better to choose foam agent.
On each can with a spray composition there are instructions for use. The procedure is about the same and consists of the following steps:
- turning on the car engine;
- switching on the air conditioner and setting the air recirculation mode to the maximum power value;
- installing the can in the area of the heater on the side of the front passenger seat and pressing the valve (this is where the air intake of the climate control unit is located);
- After spraying the amount of aerosol indicated on the label, closing windows and doors and waiting for the time specified in the instructions;
- switch off the air conditioner and ventilate the passenger compartment thoroughly.
If the unpleasant odor does not disappear after these steps, then you will have to use a foam remover or mechanical dirt removal. The foam remover bottle comes with a long, flexible tube. After removing the cabin filter, put it on the can and move it to the evaporator area. Then fill all the air ducts of the evaporative radiator and the drain pipe with foam. Having waited for the time specified in the instruction, start the engine and activate the climate system, turning on all its modes one by one. The final stage is qualitative airing of the car salon.
There are several recipes for independent preparation of disinfecting and cleansing composition. It is believed that cleaning car air conditioner with your own hands chlorhexidine, chloramine B, lysoform 3000 is more dangerous to your health, as well as for the plastic elements of the cabin. Specialists do not often recommend the use of homemade solutions.
The preparation chlorhexidine is less harmful to the plastic parts of the car, so it is used most often. Use ready-made 0.05% solution or dilute it with industrial alcohol in equal proportion. Pour the disinfectant solution into the sprayer with long nose and spray it on all accessible parts of the evaporator. Then start the engine, switch on the air conditioner and spray the disinfectant into the air-intake. After 10-15 minutes turn off the engine and air the car interior.
This is an extreme method, if chemical preparations did not help to remove the dirt and neutralize the nasty smell. It consists of the following actions:
- Removing the dashboard to gain access to the heater and evaporator;
- pumping out freon and if necessary removing the heater;
- Disconnection of pipes and sensors, removal of evaporative radiator;
- Washing the dirt from the evaporator with a brush and soapy water;
- Drying of the cleaned part and reassembly with installation of new gaskets.
The work is quite complex and time consuming. Without experience you can not perform them qualitatively, especially the reverse assembly. It is better to entrust these works to experienced specialists.
Mechanical cleaning is the most effective method, but also the most time-consuming and costly. That is why it is used when other methods do not work.
Cleaning the evaporator, especially by mechanical means, is quite expensive and time consuming. There are two tips that will help prevent unpleasant odor when running a car air conditioner.
Do not forget to change the cabin filter. If you operate your vehicle in dusty conditions, it is recommended that you change the cabin filter two or three times more often than the instructions in the owner’s manual. It is dust contamination is a breeding ground for the reproduction of microorganisms.
Dry the cabin naturally, not with the heater. It is not very difficult to do: it is enough to switch off a conditioner 8-10 minutes before the switch-off of a fan. If this action becomes a habit, the formation of condensate will be minimal, and without it the development of microbial colonies will be impossible.
An equally effective way of cleaning in the air conditioning system is the use of foam compositions.
Their advantage is that in addition to disinfecting, they also carry out a complete cleaning of all pipes and tubes of dust and dirt. They are a little bit more complicated in use. First, you need to know where the cabin filter is located and remove it. Secondly, seal up the air ducts and pipe-work with foam. When the period indicated in the instruction passes, it is necessary to start the engine and switch on the split. Run through the cooling on all possible options and speeds of the spinners. If the vehicle has a climate control option, then go through the temperature mode at 5 degree intervals, necessarily changing the direction of blowing. It is important to ventilate the cabin for 10-15 minutes.
As in the first case, it is desirable to do the entire process in an open parking lot, parking lot, away from residential areas. Do not use the product in a garage or in the underground parking lot of a shopping center.
The price of the foam composition may vary depending on the volume of the can, the manufacturer and the main active ingredient. Choose the variant that will satisfy all your criteria and requirements. Be sure to check the reviews online for the product of your choice. Based on independent evaluations, not on commercials.
Any air conditioner in a car over time begins to clog with dust and debris, which greatly impedes the cooling of air in the cabin. One of the main signs that indicate that it is necessary to flush the autoconditioning system is the presence of an unpleasant odor that appears when you turn on the device. The smell itself is humid, it can be compared to the smell of wet clothes that have been in the washing machine for a long time. It should be noted that this smell is quite dangerous for health, especially if it is not eliminated in time.
After the engine is switched off and the conditioner is switched off, cold air from the street, which usually is not particularly clean, starts to enter the air ducts of the system. In large cities the environmental situation leaves much to be desired street air in principle is not particularly good for health, and in our case, on top of that it is also mixed with dust and dirt from the engine compartment. Accordingly, all harmful substances settle on evaporative device, which subsequently leads to the formation of fungus and various bacteria. So further activation of the air conditioning system in your car will lead to an unpleasant damp smell in the cabin.
And the problem can be not only dirt and howling, but also:
- Chips produced by the compressor during use of the system;
- Aluminum deposits deposited on the system components;
- spent consumables that can react with freon and simply clog the system.
Cleaning the climate system cooling radiator (condenser)
a/c cooling radiator is one of the most vulnerable parts in the air conditioning system, the condenser is constantly exposed to dirt and dust, moisture, reagents, and salt. In addition, this element of “climatic” is quite often exposed to shocks, deformation when the car collides with an obstacle. The main signs of a defective radiator are:
- overheating of internal combustion engine;
- decreased efficiency of air cooling in the passenger compartment;
- Spontaneous disconnection of air conditioning system.
It is recommended that the condenser be cleaned of all debris and deposits at least once a year; cleaning can also be performed as the part becomes soiled. Of course, the frequency of maintenance depends on how often the car is used, what kind of road surface it drives on. In conditions of increased dustiness, with frequent trips on dirt roads, the radiator gets clogged with dirt much faster, requiring more frequent maintenance.
To clean the condenser in general is not difficult, especially if access to it is rather easy and does not require additional dismantling of details. Self-cleaning of a radiator is almost always done from outside, without its disassembly, as by disassembly you have to bleed refrigerant at first, and after installation to charge a conditioner with freon. The condenser can be cleaned in several ways:
- dry wiping with a soft rag;
- with use of tooth-brush;
- water flushing (if you use a hose, do not use high pressure);
- with application of special chemical compositions.
It is not necessary to use only one method, they can and in some cases must be combined. Do not use hard objects that could damage the aluminum surface, radiator tubes:
It is strongly not recommended to wash radiator with water under high pressure, in particular to use a kerher for washing, especially if there is not much experience in handling the equipment. It is also important to remember that if you do not maintain the radiator for a long time, sedimented on it reagents and salt can “eat” the metal (aluminum), and as a result the condenser will lose tightness and will fail. Soldering aluminum is very difficult, so most often the “skinny” radiator is subject to replacement with a new element.
The correct name for an air conditioner radiator is the condenser. It is most often located under the hood, behind the engine cooling radiator. This is to ensure that there is sufficient cooling by the oncoming airflow. In the same place is the electric fan, which is triggered by overheating.
The climate system uses a special refrigerant. Freon. When the engine is running, the driver switches on the air conditioner from the passenger compartment. Electric magnet that presses the compressor pulley and turns it on. The compressor creates pressure which pumps the refrigerant into the condenser. The counter air cools the freon and turns it into a liquid.
The freon then travels through the receiver, the evaporator, the air in the passenger compartment is cooled. Moisture condenses on the evaporator and drains under the vehicle body. Over time, car owners notice that there is a foul odor in the cabin.
- The condenser cells get clogged with insects, dirt, dust. Efficiency of the radiator decreases, as a dirty surface cools the freon worse.
- Moisture collects on the evaporator elements. It mixes with dirt and creates optimal environment for mold, fungus, and microbial growth.
As a result, along with the smell, dangerous germs, fungi, which are negative for human health enter the cabin. That’s why you need to clean the radiator of the air conditioner, wash it thoroughly. You can do this work yourself or go to a car service.