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      11-12-2019, 12:17 AM   #1
top ramen
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DIY: Evap core cleaning

Tired of the smelly wet sock that hit you in the face when you turn on your car after using your AC. And since summer is over the smell is worst when you first crank up the car after sitting a few hours. I think I found the solution after days of research.

Difficulty: 2
Items needed: T-20 T-30 bit. Metal cloths hanger. Tape. AC foaming coil cleaner. Aerosol can spray hose. Optional: compress air (only use if your drain line is clogged; mine was)

Remove air cabin filter and kick panel:
Start at the passenger side footwell and remove the single T-20 screw that is holding the carpet panel on the center console. To remove this panel you have to pull two plastic clip behind the panel off first then slide the panel forward to release the three metal clamps at the end.

Next remove the two silver T-30 screw that is holding the knee airbags in place. You do not have to remove the two T-20 screw holding the kick panel to the airbag. Once you remove the screws, pull down on the airbag gently because it is held on by two clips. Once you get panel down disconnect the foot light and the 12v socket connection. I didn't remove the airbag connector, but if you want to remove it make sure you disconnect the battery first before disconnecting the airbag. If not you might get the airbag warning lights on the dash. Move the panel aside to give you work room.

To remove the air filter there are four T-20 screws. One screw is tricky to find, it's hiding behind the rubber drain plug. Disconnect the drain plug from the cover and you should see it. Once you remove the cover pull down the two cabin air filter and remember which direction they go back in.

Next move to the driver side to remove the driver kick panel. Procedure is that same as the passenger side.

Cleaning evap:
This is the cleaning product that I used. I found it a Home Depot for $6 a can. I like the fresh smell of this product and its foaming and self-rinsing action. One can is more than enough for this job.

I used this aerosol can spray hose attachment that came with is evap cleaner I purchased from autozone a few years ago when I cleaned my e46. I don't not recommend this interdynamics auto ac evap odor eliminator because it did not have the foaming action they claim and it mostly came out liquidly.

Before you start cleaning I recommend that you check the condensation drain plug if they are clogged. They are the 90 degree grey rubber hose that is connected to the evap housing. My passenger side was fine but my driver side was clogged up. Once I pulled the driver side drain plug off I got the hit of the smelly sock odor and some funky murky condensation water that been settling for awhile.


If drain plug are clogged find some compressed air to blow it out. What I used was my portable dirt devil scorpion vacuum cleaner and used it in inflate mode and attached the air mattress connector onto it and blew the water out.


To clean the front of the evap core insert the spray hose into the driver side evap housing drain port and spray a good amount of product into it. After spraying reconnect the drain plug.

Move to the passenger side and insert the spray hose either into the drain port or the rubber drain hose that connects to the air filter cover. I sprayed product through the rubber drain hose from the air filter because the spray hose fitted into it perfectly. After spraying the product reconnect the drain plug and make sure you turn the drain plug from the air filter upward because if you don't the product will drain out from there.


To clean the back of the evap core undo a metal clothes hanger and straighten it out. Bend it into 90 degree with one end being about 20 inched long and the other about 12 inches long. Tape the hose to the longer tip of the rod.

Insert the rod into the rear opening of the filter housing. To reach the back of the evap core insert the rod upwards into the opening than pushing it leftward. To check if you are in the back of the evap core gently move the rod around until you feel the evap core fins. Once you know you are there push the rod all the way left and spray the product from top down and work from left to right. Spray about half the can then pull the rod out. Wait about ten to fifteen minutes and let the chemical works it thing.

If you want a really deep clean repeat the cleaning procedure.

Once finished reinstall all items in reversed order.

Start the car and set ventilation to max blower. Set air setting to footwell and fresh air mode. Open all windows and let the car run for about 5 minutes to dry up the evap core.

Enjoy the fresh smell.
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Last edited by top ramen; 11-12-2019 at 12:36 AM..
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      11-12-2019, 04:30 AM   #2
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Nice post! Thanks!
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      11-12-2019, 10:56 PM   #3
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I did not know that there is another plug on the driver side.

I have cleaned the back of evaporator a couple times, now I am going to try to clean the front of the Evaporator ..

thanks.
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      11-12-2019, 11:06 PM   #4
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ambient temperature is now below zero, (about -8C), if I set CC to Auto and set to 16C, I don't smell anything because heater core is not engaged. evaporator/compress is also not on.
the moment I change to higher temp in CC control, let's say 17C, I smell something. I don't know if its coolant or EVAPORATOR..

please share your insight if you can.

Thanks.

btw, I cleaned the EVAPORATOR a couple times already.
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      11-12-2019, 11:29 PM   #5
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[IMG][/IMG]
By looking at the grey tube on the passenger side, I don't know if that's the the condensation drains. After cabinet air filter, where does the air go into/ pass evaporator?
I guess it doesn't matter , it's close enough.

I wonder if you saw another grey tube near the 90 degrees one in the passenger side?
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      11-13-2019, 08:53 AM   #6
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The line that runs from the filter box connects next to the passenger drain port on the evap housing. Found that out when I was spraying the product into the passenger drain port and the some product start coming out that line. That's when I decide to reconnect the passenger drain port and spray the product up that line instead.

That's weird that you only smell it when the temps increase. Does it smell funky like stinky old wet socks or a sweet caramel smell?
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      11-20-2019, 01:21 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by top ramen View Post
The line that runs from the filter box connects next to the passenger drain port on the evap housing. Found that out when I was spraying the product into the passenger drain port and the some product start coming out that line. That's when I decide to reconnect the passenger drain port and spray the product up that line instead.

That's weird that you only smell it when the temps increase. Does it smell funky like stinky old wet socks or a sweet caramel smell?
I don't think it's sweet caramel smell, which is from coolant.
but I do smile something abnormal..

Before your cleaning, do you smell anything bad when you were on heat as well?
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      12-05-2019, 02:28 AM   #8
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Thanks for the DIY TR!
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      05-09-2020, 02:34 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by top ramen View Post
Tired of the smelly wet sock that hit you in the face when you turn on your car after using your AC. And since summer is over the smell is worst when you first crank up the car after sitting a few hours. I think I found the solution after days of research.

Difficulty: 2
Items needed: T-20 T-30 bit. Metal cloths hanger. Tape. AC foaming coil cleaner. Aerosol can spray hose. Optional: compress air (only use if your drain line is clogged; mine was)

Remove air cabin filter and kick panel:
Start at the passenger side footwell and remove the single T-20 screw that is holding the carpet panel on the center console. To remove this panel you have to pull two plastic clip behind the panel off first then slide the panel forward to release the three metal clamps at the end.

Next remove the two silver T-30 screw that is holding the knee airbags in place. You do not have to remove the two T-20 screw holding the kick panel to the airbag. Once you remove the screws, pull down on the airbag gently because it is held on by two clips. Once you get panel down disconnect the foot light and the 12v socket connection. I didn't remove the airbag connector, but if you want to remove it make sure you disconnect the battery first before disconnecting the airbag. If not you might get the airbag warning lights on the dash. Move the panel aside to give you work room.

To remove the air filter there are four T-20 screws. One screw is tricky to find, it's hiding behind the rubber drain plug. Disconnect the drain plug from the cover and you should see it. Once you remove the cover pull down the two cabin air filter and remember which direction they go back in.

Next move to the driver side to remove the driver kick panel. Procedure is that same as the passenger side.

Cleaning evap:
This is the cleaning product that I used. I found it a Home Depot for $6 a can. I like the fresh smell of this product and its foaming and self-rinsing action. One can is more than enough for this job.

I used this aerosol can spray hose attachment that came with is evap cleaner I purchased from autozone a few years ago when I cleaned my e46. I don't not recommend this interdynamics auto ac evap odor eliminator because it did not have the foaming action they claim and it mostly came out liquidly.

Before you start cleaning I recommend that you check the condensation drain plug if they are clogged. They are the 90 degree grey rubber hose that is connected to the evap housing. My passenger side was fine but my driver side was clogged up. Once I pulled the driver side drain plug off I got the hit of the smelly sock odor and some funky murky condensation water that been settling for awhile.


If drain plug are clogged find some compressed air to blow it out. What I used was my portable dirt devil scorpion vacuum cleaner and used it in inflate mode and attached the air mattress connector onto it and blew the water out.


To clean the front of the evap core insert the spray hose into the driver side evap housing drain port and spray a good amount of product into it. After spraying reconnect the drain plug.

Move to the passenger side and insert the spray hose either into the drain port or the rubber drain hose that connects to the air filter cover. I sprayed product through the rubber drain hose from the air filter because the spray hose fitted into it perfectly. After spraying the product reconnect the drain plug and make sure you turn the drain plug from the air filter upward because if you don't the product will drain out from there.


To clean the back of the evap core undo a metal clothes hanger and straighten it out. Bend it into 90 degree with one end being about 20 inched long and the other about 12 inches long. Tape the hose to the longer tip of the rod.

Insert the rod into the rear opening of the filter housing. To reach the back of the evap core insert the rod upwards into the opening than pushing it leftward. To check if you are in the back of the evap core gently move the rod around until you feel the evap core fins. Once you know you are there push the rod all the way left and spray the product from top down and work from left to right. Spray about half the can then pull the rod out. Wait about ten to fifteen minutes and let the chemical works it thing.

If you want a really deep clean repeat the cleaning procedure.

Once finished reinstall all items in reversed order.

Start the car and set ventilation to max blower. Set air setting to footwell and fresh air mode. Open all windows and let the car run for about 5 minutes to dry up the evap core.

Enjoy the fresh smell.
Thank you this.

It's sad we have to do this with such high priced vehicles though.
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      05-09-2020, 04:41 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bin01123 View Post
Thank you this.

It's sad we have to do this with such high priced vehicles though.
EVERY car can have this issue. It is quite common.
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      05-09-2020, 05:31 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ezaircon4jc View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by bin01123 View Post
Thank you this.

It's sad we have to do this with such high priced vehicles though.
EVERY car can have this issue. It is quite common.
Can is the key word there. I've had plenty of other cars with 150k miles and never heard of this issue prior to getting into Bimmers
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      05-09-2020, 06:20 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bin01123 View Post
Can is the key word there. I've had plenty of other cars with 150k miles and never heard of this issue prior to getting into Bimmers
I've had many cars and have never had this issue. I have read about it on the forums of every car I've owned; Ford (Lincoln & Mercury), Honda and now BMW.
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      05-09-2020, 06:24 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bin01123 View Post
Can is the key word there. I've had plenty of other cars with 150k miles and never heard of this issue prior to getting into Bimmers
You've never heard of this issue? This isn't even an issue specific to cars. Household AC can have this problem as well.
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      05-09-2020, 08:10 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Unspec View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by bin01123 View Post
Can is the key word there. I've had plenty of other cars with 150k miles and never heard of this issue prior to getting into Bimmers
You've never heard of this issue? This isn't even an issue specific to cars. Household AC can have this problem as well.
Don't kill me but no.
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      05-10-2020, 01:50 AM   #15
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Don't kill me but no.
Get the pitchforks boys! Time to go edumacate
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      05-10-2020, 09:40 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ezaircon4jc View Post
EVERY car can have this issue. It is quite common.
Yep - unfortunately the mildew and fungus don't care about the MSRP of the dark, moist place where they love to hang out.
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      05-10-2020, 10:30 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Unspec View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by bin01123 View Post
Don't kill me but no.
Get the pitchforks boys! Time to go edumacate
Saying that, I've probably just set off ACs in my other car and house now to start having this problem.
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      01-04-2022, 08:03 AM   #18
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Subscribed! This is good info. I get a dirty sock smell just for a few seconds on startup sometimes, and it goes away quickly. I wonder if my drains are clogged since it doesn't smell once underway.
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      01-22-2022, 05:50 AM   #19
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After a small sewer rat (yes, rat) died inside the blower (thanks to disintegrated blower housing filter), blower was torn apart and crazy smell starts to build up.

Noticed it when there was very loud rattling on blower from inside and outside of the car.

Blower replaced, housing was cleaned thoroughly and still I need some sort of holy water to clean it jeez it was nasty.

Replaced the housing filter with air purifier prefilter. All good and didn't notice any air restriction.

Replaced microfilter because there were some maggots (rat had been inside the blower for a week, assumed dead because of heat)

Still, hellish toxic smell lingers from the duct. Decided to clean the evap tomorrow, bought 2 cans of foam cleaner and Sonax Klima Cleaner.

Joemulder was right I think, the drain plug located right below the evap and I think it won't do any significant cleaning to entire evap surface.

I'll go with the hanger route and will bomb the inside air with sonax later.
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      06-11-2022, 07:03 PM   #20
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still having a love hate feeling about my F10, all because the AC..
I think at this point, I may have AC leaks, not just cleaning issue anymore..

how are you guys doing? smell clean still after your last cleaning?
how long did it last?

Thanks.
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      06-27-2022, 07:23 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnkwick View Post
Still, hellish toxic smell lingers from the duct. Decided to clean the evap tomorrow, bought 2 cans of foam cleaner and Sonax Klima Cleaner.
Did you ever manage to get that smell out of the car? This may help if not.

I had a similar issue with my Corvette during winter storage. Mice got as far as the blower and built a nest (couldn't chew through the fan), then died. Spring came, I opened the door and was nearly instantly sick to my stomach… the smell was something I'd never experienced before. The whole interior of the car was wet with condensation, and there was black goo dripping out of the blower housing onto the passenger side carpet. I thought I'd have to scrap the whole interior.

After a thorough cleaning of the fan and duct area with Spray Nine, a friend who runs a car detailing business used a fogging system that eliminates anything living - bacteria, mold, etc. He put the nozzle into the hvac intake and we let the car run with ac on for 15 min, shut the car off and let it sit for a while before opening the doors. We also removed and scrubbed the carpets with a special shampoo, and I just replaced the floor mats.

The smell is not 100% gone (you can still detect it if the car is sitting out on a hot day), but it's a huge improvement.
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