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Old 08-02-2008, 07:17 AM   #1
niko
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a/c drain (I know, common problem) - with pictures!

Hi all,

Seems like my a/c drain may not be working properly.

I've been having the musty smell in my car for quite a while now. My wife says it smells like manure :p so I'm sad when she has to drive my car, fortunately that isn't too often.

Anyway I got some A/C spray that is supposed to kill mildew, etc, and used that by spraying it into the driver's side intake cowl. I also sprayed it directly into the fanbox by removing the glovebox and setting the fan to recurcilate, (which makes the small door on the fanbox open up to take in air from inside the car). This did help get rid of the "mustiness", but the air still feels somewhat wetter than it should be when you are running it without A/C.

I checked under my car during running the A/C and I don't see much happening. For example, my wife has a Mercury Sable and I turned on the A/C yesterday on hers and after about 20 seconds it was dripping water quite a bit unto the ground, forming a good puddle. My car, on the other hand, didn't even start leaking water after running for 3 to 4 minutes. I HAVE seen it leak water, but it by no means forms puddles....so it seems like something is clogged.

I was concerned about inserting a wire into the drain pipe, I don't want to damage anything by poking it, but I figured what the heck I'll be careful..so I put a wire (wire from a notebook) into the drain to see if it was clogged. I didn't really feel much though. I never had any water just bust out or anything yet.

So as for now short of taking the dash apart I am not sure what else to try. I know the forum also suggested blasting some compressed air into the drain and maybe that would clear it out (now to find some compressed air lol)

Also, I saw people time and again on the forum needed to know where the drain is at. I'm pretty sure I found the drain because it's a plastic pipe sticking out, and the heater core hoses attach to the same assembly just above it. So I took some pictures, they are attached.

If anyone has any other ideas I may try that would be great.

I wish I had like a small optic camera to take a look up this drain :) Does anyone have any pictures or know what the internal configuration of the evaporator / heater core box looks like? I know they share the same box. (Chilton manual shows that)

These pictures are on the passenger side of the car, just near the bottom of the firewall behind the front suspension.

-niko


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Old 08-02-2008, 09:10 AM   #2
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well, IMO, you need to run ur airconditioning often to make it work. You can't expect for something to work perfectly after not using if for a decad!! (exaggeration) but u get the pic. as for the water, it is prolly condensation, no biggy. It is normal. Have u checked ur coolant???
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Old 08-02-2008, 09:32 AM   #3
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Dirt clogs AC drain holes ..... common problem, no matter how much you use the AC. If you have a cabin filter, and never drive with the windows down, it's less likely to happen.

I use compressed air to unclog the drain. But that just blows the dirt further back into the evaporator, and needs to be done over maybe once a year. You probably could try a wire.....not likely to hurt anything.

A clogged AC drain usually results in a bunch of water on the passenger floor....not nice. The alternative solution would be to entirely remove the evaporator/heater core housing, and clean it out....a last resort obviously.
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Old 08-02-2008, 09:48 AM   #4
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How about it's not the drain. Those drains are not that easy to clog.

First off, we need to know what year and body style your Focus is. There is a cabin air filter that might be mildewed or even decayed as a result of age. This could be on all Focis made from 00-04. In 05, the cabin air filter is discontinued. To find it you'll need to remove the plastic cowl cover. Pop the hood, and look closely at the cowl. It should be two separate parts that wrap from just below the windshield to down a few inches on the firewall. Separate any lines or wiring that is connected to the cowl cover. Use a screwdriver to disconnect the plastic clips, should be 2, on the firewall side of the cowl cover. After that you should be able to lift it. The windshield side of the cowl cover is held in by clips that should pull up easily, if you lift it from the firewall side, the other side should just pop up.

After you get the cowl cover off, you'll see the cabin air filter. There should be a couple of nuts that hold it down, remove those, and the air filter can be removed. You'll have to find a new one at the dealer. I suggest spraying some sort of Lysol aerosol cleaner, or some other mold and mildew destroying cleaner that will not be toxic to the plastic down into the hole after removing the cabin air filter.
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Old 08-02-2008, 10:04 AM   #5
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Hi,

Thanks for your input - Sorry if I didn't give enough info.

I have a 2000 Focus ZX3. It did NOT come stock with a CAF. I installed one last year. This year after everything starting smelling like dust and musty, I opened it up and took out the CAF. It of course had lots of dust and leaves in it. I took it out about one week ago now. So as of now I don't have a CAF currently.

I don't have moisture on the passenger floor at all. I just have a musty type of smell. The smell is almost gone though because I used some a/c spray I got from a car parts store, to hopefully kill the mildew.

So besides the smell, which I think I can control if I get the correct cleaner, I was mainly concerned if the a/c was draining properly and how to try to clean out the drain. I only wondered if the drain may be "clogged" because I don't see large volumes of water coming out of it. It does drip some but not much, and only after running a while. Maybe the drain is fine, but my evaporator is just really clogged up! I'll have to try some compressed air probably, but I'm not sure where I can go yet to try that out.

I've been looking around / calling around for the evaporator foam, but haven't found it just yet. Not sure if I'm ready to drop $60 on a can of foam yet either :) Kinda of poor these days. Otherwise I guess I will just put up with it for now ....

-niko
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Old 08-02-2008, 10:59 AM   #6
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Take it somewhere and have the oil changed. Tell them to blow out the drain....maybe show them where the drain hole is located. Cheap fix.

Oh...that might not fix the musty smell. You can get something like Lysol....spray it into the air intake, and all the vents. Turn the blower on low for a few seconds (sucks the chemical into the system). Allow it to sit for a few minutes before using the blower.
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Old 08-02-2008, 12:34 PM   #7
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Without a cabin air filter, you will be more likely to have dust and crap build up in the evaporator and the rest of the cabin air plenum. This will reduce the effectiveness of the evaporator, and help to retain moisture. If you have a cabin air filter, you should replace it, and keep replacing it every 3 months. I REALLY need to go find an earlier model Focus to steal a cabin air filter holder out of- it fits right where my screen does. I know there's tons of crap building up inside my air plenums that will cause me problems in the future.

I wrote earlier that it's not easy to clog that drain hole- but it's not impossible. Any paper stickers that were on the inside of the evap housing might have peeled off from moisture over the years, and any small paper or leaf that has been able to sneak past the cabin air filter holder will also end up somewhere in the plenum causing issues for you. Taking it apart means removing a good portion of the dash on the passenger side, and if you continue to have problems, then you should do that.

The hole you see goes directly to the evap core housing, anything that gets in there will drain to that hole over time- liquid goes fairly quickly. It's not like there's a long tube with a lot of bends in it going to the evap housing. It's a short tube, fairly large in diameter compared to old vehicles, and it's straight. What you have is buildup over a long time of dust, and then moisture, and maybe some organic material that is decaying and causing the smell.
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Old 08-02-2008, 05:09 PM   #8
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Thanks for the input guys.

whynotthinkwhynot The only problem is I don't really see anything draining anymore. Only maybe after running for an hour or so do I see some small drippage coming out. This isn't normal...

bluefront: What about maybe getting a small diameter hose and shoving it up there and then blowing thru it as hard as I can? I think I may try that. Of course I will keep myself at a higher level so I dont get any nasty feedback so to speak.

-niko
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Old 08-02-2008, 05:26 PM   #9
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Well you certainly could try blowing in there by mouth....or you could get one of those small air tanks from Auto Zone or somewhere. Fill it up at the service station. Much better chance of success.

If it really is clogged, you might get as much as a quart of water splash out when the blockage is cleared.

FWIW....my own Focus doesn't seem to drip out as much water as my Sentra. Can't explain it. It cools normal.

Oh....the other way crap gets in the evaporator is by getting sucked out of the open-top glove box, when you're on recirc.
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Old 08-03-2008, 02:30 AM   #10
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Google "TSB 02-25-1", and search this form for "cabin leaks" Study the TSB, and read the posts. All sources of interior leaks are addressed, and all leaks can lead to dampness and mildew. There are 2 general catogories-

1-water from rain coming in through several places (usually the cowl) into the front interior, (pretty easy fixes).

2- condensate (water) from you AC condenser finding its way into the heating system and flowing out of the heating ducts under the rugs and padding of the front interior.. This can be caused by a clogged condenser firewall drain hose(easy fix) , or a bad condenser/case assembly ,or bad seal between the condenser /case assembly and the heating system (hard and expensive fixes($$$) . The whole dash has to come out to get to the condenser/case . Good luck.
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