Did you notice a drop in the performance of your Ford Expedition’s air conditioner, and you want to know how to clean the evaporator? You’ve come to the right place, for we have researched this question, and we have the answer for you.
There are two methods to clean the evaporator of your Ford Expedition:
- The first method keeps the evaporator in place. You'll need a way to get into the evaporator’s housing, either via AC vents using a thin hose or by cutting open the evaporator casing.
- The second method requires disassembling the dashboard to completely remove the evaporator.
We will talk about these two methods in more detail in the succeeding sections. Learn all you need to decide which method is best for you before you pick one.
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Is auto AC evaporator cleaning necessary?
The evaporator of your Expedition naturally accumulates dust, dirt, grease, and grime. A filter on the intake vents prevents dirt from getting to the cabin air of your Expedition.
However, driving through dusty or sandy roads will cause dust to get through and eventually accumulate on the evaporator's fins. Similarly, the age of the vehicle can contribute to how much dust and dirt is clogging it.
What happens when the AC evaporator is clogged?
The evaporator looks like a small radiator. It is responsible for cooling the air inside the passenger cabin. It does its job by absorbing the heat from inside the passenger cabin; then the refrigerant brings that heat outside.
The evaporator absorbs the heat from the air that passes through its fins. This creates the cold air that goes into the passenger cabin. The heat turns the liquid refrigerant into gas.
If the evaporator is clogged, there will be limited airflow that will go through the fins. This will reduce the amount of cold air going into the cabin, impacting AC performance.
A dirty evaporator is also prone to mold and mildew growth that can lead to health problems. It can also cause foul-smelling air going into the cabin of your Expedition.
Cleaning the AC evaporator, which method should you choose?
Cleaning the evaporator of your Ford Expedition is important. This is especially true if you bring it to offroad trips often. Even normal daily trips can eventually lead to an accumulation of dirt and debris on the evaporator.
And when it comes to cleaning the evaporator, you have the option of removing the evaporator to thoroughly clean it with soap and water, or you could clean it without removing it.
Cleaning Without Removing Via Hose Through AC Vents
Cleaning the evaporator without removing it involves getting a hose to the evaporator. The hose creates a pathway for your cleaner to reach the dirt.
The problem with cleaning it without removing it, however, is that the evaporator of your Ford Expedition is inside a plastic casing that makes it hard to reach.
The first option is to get a long hose that is thin enough to go through the middle AC vents of your Expedition and reach the surface of the evaporator. You will not see the inside while you’re doing this method, so the strategy will be to spray as much evaporator cleaning foam as possible through the hose and hope that it will cover the surface of the dirty evaporator.
The middle AC vents are often the closest to the evaporator.
Advantages And Disadvantages
The advantage of this method is that you don’t have to remove anything, and it is the method that takes the least time to complete.
The disadvantage is that you might not be able to completely clean the evaporator because you don’t see the cleaner getting there.
Another disadvantage is that you need to use a foam cleaner that you will not be able to rinse properly. This can leave some residue on the evaporator, including some of the dirt that you were trying to remove.
While you can rinse the evaporator with water after cleaning, this is a risk. You don’t see where the water will go inside the evaporator casing. Thus, you’re not sure if it will get to the evaporator or if it will get some electrical components wet.
Cleaning Without Removing Via Opening The Evaporator Casing
If you don’t like the idea of cleaning the evaporator blindly, there is an alternative way to clean it without removing it.
The alternative method involves slicing an opening on the plastic casing of the evaporator. You can use a sharp cardboard cutter or a drill to slice through the plastic.
For this method, you'll need to know the location of the evaporator of your Ford Expedition model before you cut a window on the plastic casing. You can get a service manual for the exact model of your Ford Expedition to know the location of the evaporator. This will allow you to determine the best location to cut a window for cleaning the evaporator.
Once you have a window to the evaporator, you can clean it with mild soap and water. The soap and water will go out of your Expedition through the evaporator drain.
You can later return the window that you cut and seal it with a silicone sealant that you can peel off later on when you need to clean your evaporator once more.
Advantages And Disadvantages
The biggest advantage is that you will have a window that you can use to clean the evaporator in the future. The first time that you cut into the evaporator casing will take some time, but succeeding cleanings will be faster. This method allows you to clean the evaporator with soap and water, rinsing it thoroughly with water.
Another advantage is that this is the cheapest of all the methods. You don’t need to buy cans of foaming evaporator cleaners. A dishwashing soap, a garden sprayer, and water are all you need.
Once you finish cleaning, you can use compressed air to dry the evaporator and surrounding area before using your Expedition.
The disadvantage of this method is that you will need to cut a window into the evaporator casing. This can devaluate your Expedition if you decide to sell it later.
Another disadvantage is that you will need a manual to get the exact location of the evaporator. Without this information, it will be a hit and miss to cut a window exactly where you want it to be.
Evaporator Removal For Cleaning
This method is the most complex, expensive, and time-consuming because it involves removing the entire dashboard, steering wheel, and shifter, emptying your refrigerant air conditioner, and recharging your AC once you put it all together.
You will definitely need a service manual to know the correct order of removing the panels of your dashboard so that you don’t break anything. The service manual will also tell you how to remove and put back all the electrical wires that go to the different components of the dashboard.
And unless you have a pump for emptying the refrigerant, you will need to bring your Expedition to a mechanic to do it for you. And once you finish putting your Expedition back together, you need to bring it to a mechanic once more to recharge your AC.
Both trips to the mechanic for removing and recharging the refrigerant will cost service fees. Taking apart and reassembling the dashboard, steering wheel, shifter, and AC system will take a lot of time. A weekend might not be enough to complete it.
However, this method gives you access to many of the components of your AC, not just the evaporator. You can clean them all along with the evaporator.
Cleaning the evaporator once you get to it can be done with a mild dishwashing soap and water solution. You can use a soft brush to more easily remove dirt and debris. Rinse with clean water, let it dry, and you can start to put your Expedition back together.
Alternatively, you can bring your Ford Expedition to a mechanic to do the evaporator cleaning for you.
Advantages And Disadvantages
The biggest advantage is that you get to clean and physically inspect your evaporator with this method. If you see any bent fins, you can straighten them with a screwdriver.
Cleaning is much easier because you will be able to physically hold and clean the evaporator. This method allows you to get your evaporator to the cleanest possible. Moreover, you can also clean the surrounding channels where the air from your AC passes through into the passenger cabin.
The two biggest disadvantages are cost and time. Since you need to disconnect the evaporator, you will need to empty your AC of refrigerant before your can proceed. After you’re done, you will need to recharge your AC once more.
This method is time-consuming because of the number of components that you need to remove before you can get to the evaporator. If you plan to regularly clean your evaporator, you will need to set aside a lot of time to clean it with this method.
You can choose from three different methods of cleaning your evaporator. Each one has its own level of complexity, cost, time requirement, advantages, and disadvantages that you need to consider before deciding which one to choose.
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