Automotive

Air conditioner smells like the farm

  • Last Updated:
  • Aug 28th, 2020 7:26 pm
[OP]
Banned
User avatar
May 15, 2016
7020 posts
2486 upvotes

Air conditioner smells like the farm

First time using it this summer but it smelled like the farm when I turned it on. Did someone prank me and wipe poop in my intake vents?
61 replies
Deal Addict
Feb 16, 2013
1565 posts
1324 upvotes
Toronto
vivibaby wrote: First time using it this summer but it smelled like the farm when I turned it on. Did someone prank me and wipe poop in my intake vents?
You might have growth on the evaporator coil, also the water drain can be plugged allowing things to grow.
They sell vent specific cleaners at Canadian Tire.
....
Deal Addict
Sep 6, 2017
4494 posts
2981 upvotes
Yeah in the same boat. I am going to use the boroscope to see what's up with my evaporator. Going to disinfect, clean, and make it fresh again.
Deal Fanatic
Feb 4, 2010
6600 posts
6078 upvotes
Could also be the cabin air filter if you haven't changed it a while?
Deal Expert
Jan 27, 2006
20543 posts
13939 upvotes
Vancouver, BC
The 'spray-in-vent cleaners' generally don't work - they just cover up the smell.

You need to get something that you can spray onto the evaporator coil to kill any mould growth. A couple of ways you can do this:

1. Get a foaming spray for A/Cs (some auto dealerships have an OEM two can system for this - one can which is the foaming spray which you spray into the water drain hose and another to spray down the vents to cover up any remaining smell).
2. Disassemble the heat exchange box in the HVAC to get access to the evaporator so that you can spray it clean.
3. Get a flexible hose with a wide spray nozzle and shove it up the air intake into the heat exchange box to spray it clean. Note - you will have to have some way of mixing some detergent with the spray in order to kill the mould.

I do #3 using Valterra A01-0187VP Gray Flexible Tank Wand for $27.14 and a hose-end mixing chamber like this - 100ML Household Car Washing Pressure Sprayer Foam Bottle Multifunctional Car Cleaning Detergent Extended Snow Foam Jet Pot .
a. Connect the hose to the mixing chamber and then the mixing chamber to the wand.
b. Fill the mixing chamber with some mild detergent.
c. turn on the tap to verify that the wand's valve works.
d. insert the hose deep enough into the HVAC's heat exchange chamber.
e. Turn on the mixing chamber's valve so that the detergent is used
f. Turn on the wand's valve. You should see water coming out of the water drain hose on the bottom of your car.
g. move the wand back and forth slowly so that you soak the entire evaporator coil.
h. turn off the wand's valve and turn off the detergent.
i. let the soapy water sit for a few minutes.
j. Turn on the wand again with the detergent off and rinse off the coil.

You can either now let it drip dry or a better idea would be to run your fan on high for 5 minutes to dry off the coil.
Deal Addict
Aug 1, 2006
2279 posts
1855 upvotes
Toronto
You can also try Lubegard Kool-it which you spray into air vent inside carand into air conditioning drain tube beneath car. I saw it on amazon.com Amzon.com and have used it, it's easy, but not sure if it's available here.
Deal Fanatic
Aug 29, 2011
8435 posts
5315 upvotes
Mississauga
A way to help reduce funk growth is to run the hvac blower on high for a minute or two after turning off the a/c. It’ll help dry off a lot of the condensation that may still be on the evaporator core.
Deal Fanatic
Feb 4, 2010
6600 posts
6078 upvotes
mrweather wrote: A way to help reduce funk growth is to run the hvac blower on high for a minute or two after turning off the a/c. It’ll help dry off a lot of the condensation that may still be on the evaporator core.
This is what I do as well. If I don't turn off the AC before shutting off the engine, the next time I start the car it smells like mildew. When I do turn off AC a minute or two before turning the engine off, no problem the next time. I never had this problem with my other cars, but apparently this is an longstanding issue with many old and new Toyota models.
Last edited by hierophant on Jul 17th, 2020 11:38 am, edited 1 time in total.
Deal Addict
Sep 4, 2006
1300 posts
1025 upvotes
Ottawa
All good advice above on cleaning the coil. However, first step: pull the cabin air filter and make sure that you don't have this happening. Replace with a Fram Fresh Breeze (has charcoal to absorb smell).

Image
Deal Expert
User avatar
Dec 23, 2003
16643 posts
5213 upvotes
Toronto
vivibaby wrote: First time using it this summer but it smelled like the farm when I turned it on. Did someone prank me and wipe poop in my intake vents?
I had similar experience with my 2012 Camry a few years ago. The way I resolved this was the following:

- Replace the cabin air filter and make sure the cavity where the cabin filter goes is also clean from leaves, bugs and any other stuff. Take some Lysol and spray it in this filter cavity to clean and deodorize this area. Amazon is a good place to get these filters. Just make sure you get something that is not too thick as that will restrict airflow (causing cooling issues) and cause additional pressure on the blower motor.

- Get a can of this product from NAPA: https://www.napacanada.com/en/p/USD84060

- Using the product from above, watch the following video and make note of the steps from the 3 minute mark on your vehicle:



If the above steps don't resolve the problem completely, you can find a place that does the 2 part process that the video talks about and that will resolve the problem.

Going forward, as others have mentioned, turn the AC off a few minutes before you arrive at your final destination and set the blower to high and vent. This will help dry out any moisture that may be in the vents.
Sr. Member
Aug 8, 2004
608 posts
373 upvotes
Ottawa
Japan has a cool solution to prevent this, it's called wasabi d'air (わさびデェール).

You attach a diffuser filled with wasabi oil to your air filter and since it's antibacterial and antifungal, it'll eliminate any possibility of growth in the system.

No growth = no odor (check out the graph in images)

Honda and Nissan made it an official part for Japanese dealers so it's got some credibility. It's just too bad we can't order it here.

Amazon sells it but won't ship to Canada.

Amayama would be the only place to order it from @ $33CAD but shipping is high because EMS is the only available method until covid is over.

There really should be an easy solution. No one should have to deal with this and the solutions to fix it are pretty advanced for most people who aren't car enthusiasts.

...and to anyone wondering, your car shouldn't smell like wasabi when using this haha. some reviews did say there's was a faint scent so YMMV
Images
  • Screen Shot 2020-07-17 at 1.25.32 PM.png
  • Screen Shot 2020-07-17 at 1.36.14 PM.png
[OP]
Banned
User avatar
May 15, 2016
7020 posts
2486 upvotes
craftsman wrote: The 'spray-in-vent cleaners' generally don't work - they just cover up the smell.

You need to get something that you can spray onto the evaporator coil to kill any mould growth. A couple of ways you can do this:

1. Get a foaming spray for A/Cs (some auto dealerships have an OEM two can system for this - one can which is the foaming spray which you spray into the water drain hose and another to spray down the vents to cover up any remaining smell).
2. Disassemble the heat exchange box in the HVAC to get access to the evaporator so that you can spray it clean.
3. Get a flexible hose with a wide spray nozzle and shove it up the air intake into the heat exchange box to spray it clean. Note - you will have to have some way of mixing some detergent with the spray in order to kill the mould.

I do #3 using Valterra A01-0187VP Gray Flexible Tank Wand for $27.14 and a hose-end mixing chamber like this - 100ML Household Car Washing Pressure Sprayer Foam Bottle Multifunctional Car Cleaning Detergent Extended Snow Foam Jet Pot .
a. Connect the hose to the mixing chamber and then the mixing chamber to the wand.
b. Fill the mixing chamber with some mild detergent.
c. turn on the tap to verify that the wand's valve works.
d. insert the hose deep enough into the HVAC's heat exchange chamber.
e. Turn on the mixing chamber's valve so that the detergent is used
f. Turn on the wand's valve. You should see water coming out of the water drain hose on the bottom of your car.
g. move the wand back and forth slowly so that you soak the entire evaporator coil.
h. turn off the wand's valve and turn off the detergent.
i. let the soapy water sit for a few minutes.
j. Turn on the wand again with the detergent off and rinse off the coil.

You can either now let it drip dry or a better idea would be to run your fan on high for 5 minutes to dry off the coil.
hightech wrote: I had similar experience with my 2012 Camry a few years ago. The way I resolved this was the following:

- Replace the cabin air filter and make sure the cavity where the cabin filter goes is also clean from leaves, bugs and any other stuff. Take some Lysol and spray it in this filter cavity to clean and deodorize this area. Amazon is a good place to get these filters. Just make sure you get something that is not too thick as that will restrict airflow (causing cooling issues) and cause additional pressure on the blower motor.

- Get a can of this product from NAPA: https://www.napacanada.com/en/p/USD84060

- Using the product from above, watch the following video and make note of the steps from the 3 minute mark on your vehicle:



If the above steps don't resolve the problem completely, you can find a place that does the 2 part process that the video talks about and that will resolve the problem.

Going forward, as others have mentioned, turn the AC off a few minutes before you arrive at your final destination and set the blower to high and vent. This will help dry out any moisture that may be in the vents.
Deal Addict
Sep 4, 2006
1300 posts
1025 upvotes
Ottawa
jackrabbit000 wrote: Worse cabin air filter that you can buy. It reduces the air flow volume in my Honda Odyssey and Civic by about 50%. Filter also has about 50% less pleats than a standard filter.
Maybe it's a Honda thing? I put one in my GM cars (CTS and ELR), and the pleats were the same as the OEM Delcos that I took out. No difference in air flow...
Deal Expert
User avatar
Apr 21, 2004
56451 posts
21457 upvotes
jayoldschool wrote: Maybe it's a Honda thing? I put one in my GM cars (CTS and ELR), and the pleats were the same as the OEM Delcos that I took out. No difference in air flow...
I have one last Fram left and I don't see any difference with the air flow on our 11 Accord.
Deal Expert
User avatar
Apr 21, 2004
56451 posts
21457 upvotes
craftsman wrote: The 'spray-in-vent cleaners' generally don't work - they just cover up the smell.

You need to get something that you can spray onto the evaporator coil to kill any mould growth. A couple of ways you can do this:

1. Get a foaming spray for A/Cs (some auto dealerships have an OEM two can system for this - one can which is the foaming spray which you spray into the water drain hose and another to spray down the vents to cover up any remaining smell).
2. Disassemble the heat exchange box in the HVAC to get access to the evaporator so that you can spray it clean.
3. Get a flexible hose with a wide spray nozzle and shove it up the air intake into the heat exchange box to spray it clean. Note - you will have to have some way of mixing some detergent with the spray in order to kill the mould.

I do #3 using Valterra A01-0187VP Gray Flexible Tank Wand for $27.14 and a hose-end mixing chamber like this - 100ML Household Car Washing Pressure Sprayer Foam Bottle Multifunctional Car Cleaning Detergent Extended Snow Foam Jet Pot .
a. Connect the hose to the mixing chamber and then the mixing chamber to the wand.
b. Fill the mixing chamber with some mild detergent.
c. turn on the tap to verify that the wand's valve works.
d. insert the hose deep enough into the HVAC's heat exchange chamber.
e. Turn on the mixing chamber's valve so that the detergent is used
f. Turn on the wand's valve. You should see water coming out of the water drain hose on the bottom of your car.
g. move the wand back and forth slowly so that you soak the entire evaporator coil.
h. turn off the wand's valve and turn off the detergent.
i. let the soapy water sit for a few minutes.
j. Turn on the wand again with the detergent off and rinse off the coil.

You can either now let it drip dry or a better idea would be to run your fan on high for 5 minutes to dry off the coil.
Can you do a video for us when you are doing it next year? Or if there's a good enough video, it would be great if you can share it with us.
Sr. Member
Aug 8, 2004
608 posts
373 upvotes
Ottawa
I’ve haven’t noticed any difference in air flow using the fram fresh breeze on my Honda (fram CF11182). The Bosch hepa was the one with horrible air flow.

No one should care about charcoal in their air filters. You’ll be lucky if it lasts a month.

Vivibaby - if you’d like a recommendation for a filter, let us know your year make and model
Deal Expert
User avatar
Dec 23, 2003
16643 posts
5213 upvotes
Toronto
craftsman wrote: The 'spray-in-vent cleaners' generally don't work - they just cover up the smell.

You need to get something that you can spray onto the evaporator coil to kill any mould growth. A couple of ways you can do this:

1. Get a foaming spray for A/Cs (some auto dealerships have an OEM two can system for this - one can which is the foaming spray which you spray into the water drain hose and another to spray down the vents to cover up any remaining smell).
2. Disassemble the heat exchange box in the HVAC to get access to the evaporator so that you can spray it clean.
3. Get a flexible hose with a wide spray nozzle and shove it up the air intake into the heat exchange box to spray it clean. Note - you will have to have some way of mixing some detergent with the spray in order to kill the mould.

I do #3 using Valterra A01-0187VP Gray Flexible Tank Wand for $27.14 and a hose-end mixing chamber like this - 100ML Household Car Washing Pressure Sprayer Foam Bottle Multifunctional Car Cleaning Detergent Extended Snow Foam Jet Pot .
a. Connect the hose to the mixing chamber and then the mixing chamber to the wand.
b. Fill the mixing chamber with some mild detergent.
c. turn on the tap to verify that the wand's valve works.
d. insert the hose deep enough into the HVAC's heat exchange chamber.
e. Turn on the mixing chamber's valve so that the detergent is used
f. Turn on the wand's valve. You should see water coming out of the water drain hose on the bottom of your car.
g. move the wand back and forth slowly so that you soak the entire evaporator coil.
h. turn off the wand's valve and turn off the detergent.
i. let the soapy water sit for a few minutes.
j. Turn on the wand again with the detergent off and rinse off the coil.

You can either now let it drip dry or a better idea would be to run your fan on high for 5 minutes to dry off the coil.
That sounds very thorough but very intensive. The Toyota method which worked in my situation was to feed the foam cleaner via the drain hose. The foam fills the entire area and then goes to liquid and all the crap comes out.
Deal Expert
Jan 27, 2006
20543 posts
13939 upvotes
Vancouver, BC
alanbrenton wrote: Can you do a video for us when you are doing it next year? Or if there's a good enough video, it would be great if you can share it with us.
There isn't a video that I know of... I got the idea when I saw another video of a mechanic hosing off an evaporator coil that they had access to. After some searching, I found the wand which worked great to deliver the water to where I needed it. I tried just hosing it off but found that the mould/mildew grew back after a few short weeks. So, I thought some detergent will do it. Found a similar gizmo to what I linked to as a mixing chamber for a power washer soap dispenser. I used some mild dishwashing detergent and some oregano oil and that worked much longer than just plain water. I'm still working on the detergent mixture in order to get it really clean!
Deal Expert
User avatar
Apr 21, 2004
56451 posts
21457 upvotes
Are mold/ mildew spores toxic or mostly only to those allergic to them?

I guess the concentration is higher in vehicles than it is in most homes.

Top

Thread Information

There is currently 1 user viewing this thread. (0 members and 1 guest)