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A/C Evaporator

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Driving is not just all about horsepower, torque, or acceleration. Sometimes, it's the small things like cool air from the vents that make driving miles after miles easier. No need to break a sweat even if it's summer. As long as the AC can cool down the warm temperature and take away the moisture or humidity in your car, then the last thing you have to worry about is heat taking up the comfortable cabin. Unless the AC evaporator suddenly acts up and botches up your air-conditioning.

How the AC evaporator works

The evaporator is much like a mini radiator, with small tubes and fins hooked up to this unit. Cold low-pressure refrigerant flows through the evaporator. Heat transfer then takes place.air from the passenger compartment is vaporized, while heat is absorbed along with moisture. As air is blown over the cold evaporator, the AC circulates cooler air around the cabin. When the evaporator wears out or fouls up, the AC's cooling cycle will be messed up.

Common AC evaporator problems

The AC's performance can sink to an all-time low once the evaporator becomes defective or one of its components, such as the fins and coils, gets clogged up. Keep an eye out for AC evaporator problems so you'll know how to troubleshoot a malfunctioning AC.

  • Frosty layers. While it's natural for the evaporator and its coils to get really cold, frost isn't a good thing at all as this can cause troubles with the AC's performance. The frost could form because of moisture getting stuck in the fins and other AC system problems like blocked coils or faulty expansion valves. Water may get frozen around the blades, resulting in layers of frost.
  • Dirt clogging up the coils and fins. It's not unusual to see dust, lint, and dirt lining up the coils and fins, as these may be brought by water. However, when dirt clogs up or coats the coils and fins, this can lead to a poorly functioning evaporator. Though not as bad as having frost layers, dirt can impede the performance of the AC system.
  • Unpleasant odor. The funky smell coming from the AC may be caused by mold and bacteria in the evaporator fins. Mold and bacteria may build up because of leftover moisture in the fins, where water vapor from the air may settle.
  • Leaks. If the evaporator leaks refrigerant or coolant, this can affect heat transfer and cooling efficiency. If left unchecked, this can lead to a faulty AC system. Even if the unit is working fine, refrigerant or coolant problems caused by leaky lines can lead to different evaporator problems. The refrigerant may not get through the coil fast enough or there won't be enough to absorb heat and keep the air that will circulate through the cabin cool enough.

How to fix common AC evaporator problems

  • Flush the AC system to get rid of mold and bacteria buildup and remove bad odor. To keep the fins from becoming the breeding ground of mold, they could be coated with moldicide protectant.
  • Clean the coils using a soft cloth and soapy water or other light cleaning solutions. Remove the oil or grease in the fins. The coils may be coated with a special solution that will not only prevent bacteria buildup but will also keep dust from settling. Be careful in choosing the right product or coat, as some might adversely affect the AC's performance.
  • Inspect the AC evaporator to see if there's any stuck debris that should be removed or if there's any sign of leak. Check the lines and connections to trace where this is coming from. Replace any broken connection or damaged component.