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Unread 09-18-2011, 05:04 PM   #1
djflyy
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Heater Core Flush DIY w/ photos

Greetings,

As the winter months near, and temperatures drop throughout New England, I finally got off my butt and decided to move forward with the famed "heater core flush" as described by many people on the forum as an easy and potentially great solution for luke-warm air from the heating system. I can honestly say that I do remember a time, albeit a few years ago, when the heater would blow out burning hot air. Over the past few winters it has gotten much cooler, to the point of keeping gloves, earmuffs, and extra jackets in the Jeep. Before the cold really sets in, I executed this process.

One of the problems I had found was that I am a very visual learner, and nobody had posted a photo guide to this on the forum here. I watched a YouTube video with a guy that showed the process, and went from there. Here's my guide with photos.

Step 1: Locate the two hoses that travel from the radiator/engine to the firewall on the passenger side of the engine bay. These are the two that you will be passing water/air through to try and unclog and discharge any stray substance from. I have circled the appropriate hoses in the photos.










Step 2: Locate the ends of the hose (meaning: don't remove the hose from the firewall, use the opposite end) Remove the hose clamps from the end of the hose, and move them further back on the hose. I use a pair of large pliers, clamped the tabs, and wiggled the clamp further down the line to loosen the grip and allow me to slide the hoses off of their positions. Remember, they may be old/dried out, so carefully remove them to avoid problems. The lower hose of my Jeep took a little extra love to get off. Also, have a catch-bucket nearby to collect any of the fluid that may come out upon hose removal.






Step 3: Fasten your hose of water/air compressor into the Jeep hoses. It doesn't really matter which you start with, although I began with the upper hose. Situate the catch-pan/bottle at the end of the opposite hose, as that is where the water & debris will flow out of. I used a milk gallon at the flushing end, a funnel at the end of the hose, and ran the highest pressure water flow I could with my hose.





*For steps 3 and 4 - flush water through the system until it flows out the other end (into the catch bucket) in a clear form)*

Step 4: Reverse the process. Much alike fish scales, pieces of debris will not be freed by water moving in the direction it normally does. By reversing the process, water will be more likely to catch debris in the opposite direction and remove it from the hose. Don't forget to move the milk jug device to the other hose.





Step 5 (optional): The next step is one that some people say to do, and some people opt not to go through with. In an effort to make sure that all debris is removed, people use a vehicle appropriate cleaning product in the hoses. As noted below, please make sure that the substance you wash the lines out with is safe for aluminum (the material of the heater core) and all of the hoses themselves. Start by pouring the substance down the hose (matters not which) and letting it sit for 10 or so minutes. Then go ahead and flush it in either - or both - directions.

The most important part of this step is to make sure that all cleaning substances have been removed from the hoses, as it is not good for the radiator to receive any left-overs once the car is started again. Run water through after this step until you are absolutely sure that there is no substance left in the hoses.






Step 6: Re-attach hoses. Affix them to the appropriate tips on the engine, and replace the hose clamps to their original positions. Remember to spread the clamps as wide as possible so it can slide freely without scraping apart the hose.

Step 7: Replace any coolant fluid that may have been lost during this process. I picked up a gallon of Prestone 50/50 coolant at AutoZone for $13.99 before starting this process. If you don't have a visible loss of fluid, turn the vehicle on and depress the gas to about 2,000-2,500 RPMs for 30 seconds or so. At that point, re-check the fluid level and add appropriately.


--


That's it!!! Worked extremely well for me, and I've now got to turn the heat down when I'm in the TJ, even when it's 45 some odd degrees out and on the 2nd blower setting. Hope this helps some people get an idea as to how easy this kind of thing is to do, and give them an idea as to how to go about it! Feel free to post any thoughts, suggestions, or questions below. I'd be happy to add/change any parts of this if people have suggestions that have worked for them.

As always, PLEASE DISPOSE OF COOLANT AND ALL VEHICLE FLUIDS APPROPRIATELY. MOST AUTOZONE/ADVANCE AUTO PARTS STORES WILL DISPOSE OF YOUR FLUID IF YOU BRING IT TO THEM IN AN APPROPRIATE CONTAINER.

Happy Jeepin!

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Quote:
Originally Posted by bmosing View Post
Cleaning this thing up is similar to a slightly abused pornstar throwing on a bunch of makeup to try to hide her eternal scars, but I think she doesn't look too bad

Last edited by djflyy; 09-18-2011 at 08:24 PM.. Reason: Change cleaning solvent information
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Unread 09-18-2011, 05:51 PM   #2
j_niko
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Nice write-up
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Unread 09-18-2011, 06:01 PM   #3
JBTJ
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Except it says on the back of the bottle not to use on aluminum which is what the heater core is made of.
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Unread 09-18-2011, 06:07 PM   #4
djflyy
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JBTJ View Post
Except it says on the back of the bottle not to use on aluminum which is what the heater core is made of.
Interesting. I was going by what I had heard in other places (this forum included). I can only hope that the 10 minutes of sitting and thorough rinsing was enough to remove it from continuing to eat at the aluminum. Thanks for posting this!
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bmosing View Post
Cleaning this thing up is similar to a slightly abused pornstar throwing on a bunch of makeup to try to hide her eternal scars, but I think she doesn't look too bad
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Unread 09-18-2011, 06:09 PM   #5
JBTJ
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Lets hope so. But you WILL hear allot of BS on this forum by people who just don't know. Did you read the back of the bottle?
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Unread 09-18-2011, 06:15 PM   #6
JBTJ
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What surfaces should I not use CLR on?
DO not use CLR on natural stone or marble, terrazzo, colored grout, painted or metallic glazed surfaces, plastic laminates, Formica, aluminum, steam irons, leaded crystal, refinished tubs or any damaged or cracked surface. CLR may etch older sinks, tubs and tiles. CLR is corrosive. Avoid contact with wood, clothing, wallpaper and carpeting. Some laminated surfaces (counter tops) are coated with a synthetic surface which may be affected by rust removers; clean spills immediately.

Can I use CLR to clean out my radiator?
No, CLR should not be used on a car radiator for two reasons. First, CLR may not be compatible with the internal metals of the radiator. Second, it could have adverse effects if the CLR is not rinsed out completely.

Can I use CLR on my water heater? Same as a radiator!!
No, Jelmar DOES NOT RECOMMEND the use of CLR on a water heater; however, there is a web site that does. Again, JELMAR DOES NOT RECOMMEND THE USE OF CLR IN A WATER HEATER. The reasons Jelmar does not recommend CLR to clean a water heater are: 1) the heat is not compatible with CLR; 2) the water heater cannot be promptly and thoroughly rinsed with cold, clean water; 3) the water heater might have internal metals that are not compatible with CLR .

But like you said maybe if it is rinsed enough you will get it all out. My question would be why not use the cleaning agent made by Prestone for an example to do the same thing and it is safe to use. Just a thought.
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Unread 09-18-2011, 06:15 PM   #7
JPNinPA
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Newer TJ's require HOAT or you could substitute G05 fluid.
Also I remove the bottom hose from the radiator durring the process to get any sediment out of the radiator.
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Unread 09-18-2011, 08:18 PM   #8
djflyy
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JBTJ View Post
Except it says on the back of the bottle not to use on aluminum which is what the heater core is made of.
Quote:
Originally Posted by JBTJ View Post
My question would be why not use the cleaning agent made by Prestone for an example to do the same thing and it is safe to use. Just a thought.

Back of the bottle says nothing whatsoever about avoiding contact with aluminum. I just went and re-checked to make sure I hadn't missed it the first time. I would hope that "severe corrosion" would be caused by prolonged contact and not just a 10 minute spree of a small amount of the liquid gel in the tubes. I thoroughly rinsed it afterwords with a few gallons of water in both directions.

I'll remove the CLR part in the DIY post, and put in "aluminum/vehicle safe cleaning product". Thanks for the feedback!
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bmosing View Post
Cleaning this thing up is similar to a slightly abused pornstar throwing on a bunch of makeup to try to hide her eternal scars, but I think she doesn't look too bad
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Unread 09-18-2011, 10:00 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JBTJ View Post
Lets hope so. But you WILL hear allot of BS on this forum by people who just don't know. Did you read the back of the bottle?
I think you've found the source of the BS ^^^^^

I agree that people do argue against using CLR, but I've never read on here from anyone actually having heater core/radiator failure due to its usage?? and people are using it.

I've never used it so I'm neutral towards this. Nice write up though.
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Unread 09-18-2011, 10:12 PM   #10
chris142
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I've had customers come in with Aluminum Dirt bike Radiators that are plugged up. These are much like an Aluminum heater core. I can't take those apart to rod them out.

I've had 2 customers put CLR in the Radiators and then have me check the flow. In both cases the flow was much better.

Neither was leaking when I checked them.

Vinegar is supposed to eat Calcium too so I'm told.
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Unread 09-19-2011, 07:15 AM   #11
JBTJ
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The info I posted about CLR was right off their website. Not BS.
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Unread 09-19-2011, 07:37 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JBTJ View Post
The info I posted about CLR was right off their website. Not BS.
Don't need to go to their website I just read the back of the bottle and clearly says what you listed. I guess I should have read a little closer before I used it to clean the plugged radiator on my Durango last month. However it did work excellent and I did only put it in my radiator with both hoses unhooked. Then I flushed it several times with fresh water.

I just hope I didn't prolong having to by a new radiator only to cause other issues in my coolant system. Time will tell been doing great since July 28 when I flushed it.
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Unread 09-19-2011, 11:20 AM   #13
djflyy
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Originally Posted by jds79cj View Post
Then I flushed it several times with fresh water....Time will tell been doing great since July 28 when I flushed it.
I think the important thing to note is that it's NOT left in the heater core/radiator for extended periods of time. Most people use Lime-Away/CLR and let it sit on their bathtub tile for hours under the impression that longer exposure will reap better results. This was a 10-minute in-the-hose- process to free up excess gunk. I would be interested to find out that it actually has prolonged negative effects on the components in the heater core even after being washed out/rinsed out thoroughly.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bmosing View Post
Cleaning this thing up is similar to a slightly abused pornstar throwing on a bunch of makeup to try to hide her eternal scars, but I think she doesn't look too bad
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Unread 09-19-2011, 12:35 PM   #14
timberwolf0122
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Once it's flushed out it there is nothing to react with the aluminium. The only issue you might get would be if the aluminium fins were weakened enough to break off in which case you'd start to form clogs in the core, however seeing as you flushed it all out I doubt this has happened.
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Unread 09-19-2011, 05:02 PM   #15
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So what can we use instead of CLR?
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