Coolant steam condensing inside window

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Sorry for bringing up another coolant related issue but the collective wisdom found in this NG helped me out before, so it might again.
I've had the leaking heater control water walve replaced a couple weeks
ago in my '94 Accord and I thought that may have fixed the slowly depleting coolant issue I was experiencing. I also noticed some slick condensation inside the windshield when the heat was turned on and I was hoping it was only due to the leaking water valve, not a leak in the heater core. Well, after the valve was replaced, the condensation and cooland deplation was reduced, though not entirely. But I thought I could live with it till the next next heating season. So I was quite surprised today when suddenly the inside condensation returned but this time without the heater being turned on. The air was dry outside, with clear skies. I even tried to dry the inside air with the A/C on with no avail. The condensation became quite severe and felt slick, so it must have been due to coolant leak, probably in the heater core. What I don't understand though how that could happen if the water valve was closed. I assumed that coolant got into the heater core only when the valve was open. Could the source of this condensation be somewhere else than the heater core?
I sure would appreciate your thoughts on this. Thanks.
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On 05/06/2012 12:31 AM, cameo wrote:

even with the water valve "closed", the matrix is still [and always] full. indeed, many valves have a small channel to ensure there's always a little circulation and to allow air bleeding.
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On 5/6/2012 8:09 AM, jim beam wrote:

Thanks. So then the fate of my budget is sealed. :-(
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Not necessarily...This happened to me on a Series IIA LandRover...One day, out of the blue, I got a blast of "steam" inside the cab and a sticky, slick film on my windshield...About three days prior, I had replaced the input hose to the heater (split but not leaking)...When I installed the new hose, I did not get a good seal at the heater core. As you have been working with your heater, I would check for leaking at the top heater hose which would let coolant leak into the heater core enclosure...May or may not be but would be worth a look, IMHO...DaveD

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On 05/07/2012 01:35 AM, Dave Dodson wrote:

the hose connections on the honda are outside the cabin, not inside. the heater core pipes poke through the firewall.
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On 5/7/2012 5:54 AM, jim beam wrote:

That's right, but this morning I also checked the space under dash in front of the center console and it definitely felt moist from a slick fluid. Just like what was condensing inside the windshield.
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On 05/07/2012 11:29 PM, Dave Dodson wrote:

i'm so sorry. when you were bleating about replacing a hose that stopped a leak inside the cabin, i ass-umed that you didn't have a vehicle that drained through the firewall or have a dysfunctional blower design that would convey outside fluids inside. my mistake.
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LandRover...One
The
air
over
blower

One statement you made is very spot on... That is "I'm so sorry"...Correct! You are very sorry...

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On 05/08/2012 11:46 PM, Dave Dodson wrote:

oh dear. but i guess that if landrover weenies knew about the <sarc> thing, they'd have a hard time showing themselves in public because they'd understand what other people were really saying about them.
have a nice day!
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On 05/06/2012 04:16 PM, cameo wrote:

talking of being sealed, could you try some of that water glass sealant? the price per year of projected remaining life is a consideration.
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On 5/7/2012 6:56 AM, jim beam wrote:

Water glass sealant? You mean something that you pour into the coolant? I have not heard of that particular one yet but I've been always ambivalent with such temporary fixes unless out somewhere on the road and I need to get home. I feel some of that stuff can do more damage on the long run than it's worth to use close at home. But you may know some newer stuff for which my old notions might be out of date. Is this water glass one of them?
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On 05/07/2012 02:47 PM, cameo wrote:

so i'm told. to be honest, i've not had occasion to use it myself, and i'm a "repair it properly" person anyway, but others swear by it. and it does work. don't pout it into the coolant though - drain and flush with water first.
commercially marketed for auto use, there's a brand called "blue devil" or something like that. but it'll cost $60. if you buy "sodium silicate solution", it'll cost you just over 1/10th of that.
anyway, check it out. it might work. if not, then you're out a few more bucks, but not as much as a new core will set you back.
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On 5/7/2012 7:14 PM, jim beam wrote:

Well, I've been googling this water glass subject a bit and its use for leak sealing does seem to have quite a following, even for head gasket leaks. On the other hand there is also a lot of caution around what damage might be caused by its use, like in water pumps. So I am not quite sold on it. For starters, I am not keen on the idea of first flushing the system out with clean water bacause it's not that easy to get rid off all the coolant from the system without some special equipment designed just for that purpose. For instance, looking at the Service Manual I've got, I noticed in the specs that the total cooling system capacity, incl. heater and reservoir, is 7.3 US qts. Then, in the Refill and Bleeding section it specifies Engine Coolant Refill Capacity (incl. reservoir): 5.6 US qt. So where is the 1.7 qt difference? I figure that much cannot be drained out, right? So flushing that out also is not something an average joe can easily do in his garage.
But I found one post that contained a pretty cleaver idea that seemed to me also the safest in using that water glass solution to fix a heater core leak. He disconnected the heater core from the rest of the cooling system and used one of those hand drill operated small pumps between the two hose connections of the core to circulate water within the heater core itself. The circulating water already had that water glass added to it. The poster also wrote that he used a heat gun to heat the core in the process to keep the water hot inside for the water glass do its bonding. I just don't know how he could have heated the core with a heat gun without taking out the core in the first place. But that would then defeat the purpose of the quick fix, right? Go figure ... But perhaps just using preheated water would also do the job, who knows? Anyway, after a few minutes of doing that closed loop circulation, the guy drained the core, reconnected it to the system and refilled it with antifreeze. That stopped his leak for good, according to him.
I haven't decided on what I'm going to do, but I kinda' like the above idea because it avoids the potential problems water glass could cause elsewhere in the system.
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On 05/07/2012 09:46 PM, cameo wrote:

it's a good idea if you can get at the core that way. but on the honda, to clear enough stuff out of the way to get the heat to it, you may as well take it out in the first place.
as for replacing the water pump, i think that might be a risk, but frankly, it's a lot cheaper and easier to replace that than the core.

if i had a drill operated pump, some old copper pipe [where i could apply the heat], and the inclination, i'd isolate the heater core and give this method a shot.
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On 5/8/2012 6:30 AM, jim beam wrote:

That was my thought, too. I just don't understand why the can't design cars with easily accessible heater cores. I don't think it's a rocket science.

Coming up with a repair kit for exactly this purpose could probably sell pretty well. A small in-line boyler with a heater element that could be connected to the heater core coolant line and the drill operated pump. Mechanics might probably want to buy it. I was also thinking of a temporary bypass of the heater core that could come handy in an emergency. In my case I could now probably get by without a heater till fall. That would give me enough time to come up with the best permananet fix for my situation. Too bad that water valve is not designed to force a complete coolant bypass from the heater core.
As it is now, I think I'll just bite the bullet and have the core replaced with a new OEM core from Majestic Honda. That costs less than half what the local dealers charge and then I'd also have to pay almost 10% sales tax on top of that. I'll sooth my budget-pain by telling myself that my spending will at least provide a badly needed economic stimulus. ;-) There, I already feel better.
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On 05/08/2012 11:12 PM, cameo wrote:

yes and no. with quality initial components and scheduled antifreeze changes, they're usually exceptionally reliable and thus, the reasoning goes, it's not necessary to change them. however, if ever there is a need to change, they're the very devil and i agree, it seems retarded to not make them in some way accessible without total dismemberment of the dash. afterall, the a/c is designed that way - so should be the heater.

i was going to suggest that, but frankly, it's a kludge and it doesn't fix anything. it's really just a "get you home" emergency measure.

it's for a reason. they were like that in the old days, but after months and months of zero circulation, cores would clog up, sediment, and even gel completely. a little circulation fixes all that.

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On 5/9/2012 6:44 AM, jim beam wrote:

OK, I think the YES here wins out over the NO. ;-)

Oh, I didn't think of that, but makes sense. In any case, my new mechanic suggested to bring my own heater core because he could not get an OEM core for anything close to the price I could get it online. He doesn't seem to care about making extra money on part markup. I trust this guy because I know him socially and his customers swear by him. He is also a certified ASE technician. So I already placed the order and I hope it gets delivered before the week is over.
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I almost forgot to mention the issue of grounding the heater core to avoid electrolysis. I've heard both pro and contra arguments on that. Frankly, I don't even think Honda heater cores have a place reserved for attaching grounding wire and I don't see it mentioned in the Service Manual. What do you guys know about this?
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I am aware of several Ford sevice bulletins on this subject (seems to be a common complaint against some Fords, although not a problem I've had recently). They are not directly applicable to a Honda, but they may be of general interest:
<http://www.stangpit.com/wp-content/images/docs/s197-tsb/06-21-19.pdf <http://autorepair.about.com/library/a/1i/bl486i.htm <http://macsworldwide.wordpress.com/2011/10/24/repeat-heater-core-failures-and-electrolysis/ <http://www.4s.com/Upload/Four%20Seasons/documents/Tech%20Tips/English/4S%20350%20ELECTROLYSIS.PDF http://community.cartalk.com/discussion/745609/electrolysis
I thought I could remember an older Ford TSB that mentioned grounduing the heater core to combat repeat failures, but the newer TSB is pretty clear in stating this is not recommended.
Ed
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On 5/10/2012 5:12 AM, C. E. White wrote:

<http://macsworldwide.wordpress.com/2011/10/24/repeat-heater-core-failures-and-electrolysis/
<http://www.4s.com/Upload/Four%20Seasons/documents/Tech%20Tips/English/4S%20350%20ELECTROLYSIS.PDF
I've bounced this off one of the mechanics I know socially (too busy to be my own mechanic!) and this is what he wrote when I asked for his comments on the electrolysis issue and copper vs. aluminum cores:
"The only comment is that is all bullshit, sometimes theory is different than reality, have done hundreds of heater cores,not one has gone bad. This is after the customer had replaced numerous cores. Interesting that before they went to aluminum for cost and weight savings,they used brass and very rarely went bad, when they did, it was 30 years down the road!"
If there is that much disagreement among technicians, how is the average car owner to know the right way?
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