HVAC DESIGN BASICS
Swamp Cooler Maintenance Tips

Okay, so you have decided upon a Swamp Cooler instead of that Central Air Conditioner! In order to keep it running properly, there are some general maintenance items which you will need to attend to.

Beginning Of The Season.

  • Remove the cover. Always a good idea to keep covered during the winter months.
  • Remove the pad panels and clean out all the debris in the bottom of the cooler.
  • Replace the cooler pads! Should be done every year. If you use the Aspenwood fiber pads, they are only about $4 each, and they smell good too.
  • Some folks coat the bottom of the cooler with a sealant every season! I personally think every third season is plenty.
  • Lubricate your blower bearings. The bearings should have a small reservoir cup on top of the bearing. Lift the cap and fill to the top. Lubricate your motor if it does not have sealed bearings.
  • Check your fan belt tension. The belt should not have more than 1" of movement before it gets tight. If the belt is worn, or if it visibly damaged, or it is visibly sagging, then it is time to replace it.
  • If you did replace the belt, retension it so it has no more than 1" of play. The adjusters are part of the swivel motor mount on the blower housing.
  • Install your pump, which you should have removed and stored away last winter.
  • Pull off the supply tubing where it connects to the top distribution spider tubes, point away, and plug in the pump to blow out any hard water deposits in the pump and tubing. Reconnect the supply tubing.
  • Turn on your water and fill the bottom of the swamp cooler up to 1" below the top of the overflow tube.
  • Check your float valve to ensure that it does fully shut off the water flow once the proper level has been reached.
  • Check water level again and readjust if necessary. Most float valves are adjusted by bending the float rod.
  • Check the top of the pad panels, the water trough, for hard water deposits and blocked water passages. Clean as needed.
  • Fire that baby up! Check to ensure that all of the water supply tubes are flowing water into the water troughs (top of the panels)
  • If all of the tubes are flowing well, install the pads and begin enjoying your swamp cooler.

Winterize Your Cooler.

  • It is a good practice now to clean out any debris which has built up in your cooler over the season. You will have quite a bit in the bottom of the reservoir.
  • Use Lime-Away or vinegar to dissolve any hard water deposits which have built up.
  • Turn off water at the source. Disconnect the water line while you are there. Allow water to drain back out of the line.
  • Pull out or unscrew the overflow tube to fully drain your cooler.
  • Disconnect the water line inside your cooler from the float assembly. Make sure you do not have any low spots in the water line, or in the spring you will be replacing a split water line.
  • Put on the cover. A cover helps with warm air escaping, and cool winter air creeping in. Also consider a duct pillow. This is a piece of insulation with a plastic cover like a pillow. The pillow is a great help with your winter heating bills, and fits right up inside your cooler ducting. Installing the duct pillow will require removing your ceiling grille though. Some cooler ceiling grilles have a slide in damper which cuts off heat rising up and out through your swamp cooler.

Important Notes: During the operating season, your swamp cooler pads are still full of water after you have turned the unit off for the evening, or whenever. This water will drain back into the bottom reservoir, perhaps overflowing the cooler. This is why the float adjustment is so critical. Keep your water level approximately 1" below the top lip of the reservoir and the overflow tube.

Float valves are famous for dripping after the water in your reservoir has reached peak. This leak will overflow your cooler, and then you have that pretty stain down your roof shingles, which will never go away (unless you replace your shingles). Check all adjustments regularly.


Return to Swamp Cooler Main Page

Compare Swamp Cooler to Central AC Before You Buy

Swamp Cooler Installation Recommendations for the Do It-Yourselfer

Swamp Cooler Tech: Wiring and Water Lines

Swamp Cooler Roof Installation

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