Fixin the little things is a page where I can share family and handyman information. Basically, this blog is all about me. Shameless self-promotion: of my family photos, of my services, of my writing, of my future, of my amazing ability to come up with clever ideas on photos of my life experiences . . . And also, a blatant visual aide when it comes to colors, spelling, formating, editing and computer stuff.

Fixin' The Little Things

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Getting your swamp cooler ready for the summer heat can be easy!

Knowing the basics of how a swamp cooler works will help you as you get your cooler ready for the season. Look for problems that may prevent it from working for you. 

Typical swamp cooler

"If you've ever tested the wind by holding a wet finger in the air, you've used evaporative cooling. The same principle cools you off after a swim, and it also powers one of the oldest and simplest forms of air conditioning. Known in the U.S. as swamp coolers, modern evaporative coolers can trace their lineage to ancient Egypt. They're cheap, efficient and good for the environment, but they come with some limitations, so don't push your standard air conditioner out the window just yet."

Step-by-Step Swamp Cooler Prep. Here is what you need to do: 
  1. Remove covers and clean your swamp cooler. 
  2. Unplug the fan and water pump while cleaning and make sure anyone who is home aware that you are cleaning the unit so it won't accidentally be turned on. 
  3. For those of you who covered the unit for the winter, this step may simply require wiping down the unit with mild soapy water. If your swamp cooler spent the autumn and winter uncovered, you may have more involved cleaning to remove dead leaves, dust or other debris from vents and internal chambers. Brush as much of the debris into a pile and remove it. A leaf blower or vacuum can be used to remove the rest of the dust.
  4. Replace the cooling pads. If you use the Wood type pads, one season is usually all you can get and the pads need replacing. The Mfg'r suggests changing this type more often during the season. If you use the Blue synthetic pads, we can usually get 2 seasons from them in Utah but a visual will tell you, if water and air will not flow through it, then change it.The Mfg'r suggest using this type of pad for only 1 season.
  5. Before re-installing the side panels, check for damage and excessive rust and remove. Apply paint to slow down the rusting of the side panels. There is also a commercial sealer for the bottom of the cooler to slow down the rusting and seal from water leaks.
  6. Look for debris and clogged slots in the top of the metal side panels where the water drips onto the pads. Clean as required to get the best performance from your cooler. In some areas like Utah where there area lot of minerals, the slots may need cleaning again a month or so before the end of the season to ensure they are clear.
  7. Remove the water pump and clean any hard water deposits to allow water to flow freely to the pump. Spin the pump shaft if possible to make sure it turns freely. If the pump is rusty or won't spin it may have to be replaced.
  8. Continue to clean the water tank. Wipe down the internal water tank with mild soapy water and rinse clean. Once your swamp cooler is completely free of debris and dirt, you are nearly ready to fill the water tank to test the unit. Make sure that all components correctly fit and are securely fastened in place before filling the tank. 
  9. Testing … To save yourself steps and climbing the ladder, unplug the fan and water pump plugs inside the cooler. Then the next time you are on the ground, turn the cooler to Low Cool. To test your swamp cooler, fill the water tank and reconnect the power supply to test the fan and the water pump. (Continued)
  10. Put all but the one side panel in place so when you plug in the water pump, watch to make sure that the water pump is adequately wetting pads and that the blower works. Put the last side panel in place.
  11. Then go down and run the cooler from the control switch. You should feel a temperature difference below indoor vents within a few minutes. If you notice something does not sound, look or smell quite right, no worries! If it is early, there’s plenty of time to give me a call to get swamp cooler maintenance done before it gets really hot. I may be able to help you troubleshoot some problems over the phone, or come out and help.  
  12. Note: for best cooling results, pre-soak the pads before turning on your swamp cooler at least 15 minutes. This helps make it cool faster and will hold down any dust that has collected in the pads. 

Typical water connection

Water Supply Line to the cooler

Adjust the Fan belt

Look for oil points for the bearings holding the fan in place.Careful not to apply too much oil

View of fan motor, should be free of dust and debris

Typical water pump, Drain/overflow plug and supply line float. Bed the arm of the supply line float so that the water does not over flow the drain plug when the tank is full. Filled tank should be 1/2 to 1 inch below the top of the overflow plug.

View of slots in the metal side panels. Clean the slots and this tray to make sure water flows freely onto the pads. This cleaning may be necessary at least at the beginning and a few weeks before the hottest part of the season to allow the cooler to work better.

Typical Wood pad. This type of pad absorbs water better than the synthetic for better cooling but may need to be changed more frequently due to smell.
The side panels on this cooler are severely rusted. It is believed that the cooler pads were not changed frequently so the water ran down the outside of the metal panel and the shaded side of the cooler rusted.

This cooler also had dirty pads that had not been changed for several years and suspect the moisture increased the rusting of the parts. This water Float hanger is nearly rusted thru.

Comparison of a new synthetic pad and a pad that was not changed for several years beyond. The used pad was like concrete.

This is a pad that had not been changed for seasons too long and had hard water flakes on it. The pad had to be chiseled and pried to remove it.This pad typically should be changed after 2 seasons.

Photo of the special cooler coating to protect and prevent leaks. Comes in spray or brush on.

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