What Is a Swamp Cooler

With simple maintenance, swamp coolers are the most efficient way to cool your home in the desert. Since swamp coolers work by the evaporation of water, the dry air around the cooler makes it work efficiently.

Evaporative cooling uses the evaporation of water to cool the air. For every gallon of water that is evaporated, about 950 BTUs go with that evaporation. How this works is when water is evaporated, the water left behind is cooler than it was initially. So the water left in the pan gets colder and colder as more of it evaporates and that water is pushed up through a tube to the pad where its blown out. This is a cyclical process that removes the heat from the air taken in by the cooler.

Common Problems With Swamp Coolers

Failing Water Pump

The water pump failing is the most common problem with swamp coolers. This can happen if your pump has been overworking or is just old. Luckily, replacing your water pump is easy and can be done by anyone with general knowledge of tools.

How To Test and Replace Your Water Pump

If you notice that your cooler is not blowing cold air, check the water pump first. When a swamp cooler is in a high cool setting, the water pump will usually be working near full capacity.

Swamp cooler water pumps are very easy to replace. To troubleshoot, you can take a new motor and test it in place if your old one before you disconnect it completely.

  1. Put your cooler onto its high setting and check your water.
  2. If the water is not moving or flowing over the pads, pull your motor out of the water to see if it’s running.
  3. If it’s not running, turn your cooler off and wait for a couple minutes.
  4. Uninstall old water hose and plug in the new water hose and pump
    1. Most hoses don’t even have a clamp a clasp in place meaning you can simply pop the hose off.
    2. Once off, you can put the new hose system place and then plug the pump into the electrical outlet on the inside of the cooler where the old one was plugged in.
  5. Test new motor and hose to ensure water is pumping to the pads

To troubleshoot this, you can take a new motor and test it in place if your old one before you disconnect it completely.

Clogged Water Hose

Your water hose brings water up from the pan to the cooling pads. This process keeps the pads wet and able to evaporate water into the cool air. Sometimes, leaves or trash can get into your pan and clog this hose restricting the flow of water.

Dry Cooler Pads

Pads can dry easily if you don’t really know how your cooler works. If you turn your fan on at the same time you turn on your pump (which is a common mistake), your pads will dry out if your pump is not working at its full capacity. By turning on your pump before you turn on the fan, you can prime the cooler for highest performance once you go into the high cool mode.

Another way to prevent pads from drying out is to keep your cooler pump running. Most swamp coolers will have this setting and it can keep your pads moist even when you’re not using it.

Optimizing Your Swamp Cooler

Your evaporative cooler will work better if it is lower to the ground, and on the east side of your home.

Coolers are mostly used in the later hours of the afternoon, which means your cooler will be in the shade by the time of day you need it. By keeping your cooler in the shade, it will take less time and power to begin blowing cold air out of it.

Swamp coolers are very easy to work on and can be a great option for people trying to save money long term. If you are a handy person, working on your own swamp cooler is easy once you understand how your cooler works.

In Tucson, most swamp coolers are actually located on top of the house.

If optimized correctly, swamp coolers can save you approximately 75% the cost of air conditioning.

On really hot days, you can use a hose to squirt water onto the pads of your cooler and this will help it start going. When it’s hot, it can be hard for your swamp cooler to stay wet while keeping the water cold. The more you can cool the area around the cooler as its starting up, the faster cool air will enter your home.

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