Evaporative coolers, also known as swamp coolers, are summertime mainstays in many homes. These units circulate cool air throughout rooms and help keep spaces comfortable on warm days. As a result, they're a great way to beat the heat in dry, humid climates. This guide will explain how to use and maintain an evaporative cooler.
How to Use an Evaporative Cooler
To begin using a new evaporative cooler, follow these instructions and those provided in the owner’s manual.
Install the motor, cord connector and electrical components. The blower motor is the part of the cooler that pulls in air and directs it over moist pads. A cord connector allows you to plug the swamp cooler into an electrical outlet.
Once you have the evaporative cooler assembled, connect it to the water supply line if needed. Then, lightly oil the cooler motor and use a wrench or a screwdriver to tighten all the connections.
Place the cooler near an open window and insert cooling pads. Double-check that the fan belt isn't loose or sagging and has adequate tension. The fan belt is the rubber band that connects parts of the swamp cooler and allows them to move. Fill the water reservoir to the fill line, and connect the power cord to a nearby outlet. Finally, start the cooler.
How and When to Use an Evaporative Cooler
Since evaporative coolers work best in hotter weather, wait to begin using one until temperatures exceed 80 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
Once you turn on the swamp cooler, adjust the fan, pump and oscillating settings (if applicable) as needed. Water from the reservoir will dampen the cooling pad as the unit draws fresh air through the window. Doing this produces a cool breeze that fills the room with moisture.
Spring and Summer Maintenance
If you use a swamp cooler often during the hotter months, it's important to clean it before you start it and regularly after that. Start by wiping down the exterior with a damp cloth. Don’t clean the unit with surface cleaners, chemicals or solvents. Warm water is all you need. Repeat exterior cleaning every few weeks.
Each week, clean the water tank by wiping it out with a damp cloth. Refill the tank to the fill line before putting it back. Treat the tank with zinc anode tablets as needed to control rust and corrosion. These tablets act like metal and give reactive particles something to interact with so they don't react with the reservoir cabinet.
Mid-season, change the cooling pads by following the manufacturer's instructions. Use a damp cloth to wipe any dirt or buildup off the pad frame.
Tip: Cooling pads may need to be changed more often in areas with hard water or poor water quality.
Fall and Winter Maintenance
Prepare your cooler for long-term storage when the weather cools. Turn it off, unplug it and disconnect the motor and pump. Then, fully drain the water supply.
Wipe off the exterior, water reservoir and filters with a damp cloth and let everything air dry. Wrap the cord and cover the unit with an evaporative cooler cover. Store the cooler in a covered space that is cool and dry.
Fix a Swamp Cooler Blowing Hot Air
If your swamp cooler is blowing hot air, check that to see if the water tank is full. If it is, try moving the cooler closer to the window. The unit needs fresh air to circulate through the cooling pad, and if it begins to recirculate used air from the room, it won't cool properly.
If the problem persists, replace the cooling pads, especially if you haven’t changed them in a while. If the pads are new, try moistening them first and then placing them in the cooler.
Should the swamp cooler continue to blow hot air, remove the water pump and clean it with a damp cloth. As a last resort, replace the water pump with a new one. Follow the manufacturer's instructions to do the job correctly.
Fix Swamp Cooler Leaks
If your evaporative cooler is leaking, turn off the unit and unplug it. Then, remove the cooling pads. Drain the water and clean all components with a damp cloth. Re-assemble the cooler and turn the unit back on.
If it’s still leaking, it may be an issue with the water pump or water supply line. In this case, contact a repair professional for assistance.
Fix a Swamp Cooler That Isn’t Blowing Air
If your swamp cooler isn't blowing hard enough or is hardly blowing at all, move it closer to the window.
If the problem continues, the belt may be to blame. Check that it's still tight and look for any damage. Replace it if you see wear.
When blowing problems continue, the swamp cooler pump may not work properly. Turn off the unit, remove the pump and clean it with a damp cloth. Replace the pump if this doesn't fix the problem.
Fix a Smelly Swamp Cooler
If your swamp cooler smells musty or has a damp, stale odor, it's time to replace the cooling pads. Over time, the pad material can develop mold and mildew and a fishy or swampy smell may occur.
Thoroughly draining and cleaning the water reservoir before every use can reduce the risk of odor.
Fix a Swamp Cooler That Won’t Turn On
If your evaporative cooler doesn't turn on, a blown fuse or tripped breaker may be to blame. Check your breaker or fuse box and reset or replace fuses as needed.
If everything is fine, try plugging something else into the outlet. If the other item works, the cooler may have an electrical problem. In this case, consult a repair professional for assistance.
Fix a Swamp Cooler That Only Hums
If your evaporative cooler hums but won't start up fully, the motor may be the problem. Replace it following the manufacturer's instructions. If the problem continues, consult a repair professional because there could be a problem with the electrical components.
Cleaning and maintaining your evaporative cooler helps it work properly season after season. When problems do happen, you can troubleshoot and fix many issues yourself. The Home Depot has everything you need to care for and repair your evaporative cooler, from replacement pads to parts.
Use The Home Depot Mobile App to locate products and check inventory. We'll take you to the exact aisle and bay.