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Hey, you're in the home improvement zone--YOUR HANDYMAN ZONE!

Cooling and Ventilation Systems Category:

Evaporative / Swamp Coolers


Cooler has rust.

Tools / Materials (See Below for Applicability):

  • Wire brush

  • Chemical solution to dissolve alkali / corrosion (such as CalClean HD-Rtu® by NU-Calgon)

  • Rust-resistant paint (in gallon can or spray bottle) (such as Rustoleum)

  • Paint brush (for rust-resistant paint)

  • Cooler coating and sealer (such as Submarine Cooler Coating and Sealer by Henry)

  • Paint brush (for cooler coating and sealer)

  • Power drill

  • Anode (a metal rod made especially of zinc for rust control purposes)



Evaporative / swamp coolers, over time, will likely develop rust, which should be addressed as soon as it is spotted. The following are steps that you should take in order to get rid of the rust and try to prevent it from reoccurring:

Caution: When dealing with any device that requires electrical power, make sure you take precautions before you work on it, including disconnecting the power.

  1. With a wire brush, thoroughly clean the rust-covered area--the pad frames, including the louvers thereof--so as to make it free of rust, and corrosion and any alkali build-up.  Further, if you choose to, you can apply a chemical solution that is friendly to metal surfaces, such as CalClean HD-Rtu according to its manufacturer instructions, to rapidly dissolve alkali and other deposits on contact.  Check with your local home improvement store, appliance store or online for available products of this nature.

  2. Then, spray or brush on rust-resistant paint, such as Rustoleum, on parts of the pad frames that are already suffering from rust or otherwise seem already susceptible to rust formation.

  3. Upon cleaning the pad frames, move to cleaning the interior parts of the cooler, including the pan, and then spray or brush on rust-resistant paint on these parts, too.

  4. Then, upon cleaning the interior of the cooler, especially the pan thereof, apply a sealer coating that is specifically designed for coolers, such as Submarine Cooler Coating and Sealer, thereto.  Such coating product usually comes in gallons, quarts and spray cans, but your best buy is in the form of gallons, as you'll need to make sure that the cooler receives an adequate coating.

  5. After allowing the above coating to dry per the manufacturer's instructions, as a preventive measure, install an anode, which is a metal rod purposely placed in the cooler to essentially attract rust development on it as opposed to the cooler itself:

(i) Carefully just cut the top part of the plastic package in which the anode comes because the package will be used later on as part of the anode installation;

(ii) With the anode out of the package, ground the wire stemming from the anode to the blower housing by either loosening an existing screw found on this housing so as to slip the wire underneath this screw that subsequently is re-tightened against the housing as before (though with the wedged wire now in between the screw and the housing metal), or carefully and methodically drilling another hole to which a corresponding screw will be screwed, together with the wire wedged in between such a screw and the housing metal; and

(iii) With the part of the anode not attached to the wire, place that end back into the anode package, and place the anode package on the bottom of the pan that is now filled with water.


That's what you do to get rid of the rust and attempt to prevent it from coming back.


Ed the Handyman


Your Handyman Zone Team


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