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home improvement zone--YOUR HANDYMAN ZONE!
and Ventilation Systems Category:
/ Swamp Coolers
How to seasonally maintain your cooler during the
Spring, Summer and Winter.
Tools / Materials (See Below for
Screwdriver (or other fastening device as determined by the
manufacturer's use of fasteners)
Cooler pad replacements
Cooler belt replacement
Float valve replacement
Chemical solution to dissolve
alkali / corrosion (such as CalClean HD-Rtu® by NU-Calgon)
paint (in gallon can or spray bottle) (such as Rustoleum)
Paint brush (for
Cooler coating and sealer (such as Submarine Cooler Coating
and Sealer by Henry)
Paint brush (for cooler coating and sealer)
SAE 20W or SAE 30W
non-detergent oil (with spout for easy pouring)
Cooler spider snake
Winter covering (to cover cooler during the winter)
Evaporative / swamp coolers have their advantages
to air conditioners in that coolers not only use less energy, but
the maintenance of coolers is less expensive and noticeably less
complex than that of air conditioners. Having said this, while
the maintenance of coolers is less complex, it is required
year-round, preferably with monthly check-ups. However, for those of
you who cannot conduct monthly maintenance check-ups of your
coolers, seasonal maintenance should be done during the Spring time
(Guide 1), Summer time (Guide 2) and Winter time (Guide 3).
Perform the following seasonal guides as follows:
For all seasonal
guides, before actually physically working on your cooler, you
should take the time to assess the condition of your cooler in order
to make a complete list of what you need purchased so that you can
efficiently spend your time productively accomplishing each task of
the guide as opposed to making multiple trips to the home
improvement store (or visits to the online store, too). In
this vein, as part of this wise assessment, be sure that all
mechanical parts of your cooler are in good working order, including
the motor, pump, belt, float valve, etc. For any part that needs to
be replaced, making a note of its specification and size, or,
alternatively, bring the bad part into the store (especially if the part's manufacturer's specifications
are unreadable or otherwise unknown) to be sure to get an exact or
compatible replacement. Because the cooler pads must be changed at
least every year, make sure you write down and keep handy the size
of your cooler pads.
Caution: When dealing with any device that
requires electrical power, make sure you take precautions before
you work on it, including disconnecting the power when power is not
necessary for your maintenance work.
Guide 1: Spring Time
Take off any
winter covering you may have placed over your cooler to prevent
cold air from entering your ducting system during the Winter
Upon having disconnected the power to your
cooler (at fuse box or circuit breaker), remove all pad frames
from the cooler and safely rest them where there will be no foot
traffic, and, if applicable, pull out the damper thereof.
Carefully remove and discard the old cooler
pads from the cooler pad frames.
Then, with a wire brush, thoroughly clean the
pad frames, including the louvers thereof, so as to make the
frames free of corrosion and any alkali that built up during the
past cooler season. 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.
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.
Upon cleaning the pad frames, move to
cleaning the interior parts of the cooler, including the pan.
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.
After performing the task of applying the
sealer cooler coating, turn your attention to the belt of your
cooler. Examine your belt to determine if it is suffering
from "wear and tear," bearing any cracks/splits or otherwise
noticeably strained areas. If any such appears, you need
to replace your belt, and to get the right replacement, upon
taking it off the cooler, look underneath it to ascertain its
size number, usually starting with "4L." If it is
unreadable or otherwise unknown, take the existing belt to a
home improvement store to be sure to get an exact or compatible
Next, take a look at the blower wheel to make
sure that it rotates properly, does not wobble and is otherwise
without any problems. Any wobbling will result in a noisy
operation. If you find that your wheel
experiences any of this, the blower bearings most likely need
Then, take a look at the motor pulley to make
sure that it also rotates properly. If the shaft of the
pulley will not move or is otherwise hard to turn, it should be
replaced. To eliminate an insufficient operation, ensure
that the main screw of the pulley is tightly fastened to the
shaft and that the other screw holding the part of the shaft
that is movable is also tightly fastened. It also goes
without saying that a pulley that is bent or otherwise damaged
should be replaced in an effort to avoid a noisy operation.
At the same time, make sure that the pulley and motor are in
alignment, and if not, move the motor pulley until alignment is
achieved. Alignment is pivotal in ensuring that the
mechanical system of your cooler (such as the belt and pulley)
does not wear out prematurely.
Next, lubricate the motor with four or three
drops of appropriate oil, such as SAE 20W or SAE 30W
non-detergent oil into the oil caps/holes of the motor.
the bearings with two or three drops of appropriate oil, such as
SAE 20W or SAE 30W non detergent oil, if the bearings are
actually "oilable," encompassing oil cups.
Then, take a look
at the blower wheel, making sure that the wheel wheel is
positioned in the center of the blower housing with the screws
thereto tightly fastened.
Check the pump of
the cooler, and definitely replace it if you find that the shaft
thereof is bent or otherwise corroded. Otherwise, if you
find that the pump is relatively okay, make sure you clear out
any debris found therein by gaining access to and removing the
inlet cap found on the bottom of the pump.
Then, make sure
that the overflow pipe is clean inside and that it seals well
The rest of the steps of
Guide 1 should be done the following day.
that your pad frames are dry, place your new cooler pads in them
and then set the cooler pad frames to the side again.
Though, be sure when putting in the new cooler pads that they
are just the right size so as to fully cover each pad frame in
order to prevent warm air from making their way into the cooler
without first going through the new wet pads so as to be cooled
from the wetness thereof. Also, another consideration of
quality pads are their thickness consistency: You want pads that
are relatively thick all around, or otherwise such pads will not
cool properly (those that are thin will become hot areas in that
there is not enough wet padding to cool the air coming in
whereas there is enough wet padding to cool the air on the other
side where the pad is thick); though, be careful not to get
cooler pads that are too thick, since too-thick pads can
potentially restrict air flow. (If you have not already
done so and it is applicable, store your cooler damper in a
nice, dry area.)
the waterline (i.e., the thin copper tube/pipe) to the cooler
and turn on the water supply. During this time, assess the
condition of the waterline to determine, and if necessary
repair, any leaks to the waterline tubing itself or its fittings
that may have occurred during freezing periods of the Winter
Upon waiting for
a curing period of at least 12 hours after having applied a
cooler coating and sealer, such as Submarine Cooler Coating and
Sealer, fill the pan of the cooler with water.
Check to make
sure that the float valve is working properly, adjusting the
float arm (loosening the float screw to do so) as may be
necessary when the water pan becomes full of water in order to
ensure that the float valve will properly shut off. If
your adjustment has no effect on a troubled float valve, replace
it, and preferably with one that is partly made of heavy duty
brass for long-life usage, giving more bang for your buck.
Turn on the pump
only at this point to see that it is operating and properly
pumping, and if it is pumping poorly or otherwise not working,
have it replaced. In the event the pump does not turn on,
make sure there are no loose connections and that otherwise the
pump is actually receiving electrical power; if possible, use a
voltage meter to verify that there is power running from the
electrical box from which the pump should be receiving power; if
need be, replace any burned out electrical box fuse. If the
pump is working okay, but the pumping of the water is not being
done equally from the side of each spider spout (i.e.,
distributor line), shut off the pump and clean out the spider
(each distributor line and its head) with a cooler spider snake.
Make sure that
the water of your cooler pan rises to a level that allows just a
half an inch of the top of the overflow pipe to be exposed.
This adjustment of the water level is done by loosening the
screw of the float valve so as to adjust the angle of the float
to permit the desired amount of water to accumulate until you
meet the aforementioned half-inch point of the overflow pipe, at
which point you need to tighten the screw of the float to
sustain such a position. Preferably, this adjustment
should be done while the cooler is operating and the cooler pads
are wet in the pad frames (one pad open, of course, to give you
room to adjust the float, etc.). (Then, it is encouraged that
you turn off the pump until all other steps are completed, at
which time everything will be powered up.)
Then turn on the
power to the motor to make sure it properly operates the blower
fan. In the event the motor does not turn on, make sure
there are no loose connections and that otherwise the motor is
actually receiving electrical power; if possible, use a voltage
meter to verify that there is power running from the electrical
box from which the motor should be receiving power; if need be
replace any burned out electrical box fuse. If the motor
does not work at all, or if only one of the two speeds of the
motor works, the motor must be replaced. Premium motors
specifically manufactured for coolers are made by manufacturers
such as A.O. Smith and Dial Manufacturing.
tension of the belt by pushing lightly on it halfway between the
pulley and motor, and quickly release it to see if the belt will
have a proper reactive "bounce-back" tension of about
three-fourths of an inch to one full inch. If adjustment
is necessary to reach such a tension deflection, go ahead and
loosen the bolts of the motor so as to give it enough slack in
order to move it forward or backward until the aforesaid tension
that is desired is actually met. Then tighten the bolts to
secure this newly adjusted position for the motor. Turn the
motor off momentarily.
Finally, you are
at the stage of "powering up" everything. At the box, be
sure to plug in the cord of the pump to have it turned on, and
have it operate for a good twelve minutes, and then plug in the
cord to turn on the motor. Put in and close up all the pad
frames (with the new cooler pads in place, of course) if you
haven't done so already. (Allowing the pump to run on
first before the motor will allow for the pump to have some lead
time in eliminating any dust build-up in order to allow as much
pure cool air to enter the ducting system when the motor is
powered on to operate the blower. The cooler should be working
Guide 2: Middle of the
Remove the pad
frames to gain access to the interior of the cooler.
Check all of the
mechanical parts, including the motor, pump, and belt, to make
sure that they are all in good working order; if not, replace
those that are not.
Check the cooler
pads to see that they are decently clean and otherwise
relatively free of an excessive accumulation of mineral
deposits. If they are very dirty and otherwise covered
with a lot of mineral deposits, replace the cooler pads with
If your cooler
features a "bleed-off valve," which functions to drain
recirculating water so as to avoid the excessive build-up of
mineral deposits, make sure this bleed-off valve is adjusted
properly so as to not drain out more water than required.
Next, make sure that
the water of the cooler pan is still at the level at which a
half an inch of the top of the overflow pipe is left exposed,
and if not, adjust the float arm as necessary in the method
described in step 20 of Guide 1. If you find that the
water has run continuously because the float valve has failed,
or that otherwise your adjustment now is not having the proper
effect, replace the float valve with another one.
Put the pad frames
back into place of the cooler.
Guide 3: Winter Time
Remove the pad
frames to gain access to the interior of the cooler.
To minimize the risk
of waterline ruptures due to the freezing temperatures inherent
of the Winter time, disconnect the waterline to the cooler and,
thus, turn off the water supply thereto.
Drain out any water
in the pan of the cooler.
Wipe clean the
interior of the cooler with a cloth/rag, including the pan
thereof, of any small remainder of water and debris (such as
Make sure the pan is
Put the pad frames
back into place of the cooler, including, as may be applicable,
Put up and secure
your winter covering over your cooler to prevent cold air from
entering your ducting system during the Winter season.
Handyman Zone Team
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