Friday, May 02, 2008

Common Evaporative Cooler Problems


If you live in the American Southwest or any other hot, arid region in the world, you’ve probably either seen or at least heard of a swamp cooler. Swamp coolers, also known as evaporative coolers, produce effective cooling by combining the natural process of water evaporation with a simple air-moving system. Outside air is pushed through water-soaked pads where it is cooled by evaporation and circulated throughout a room or home by a large fan. When this occurs, the ambient temperature can be lowered by as much as 20° F.

Because these appliances are simple and primarily cool the air via evaporation, they are extremely energy efficient and usually cost only pennies a day to run. In fact, studies have shown that when compared to traditional air conditioning systems, swamp coolers can use up to 75 percent less electricity.

However, when compared to air conditioners, operating a swamp cooler may require a bit more work (though minimal). This usually involves refilling the water reservoir and making sure the cooling pads are clean and in good working order. When proper maintenance steps aren’t followed, problems can arise, but these can be fixed by performing a few simple repairs. Here are some common swamp cooler issues consumers may encounter:

Water drips from the unit.
This is often due to improper end-of-season storage. Be sure to always clean and drain your swamp cooler, as well as remove the pads before storing your unit for an extended period of time.

The evaporative cooler doesn’t provide enough cooling.
Always remember that swamp coolers are only suitable for dry climates because they add moisture to the air. Using a swamp cooler in a humid environment will only further increase humidity levels and also cause corrosion to components and/or damage to furnishings. Furthermore, be sure that you are allowing sufficient airflow by opening doors and windows, as well as checking the cooling pads for dry spots or clogs.

There’s an odor coming from the unit.
Odors can usually be attributed to stagnant water or moldy pads. Regularly drain and clean your swamp cooler’s reservoir and replace the cooling pads regularly.

The unit doesn’t start.
Check the fuse and breaker. If the fuse is broken or if the breaker is tripped, it’s time to consult a professional.

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