There will always come a time when your swamp (or evaporative) cooler breaks down. However, prepping your swamp cooler for winter right now, even though it's cold outside, can help your unit work longer, and more efficiently. One of the most common problems we see as a home warranty company is a lack of maintenance that causes major breakdowns. Winterizing your swamp cooler can save you thousands of dollars in repairs and replacements (that a home warranty might not cover).
Click here if you want to learn how a swamp cooler works!
Why Winterize your Swamp Cooler?
If you think back to 7th grade science class, you probably remember what happens when you leave water standing for a long period of time: mold and mildew can grow quickly. Water and metal together can also result in rust and corrosion. (As a home warranty company, we see a lot of corrosion causing evaporative cooler failures.) Add freezing temperatures, (water expands when it freezes) and you can get flooding from broken pipes. Three main problems occur when you don’t winterize your evaporative cooler:
- Mold and Mildew Growth
- Rust and Corrosion
- Broken Water Pipes and Leaks
Winterizing your swamp cooler is imperative if you want to make sure your home warranty covers any repairs and replacements for your unit. You must maintain your systems and appliances as per the manufacturer’s recommendations for your home warranty to provide coverage.
How to Winterize your Evaporative Cooler
Winterizing your swamp cooler doesn’t have to take a long time. In fact, it can take as little as an hour to do. As a home warranty company, we always recommend following the user’s manual for your personal unit. However, here are the basic steps:
1. Turn Power Off
First, turn the power supply off on your unit. You don’t want the swamp cooler to power on while you’re draining and cleaning it out. This also prevents the evaporative cooler from powering on accidentally in the winter months. Just remember to turn the power back on when you start the cooler up in the spring!
2. Turn Water Supply Valve Off
In order to keep the pads inside of the unit wet, the cooler needs a water supply valve to bring water into the unit. This water supply should be turned off until the spring. After turning the water supply valve off, the hose connecting the valve and air conditioner should also be dried out. You can get rid of residual water resting inside of the tube by blowing into one end. Store the hose in a safe, dry place. If you don’t dry out the hose, the water inside could freeze and burst!
3. Drain the Swamp Cooler
Get rid of the standing water inside of the cooler. You can either do this by opening up the drain in the bottom of the swamp cooler with a pair of pliers or a wrench, or by bailing out the water using a small container. After you’ve gotten most of the water out, soak up the rest using sponges or rags. This will prevent rust or corrosion – something not covered in home warranties.
4. Clean the Evaporative Cooler
You can use a shop-vac to get rid of the residual minerals inside of the unit, or clean them out with a sponge and white vinegar. If you have disposable pads and they need to be replaced, you can either replace them now, or wait until spring. It’s your preference. If you have reusable high-efficiency pads, you should dry them out and brush them off before covering the unit up for the winter.
You can also soak the pump and float in vinegar overnight if you want to clean them from mineral deposit build-up.
5. Cover the Unit
After everything inside of the cooler is clean and dry, cover it with a swamp cooler cover. You should measure your unit before purchasing one, as they need to be tightly fit. Make sure to tie the ends so the cover doesn't fly off in a winter storm.
6. Cover vent coming into the home
Make sure you aren’t losing heat out of your ductwork by closing the vent, and placing a damper between the vent and the ductwork.
Don't have a swamp cooler? You can learn how to winterize your forced-air HVAC unit here.
If you have a home warranty and maintain your swamp cooler, you should see a good 15 to 20 years out of it. After your swamp cooler has reached its lifespan, and fails from normal wear and tear, you can count on your home warranty to repair or replace the unit for a small service call fee.