Are You a Bad Evaporative Cooler Owner?
Did You Know?
Despite its benefits, an evaporative cooler is not right for every climate or every home.
In addition, there is mandatory upkeep on an evaporative cooler that if not done, can dramatically reduce its efficiency.
Being a bad owner or simply not understanding the uses of an evaporative cooler can be counterintuitive. There are common mistakes that many evaporative cooler owners make that decrease efficiency.
What some of these owners don't realize is that choosing the right type of cooler for your environment, size, maintenance, and the type of water are all important aspects to consider when using an evaporative cooler.
The Technology behind An Evaporative Cooler
Residents with an evaporative cooler, or swamp cooler as it's sometimes called, can find relief from the rising temperatures without the huge energy bill.
- An evaporative cooler uses simple technology to cool the air around it and lower the indoor temperature.
- As the name insinuates, an evaporative cooler uses evaporation to cool.
The technology is not new, it has been used for hundreds of years, but modern technology has perfected the use of evaporation with modern evaporative coolers.
In ancient times, evaporation was used to cool the air by using wet mats. Ancient civilizations found that hot air was cooled when it passed through something wet. This is because when water evaporates, it absorbs surrounding heat.
Modern evaporative coolers use the same principal behind the cooling method used in ancient civilizations, though there is more to an evaporative cooler now then just wet mats:
- Modern evaporative coolers use electricity to propel fresh air through a box surrounded by wet pads.
- Water is continuously pumped through the box and fresh air is continually brought in.
- When the warm air passes by the wet pads, the warm air is cooled by the evaporating water. The effect is a significant decrease in surrounding temperatures and a much cooler indoor temperature.
Evaporative coolers are unique from air conditioners because they require much less energy to use.
Also, unlike air conditioners which recycle the air from inside, an evaporative cooler constantly brings fresh air from the outside.
Because of this, an evaporative cooler requires a proper exhaust to function properly, it is best used with a door or window open to ensure air has a place to escape.
Where Can I Use an Evaporative Cooler?
The technology behind an evaporative cooler requires hot, dry air. The dry air is passed through the wet mats, which evaporates the water and cools the air.
What bad owners don't know:
- If humidity levels are too high, the cooler cannot work. A high humidity percentage causes too much moisture to pass through, so the air blowing out will likely be the same temperature as the air outside
- The evaporation process does not work properly unless dry air passes through the wet box environment inside of the cooler.
- If evaporation is not occurring, the evaporative cooler essentially turns into a large fan and will only blow warm air.
- Evaporative coolers are best suited for locations where temperatures rise above eighty degrees while the humidity levels stays below fifty percent.
- They are most effective when used in when the humidity percentage is below 30%.
Evaporative coolers do not work in humid climates, so for those that reside in climates that tend to have higher humidity levels it is best to opt for a standard air conditioning unit instead, as using an evaporative cooler will be inefficient.
In addition, areas where the humidity percentage is too high can damage the evaporative cooler bycontributing to corrosion and rust.
As with any appliance, an evaporative cooler requires maintenance to keep it running efficiently. The filters are one of the most important aspects of the cooler.
Evaporative coolers have two types of filters:
- An air filter to remove dust and pollen
- A water filter to reduce sediments and hard water deposits.
Proper filter maintenance is an imperative part of keeping an evaporative cooler running efficiently.
Since an evaporative cooler uses fresh air from outside to cool the indoor air, the filter is necessary to catch impurities such as dust, pollen, and sediments and prevent it from contaminating the process and coming inside.
Besides saving the residents from pollen and dust, a clean environment is necessary for the coolers efficiency. The cleaner the air and water, the more evaporation can occur.
As a filter gets clogged, impurities such as pollen and dust get through and cause the evaporation to slow or even halt.
Mold In Evaporative Cooler Pads
A dirty filter can cause some adverse health effects as well. Because of its use of water, an improperly maintained evaporative cooler can be a perfect breeding ground for mold.
People with mold allergies can experience itchy eyes, congestion and fevers. In more extreme cases, mold can cause serious reactions and breathing problems.
To prevent the myriad of problems that can occur from a dirty filter, it is recommended that the filters be checked and cleaned once a month during use.
Both the air and the water filter can be cleaned using warm water and a soapy detergent to remove accumulated sediments.
However, a lot of the time, what may look like mold on the pads is actually calcium deposits from hard water usage...
Hard Water Damage
Because water is an integral part of the evaporative coolers process, it is important that proper maintenance be performed to reduce the effects of water corrosion and damage.
Many problems with evaporative coolers arise from the damage caused by hard water:
- Hard water is water that has a high concentration of dissolved minerals.
- Hard water leaves mineral deposits on everything including pads, pipes, and filters.
- Too much mineral deposits will leave a scale, can cause corrosion and dramatically reduce the effectiveness and lifespan of the cooler.
To troubleshoot the problems that come from hard water damage it is important to regularly check and replace the filters.
In addition, a water softener, which is a chemical that helps make calcium and other minerals more soluble, can be added to the water and can greatly reduce the amount of mineral deposits that are left behind.
The best option however, is to use distilled water instead. Distilled water has been filtered of all hard minerals and will reduce the amount of maintenance required.
Though, there are many benefits to having an evaporative cooler, sometimes owners may find a dramatic reduction of efficiency.
If you find that your cooler is not working as well as it did before, or not working at all, there are ways to troubleshoot problems before calling out a repair man to fix it.
- Check the filters: If the filters are clogged or dirty, it will dramatically decrease the efficiency of the cooler. Replace the air and water filter frequently if necessary.
- Use a water softener or distilled water: If the cooler constantly needs to be de-scaled of the mineral deposits left behind by hard water, it is a good idea to try using distilled water or a water softener to reduce the negative effects of the damage hard water can cause.
- Check the water pump: make sure the water pump is not clogged.
- Moisten pads prior to turning on the evaporative cooler; this can prevent warm air from blowing in.
- Open a window or a door: the evaporative cooler works best when there is proper exhaust allowed, the air it pumps in needs a place to escape, so opening a window can help increase the cool air flow.
- Ensure the reservoir is filled with water.
- Check humidity levels: The evaporative cooler cannot work properly if the humidity percentage is over 50%. Even climates with typically low humidity levels can sometimes experience an increase in high humidity. If humidity levels are above 50%, the cooler will not work efficiently.
For owners living in climates with a low humidity percentage, evaporative coolers are an excellent option for cooling the air. Although, like any product, an evaporative cooler does require maintenance to keep it running efficiently.
Be a Bad Owner No More
Being a bad owner can dramatically decrease the efficiency of an evaporative cooler.
Owners can extend the life of their coolers and keeping it working properly by routinely inspecting and maintaining the cooler.
Because the technology in an evaporative cooler requires just a few parts, maintenance, although frequent, is not necessarily hard. Replacing air and water filters regularly can ensure the evaporative cooler works the way it should, and will increase the life of the cooler as well.
Avoiding the problems caused by hard water can also help the effectiveness.
Using distilled water or a water softener will help curb the effects that mineral deposits have on the working parts. Although the maintenance can be challenging to keep up with, it is valuable to ensure the cooler can work properly.
Despite its requirement for frequent maintenance, when used properly, an evaporative cooler can be an inexpensive and useful tool to make indoor temperatures more comfortable.