Need Help Troubleshooting Your Evaporative Cooler?
Whether during the start of summer or in the seemingly inevitable the end of summer heat wave, as the temperatures become dryer and more arid, an evaporative cooler can definitely come in handy.
Since portable evaporative coolers harness the power of evaporation to help cool down the surrounding air, they are often preferred over other types of cooling units.
Just like anything mechanical, evaporative coolers will eventually go bad (later than sooner if you regularly maintain them).
When this occurs, troubleshooting portable evaporative cooler units will need to be done. However, before we talk about how to properly troubleshoot and maintain an evaporative cooler, let's briefly discuss their history, their functions, and some of the reasons why homeowners around the world are preferring them as a primary way of staying cool during the hot summer months.
General Overview of Evaporative Coolers
Despite what you might believe, evaporative cooling methods aren't anything new.
- The ancient Egyptians used a very primal version of the evaporative cooler, and today, it's widely used by people all around the world.
- These days, most evaporative coolers come built as a box-life unit, similar to that of an air conditioner.
- The major difference is that on the inside, these frames are continually soaked using a powerful internal water pump.
- Whenever hot air is blown through these pads, cold air comes out the other end. As a result, it isn't difficult to reduce temperatures to 30-degrees Fahrenheit within a few minutes in your home!
If you live in an area that experiences a lot of humidity then this can reduce the cooling efficiency of these units, which is why they are often found in dryer areas with less humidity.
Owning an evaporative cooler is ideal for any homeowner who lives in an arid climate and who would like to rid their home of dry air in a cost efficient manner.
Troubleshooting Evaporative Coolers the Easy Way
In order to help maintain the longevity and quality of your evaporative cooler, you might need to occasionally perform some maintenance procedures on it.
Plus, the longer you own it, the higher the chances that something will go wrong with it. But don't worry, because regular routine maintenance, combined with solid troubleshooting skills, will ensure that your evaporative cooler lasts a lifetime.
Let's take a look at some of the more common scenarios that you might experience as a home owner.
The Cooler Won't Start
- Start by checking the breaker or the fuse in your evaporative cooler. A lot of the time you'll find that the solution is quite simple: the fuse is blown and it needs to be replaced.
- The breaker in the unit can also be tripped, in which case, should also be replaced. If you replace these two evaporative cooler parts, and the unit still doesn't work, check the wiring within the cooler for signs of damage.
Dripping water from your swamp cooler might appear bad, but is a problem that can easily be fixed once you understand what's wrong.
Most of the time, you'll find that water dripping from an evaporative cooler is a sign of improper storage before the unit was in operation.
Whenever you "winterize" your evaporative cooler (store it away during the colder months), always make sure that you:
- Remove the pads
- Drain the unit
- Clean the tank
- Keep the unit well-covered
If you've followed these tips during storage and your unit is still leaking water, it would probably be a good idea to have it inspected by a professional.
Evaporative Cooler Has Airflow, But Doesn't Provide Quality Cooling
- Check underneath your unit and see if the water pump is in good working order. A lot of the time, this probably is caused by a water pump that's clogged.
- Also, make sure that you inspect the pads that are either dry or open, as this too can dampen the cooler's ability to push out cold air.
- Try moistening the pads yourself to see if this makes a difference.
Evaporative Cooler is working but there's Not Enough Air
In this case, be sure that there is enough exhaust being supplied to the cooler.
For units that don't have exhaust ducts, make sure that all of your doors and windows are open so that you can promote proper airflow. Keep in mind that most manufactures recommend at least a two-square foot opening for every 1,000 CFM that is provided by your evaporative cooler.
There's a Strange Odor Coming from the Cooler
Odors in evaporative coolers are usually caused by one of two things: either the growth of mildew on the unit's pads or stagnant water.
Make sure that you check these two elements of the evaporative cooler regularly to ensure they are up to par, meaning, that you clean up any mildew that you see on the pads and replace any stagnant with fresh, clean water.
The Evaporative Cooler Parts Are Showing Signs of Corrosion and Rust
High concentrations of rust and corrosion in an evaporative cooling unit is usually a sign of high humidity levels in the outside environment, but could also be a result of minerals in your tank.
- If you've discovered a mineral problem in your device (areas that contain "hard" water), go to the store and purchase mineral tablets.
- When placed in your water reservoir, they should help reduce mineral concentration.
If humidity levels are exceptionally high in your area (around 50% or more), the evaporative cooler won't function as optimally as it should. In these cases, a portable evaporative cooler would be a better option since they work slightly better in highly humid areas compared to non-portable models.
Ask Yourself, "Is There Any Air Coming From the Unit?"
Let's pretend that you don't know what's wrong with your evaporative cooler. In this case, it always helps to start off with the fundamental question, "Is there any air coming from my unit?"
Problems with evaporative coolers tend to involve the lack of air flow coming from the unit, which as discussed above, is probably the result of a tripped breaker or blown fuse.
But let's say that these aren't the problem.
- In this case, check the thermostat (or timer) if there's one installed in your unit.
- Use a voltmeter to see if the switch is closing and opening the right way.
- If you learn that your thermostat is working, move down to the motor to see if it is running properly.
- Check that the belt is both in quality condition and that's properly installed. If the motor is hot, shut the unit off until it cools down.
- Once the motor is cooled, turn your unit back on and check the status of the motor.
- If it still isn't working, or is getting too hot, you should probably consider getting it replaced.
If you notice that your unit is running but isn't supplying enough air, you need to make sure that enough exhaust is being supplied.
- If you don't have any exhaust ducts installed, it's very important that you keep your doors and windows open!
- This is the only way to promote sufficient air flow with an evaporative cooler.
- As a general rule of thumb, you should have about two-square feet of space for every 1000 CFM of air supply provided by your unit.
- If there is enough exhaust available, move down to the blower and check its operation followed by checking belt tension.
- Keeping windows and doors open while your evaporative cooler is running is also an easy way to provide exhaust for your unit.
Are You Having Any Other Problems?
If your unit is consuming too much water, the problem could lie in its float valve.
- This valve might need to be adjusted in order to ensure that you maintain the proper water levels without it overflowing.
- This valve can easily be adjusted by fiddling around with the rod.
If you make these changes and the unit is still leaking water, it's very possible that the seat on your valve has gone bad and that your float valve will need to be completely replaced.
Additional Tips, Warnings, and Considerations
- As a general maintenance tip to remember, always oil the unit's squirrel cage on both the oiler filler holes periodically - more specifically, depending on how often you use the cooler.
- Check and see if the unit's motor contains a hole for filling it with oil, and always place oil in the unit based on manufacturer recommendations.
A slightly more complicate maintenance DIY technique that you can use is to bleed your valves. This will help discourage the buildup of minerals in your pads.
Since every evaporative cooler is different, you should probably check your model's manufacturer site for your specific model on how bleed the valves. It usually won't be too difficult as long as you have the right tools and are willing to spend an hour or so on the project.