Without proper care, portable evaporative coolers, sometimes called swamp coolers, can become breeding grounds for mold and fungus. These infestations thrive in dark, damp areas with stagnant air and can cause a wide range of respiratory problems for people exposed to them. The good news is keeping your portable evaporative cooler mold-free is easy with some simple maintenance and preventative measures.
Preventing Mold in Your Evaporative Cooler
The best way to prevent mold from growing in your portable evaporative cooler is to make sure you only run it on dry days. Throughout much of the southwest, humidity spikes in the late summer, during monsoon season. Running humid air through the cooling pads prevents the water in the unit from evaporating and raises the risks of an infection. Watch the humidity levels in your area. They go up as storms build. Switch your evaporative cooler into fan mode whenever you see it happening.
Cleaning Mold Out of Your Evaporative Cooler
If your cooler does become infested, the first sign will probably be the smell. Mold spores emit a musty or fishy odor and often triggers asthma attacks, pneumonia, and allergic reactions in people, especially children and the elderly.
To make your portable evaporative cooler mold-free again, you’ll need to clean out the cooling pads and the water tank. Drain the cooler and remove the cooling pads. You’ll need to submerge them in a mixture of water and lemon juice for 30 -60 seconds. Citric acid is great at breaking down mold and eliminating mold spores. Vinegar works just as well, but the smell can soak into your cooling pads and can be very difficult to remove. Once the pads have been thoroughly soaked, rinse them thoroughly and then set them aside to dry. They need to be dry completely before you put them back in the cooler.
Next, remove the water tank and wipe it down with warm water and a soft cloth or sponge to eliminate any moldy residue that might have built up inside. Once the tank is clean, you can eliminate mold in the pipes by filling the tank with a 50/50 solution of water and vinegar and running it through the cooler. Make sure the pads have been removed first, or they’ll end up smelling like vinegar. Run the solution through the cooler for thirty seconds. Once you’ve finished, rinse our the tank and fill it with clean water. Run the clean water through the tank for 2-3 minutes to get rid of any vinegar that might be lingering inside. Then replace the cooling pads and run the cooler as normal.
Coolers left alone all winter also offer good conditions for mold. To keep it from growing, always clean the tank and the cooling pads before storing it away, and make sure you store it someplace dry. When you unpack it again, clean out the pads and the tank one more time to remove any fungal spores that may have crept in during winter.
Got any other tips on keeping evaporative coolers mold-free? Share them in the comments!