How to Prepare an Evaporative Swamp Cooler for the Cooling Season

  • 01 of 08

    Getting Started

    Swamp cooler cover
    Aaron Stickley

    If you were a model homeowner and winterized your evaporative cooler at the end of the last cooling season, you now must reverse the process to "de-winterize" the unit. (And if you haven't been a model homeowner, it's never too late to start.) To "de-winterize" and get your evaporative cooler ready for the warm months, start by removing the cover or tarp from around the unit. This is a good time to inspect the condition of the cover before storing it for use next winter.

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  • 02 of 08

    How To De-Winterize A Swamp Cooler: Step 1

    Swamp cooler side panels
    Aaron Stickley

    Remove all of the sides of the cooler unit by releasing the catch or clip and sliding the panel up slightly and then out. Set the side panels aside, facing down.

    Tip: To save some time later, you should keep track of which panel belongs to each side of the unit. The panels are sometimes slightly different, and they may not fit exactly right unless they are put back in the same positions.

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  • 03 of 08

    How To De-Winterize A Swamp Cooler: Step 2

    Vacuum clean a swamp cooler
    Aaron Stickley

    Clean the inside of the swamp cooler with a shop-vac to remove accumulated dust and mineral scale. Use a damp rag to pick up any remaining dust and to get into corners and in tight spaces. If there is a lot of buildup inside the unit, consider using a descaling or cleaning product designed for use on evaporative coolers.

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  • 04 of 08

    How To De-Winterize A Swamp Cooler: Step 3

    Swamp cooler pads
    Aaron Stickley

    Change the pads, as needed. Your evaporative cooler has absorbent pads that hold water as a fan blows air across them to evaporate the water. Depending on the design of your cooler, these pads may be flat panels, or they may be attached to a rotating drum. Over time, these pads become stiffened with mineral deposits, which hinders their ability to hold water. 

    If the pads were not changed in winter as part of the winterizing process, they need to be changed at this time. When to change the pads is really a matter of preference—they just need to be changed every year.

    The size of the pads varies for each cooler, so you may want to measure them before heading to the store.

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  • 05 of 08

    How To De-Winterize A Swamp Cooler: Step 4

    Swamp cooler water supply
    Aaron Stickley

    Connect the water line to the swamp cooler fitting, and carefully tighten the nut with a wrench or pliers. Confirm that the drain plug is in place in the water pan, then turn on the water supply to the cooler.

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  • 06 of 08

    How To De-Winterize A Swamp Cooler: Step 5

    Swamp cooler leak
    Aaron Stickley

    Inspect the cooler pan and the water line for any leaks. Some leaks are quite obvious, such as when a pipe is broken or punctured, but others are slower and harder to see. Look around the drain plug for any leaks, and tighten the plug, if necessary.

    This is also a good time to check that the float valve is working properly. Wait for it to turn off the flow of water when the cooler pan gets full. Make adjustments, if necessary, to prevent overfilling the pan. Replace the float valve if it does not seem to be working properly.

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  • 07 of 08

    How To De-Winterize A Swamp Cooler: Step 6

    Swamp cooler pump
    Aaron Stickley

    Turn on the cooler and check the pump and fan motor for proper operation:

    • When the pump is working properly, the water should be flowing freely from the "spider" water-feed tubing onto the sides of the swamp cooler. If the water flow is sluggish, it could be a sign that the pump is not pumping, or that the spider or the lines are clogged.
    • Confirm that the motor is running and the fan wheel is turning. 
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  • 08 of 08

    How To De-Winterize A Swamp Cooler: Step 7

    Reinstall all of the side panels in their corresponding openings and secure them with the catches or clips. Your swamp cooler is ready for summer!