Tips for Maintaining a Swamp Cooler

By HomeAdvisor

Updated November 29, 2016

Bolted swamp cooler
Ideally, we should be able to turn on our swamp coolers and have them deliver cool air all day long. Most of the time this is the case. What is difficult to discern is when the evaporative cooler is not running efficiently. Sure, it’s on and putting out cold air, but is it working too hard?

Think of your swamp cooler like a car. It has a motor and runs off a certain type of energy. In the same way that you change your car’s oil, spark plugs, recharge the battery, etc, these HVAC motors also need regular attention to run efficiently and effectively. Below are some maintenance for your systems.

Evaporative Cooler Efficiency

  • To have your evaporator cooler run efficiently, try to wait until the temperature reaches at least 85 degrees. This will save 50% on water usage.
  • Turn on the water pump a five minutes before turning on the fan. This process will saturate the pads first, and make your cooler more efficient.
  • Use ceiling fans to circulate air.

Swamp Cooler Maintenance

Before summer begins, removes the panels and clean out any debris in the water pan at the bottom. This will ensure that clean water is getting to the pads and not getting gummed up by leaves, dust, and debris.

Check the fan belt to see if it has adequate tension. It shouldn’t move much more than an inch, and in some cases an inch may be too much. If it is visibly sagging then it definitely needs replaced. If you can’t tell whether or not it is too loose, click here to get matched to an air conditioning contractor.

Lubricate the blower assembly bearing and the motor if it has an oil receptacle with the appropriate oil.

Make sure the cooler pads are in good shape. If they look worn or ratty, replace them new.

Turn on the cooler motor and pump to test if the cooler pads are getting sated evenly. Check for any insults to the casement or tray’s integrity that could cause a leak. If cracks or holes exists, call an air conditioning repairman.

Summer Swamp Cooler Checkups

  • Check the water to make ensure that it is at the proper level in the tray. The water line should be a little below the top of the tray, with the top of the overflow pipe sticking out of the water. Adjust the float arm if the water is not at the proper level.
  • Check all other working parts, including the pump, motor and fan belt.
  • Check the condition of the cooler pads. The cooler will run at its most efficient when the pads are clean.
Ready to start your swamp cooler?
Find Pros

Winterize Swamp Cooler

As soon as you are certain that you won’t need your evaporative cooler, you need to winterize it. Much like spring preparation, you need to clean the buildup of mineral deposits so that won’t harden over the winter and become hard to remove.

Clean out the tray at the bottom of the cooler, and drain the water completely.

To prevent freezing of the cooler’s water line, disconnect the water line from the cooler and blow out the water. This is the most important winterizing step. If you can only bring yourself to do one thing, do this.

Cover the unit with a tarp or form-fitted cover to protect it from the winter elements.


  1. Phyllis, August 6:

    How do I change the fan louvers to horizontal ?

  2. Semi Benson, September 5:

    I’m learning more about swamp coolers, but it is mostly practicing common sense. So here are some tips that I use with my own common sense..
    1. ALWAYS, make sure the filters are the right type for your system, and that they fit.
    They should always be clean.
    2. The fan should not be oversized, as it could use excessive amounts of power, and will not put out as much air while rotating.
    3. The cooler system should ALWAYS be level with the base of the window, if there is a slant whether tilted inward or outward, this may cause leakage which will result in calcium build-up and hard water deposits to settle in odd places.
    4. Avoid rust formations inside of the unit, this will produce flaking and peeling causing damage that will give off a sight for sore eyes.
    5. ALWAYS, make sure to use proper screening around the entire unit, a rotating fan is no match for anyone’s fingers, hair or loose objects that come in contact with it.
    And ALWAYS keep small children away from appliances whether in operation or non operation. Practice this and ALL safety rules to avoid injury to self and family members.
    !STAY SAFE and COOL!
    Semi Benson

  3. vandertilova, October 8:

    In need of tips: How do I cover a wall-mounted cooler that is supported with chains?

Are You Familiar With This Topic? Share Your Experience.

Compare quotes from local pros Compare Quotes
Return to Top