Cleaning a Swamp Cooler

by Carolanne Strong
(last updated June 5, 2017)

Anyone who has ever sweated through a hot day with a broken or inefficient cooler knows how vital they are for health and comfort during the blazing summer months. The concept behind an evaporative cooler is simple-replace hot air with cool-but sometimes the maintenance involved to keep that happening is not as clear cut, especially when the swamp cooler is in a difficult area to access, like your roof. To ensure that your cleaning job goes smoothly, do some prep work before you get your hands wet.

  • Assess your location. If your swamp cooler is a window unit, you may be able to do some of the work from inside, but you still need to be careful, especially if the unit is located higher than the first story. If you do need to lean out the window, make sure that you have stable footing and that you don't over extend yourself. If your extension feels precarious, than you may want to approach the job from the outside using a ladder.
  • Think safety. If you have a roof unit make sure you have shoes with good traction, the conditions are dry and that you have someone working with you on the ground so you don't have to get on and off the roof to turn on the fan or water supply.
  • Prepare your work area. Before surgeons start to operate, they make sure their table is laid out with the necessary tools. Cleaning you cooler requires the same kind of preparation. You will want pliers, fresh pads, a pair of heavy scissors or an Exacto knife to trim the pads to fit if needed, a hose connected to water, a small oil can or W-D40 for the motor, cleaning rags, a garbage bag, and a steel brush to remove the white mineral scale that coats the insides of your unit. You may want to use a wet/dry vacuum to suck up water & debris, but if your roof is at steep angle that would make a vacuum dangerous or unwieldy, simply drain water through the drain plug and remove loosened mineral deposits with rags.
  • Evaluate your expectations. If you are the type of person who thinks something isn't clean unless it sparkles, you may want to give the job of cleaning your cooler to someone else. Your cooler needs maintenance, but it doesn't need to be pretty. As long as the pan is relatively debris free, the water flows smoothly in and out of the unit, the pads are fresh, and the motor and belt run smoothly, you have done a good job.

Author Bio

Carolanne Strong

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