How to Fix Your Swamp Cooler ("Overclock" It 50%)

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Introduction: How to Fix Your Swamp Cooler ("Overclock" It 50%)

Swamp coolers work ok until it reaches 94 degrees. At that point, they stop cooling as well, because the pump can not get enough water on the pads to keep them wet. So by increasing the amount of water going to the pads by 50% the unit cools the house down faster, and the pads don't dry out.

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Step 1: Replace the Blue Pads With Good Old Aspen

The blue sponge pads do not really absorb the water very well and do not cool well at all. So pitch them and replace them with the low tech, sustainable aspen pads. the aspen wood actually absorbes water in additon to creating a curtain of water which makes the swamper cool better. It does get messy at the end of the year but it is worth it. These pads are also cheaper.

Step 2: Materials

you will need the following: (I purchased everything at Home Depot, but any decent hardware store should stock it) A pump, a supply tube, a distribution array ("spider") a pump basket, a basket filter bag, a grounded 3 prong splitter (not pictured) 7" and 14" zip ties... (10 of each should do) a pair of dykes, a utility knife, a radio or cell phone to have someone turn on and off the pump for you and about 2 gallons of water- to drink while you are cooking on top of the roof because you didn't get started until 1:00 pm in the afternoon.

Step 3: Shut Down the Power and Lock Out the Power

ok. Go to the power switch and turn off the swamper. Then take some duct tape and tape it off. Then put a little sign that says not to turn on the power. (if someone turns on the fan motor while you are in there you will get hurt.) Also, you can unplug the fan motor up in the swamper for extra safety.
OK.. notice that there are 8 tubes on the distribution assembly, 2 on each side. We are going to add 1 tube to each side taking the total tubes to 12, our 50% overclock.

Step 4: Arrange the Secondary Distribution Array

Now take the spider and put 4 of the 8 tubes in it so that they form a cross. Then Put it up under the existing one and loosly zip tie it into place ( you are going to cut it down in a minute). Next you need to cut the distribution tubes to length such that they will empty out into the trough. (I had to offset the center of the second spider slightly so each tube is a different length) Measure the distance you need then pull the tube out of the spider and cut it down. then re- insert it. Repeat this on all 4 sides.

Step 5: Remove Spider, Glue It Up , Install It Again

Cut the zip tie that is holding the spider in place and pull the spider out (keeping track of the orientation) then use the glue that comes with the spider to quickly glue each piece in. Then you will need to glue the plugs in for the other 4 holes that you aren't using. Make sure the tubes are pointing down, because you don't get 2 chances at gluing since it welds the plastic.
Now re-install the spider. I used two zip ties to hold it to the original one. I went around it in an x pattern. You may have better, and cleaner ways to do this but the reality is that the roof was about 105 degrees so zip ties seemed great at the time

Step 6: Install the Pump and Supply Line and the Power Connection

Now put the basket filter on the basket, the basket in the water and the pump in the basket. Take the supply line and run it up to the spider alongside the original supply line. (the tubing I purchased tended to kink so I tried to zip tie it every so often to the original to keep smooth curves.) Cut the tubing to length and fit it onto the spider.

Unplug the pump power from the connection and pull that connection out of its mounting slot. I got a grounding splitter to plug both pumps into the power source. (they are now both controlled by the main switch.) I zip tied it to the mounting area making sure that the cords are attched with zip ties and the whole thing is out of the way of the fan, fan belt and the water. You dont want something migrating into one of those areas.

Step 7: Turn on the Pumps for a Test

Now call down and have somone turn on the pumps only and you can verify that you are getting the water comming out of the pump and that the spider is filling the troughs and there are no leaks. Also check that the pads are aligned correctly and you are getting good distribution of the water. Let the pads soak for about 5 minutes and then let it rip.

Step 8: Improvements and Such

I would be interested in ideas to improve the cooling ability of this project.

My business parnter said that the second pump should only come on when it is over 95 degrees outside (to save electricity) and that I should install a second switch for the second pump.. But I don't want to do the wiring.

so, possibly a wireless switch in the swamper with the other switch downstairs. It would be really cool if you could just get the second pump to kick in when necessary, but that is beyond my techability.

Other ideas might involve adding a unit for spraying the inside or outside of the pads with a sprinkler head. to get better distribution of the water on the pads.

Anyway, hope it works for you .

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    130 Discussions

    0
    heroay
    heroay

    3 years ago

    Please pass on this information. My mailman recommended I add a floating (it does) IVORY soap bar to my swamp cooler. I did, then I disconnected the second drain pump (worked every 8 or 12 hrs), and let the system run on its own. NO drain at all from then on.

    The Aspen pads were clean of crust at the end of the season; the usual heavy calcium scale on the pads and the pan was absent (only the accumulated dust on the bottom); and cleaning the unit for winter was a charm. The soap, however, was an ugly looking thing, swollen out of proportion, with black, gray, and rust colored spots, and would disintegrate after letting it dry outside the pan. All the damaging chemicals or minerals in water are acid, the soap is alkaline. They attract each other neatly, and the water, pads, and unit remain clean from all those chemicals and minerals.

    Now, these pads were already 3 years old (!) before the Ivory soap, and I maintained these before without scale by adding a gallon of white vinegar to the tank at the start of the season, and a half a gallon again every two months. The drain pump would empty all the calcium filthy water every 8 or 12 hours, and start all over again. But with the addition of the Ivory soap (alkaline, and there are several other brands) I stopped adding vinegar to the tank. Besides, these pads were ready to be discarded after the first 3 months of use, but the vinegar cleaned them out and the entire unit off the calcium deposits after a 4 hour run, then continued using the same pads for the following 3 years. Until Ivory soap.

    I had to discard the pads after another year because they developed a black fungus-like deposit on the outside, sunny side of the pads. Rotten wood? Fungus? Just replaced them; they paid for themselves many many times over. And YES, both the vinegar or the Ivory soap will keep the air smelling CLEAN. Both kill the fungi that grows in the internal 'swamp' that releases the sewer pipe smell gas into the house.

    0
    trecenters
    trecenters

    Reply 11 months ago

    I would be worried about breathing chemicals from the soap. No?

    0
    heroayINS
    heroayINS

    Reply 8 months ago

    The only thing to breathe from the “IVORY” brand soap, if at all,
    would be the tenuous scent from it, but inside the house there is no
    smell of any kind. Up close, though, the eventually ugly looking soap
    does have a peculiar smell due to all the chemicals and bacteria
    locked up into it. By now I don’t let it float around since in one
    season last year it roamed right under the valve float and locked the
    water off three times. I am keeping the soap inside a plastic cage
    for water pumps; same cleansing and deodorizing of the tank water,
    but no water lock up. And the gallon vinegar, only at the beginning
    of the season, to remove any possible leftover scale from the
    previous year. BTW, I modified my cooler with a homemade Master Cool
    equivalent and a 12 inch thick synthetic pad. The pad stays clean as
    new.

    0
    JeffB346
    JeffB346

    Question 10 months ago on Step 8

    Has anyone ever used a device that would cool the water down before its filter through the pads?

    0
    holbell
    holbell

    Question 1 year ago on Step 1

    I need to replace the louvered side assembly as they are very rusted and corroded. Is it cheaper to scrape and paint or replace the sides or buy a new cooler

    0
    trecenters
    trecenters

    Answer 11 months ago

    That depends if you have any or all the stuff to do it already and if everythjing inside it doesn't need replaced. The box is the most expensive part. However the plastic swamp coolers "bonaire durango" made in AUS are very nice and only around $600. The metal boxes are $600 without the internals. Repainting one, you would want to use a resin based paint also. It would be expensive.

    0
    trecenters
    trecenters

    11 months ago on Step 8

    I kept finding Wireless Remote plugins at Goodwill. My last pump went out, but I took it apart, cleaned, and oiled it. I am using it to purge water, but I think that I will add an extra spider since it is so hot. How much better does this make it? 10% 20% 30??

    0
    TomR194
    TomR194

    Question 1 year ago on Introduction

    I have a swamp cooler on a manufactured home the electrical switch has a high and low setting only one works was thinking of replacing the swamp cooler moter, do I need a two speed moter or just a new electrical two speed switch?

    0
    vatosupreme
    vatosupreme

    Answer 1 year ago

    I would try the switch first. It's cheaper :) If that doesn't work, proceed to getting a new motor, make sure it has 2 speeds ( I think pretty much all of them are 2 speed though)

    0
    Embryinc
    Embryinc

    1 year ago on Step 8

    They make temperature based switches that you can put on before the 2nd pump plug. Inline, no wiring needed. Or you could get a switch that detects moisture at the bottom of the pad but that sounds troublesome.

    0
    KaseB
    KaseB

    3 years ago

    So I'm not looking to bash the guy that made this instructable but this isn't going to to do much at all as long as you have a properly sized pump. I'll tell you why, the pump pumps water to trays that sit over top of the pads. These trays have slots in them every inch or so to let water drip onto the pads and on the end are open to let excess water fall directly into the pan at the bottom of the cooler. If your cooler pumps enough water to make it to the end of the trays then the maximum amount of water is already reaching the pads. Pumping more water into the trays is not going to do anything in this scenario.
    Now you can open up these slots a bit more and let more water through but if the bottom of your pads stay wet already then this isn't going to help much.
    In my opinion your best bet is to check the temperature of the incoming air right at the cooler vent and if the further reaches of your house are significantly hotter than this, say 10-15 degrees then you need more air movement.
    If so make sure you have a window partially open in the room/rooms you want to be cooler. I'm surprised how often I have to explain this to my tenants. An evaporative cool is not a closed loop system like an AC unit. You gotta let the hot air a way to escape to let cooler air in.
    Now if you are already doing that and you still need more air movement your best bet is to change out the little pulley on the motor to a larger size. This will cause the squirrel cage to spin faster and move more air. If you cannot get the pulley off you can always buy a new motor with a little more hp and put the new pulley on that. Just make sure to check your temperatures to see if it is going to be worth the effort.
    Now I'm sure you are asking yourself why you should believe me and not the guy who wrote the article. I service 300+ evaporative coolers on a yearly basis and I have a lot of experience fixing/replacing them.
    A final note don't expect an evaporative cooler to be more than 20 to 25 degrees cooler than the outside air temperature. If you are already in that range and you want to be cooler your best bet is to go with an AC unit. This is the reason why you don't see many evaporative coolers in places like Phoenix Arizona, it's just too hot for em. If you have any questions, feel free to message me.

    0
    Itlleprcn
    Itlleprcn

    Reply 2 years ago

    So whenever I turn on my swamp cooler sand and debris blow through the front grill. I live in the high desert and was wondering if it's possible to take off the face plate of the cooler (It's coming in through the window) and put in a thin filter of some sort?

    Thanks in advance!

    Melissa

    0
    KaseB
    KaseB

    Reply 2 years ago

    You can do that though it's not commonly done. Just make sure you use a low density filter like the fiberglass media ones. Evaporative coolers only work well with a lot of air flow so you don't want to restrict it very much. I would also check your cooler pads and make sure they are in good condition and fully cover the louvers on the sides. The pads usually do a good job of filtering out debris themselves and if they are in bad condition, I would replace those first.

    0
    BryantI
    BryantI

    Reply 3 years ago

    Hello have you ever had a condition where the blower is sucking water out of the pads as its going down the face of them which in turn the water spins around the blower for a little bit but eventually spits out into the house... i have the blue pads and im wondering if it has to do with them not absorbing the water and its just going on the face of them which allows the fan/blower to pull the water. the other thing i thought about was possibly the blower is spinning too fast? your help is appreciated

    0
    KaseB
    KaseB

    Reply 3 years ago

    I have seen that a few times before and it could be a couple different things or a combination of them. First off I have seen where the water isn't soaking into the pad and is getting pulled in. I would go ahead and replace those blue pads with some Aspen ones, they cool better anyway. I have also seen where the pulley ratio was too high and it was just pulling in too much air and sucking the water in with it. Once you replace those pads turn on the cooler on high and put the last side on. If you can see the pads flex in as if they are being pulled towards the squirrel cage, if so then it's moving too much air. (a little flex is normal) One last possibility is that your distribution tray at the top of your cooler pads has a larger hole rusted in it that is letting too much water onto the pad in one spot. One last note, I am assuming that this is a side draft unit and that's why it's pudding water in the squirrel cage housing. If that is the case you should drill a few weep holes so that water can drain back into the pan. Good luck with it.

    0
    TinaF54
    TinaF54

    Reply 2 years ago

    I would like you to work on my swap cooler in phoenix. How do i contact you?

    0
    BryantI
    BryantI

    Reply 3 years ago

    KaseB. The water cooler I have is on a mobile home and its a straight shot into a hallway ceiling register. I removed the register to look at the metal inside and find that it is very rusted. I have scraped off the rust and figured I should paint it. what kind of paint would you recommend?

    0
    vatosupreme
    vatosupreme

    Reply 3 years ago

    A couple ideas. The easiest is to get some

    Rust-Oleum Rust Reformer. It converts the rust to a paintable surface that is supposed to keep the rust from coming through. It is a cheap solution. If you want to go pro - get some POR 15 (it is alot more expensive but works better.) Don't just rattle can it, unless you sand all the rust out, and prime it first. If you don't get rid of the rust it will just come back.

    0
    KaseB
    KaseB

    Reply 3 years ago

    I would use an acrylic paint like rustoleum to paint it with. Acrylic has good moisture resistance and the rustoleum brand is designed to bond well to rusted metal.