How to Troubleshoot & Repair Evaporative Coolers

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Evaporative coolers work very well in hot dry climates such as the desert Southwest. They are less expensive than air conditioners and cost less to operate. However, evaporative coolers do require more maintenance than air conditioners. Fortunately, very little technical expertise or skill with tools is required to keep an evaporative cooler operating at peak efficiency. Trouble shooting an evaporative cooler is a simple matter of identifying one of several problems. An evaporative cooler has three main components: the water pump supplies water to the cooler pads to cool the air and the fan motor distributes the cooled air throughout the house.

Things You'll Need

  • Flashlight
  • Ladder
  • Use a flashlight to check the fuse or breaker box if the cooler does not start or does not blow air. If the fuse is tripped or blown, either reset or replace it as necessary.

  • Determine where the problem lies if the air is not cool. If the air is warm, check the water pump to be sure water is circulating to the filters. Examine the filter pads to see if they are scaled over with mineral deposits, which inhibit the flow of air. Finally, check the water reservoir to be certain the float is keeping the water at the proper level to supply the pump.

  • Examine the fan motor if the cooler is not blowing air. If it is not running, the motor may need service or replacement . Also, examine the fan belt to determine if it is broken and needs replacement. The belt could also be too loose to turn the fan blades properly; the belt should be able to be depressed about an inch when it is pressed down upon with a finger about midway between the motor pulley and the fan blade pulley. If it is too loose, it will need to be tightened or even replaced if it is worn out.

  • Drain the water reservoir and scrub it thoroughly with a stiff brush and a solution of one cup of vinegar to one gallon of water. Also, check the filter pads to determine if they are scaled over with mineral deposits.

Tips & Warnings

  • Assemble a workbox that contains the basic tools needed to troubleshoot and work on the evaporative cooler and keep it conveniently at hand to deal with problems as they arise.
  • Always turn the switch in the house to the off position and also turn off the power switch located on the underside of the top of the cooler.
  • Have an assistant on the ground while evaporative cooler work is being done on the roof so that, in case of accident, someone is available to assist.

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