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5 Ways to Tell that Your Swamp Cooler Has an Issue

Swamp coolers are a cost-effective way to cool your home during the hot months of the year. They operate by being filled with water, which is then distributed throughout the unit. While the motor within the swamp cooler spins, air is pushed out into your home with the water used as a cooling agent. Routine maintenance should be done to the cooler to keep it in top condition, but even those of us who perform monthly maintenance can begin to experience unexpected issues. These are the top five easily identifiable signs that your swamp cooler has an issue that requires maintenance, adjustment, or in some cases, replacement if the issues continue.

Low Air Flow

This is a common issue that comes with swamp coolers. Often times it comes from there not being enough exhaust room for the cooler. This can be fixed by adding exhaust ducts or opening your windows and doors to allow for more free moving air. In other cases, it can be a sign that the belt has broken or slipped or that there is too much debris within the evaporative pads that surround the unit. The airflow of swamp coolers is extremely important to take note of, as without proper airflow, you may find yourself and your family in a hothouse.

Not Blowing Cold Air

If your unit is blowing air at a good pace, but that air is not cool, there are a few things to check before hauling it away. The first of these is to double-check that the cooler actually has water inside of it. Often, we overstretch the unit’s abilities (or our kids), and the refill time for the cooler gets skipped or forgotten, or pushed back. Too many times of this, though, and your swamp cooler will begin to be warmer. After you have checked the water levels, we suggest also checking the humidity in the air, as swamp coolers operate by infusing the filtered air with water. So naturally, if there is already a significant amount of water in the air, this process will be negated by the warm-water air.


This can come from numerous problems, from a cracked bottom, overflow, water overuse, issues with water valves, or the unit blowing water. As many possible issues can occur with your swamp cooler, most of these must be fixed by a professional, particularly in the case of water overuse or if the unit is blowing water with its cold air. Water overuse can be identified by constantly needing to refill the unit. And if your unit is blowing water, it can come from overflow issues, but it can also come from broken pieces inside of the machine.

Not Turning On or Failing When Turned On

Your preliminary steps should be to check your fuse box or circuit breaker to deal with these issues. Sometimes, swamp coolers can pull too much energy and trip them, causing a backout of that area. After you have checked that they are not tripped, or fixed them if they were, check the wiring and insides of the unit. Make sure that the unit is unplugged and off before you do this, though. Remove the side panels and double-check that there is not a significant amount of debris within them. Then drain the reservoir of the cooler and remove any debris which might be inside of it. If you find any broken wires or anything that looks different from the last time you did routine maintenance, you should call in a professional to help and repair your cooler.


Sometimes, even with consistent care and maintenance, our swamp coolers can obtain odors. One way to fix this is by draining the unit and removing, then replacing, the pads. You should consider trying to identify the reason for the odors, however. If it was because of improper storage during the winter, that is a far different issue from having a bad water supply. Likewise, if the water in the reservoir has been stagnant for a significant amount of time, that is also different from a mold infestation. (If your water has been stagnant, try salt and vinegar to cure the smell and a bleed-off kit to filter the water.)

If you would like to learn more about swamp coolers or anything heating and air, give us a call or visit our website. If you would like to read more about us and our suggestions, visit our blog.

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