Tips for using evaporative coolers

THOUSAND PALMS, Cali. -  As temperatures start to climb, so do energy bills along with the need to cool the home.

But living in an arid climate does have a few perks when it comes to cooling off, thanks to evaporative coolers.

Here are some tips and tricks you need to keep your swamp coolers -- cooling the best they can.

First of all, it needs to be dry outside, the direr the better. But, just how dry depends on you. The higher the dew point, the less efficiently evaporative coolers can work.

Shawn Brown is a technician with The General Heating and Air Conditioning, who services evaporative coolers. "The evaporative cooler is really going to be based off of your comfort zone," Brown says. "When it's no longer comfortable for you, that's when it would be time to switch over."

Switch over to air conditioning that is.
Experts at The General recommend having both so you can be flexible if the humidity rises, but you should never run both at the same time.

Brown continues, "Evaporative coolers work by adding humidity to the air, adding moisture to the air. If the moisture and humidity is already there, then the swamp cooler is not going to be able to add more to cool the air down."

But adding all that moisture will eventually saturate the air in your home, so windows or doors need to be open.
Start at the end of your home opposite from where your evaporative cooler is installed and open a few windows 4 to 6 inches.
Then, you can do what technicians call the "slam test."

"If the front door slams shut and actually does latch, you've got too many doors and windows closed up you need to open up the home more," Brown tells us. "When the door actually just closes and just sits on the hinge, that's when you know you've got the cooler set right."

With water constantly running, evaporative coolers need maintenance one to two times a year.
Technicians with The General suggest once in the spring and once in the fall.

"The reason we do the fall maintenance is so that we can clean everything out and let the coolers dry out instead of having that water sit in that metal pan and prematurely rusting out that cooler and causing the cooler to fail early," Brown says.

And, if you don't have regular maintenance performed, you'll quickly learn where the "swamp" cooler nickname comes from.

Brown tells us, "The swamp smell is actually going to come from stagnant or sitting water that has had stuff starting to grow in it."

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