Hard Water and Your Swamp Cooler


Hard water and your swamp cooler problems

If you have a swamp cooler and have hard water you need to be very diligent about cleaning your swamp cooler and reducing scale build up.  Your comfort depends on it.  Did you know that the average water in the City of Albuquerque is approximately 12 grains hard? If you live in Rio Rancho it can be up to 25 grains hard. The truth is that approximately 95% of households have hard water. While the buildup can be unsightly in your home and difficult to clean, it can greatly impact your comfort if you have a swamp cooler.  Your swamp or (evaporative) cooler uses water to cool your home. If you want to learn more about how a swamp cooler works check out our Swamp Cooler 101 article. Water runs constantly through a swamp cooler when it is running, and if have hard water it is going to cling to anything it can within the unit.  When you are running your swamp cooler constantly like right now when it is hot you are pushing water through the water lines, distribution tubes, pads, and pump. Hard water buildup will develop on all those parts and can reduce the amount of water and saturation reducing the cooling capacity of the cooler.  If less water is being pushed through the cooler and not saturating the pads you’re just blowing hot air from outside into your home. When this happens you’ll notice that your cooler is running but the air doesn’t feel cool in your home. Here are some examples of problems that happen with hard water buildup.


Clogged Water Distribution lines:

Overtime hard water can build up in the water distribution lines this will reduce water flow through to the pads. If the pads aren’t getting wet enough the blower will just blow hot air from outside into the home.  There are also different types of distribution tubes for standard coolers and mastercool units. Hard water buildup should be removed prior to each summer to maximize cooling performance. Spider lines and distribution tubes can be replaced if hard water buildup cannot be removed.  


Hard water buildup on swamp cooler pads:

Hard water can also buildup over time on the pads themselves. If there is too much build up the pads will again not be able to hold the water and again will reduce the cooling ability. We recommend pads be replaced on standard coolers every year when prepping the cooler for summer. Learn more about swamp cooler pads in our post. Mastercool pads are a different kind of honeycomb media and can usually last up to a few years.  However, mastercool pads should be cleaned and hard water removed prior to each season as well.  You’ll notice that as hard water builds up over time the mastercool pads will become very heavy.


Hard water buildup on water pumps:

The water pump within your swamp cooler is essential in pumping water from the base of the cooler into the distribution tubes to saturate the pads. If hard water buildup corrodes the pump it can reduce its ability to pump enough water into the distribution tubes or cause it to fail completely. The pump should be thoroughly cleaned prior to the start of each season.  If it is too corroded or not working properly it should be replaced.

How to reduce hard water problems:

There are a few ways to reduce hard water problems with your swamp cooler. The first is to make sure you get a professional to clean and inspect your cooler prior to each season. Make sure they replace parts that have been overcome with hard water and will reduce the cooling ability of the cooler.  

If you have mild hard water issues it is a good idea to get an inline filter to reduce calcium and mineral buildup in your cooler. There are many options available. You can always ask our professionals for recommendations and we can install these for you when we perform annual maintenance.  

If you are worried about your hard water throughout your home you may want to consider a water softener? A water softener will remove the minerals from the water in your home and prevent hard water buildup throughout the home. You will notice it will be easier to clean your swamp cooler if you clean it yourself. If you would like to explore this option, TLC offers Kinetico Water Softeners and Reverse Osmosis Systems. We offer free water tests and free estimates.  

Swamp coolers rely solely on water and a motor to cool your home so if you are experiencing problems with the cooling effectiveness you may want to check for hard water build up problems. Or if you do not feel comfortable getting on your roof or troubleshooting yourself our friendly, professional technicians are here to help. If you have any questions about any of information we discussed here you can always ask one of our professionals as well.