Swamp Cooler Start-Up/Tune-Up

5 Replies

Its time to start up the swamp coolers for the 4-plex I acquired last November. We had a couple breaks in the copper line during the winter that we need to fix. 

I was thinking of using a product like FiberFix, but figured I would just call my HVAC guy to fix the leaks and check on the units since this will be the first turn-on since we acquired the property about 6 months ago. 

He quoted me about $100 to repair the leaks and $75/unit for a start-up/tune-up. This seems like maybe a cheap do-it-yourself project, but wanted to get advice from the BP forum. Should I watch a couple YouTube videos and do it myself or is it worth the expense for a professional to do the tune-up?

P.S. I was told that three of the units were replaced last season and do look in good shape. One unit looks quite old.

Any responses will be greatly appreciated. Thanks! 

Sorry about the multiple posts. BP was struggling to send the post through and apparently I now have posted this thread 5 times. Hopefully replies will now only go through this forum thread.

Working on the swamp coolers can be a do-it-yourself project if you don't mind the time it takes.  What I mean by that is - swamp coolers are simple to maintain, but you never know what is broke until you're on the roof and parts break all the time.  

Be prepared to replace the pads every other season.  Save yourself some time by measuring the pads the first time you service them and writing down the measurements.  I hate having to climb up on the roof just to measure the pads before I go to the home supply store.

If you have several swamp coolers, keep spare parts on hand to save you a trip to the home supply store.  Things like float valves, pumps and belts are always breaking.  And you usually won't discover something is broke until you've replaced the pads, turned on the water supply and attempt to turn on the cooler.

My last piece of advice is always drain the water supply line when you winterize the cooler.  If you only turn off the water, the water remaining in the line will freeze and burst the line.  Disconnect the line at the valve and drain the water out.

Oh yeah...don't forget to swap out the cookie sheets.  There are two: one for the cooler and one for the heater.  In the summer, remove the one from the cooler and install the one for the heater.  In the winter, remove the one from the heater and install the one for the cooler.

After spending most of your day on the roof, you'll probably just pay the $300.

Good luck,


@John A.

Thank you for the response. I figured it may be a bigger job than I wanted to take on and was absolutely right. Had the HVAC guy over here yesterday and several parts needed to be replaced on just about all the coolers. He was here for over 5 hours which means this would have taken me well over a days work. Unfortunately the final bill was also well over double what I had expected, but hopefully with regular maintenance we won't have similar issues in the future. 

@Holden Latimer

You're welcome.

Now that they are up and running, it's definitely worth your time to see how they operate so you can do the small maintenance and repairs that may come up during the summer.  Keep an eye out for water running off the roof.  A little water when the coolers are turned off after running is normal.  But, if it is always leaking water, you could have a stuck float valve.  Where I live, the water is very hard and the minerals build up in the valves.

If you want to save a little money, do the winterizing yourself and let the HVAC guy bring them back to life every summer.  Winterizing is very easy:  Drain the cooler, swap the cookie sheets, and disconnect/drain the supply line.


@John A.

Great advice. I thought the same thing. "Winterizing" should be something I can do myself, but I will most likely continue to have the experts take care of the start-ups and repairs.

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