Swamp cooler questions

Well, it's the spring ritual in Las Vegas again.
Swamp cooler prep.
This year, my pads look like Carlsbad Caverns. Very thick with white and yellow hard crud.
I really believe that the water is from the hose bibb loop, and not from the water softener that provides water to the rest of the house. I could be mistaken, though. But, it seems to me that softened water would have less minerals in it, and if it were to be soft water, there would be less crud buildup. Am I right?
I bought one of those automatic things that empty the water every day and lets new water in. Do those work? I bought it two years ago and never installed it.
Do the pads make a difference? I hate working with excelsior. One year I used some pricey blue stuff, and it lasted two years. At the end of the first year, I power washed it clean, but it didn't seem to have the absorbency or cooling effect the second season.
Last year, I used some honeycomb looking slightly greenish tinged paper/wood product stuff. Heavy, heavy buildup.
I know that this is a yearly thing. I grew up here.
But, what are some things that I can do so that there is not so much buildup, it is easier to rehab every year, and, of course, to get the max degree of cooling? In addition to the questions asked above.
Steve
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On Fri, 10 Mar 2006 14:05:58 -0800, "Steve B"

Is the hose bib on the softener, per say? My understanding is all outside bibbs are not softened (Las Vegas), nor the pool water supply. I do have a bibb on my softener loop and it is soft water, no serious calcium as I connect my "wheel around garage cooler" to it in late June and until mid September.

A few bucks at the orange store will get you "aspen wood" filters. Look in the swamp cooler section. I put a new set in last year. I think they retain the water longer, making a cooler breeze. Beats the heat..
Oren
"My doctor says I have a malformed public-duty gland and a natural deficiency in moral fiber, and that I am therefore excused from saving Universes."
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Oren, As I mentioned in my last post, I believe that provided both types of panels are getting the proper water supply from the pump, and spray bar, I think both will do a pretty adequate job.
Whether which one will retain water longer, you might be correct that the Aspen does, but will this make any improvements when the cooler is shut off? I reckon we all can say no, it won't.
The biggest downside I've seen with Aspen, is pulling literal handfuls, and handfuls of this nasty straw mess from the bottom of coolers, and once this stuff starts running through the system, eventually everything becomes restricted, and clogged, and it's usually the basket that the pump sits in, and then onto the spray bar.
How many people's swamp coolers I've worked on to find this, and I would correctly asume that with this swampy mess at the bottom of a swamp cooler, this cannot be a healthy thing. All it is then, is a breeding grounds for bacteria, and molds. Something I surely wouldn't want to be breathing during the summer months. Mark
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I've seen some swamp coolers which have automatic thermostats, and generally how they work, is they start the pump up first for a few minutes, this wets all the pads first, and then the fan kicks in.
This probably provides cooler air sooner, and most likely also aids in dust reduction into the home.
If the swamp cooler fan kicks in immediately, and the pads are bone dry, the squirrel cage is now sucking the accumilated dust from the dried out pads into the house. mark
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Hi Steve, I'm in NM, and familiar with Swamp Coolers, and work on them all the time. Gotten pretty good at it actually.
As far as synthetic panels versus Aspen Straw panels, I myself really like the Synthetic Blue stuff the best myself. they claim better cooling with most synthetic Panels, but in all actuality, there's probably not a heck of a lot of difference.
The downside with Aspen Panels is the tons of Straw Crud that always accumilates in the bottom of the resovoir, and if the Water Pump Clogs up, then it can't do it's job of Pumping, and Spraying Water onto the Panels. I've seen this stuff clog up the entire system from the pump, and particularly the Spray Bar-Spider.
The old Round Swamp coolers can really be a headache, with the round PVC Spray Bar, that has numerous little holes drilled into it.
The Spray Bar must provide full flow for the Swamp cooler to work it's best.
Soft Water versus regular Hard Water? Well I'm sure the soft water has to be a improvement versus the hard, as the PH probably isn't as alkalinic with soft water, and thus there will be less build-up of deposits. Water in NM is generally loaded with Caliche, and the only thing I use local water supply here for is Bathing, Brushing my Teeth, the Swamp Cooler, and the garden-lawn.
Having fresh water flow in constantly I suppose could be an advantage, but here in NM, generally during the day with high heat, there's plenty of evaporation taking place anyway within the swamp cooler, and the float is usually always-a-trickling.
I find that here, one cannot go an entire season without periodic service, draining of the resovoir, and using a cleaner-conditioner, and once flushed, I then use an anit-bacterial liquid, and i also place a condistion block in the unit, but most of these methods only seem to help little. Things like water filtration, and soft water I'm sure would make much better improvements to staving off sediment, and scale build-up. Here, I'm generally replacing Pads-Panels once a year, and due to many nasty dust storms we get over here, I try to stay on top of Resovoir maintainence. Deifnitely do make sure your Pump sits in some sort of Basket, and if you can, pullit periodically to clean with an acidic product. Believe it or not, I use "The Works" Toilet Bowl Cleaner on the pump's bottom grids, and the Basket. When the basket looks really poor, dump it, and replace, they're only $2-$3 ea.
A Spider Snake can come in handy to clean out clogged water tubes, and do make sure proper float level is correct for your unit, not too much, or too little.
I'm typically up on my roof doing this 3-4 times a season to get optimum performance.
With whole house Swamp Coolers, I had found mine was seeming to give awefully poor air flow, just not enough ommph. What I did, was I replaced the stock pulley (12") with a smaller 10" Pulley on the Squirrel Cage. This helped by causing the squirrel cage to spin faster on either Low-or High Fan Speeds. (just like gears on a racing bike)
To then find the correct size Belt, all one has to do, is take a string to measure what the new belt needs to be for the new Pulley Combination. Tie the string in a knot, slip it off the pulleys, and then on your way to the local retailer.
Belts come in every size imaginable. of course there's a point one cannot go beyond woth Pulley swaps, as the motor may then be placed under more strain.
After any service is done, I always make sure that I leave one panel accessable, so I can see how everything is working before I button it all up, and come off the roof. One time I didn't do this, and the Hose going from the Water pump to Spider was pinched by one of the panels on my Square Cooler (Hose was a bit too long) I was wondering 'hey. it isn't that cool in here!?" Hope this helps you, Mark
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Steve B wrote:

I will guess that soft water really doesn't make a lot of difference. More important is to change the water often.
I have a small hose running down to allow totally draining the tank. I might do that as often as once a week during hot weather. I just let it drain out on the lawn.
I used to have a hose hooked to the pump line so that a small trickle was being pumped out at all times when the cooler was running. Either method works good.
When I am going to be gone for a few days I turn off the supply and totally drain the tank to let it dry out & kill off any mold that might be forming.
I like the blue pads more than the Aspen because it doesn't have those pieces of wood floating around.
The thick honeycomb paper seems pretty good too.
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The dumping pump worked well for my last cooler. Only mine dumped on run time, like every 6 hours. Build up will go down if you change the water frequently. I ran "softened" water through mine, (17 grains) using potassium. No problems, other than the usage of the potassium.
A sacrificial anode is a damn good idea. Cleaning and a fresh coat of "black death" is a must. With clean water and old pads I then run a quart of "cooler cleaner" through the machine. (sulfamic acid???)
Thicker the pad the better change you will get until the dew point gets to about 40-45 F depending on your "comfort factor" personally I do not like the humid feeling when it comes. With the older 4 pad frames I used two of the store bought pads if they were thin or cheap 3 per frame.
The "best"cooler out there that I am aware of is the Master cool with the 12 inch wet section. You will not find these in the BORG stores.
Check all the belts, pillow blocks and then amp the motor. I ran mine at FLA. Changed motors ~5-7 years. Needed a pump about the same time. Water is pretty expensive here so the last swamper I had I kept track of the water and power bill. For the difference in cost I am an a/c guy now days.
Check your barametric damper, and if your game upducts did seem to lower the temps in the home by exhausting the attic heat out. I used the fresh air duct for the hall furnace during cooler time. Just opened the door and let the air funnel into the attic.
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Water softeners generally replace calcium ions with sodium ions, so you'll just get different kinds of salts. Dunno if they're easier to clean than the calcium scale.

They reduce but don't eliminate salt deposits. On a hot, dry day, a swamp cooler can evaporate several gallons of water per hour. If your water is hard, as it usually is in hot, dry climates, the water gets briny pretty fast, and those minerals accumulate in the pads during a season. A bleeder between the pump and the pads keeps the water fresher than daily flushing, but it also consumes significantly more water. (No free lunch.)

The single-inlet jobs use a deep, honeycomb-style fiber pad with large holes that don't clog with scale nearly as quickly and can last several years, but that design requires higher air velocity through the pad and doesn't work as well in a standard multi-pad units.
My observation is that nobody's come up with substantial improvements in pad or cooler design, no matter what the advertising claims. They're all about the same in cooling efficiency, and they all require a lot of maintenance.
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The more waterproof/resistant the better. Do you have a mfgr? If so, call them and ask what they recommend
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