How to Stop Damage to Your Evaporative Cooler

As one of the leading suppliers of evaporative air conditioning in Perth, we can tell you that evaporative coolers keep growing in popularity because of the core benefits they bring over other appliances. Also known as ‘swamp coolers’, these appliances are the most efficient and effective to cool larger areas, where air conditioners or a series of industrial fans fall short.

Air conditioners will do a good enough job but require several units to cool a large area, unlike evaporative coolers that only need a couple for the same space. Likewise, you’d need several fans to cool a large space, and they aren’t even very effective because when the weather is warm, all they do is blow hot air around.

Swamp coolers are useful because they cool a large area with just a couple of units needed in place of where you’d normally need several air con units or fans. They can deliver cool air at speeds of up to 70 kilometres per hour, and don’t even need to be in a fully enclosed space to do it, as air conditioners do.

For this reason, evaporative coolers have taken over as the appliance of choice for people that need to cool large areas effectively and efficiently. However, they have been known to break down, because of a common problem known as ‘dry run’ pump damage. This is when the pump of the mechanism fails to receive water that is vital for its operation. Without a water flow into the pump, this leads to several other problems.

What is Dry Run Pump Damage?

The pumps in evaporative coolers use a centrifugal action to pump water, which is then used to cool the air. This is the main mechanism of how the cooler works, by spraying water into the air. Unfortunately, if there is no water passing through the pump – a ‘dry run’ – it will cause friction between the internal components.

There is no grease or oil used in a swamp cooler to reduce friction, only the water itself. So without any liquid passing through, the friction will wear down the components, which damages the pump. If there is too much friction, this also causes overheating.

Generally speaking, dry run pump damage is one of the worst ways you can damage your evaporative cooler. Even operating the appliance just briefly could result in damage, so it’s extremely important to prevent it from happening. There are a few ways you can prevent dry runs from occurring, but first, it’s important to know why the damage takes place.

Why does Damage Arise from Dry Pump Runs?

Every evaporative cooler works by having a water reservoir attached to it. This is where the cooler sucks in the liquid and then sprays it around the area to cool down the surrounding environment. The trick, therefore, is never to allow this reservoir to go empty and also always ensure that there is a water flow from the reservoir to the pump.

A swamp cooler will still operate without water flowing to it, but this means it will run without lubrication, in turn causing irreversible damage to the pump from the friction. The main thing is to always ensure that the pump is accepting a flow of water from the reservoir; otherwise, this could lead to further problems.

What Problems Come From Dry Run Pump Damage?

When the pump has too much friction, it will stop functioning properly. The heat caused from the friction will also cause the seal to start leaking. This means that a puddle of water may appear around the bottom of the cooler. This could then damage other appliances, furniture, or create an injury hazard.

The broken seal means that water can no longer be held in the pump, and that’s why the water begins to leak out. This will cause insufficient cooling, and also mean further friction that heats the pump, thus exacerbating the problem meaning that it won’t be able to cool the air as effectively as it should.

You will know if the seal is broken because a puddle will likely appear around the cooler. It is extremely important not to allow the water spillage to flow to electrical sockets, as there is danger of electrocution. This is why we always recommend getting the seal replaced as soon as possible if you are spotting the signs that it has been damaged.

However, the good news is that the seal is easy to replace. If you suspect the seal on your swamp cooler has been damaged in any way, then you should seek to have it replaced as soon as possible, before it leads to other difficulties.

Even though most components of your evaporative cooler will be resistant to water damage, because of the operation of the appliance, there is still a chance of electrical damage from water leakage. If the water reaches some of the components in your cooler that are not waterproof, this could lead to complete breakdown, and in some cases having to replace the unit altogether.

Another problem related to water leakage is damage to the bearings. When the seal leaks, the water will go into the pump itself, which in turn could leak into the bearing inside the motor. Since the bearing is lubricated with grease, it will mix with the water that comes into contact with it. This liquid mixture is unsuitable for the components and will lead to mechanical failure.

The bearing will wear out if it comes into contact with this water-grease solution, meaning it will need to be replaced. At other times, the entire motor will need to be replaced simply because water seeped into the mechanism. It really pays to catch the problem early on and replace any broken seal as soon as possible in order to stop water leaking inside the pump.

However, it is best to prevent the seal from rupturing in the first place, and this means not allowing your swamp cooler to operate a dry run in the first place.

How Can I Prevent My Pump from Running Dry?

Before suffering any damage to the pump, you can prevent it from running dry in the first place by trying out one of these options:

  • Get a Larger Reservoir

This is especially important if your evaporative cooler is working hard and likely to run out of water. If you are cooling a large area with substantially high temperatures, then installing a larger reservoir may be your first port of call.

  • Monitor and Check Water Level is Sufficient

Even if you have installed a larger reservoir, you still need to ensure that there is enough water going into the pump. If you see that the water level has gone down to a dangerous level, then turn off the cooler immediately, and see that the water is replaced to a sufficient amount.

  • Continuous Water Supply

Even more effective at preventing damage is fitting your pump to a continuous water supply that will never run out, therefore making a dry run impossible. Be careful, however, to ensure the supply really is continuous. If for some reason there is a halt to the flow of water, but your cooler is left on, this will instantaneously lead to your pump running dry.

However, with the knowledge that lack of water going into the pump is the most common problem for swamp coolers, many manufacturers have now installed a safety feature to try and prevent dry pump runs. Instead of waiting for the water supply to run out, causing dry run pump damage, manufacturers of swamp coolers now provide an automatic shut-off whenever the water in a swamp cooler runs out.

It is certainly worth asking your supplier if your appliance is fitted with this safety device if you have any concern that your coolers may run the risk of dry run pump damage, for example, if you know that you may need to leave the coolers unattended for long periods of time.

With this new safety mechanism installed on evaporative coolers, they are virtually ‘foolproof’ and can never go wrong. However, don’t forget that if you are leaving an area unattended for a while and the cooler shuts off, in turn, the environment will begin to heat up very quickly. It is recommended that even with the automatic switch-off feature included, you schedule regular checks to your cooler to ensure that it is working properly and doing its intended job of cooling down the air.

If you’d like to learn more about evaporative air conditioning, please contact us today on 1800 842 659, and we’d be glad to talk to you. Advanced Evaporative and Heating have a combined experience of over 20 years, and our expert team can install, service and repair all types of evaporative air systems. We boast that all of our technicians are fully licenced and insured with public liability, and all work is covered with a 12/12 parts and labour warranty.