If you have a single inlet swamp cooler, also known as an evaporative cooler, and notice a foul odor when starting up the system or after changing the pad, you’re not imagining the bad odor. MasterCool, AeroCool and other models that use a single pad work by pulling outside air through a  wet pad, pushing that air into the home.

The common assessment is that there can be a smell (some people say it smells like urine) when the pad is new. That’s because of the glue used by the manufacturer. The glue seems to grab on to pollen in the air and the water running over the pad creates the smell.

Here are some steps you can take to address and prevent the odor, while also ensuring the pads function effectively:

  1. Running the cooler for 3 to 4 hours can help flush out any stagnant water and improve air circulation. Wetting the pad thoroughly will reduce the odor. You may want to run the cooler during a period you’re away from home.
  2. Use Fabric Softener: Some users suggest soaking the pads in a solution of water and fabric softener before placing them back in the cooler. This can help reduce odors and give a fresh scent. Make sure to rinse the pads well to avoid any residue that might affect performance.
  3. Deodorizers: You can also use commercial deodorizers designed for swamp coolers. These can be added to the water reservoir to help keep the unit smelling fresh.

By following these steps, you can reduce the unpleasant smell from your new swamp cooler pads and maintain a fresher, more efficient cooling system. Over time, swamp cooler pads can also develop an unpleasant smell, often due to mold, mildew, or the accumulation of dirt and pollen.

If the pads are not new but you’re noticing odors, it may be time for routine maintenance. Regular maintenance should include cleaning the water tank and making sure the water reservoir is being fully drained and refilled to prevent the buildup of contaminants, such as in a corner of the reservoir.  Remove and clean the pads occasionally with a mild detergent and water. Rinse them well to remove any soap residue.

If the swamp cooler still has an odor, it may be time to replace the pads, however, depending on the manufacturer and the glue used, you could start the cycle all over again! Any time the pads are old or heavily crusted with mineral buildup, consider replacing them with new ones to allow the swamp cooler to cool as efficiently as possible and reduce the impurities it allows into the home.

Swamp coolers offer a less expensive way to cool your home but they do have drawbacks—when the temperature is very hot (90 degrees or more) or it’s humid, swamp coolers don’t cool well. For example, if there’s 50 percent humidity, the cooler can only be expected to drop the temperature by 10 degrees inside versus the outside temperature. Hard water also makes a huge difference in how long the pads last and how much maintenance is needed each summer. In the Albuquerque area, many homes still have swamp coolers for summer cooling. If you’d like a free estimate to replace your swamp cooler with a refrigerated air system, give us a call.