swamp cooler albuquerque

Evaporative coolers, sometimes referred to as swamp coolers, need to be winterized, and there is no better time than now because the winter is only a few months away here in Northern New Mexico.

It would be nice if all you had to do when you winterize a swamp cooler is press the shut-off button, but that is simply not the case. This process is a little more involved, but the following guide should help the process along.

Why Should You Winterize a Swamp Cooler?

A swamp cooler offers many benefits that a homeowner has probably gotten used to, but the machine doesn’t need to stay on throughout the winter. The following are a few reasons it is a good idea to shut down your cooler:

Preventing Damage

Swamp coolers are mostly made of metal, which shouldn’t be surprising to most people who own one. All those metal parts can develop rust and corrosion over the winter when the machine is not operational. 

The reason is simply because of the standing water that stays inside the machine when it is not properly winterized. Usually, the machine is drained and expertly covered to prevent moisture from sneaking in during the winter months.

Plastic swamp coolers aren’t safe from the standing water problem because of the parts inside the cooler, such as the pump, which could also be damaged.

Pest Control

Standing water is quite attractive to insects and other creatures. This makes sense if you think about it. Most living organisms need water, and the things living outside may start turning to the cooler with the standing water. You could end up with an infestation by the time winter is over, and no homeowner likes dealing with that. 


Another reason to winterize a swamp cooler is simply to save money. This is one of the big ones that probably captured your attention. 

Homeowners have a lot of expenses to deal with, so there is no need to add to that by not preparing your swamp cooler before the winter.

The damage that could occur when water is left in the machine could end up costing a lot in repairs or even force you to buy a new cooler. Infestations could also cause damage, and getting rid of them could end up costing you more money. 


A swamp cooler that is not running can end up collecting dust and grime. Both of these could work against your machine if it is not taken care of. It could diminish the overall performance of your swamp cooler and may even cause it to eat up more power than you’d want. Winterizing your swamp cooler prevents these issues from taking place because the machine is cleaned as it is serviced. The cooler is also sealed not only against moisture but dust as well.

Keeping Up With the Warranty

Those with a warranty should definitely winterize the swamp cooler. Most warranties for coolers tell you to perform general maintenance on the device to ensure you are doing your part to keep the machine working well. 

One maintenance task you are usually required to perform is shutting the unit off when it is not going to be in use for an extended period of time. It may be important to look at your warranty’s rules to be sure you are following the suggestions, just in case you ever need the warranty.

These are just some reasons why shutting off your evaporative cooler during the winter is a good idea.

How to Shut off the Evaporative Cooler?

Now that you know how important it is to shut off your cooler, here’s how to do it. (But it is perfectly okay to call specialists to get the job done right and safely.)

The following guide will help you shut off the cooler:


The first step is to completely shut the cooler off. You cannot just turn off the unit but rather unplug its power cord completely. This should keep you safe while you continue working on the unit.

It is important that you place the power cord in a safe place so that no one in your home accidentally plugs it back in or turns it on while you are working on it. Sure, you can tell everyone what you are going to be doing, but it is much better to be safe than sorry. 

Turning Off the Valve

The next step that needs to be taken deals with the water valve. You can consult your owner’s manual to find it, but most homeowners know where the valve is. The unit needs water to act as the refrigerant, so you definitely have this valve, and it needs to be turned off during this process.

Some of the bigger units could end up using a few gallons of water per day, so this step is important. Shutting off the valve is almost the most important job because the water could end up causing rust or corrosion to develop inside the unit. 

You are going to need to leave the drain open for a few days so that the cooler pan dries off completely to make sure no moisture is left inside.

Focus on Pipes

The pipes in the machine could also have a little leftover water. This one is a little harder to deal with, but there is a trick. You can simply use a conventional blow dryer to help dry out the pipes before you seal up the unit.

Cooler Pan Rinse

The cooler pan or tank should be empty at this point in the process, but that does not mean you are done with it. You are going to want to rinse it with enough fresh water to remove things like minerals and sediments.

Both of these can accumulate over time, and they will likely collect near the bottom of the pan. Rinsing the pan or tank with some freshwater should help remove sediments and minerals preventing issues like rust. 

It is important that you use a clean cloth to dry the tank or pan before you continue on to your next step. Water is your enemy at this time, so doing this should help prevent some of the issues mentioned as well as mold and mildew growth. 

Cooler Pad Replacement

It may be a good idea to change evaporative cooler pads before the winter starts. Most people normally change theirs at the beginning of summer, but it may be a good idea to switch that practice. Cooler pads may promote rust if they are used up, such as the ones people leave intact over the winter after months of hard work. 

Covering it Up

The last thing you are going to do in order to prepare your unit for the winter is cover it up. You know this step is going to help protect your unit, so make sure you do not cheapen out on the cover. 

Hopefully, this guide helps you understand why the unit has to be winterized and how you can do it on your own unless you’d prefer a professional to get it done for you. No matter who winterizes the unit, the important thing is that it is done.

Check out our article about that addressed the question, what if I don’t winterize my swamp cooler? We think you’ll enjoy.