Shop Projects: Cleaning the Swamp Cooler Spray Bar

As the summer heated up I began to notice that my swamp cooler wasn’t cooling as well as I recalled it doing last year.  Everything was in good shape mechanically and electrically and water seemed to be flowing when commanded, so I struggled to come up with a reason for the change.  I finally used an IR camera to try and see if there was anything amiss, and that highlighted that there was a significant temperature gradient across the pad. The only part of the system I hadn’t checked was the spray bar, and if it were clogged than it could cause that type of gradient.

Sure enough, once I disassembled the unit and got the spray bar in hand it was easy to compare the top and bottom holes in the bar and see that it was clogged for the lower half.  My cooler has the bar installed at a slight angle to help it drain, and over time the lower holes had accumulated scale and debris.

A nail and a hammer turned out to be the best tool to remove the debris from the clogged holes, and once I had finished clearing them out I decided to take off the end fitting and empty out the small plugs of debris that had been pushed into the pipe while cleaning.  What I found was beyond my expectations – nearly the entire tube was packed with flakes of scale, probably from the inside walls of the tube itself.  Aft flushing out the tube and reassembling everything the swamp cooler now works better than it ever has since I moved in.

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