When should I winterize my Albuquerque swamp cooler?

Real Estate Agent with Albuquerque Homes Realty 16572


When should I winterize my Albuquerque swamp cooler

What happens when you don't service your swamp cooler (evaporative cooler) for the fall/winter months here in New Mexico and the Albuquerque area?  Chaos, Mayhem and possibly some major expenses.  Here is a true account of what can happen with you don’t property winterized you're Albuquerque swamp cooler.


If you live in New Mexico or in the Southwest for that matter you are likely familiar with evaporative or (swamp coolers)  some love em some hate them.  Refrigerated A/C has gradually become the choice for air conditioning here in many Albuquerque homes, however a majority are still swamp coolers.  The system works when cool tap water is delivered into a reservoir pan then pumped through delivery pipes called a spider to ultimately soak the cooler pads (assorted products/material serve this purpose). A large 1/2 to 3/4 HP motor with blower wheel then push the water evaporated and cooled air through the duct system of the home.  This cooling setup has been a favored because of our dry climate, with this system you are actually adding a good bit of humidity to the interior of the home and subsequently a continued influx of fresh air unlike a refrigerated AC system.  Most often this cooler is mounted on the roof and a small waterline is attached to the water heater, hose bib or other source sometime this line is running through the attic space or via the outside wall up to the cooler.  Ok, so now you have a basic understanding of evaporative coolers or swamp coolers.  


Now to the story!


Several years ago I had taken a very nice listing in NW Albuquerque.  A beautiful two story brick home, nicely appointed and clean as a whistle.  When the home was first listed is was occupied by the owners who were relocating to California.  Shortly after the listing they packed up a moved on.  The home was only on market for a few weeks when we received two competing offers, negotiations commenced and ultimately terms agreed upon.  That very night in early December the temperatures had dropped into the teens.  At about 10pm that evening, I get a call from one of the neighbors of this home.  They wanted to know if I was the listing agent? Yes, I am, how can I help?  The man explains that the alarm is blaring nonstop and when he investigated found water running underneath the threshold of the front door!  Say that again, I said!  He repeated and I said I would be there ASAP.


I arrive at the home on this bitter cold night, it was quite dark and indeed the alarm was sounding and the entire front porch was standing in water.  I took a deep breath and opened the door to hear what sounded like a waterfall!  I found a light switch but it wasn't working, I had a flashlight and turned it on.  What I say horrified me, it looked like Niagara Falls.  Most of the sheet rock from the first floor ceiling was hanging down or on the floor, water was running down through the rafters, the carpet was under at least an inch of water and debris.  I began to frantically look for the main water shutoff of the home, I looked in all the typical places but could not find it.  I started up the stairs which too was flowing with water only to find more chaos and mayhem A portion of the ceiling there had caved in as well from the weight of the rushing water which was coming directly from above.  At that point I pretty much knew what had happened but I still could not find the main shut off. I stepped out to my truck, grabbed my tool bag then located the city water main.  With my Channel Lock pliers and very wet and very cold hands was able to get the main turned off. The siren of the alarm finally quit and I was able to compose my whirling thoughts a bit.  This was no doubt a disaster and the home was complete havoc.  


So why did all this happen?  The water line that feed the swamp cooler was a quite large 1/2 inch diameter copper line which was routed through the attic (not a good idea). The swamp cooler was never serviced and disconnected for the winter months.  The pressurized water line froze and then split the copper line allowing a large volume of continuous water to flood the attic and both floors below.


Shutting down a swamp (evaporative) cooler is IMPERATIVE no later than October! Weather and temperatures in the high desert of Albuquerque New Mexico can swing dramatically.  


In their haste to get the household moved the seller's overlooked this critical step and the unfortunate result was the story that unfolded.  The next day we immediately went to work calling the insurance companies, water evacuation companies and clean up crews.  I also called the buyer's broker to unveil the mayhem to the buyers. Recall we had just negotiated a contract.  The buyers dropped by the next day for a look and immediately terminated.  We knew the insurance company was going to rehab the entire home to include a stringent drying process to alleviate any mold issues. All new sheetrock, insulation, carpet, paint etc.  I called the other buyer who happened to be a REALTOR® and described the situation to her.  She came back out to the home, analyzed the damage and decided to resubmit her offer.  Ultimately the home was completely repaired with her choice of carpet, paint etc and we closed on time.  


The moral of the story is to make sure your evaporative (swamp) cooler is serviced in the fall before winter, this is NOT something you want to put off for a later day.  The story also proves that even a disastrous situation can have a positive outcome.  Be diligent with home maintenance and winterization.  


When should I winterize my Albuquerque swamp cooler


When you are ready to purchase or sell a home in the Albuquerque New Mexico area call a pro that knows, call John McCormack Broker with Albuquerque Homes Realty and AlbuquerqueHomes.com


John McCormack direct cell 505.980.4576



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When should I winterize my Albuquerque swamp cooler?


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Larry Lawfer
YourStories Realty Group powered by Castles Unlimited® - Newton, MA
"I listen for a living." It's all about you.

Yikes, what a story, and they say our job is glamorous. Good for you for getting it stopped.

Oct 14, 2015 02:54 AM #20
Fred Griffin, on leave of absence from ActiveRain
Fred Griffin Real Estate - Tallahassee, FL
Licensed Florida Real Estate Broker

Swamp coolers!  When I arrived in Arizona in 1976, I remember thinking, "What the heck are these?   Wet blankets over a fan in a box?"    But the swamp coolers sure felt good when the temperature went over 100 degrees!

Oct 16, 2015 12:29 PM #21
Scott Godzyk
Godzyk Real Estate Services - Manchester, NH
One of Manchester NH's Leading Agents

John McCormack that picture looks like some of my new bank owned listings. I never heard the term swamp cooler before. I hope things are well, keeping busy here. Tonight will be our first dive below freezing at night. 

Oct 16, 2015 10:27 PM #22
Kathy Streib
Room Service Home Staging - Delray Beach, FL
Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224


                      John McCormack Thanks for my Ah-ha moment. 

Oct 17, 2015 10:55 AM #23
John McCormack, CRS
Albuquerque Homes Realty - Albuquerque, NM
Honesty, Integrity, Results, Experienced. HIRE Me!

Wow.... Thanks Kathy Streib!  I'm sure I'm not alone in looking forward to your Sunday Ah -ha posts.  You rock and I truly appreciate the recognition. 

Oct 17, 2015 12:50 PM #24
Wayne Martin
Wayne M Martin - Chicago, IL
Real Estate Broker - Retired

Good morning John. Never heard of a "Samp Cooler" but great message about preventive maintenance. Enjoy your day!

Oct 17, 2015 09:30 PM #25
Roger D. Mucci
Shaken...with a Twist 216.633.2092 - Euclid, OH
Lets shake things up at your home today!

Yowza!  So glad I live in Ohio and in an apartment, I don't have to worry about any of that stuff.

Oct 17, 2015 09:33 PM #26
Dorie Dillard CRS GRI ABR
Coldwell Banker United Realtors® ~ 512.750.6899 - Austin, TX
Serving Buyers & Sellers in NW Austin Real Estate

Good morning John McCormack ,

Wow..that is the story for the books! I remember my parents had a swap cooler on their roof when the lived in Rio Rancho..always had it serviced for the winter.

Oct 17, 2015 11:00 PM #27
Kristin Johnston - REALTOR®
RE/MAX Realty Center - Waukesha, WI
Giving Back With Each Home Sold!

I am glad I didnt miss your post, thanks to Kathy!  Happy Sunday!~

Oct 18, 2015 12:05 AM #28
Sharon Lee
Sharon Lee's Virtual Assistance - Jonesborough, TN
Retired and loving life

John-I had heard about swamp coolers but didn't know about the winterizing it.

Oct 18, 2015 12:11 AM #29
Sharon Tara
Sharon Tara Transformations - Portsmouth, NH
New Hampshire Home Stager

I've never heard of a swamp cooler....

What a nightmare!  Hopefully this info will help others avoid such a mess!

Oct 18, 2015 12:37 AM #30
Pat Starnes-Front Gate Realty
Front Gate Real Estate - Brandon, MS
601-991-2900 Office; 601-278-4513 Cell

What a nightmare, but with a good outcome. There are so many comments to leave on this post, one of which is what a great Realtor you are to respond to the emergency call in freezing temperatures after 10 p.m. 

A similar disaster happened to a vacant home in my neighborhood. The owners vacated; the house was a foreclosure but the bank hadn't shut the water off or winterized the property. A sudden freeze and water was flowing from the rafters and out the front door just as you described. The sheetrock in the ceiling and everywhere else was ruined. The bank cleaned it up but didn't make repairs and sold the house "as is".

Thanks for sharing your post about "swamp coolers". Never heard of one but I appreciate how important it is to winterize them if you have one.

Oct 18, 2015 01:51 AM #31
Tammy Lankford,
Lane Realty Eatonton, GA Lake Sinclair, Milledgeville, 706-485-9668 - Eatonton, GA
Broker GA Lake Sinclair/Eatonton/Milledgeville

My sis in law used to have one in Calipatria.  Not sure if she does where she lives know or a regular A/C.

Oct 18, 2015 10:09 AM #32
Larry Johnston
Broker, Friends & Neighbors Real Estate and Elkhart County Subdivisions, LLC - Elkhart, IN
Broker,Friends & Neighbors Real Estate, Elkhart,IN

Hi John McCormack , I am not familiar with the"swamp cooler", since they are not needed in northern Indiana. Your blog must be valuable information to those in your drier area.

Oct 21, 2015 10:05 AM #33
Roy Kelley
Realty Group Referrals - Gaithersburg, MD

I hope you are enjoying a very productive week.

Have an outstanding weekend.

Oct 24, 2015 12:09 AM #34
Curtis Van Carter
Better Homes & Gardens Wine Country Group - Yountville, CA
Your Napa Valley Broker Extraordinaire


We are very fortunate here, there are virtually no swamp coolers. I have seen only a handful in me 30 years. cheers cvc

Oct 30, 2015 12:54 AM #35
Gita Bantwal
RE/MAX Centre Realtors - Warwick, PA
REALTOR,ABR,CRS,SRES,GRI - Bucks County & Philadel

I hope consumers will read this post.

Oct 31, 2015 08:26 PM #36
Sally K. & David L. Hanson
EXP Realty 414-525-0563 - Brookfield, WI
WI Realtors - Luxury - Divorce

Winter can pay some very cool/cruel tricks on plumbing...great maintenance HEADS UP !

Nov 02, 2015 09:22 PM #37
Scott Godzyk
Godzyk Real Estate Services - Manchester, NH
One of Manchester NH's Leading Agents

Stopping by to say hello, i always get a chuckle seeing the word swamp cooler. I have to find a picture from an old REO listing with a home made air conditioner. May be in my old lap top? Anyway thanks for the comments and have a good Tuesday John McCormack 

Nov 03, 2015 10:19 PM #38
Anthony Saunchez
Campa Properties - San Bernardino, CA
How can we be of service

I own a triplex in Barstow, Ca. They have swamp coolers. I have found them to be a maintenance nightmare. At a minimum they have to be serviced at the beginning and end of the season. My reality is the have to be serviced at least monthly while in operation. I am sure I will not sleep tonight after looking at the picture that accompanies the blog.

Nov 05, 2015 08:35 AM #39
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