Cooler Additives: What's in Your Water?

The internet is full of suggestions about any topic imaginable, and this includes evaporative coolers. Do a quick search, and you’ll find plenty of “hacks” for evaporative coolers on the internet, but do they work? Unfortunately, no. Some suggestions could even harm your cooler. We took a look at some of the popular hacks we found, and here is the real information you need to know about evaporative cooler care.

We found many sites that suggest adding a cup of fabric softener to the cooler water to freshen the air and mask any “new media smell” that sometimes occurs at the start of the season. We do not recommend this. While occasional fabric softener use might not cause immediately apparent damage, prolonged use will. Always flush the water from the unit to dissipate any media smell. Another popular misinformed suggestion involves adding dry ice to the cooler water to make the air colder. Again, not a good idea. Adding dry ice also adds extra carbon dioxide to the house, and large amounts of it could lead to CO2 toxicity. As the saying goes, do not try this at home.

Chlorine bleach, non-chlorine bleach, pool tablets, and hydrogen peroxide are popular chemicals used for cleaning. They are known as oxidizing biocides, and they should never be used in an evaporative cooler as they are known to destroy metals, cellulose, and wood.

Oxidizing biocides aren’t the only chemicals that can harm your cooler. Many chemicals are acidic and can corrode the cooler and damage the media pads. If in doubt, play it safe and never add anything to your cooler water unless it is specifically manufactured for and approved for use in evaporative coolers. These are available from industrial water treatment specialists and some pool supply stores.

So what’s on the “safe” list? White vinegar can be used to clean the media pads and the cooler. Always remember to flush the media and drain and clean the reservoir after cleaning. All of the vinegar residues need to be cleared from the media and pan before refilling the cooler. It is also recommended to dry the media pads occasionally to discourage bacteria growth.

Stay on top of cooler maintenance to keep your cooler running at peak level. Read your labels and ensure any additive is approved for evaporative cooler use before adding it to the water. If you still have questions, our Customer Service Team is here to help. Give them a call at 800-643-8341. Office hours are Monday through Friday, 7:00 am – 5:30 pm CST.

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