Summer is coming -- help me fix my swamp cooler?
January 24, 2014 10:39 AM Subscribe
I have a weird, vexing problem with my swamp cooler. Electricity is involved. Short version: when I turn it on, it blows the circuit breaker. Details below.
posted by Mo' Money Moe Bandy to Home & Garden (8 answers total)
Last year, we refurbished our ancient swamp cooler, and installed a new motor and a new pump. Initially, everything seemed to work fine. But shortly after the installation, we found that when we turned the switch (standard five settings -- high/low cool and high/low fan and pump only), it would trip the circuit breaker. I'm not sure why it worked fine initially, then developed this issue.
My online research into this problem suggested that it could be a worn out switch box (possible, since it was very old), a wiring issue inside the box, or maybe something worn out in the plug. So I replaced the switch box, redid the wiring in the box, and took off the old plug and installed a new one.
Afterwards, everything worked -- mostly. If I turned the switch on clockwise one click, to pump only, it would trip the circuit breaker. But if we turned the knob the other way, to the high/low fan settings, it would NOT trip the circuit breaker, even if the switch was then turned all the way through high cool to low cool. (This was not consistent -- sometimes, we could turn it to pump only from off, and it would just work.) When it would trip, we were able to reset the breaker and turn the cooler on again.
We were willing to live with this, so everything was OK for a while, but one day I wasn't thinking and turned the switch to low cool, once again tripping the circuit breaker. This time, though, resetting the circuit breaker didn't work. If I turn it on at all, either direction, it trips the breaker. Thinking maybe something had come loose in the switch box or plug, I opened it all up and redid everything to make sure everything was connected right, but it didn't help.
I'm at a loss as to what the problem is. My wife thinks the pump is the culprit, that it might be too powerful and drawing too much juice. I suppose that's possible -- the cooler is on the same circuit as our TV and computers, and if I plug in something power-sucking like a space heater or portable air conditioner, it will trip the breaker. But it seems like if that were the case we wouldn't have been able to run it for weeks without issues. Or not? I'm also puzzled by the erratic nature of the problem (up to the point where it completely failed). Any thoughts on what's happening here?