Does Swamp cooler water need to be clean?

Swamp Coolers, Cooler Management, Dry Ice, Misting Systems, and just plain how to beat the heat.
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Does Swamp cooler water need to be clean?

Postby digsdisc » Tue Feb 25, 2014 12:58 pm

I was thinking of this idea where the grey water from my sink and solar shower feed the swamp cooler via siphon. Any ideas on whether this would cause the yurt to smell?

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Re: Does Swamp cooler water need to be clean?

Postby chuckularone » Tue Feb 25, 2014 1:38 pm

DO NOT DO THIS! You will be breathing in this moisture. You want only clean, potable water in your swamp cooler!
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Re: Does Swamp cooler water need to be clean?

Postby VultureChow » Tue Feb 25, 2014 1:44 pm

You can use clean ice melt though.

I personally drink my melted ice, but I think it would be great for a swamp cooler.
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Re: Does Swamp cooler water need to be clean?

Postby trilobyte » Tue Feb 25, 2014 1:56 pm

Welcome to the site, and what a terrible idea! You do get points for creative thinking, but you do not want to use dirty water for this (as chuckularone says, you don't want to be breathing it). VultureChow's suggestion is great if you're not already planning on using the water from melted ice, otherwise just plan to bring additional clean water to cover your swamp cooler's needs.

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Re: Does Swamp cooler water need to be clean?

Postby Canoe » Tue Feb 25, 2014 4:16 pm

It's not the smell. It's the bacteria you can grow and breath. And fumes off of soaps, etc..

Ice melt is fine, provided it wasn't contaminated by food (food raised above and/or well sealed) (nor by bacteria off of hands fishing out drinks).

The standard is potable water, or ice from potable water.
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Re: Does Swamp cooler water need to be clean?

Postby GreyCoyote » Tue Feb 25, 2014 5:20 pm

The reality is you could chlorinate it, ozone it, hit it with chlorine dioxide or a permanganate and likely get away with it. Raise the ORP high enough for long enough and you will indeed have sterile water. BUT, you still have to deal with soaps, fats, and all that other crap. Remember, just because its sterile water does not mean its clean or suitable for breathing. And lacking that, it doesnt belong in a swamp cooler. Ever.

It is technically possible to produce clean, drinkable water from highly polluted (even sewage-based) sources. But the effort is not trivial or within the means of the average burner. but if you interested in the process, look at some of the posts by "Mulch". Last year he brought a recirculating shower to the playa that used this type of technology with great success. Of course, he was a medical doctor, had a good budget, and tested the heck out of it. His system took most of a trailer to transport. His water would have played very nicely in a swamp cooler. If you can do the same, git 'er dun. But if you screw up, you run the risk of making a lot of people very sick.

Might want to stick to clean water. :mrgreen:
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Re: Does Swamp cooler water need to be clean?

Postby BBadger » Tue Feb 25, 2014 7:27 pm

GreyCoyote wrote:The reality is you could chlorinate it, ozone it, hit it with chlorine dioxide or a permanganate and likely get away with it. Raise the ORP high enough for long enough and you will indeed have sterile water. BUT, you still have to deal with soaps, fats, and all that other crap. Remember, just because its sterile water does not mean its clean or suitable for breathing. And lacking that, it doesnt belong in a swamp cooler. Ever.


But sterile urine... that's a different matter.
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Re: Does Swamp cooler water need to be clean?

Postby GreyCoyote » Tue Feb 25, 2014 7:30 pm

Badger, I loves ya like a bother, but you ain't pissin' in my swamp cooler. :mrgreen: Now skedaddle before I brain ya with that piss bucket yer a'holdin...
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Re: Does Swamp cooler water need to be clean?

Postby theCryptofishist » Tue Feb 25, 2014 7:30 pm

BBadger wrote:
GreyCoyote wrote:The reality is you could chlorinate it, ozone it, hit it with chlorine dioxide or a permanganate and likely get away with it. Raise the ORP high enough for long enough and you will indeed have sterile water. BUT, you still have to deal with soaps, fats, and all that other crap. Remember, just because its sterile water does not mean its clean or suitable for breathing. And lacking that, it doesnt belong in a swamp cooler. Ever.


But sterile urine... that's a different matter.

Save that for cocktails! Tasty and healthy! And you don't even have to piss clear!
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Re: Does Swamp cooler water need to be clean?

Postby BBadger » Tue Feb 25, 2014 7:45 pm

GreyCoyote wrote:Badger, I loves ya like a bother, but you ain't pissin' in my swamp cooler. :mrgreen: Now skedaddle before I brain ya with that piss bucket yer a'holdin...


Not even if I eat some asparagus beforehand? And let it cool down?
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Re: Does Swamp cooler water need to be clean?

Postby GreyCoyote » Tue Feb 25, 2014 7:48 pm

BBadger wrote:
GreyCoyote wrote:Badger, I loves ya like a brother, but you ain't pissin' in my swamp cooler. :mrgreen: Now skedaddle before I brain ya with that piss bucket yer a'holdin...


Not even if I eat some asparagus beforehand? And let it cool down?


Sigh. NO.

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Re: Does Swamp cooler water need to be clean?

Postby digsdisc » Tue Feb 25, 2014 8:37 pm

Thanks guys. Yeah, I figured it was a bad idea, but since you all are so amazingly informed I thought I'd throw a line in the water and see if there were some creative elements here that I hadn't seen yet.

Maybe I'll just pee in my cousin's swamp cooler and see how he does with that!!!

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Re: Does Swamp cooler water need to be clean?

Postby EspressoDude » Thu Feb 27, 2014 5:52 am

A bit of bleach in any swamp cooler water is a good idea. Swamp coolers are notorious breeding grounds for bacteria, mold, algae, and things you do not want to imagine. Any of the nasties that grow near body temperature will grow in a swamp cooler. Also when the cooler pads get caked with playa dust after the first windstorm the effectiveness of the cooler goes way down. The playa dust is full of nasties also. get some wet like in a bucket and after a few days it smells like sh*t
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Re: Does Swamp cooler water need to be clean?

Postby FIGJAM » Thu Feb 27, 2014 6:48 am

EspressoDude wrote:A bit of bleach in any swamp cooler water is a good idea. Swamp coolers are notorious breeding grounds for bacteria, mold, algae, and things you do not want to imagine. Any of the nasties that grow near body temperature will grow in a swamp cooler. Also when the cooler pads get caked with playa dust after the first windstorm the effectiveness of the cooler goes way down. The playa dust is full of nasties also. get some wet like in a bucket and after a few days it smells like sh*t


In 45 years of using a swamp cooler in AZ. and 4 years on the playa, none of that has happened.

Using clean water is important because when you turn the cooler off, the wet pads turn into the perfect medium for growing any bacteria that may be in contaminated water.

A little bleach is a good idea, but I've never used any. 8)
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Re: Does Swamp cooler water need to be clean?

Postby unjonharley » Thu Feb 27, 2014 8:04 am

Thread drift,, Do not use Simple Green in your windshield washer tank.. It is made of veggies and spoils.. No smell so good :cry:

Any protein matter left in standing water will rot/spoil & mold..

Even your shin flakes from showering.. Its natures way of cleaning up..

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Re: Does Swamp cooler water need to be clean?

Postby Canoe » Thu Feb 27, 2014 10:17 am

Never heard of a problem either, with bacteria when using only potable water, or with dust gathering on the recommended filters (the water flow washes it off; if there's been lots of dust, you may have to scoop some out of the bottom of the cooler).

I have seen a number of warnings to NOT use bleach, as the fumes can damage your eyes or lungs.
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Re: Does Swamp cooler water need to be clean?

Postby GreyCoyote » Thu Feb 27, 2014 10:33 am

If you need to kill or prevent microbial growth, use a splash of hydrogen peroxide occasionally. It decomposes into water and oxygen shortly, and is completely playa friendly. It is also odorless. Way better than bleach for this application. Safe for plastic and metals at any reasonable dilution. :mrgreen:
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Re: Does Swamp cooler water need to be clean?

Postby unjonharley » Thu Feb 27, 2014 10:44 am

GreyCoyote wrote:If you need to kill or prevent microbial growth, use a splash of hydrogen peroxide occasionally. It decomposes into water and oxygen shortly, and is completely playa friendly. It is also odorless. Way better than bleach for this application. Safe for plastic and metals at any reasonable dilution. :mrgreen:

Used a diluted peroxide to clean camel piss out of carpet fringe.. Power washed the rug and hung it.. Piss run down to the fringe and dried..

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Re: Does Swamp cooler water need to be clean?

Postby unjonharley » Thu Feb 27, 2014 10:54 am

Canoe wrote:Never heard of a problem either, with bacteria when using only potable water, or with dust gathering on the recommended filters (the water flow washes it off; if there's been lots of dust, you may have to scoop some out of the bottom of the cooler).


We are not talking micro bacteria here.. Grey/shower water has skin,scales, scabs,cum,snot and other body discharge.. When left sitting in water it begins to rot and smell.. That will develope into mold and then airborne mold spore.

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Re: Does Swamp cooler water need to be clean?

Postby deedly » Sat Sep 06, 2014 10:26 am

digsdisc wrote:I was thinking of this idea where the grey water from my sink and solar shower feed the swamp cooler via siphon. Any ideas on whether this would cause the yurt to smell?

Maybe you could run the grey water through a solar distiller and let the distiller supply the swamp cooler.

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Re: Does Swamp cooler water need to be clean?

Postby otakup0pe » Sat Sep 06, 2014 12:23 pm

EspressoDude wrote:A bit of bleach in any swamp cooler water is a good idea. Swamp coolers are notorious breeding grounds for bacteria, mold, algae, and things you do not want to imagine. Any of the nasties that grow near body temperature will grow in a swamp cooler. Also when the cooler pads get caked with playa dust after the first windstorm the effectiveness of the cooler goes way down. The playa dust is full of nasties also. get some wet like in a bucket and after a few days it smells like sh*t

Came here to mention all of this. We ended up putting a little bit of bleach in our swamp cooler. I think I'm going to start changing out the pads every year.

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Re: Does Swamp cooler water need to be clean?

Postby FIGJAM » Sat Sep 06, 2014 12:59 pm

I've lived in homes with swamp coolers most of my 60 years and did my own maintenance.

As long as you use potable water they don't grow anything in them.

This was the 5th year with the same pads in the playa coolers.

With the house coolers running 24/7 all summer, it was necessary to change the pads once a year due to calcium build up on the pads. 8)
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Re: Does Swamp cooler water need to be clean?

Postby Hondovious » Sat Sep 06, 2014 1:17 pm

I used ice melt from a not very well managed cooler my first year, once, and the swamp cooler smelled for the rest of the event. I now use those XL 2ftx2ft ziploc bags to keep my ice in and it is perfect for drinking or the swamp cooler after it melts. Much easier to keep the ice separate from everything than to try and make sure all of the food is perfectly sealed. I use that Aspen Pads for my swamp cooler, and it is a good 5-7 degrees cooler than the rest of my camp who use the blue pads. It is moopy, so I just put a layer of screen mesh over the holes to keep the wood in.

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Re: Does Swamp cooler water need to be clean?

Postby unjonharley » Sat Sep 06, 2014 3:00 pm

There is black mold in the northwest... So dump your swamp cooler out and let it dry completely.. Store it dry for your next burn.. There are living (but dehydrated) things in that desert dust..They can be rehydrated in high in humidity areas of the states and will then attract mold.. In the spring/summer when you restart your swamp cooler, If it "smells" you may have mold in it.. Change the pads.. Some molds can make a person very sick or kill..
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Re: Does Swamp cooler water need to be clean?

Postby AntiM » Fri Sep 19, 2014 9:27 am

We have a swamp cooler on top of our house. While the aspen pads may cool a bit better, I have asthma, and the blue pads are less of an issue with that. Still, we use a filter in the throat of the down vent. Catches all sorts of crap out of the air.

You're breathing in the humidity created by your bucket. You want to keep it as clear of contaminants as possible. We use clean water, and clean cooler water later in the week. We don't use new pads each year, but Larry does clean them well before storing the buckets. Aspen pads should not be re-used. They get funky in storage.
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Re: Does Swamp cooler water need to be clean?

Postby SageV » Tue Sep 23, 2014 8:48 am

digsdisc wrote:I was thinking of this idea where the grey water from my sink and solar shower feed the swamp cooler via siphon. Any ideas on whether this would cause the yurt to smell?


So, I've been building little portable swamp coolers since about 2006 that I use for the Burn. Some of them are as small as a file box. Theory aside, you will gum up the works inside your swamp cooler if you use grey water, the crap tends to leave a residue of whatever isn't evaporated on the inside of your plumbing and the evaporative medium. That means trying to clean the guts of your swamp cooler on the Playa. If your swamp cooler is full of grey water, I guarantee you that will be double unplus fun. Also, while the evaporative medium is generally cheaply replaceable (you can make your own out of cardboard boxes as a matter of fact), I don't know what it does to the evaporative efficiency of the medium if its covered with waxy buildup from grease and soap film. In practice, I never got far enough to worrying about the medium, because I almost burned out my sump pump because the pipes were all gummed up with grey water.

I am toying with the idea of a burn barrel powered still that distills the gunk out of the grey water at night for use the next day. That I think might hold some promise, so maybe someone smarter than me will steal the idea and implement it before I get to tinkering and solve the problem before I burn time on it.

Also, fun tidbit, running a swamp cooler with grey water is technically against the health codes in NV, not that they would know, so don't tell them.
Last edited by SageV on Tue Sep 23, 2014 9:05 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Does Swamp cooler water need to be clean?

Postby SageV » Tue Sep 23, 2014 8:59 am

deedly wrote:
digsdisc wrote:I was thinking of this idea where the grey water from my sink and solar shower feed the swamp cooler via siphon. Any ideas on whether this would cause the yurt to smell?

Maybe you could run the grey water through a solar distiller and let the distiller supply the swamp cooler.


Solar distillers are very effective at killing pathogens, but they aren't very efficient at distilling water. In playa conditions, they are probably about as effective as they possibly going to be, but they will still require constant maintenance to ensure they aren't occluded by playa dust (that's about a 30% efficiency hit), and they will only be at optimal efficiency for about half the day, because of the way most of them are angled to catch the sun. Further, if anything besides water in the grey water will evaporate, it's likely to leave a film on the inside of the distiller, that also means cleaning the inside of the distiller occasionally, which basically causes you to lose distilling time.

It's going to take up quite a bit of real estate and won't be friendly to move, but I only dabble on the mechanical engineering side. Someone should try it, that's just the theory.
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Re: Does Swamp cooler water need to be clean?

Postby JonMartin » Mon Feb 23, 2015 6:10 pm

How about a gray water prefilter like this:
Image
http://www.waterwisegroup.com/technical-information.html

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Re: Does Swamp cooler water need to be clean?

Postby Token » Mon Feb 23, 2015 7:02 pm

JonMartin wrote:How about a gray water prefilter like this:
Image
http://www.waterwisegroup.com/technical-information.html


How good is it at filtering penile cheese?

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Re: Does Swamp cooler water need to be clean?

Postby GreyCoyote » Mon Feb 23, 2015 7:09 pm

I would be very wary of that system and vendor. Reading the website they deny there are any US standards for greywater devices, but this is clearly false. For starters, see ANSI/NSF-350, et seq.

That filter is nothing more than an expensive ($700!) mechanical crap trap. It uses matala media as a mechanical filter but does absolutely nothing for TDS, TSS, BOD, etc. These elements would need to be addressed to reuse the water on the playa for cooling.

I think you could do the same thing a lot cheaper and better with a couple of buckets, a paint filter sock, and a splash of bleach. :roll:
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