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Old 09-24-2018, 07:46 PM   #1
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Can I use RV antifreeze in my swamp cooler???


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I use a WCM 28 champion swamp cooler here in southern Nevada after the blower motor on my rooftop air conditioner started giving me trouble. Looks like it is going to continue to be hot late into the season. Looks like we might see hot weather clear up until early November. However the nights are starting to get cold. Sometimes you can use air conditioning during the day well into the winter months here. So my question is. Can you run a swamp cooler with RV Antifreeze in it??? Will it harm the water pump and filters?? Or is it perfectly safe to use, so it will protect the cooler from freezing during the evening hours when it will not be used??? Your feedback would be appreciated. Thank you
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Old 09-24-2018, 07:48 PM   #2
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It won’t hurt anything, but you’re not gonna like the smell inside.
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Old 09-24-2018, 07:52 PM   #3
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And it won't cool. The cooling is done by evaporating the water..
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Old 09-24-2018, 07:57 PM   #4
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Since a swamp cooler evaporates the water to provide cooling, I'd think that the additives in the RV antifreeze would tend to accumulate and not be healthy for the mats and other parts, and not great for you breathing the chemicals in the vapor. Why not just put a few incandescent light bulbs in the unit to prevent freezing overnight? If it has a drain plug, you could drain the water and refill it when you want to use it. You could get a small thermostatically controlled heater used in water dishes on farms.
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Old 09-24-2018, 08:10 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by cimplexsound View Post
Attachment 220423
I use a WCM 28 champion swamp cooler here in southern Nevada after the blower motor on my rooftop air conditioner started giving me trouble. Looks like it is going to continue to be hot late into the season. Looks like we might see hot weather clear up until early November. However the nights are starting to get cold. Sometimes you can use air conditioning during the day well into the winter months here. So my question is. Can you run a swamp cooler with RV Antifreeze in it??? Will it harm the water pump and filters?? Or is it perfectly safe to use, so it will protect the cooler from freezing during the evening hours when it will not be used??? Your feedback would be appreciated. Thank you
A swamp cooler works by running a small amount of water across a filter of some kind. The latent enegy of evaporating the water from a liquid to a gas uses energy-the heat in your house, and thus cools the home. They work fine in a dry climate as you need a certain amount of moisture in the air and water more readily evaporated in low humidity. Antifreeze cannot be used in a swamp cooler. Ethylene glycol will kill you.
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Old 09-24-2018, 08:26 PM   #6
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Think the fumes would drive you nuts over Tim, not sure of the health effects. Breathed some in over the years when as a young airman I got stuck de icing aft with a heated glycol mixture. Supposed to be relatively harmless, but wouldn’t want to subject myself to it long term. I can say it does evaporate though so you would be breathing it in.
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Old 09-24-2018, 09:08 PM   #7
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A swamp cooler works by running a small amount of water across a filter of some kind. The latent enegy of evaporating the water from a liquid to a gas uses energy-the heat in your house, and thus cools the home. They work fine in a dry climate as you need a certain amount of moisture in the air and water more readily evaporated in low humidity. Antifreeze cannot be used in a swamp cooler. Ethylene glycol will kill you.
Swamp coolers typically use 'wood wool', a type of excelsior made up of long wood fibers as a mat, not a filter, that the water is dripped onto by a pump. A fan blows across the mat and the change of state from a liquid to a gas (evaporation) takes energy out of the air and cools efficiently in an arid climate. Typical RV antifreeze is made of propylene glycol and considered safe for humans and pets. It does have an odor that would be concentrated if used in an evaporative cooler.
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Old 09-25-2018, 12:25 AM   #8
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likely to cover everything in a sticky, gooy mess as it dries
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Old 09-25-2018, 03:45 PM   #9
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Whoa, folks. RV "potable water" antifreeze is propylene glycol, not ethylene glycol. It's non toxic, though it still has a distinct aroma. As best I can tell, there are no federal or state guidelines for either drinking or breathing propylene glycol and it is considered a safe chemical. The World Health Organization, though, says a max of 25 mg per KG of body weight. That's still a lot!


All that said, I doubt if it would be good for the swamp cooler even if you don't mind the stink. PG is rather oily and doesn't evaporate well, so might stick on the fiber mats. You could add an ethanol (ethyl alcohol) antifreeze to it and not bother the cooler function, but I suspect it would evaporate quickly and have to be replaced after running the swamp cooler for a short while. Ought to be fine over a cold night, though.
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Old 09-25-2018, 05:25 PM   #10
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It wont be below freezing long enough for the water in you swamp cooler to freeze solid unless we have a unusual winter like we had one year in the 1990's.that year it never warmed as usual during the day.
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Old 09-25-2018, 05:34 PM   #11
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A swamp cooler can be run with just about any low viscosity liquid in it. HOWEVER, if you want it to provide cool air and not permanently damage the pads, it should only be run with plain water. Antifreeze and swamp coolers are not a good combination.



A light freeze will rarely damage a swamp cooler. Unless you block the inlets at night, warmer air from the coach will also keep the air in the cooler a little higher than the outside temperature. If damage does occur, it is usually the float (not very expensive). The pump is robust enough and doesn't have a contained volume to be compressed by freezing surface water. If the freeze is such that the entire tray of water is frozen, expect damage to the pump impeller.



Be more concerned with the water supply line into the swamp cooler. A light freeze can easily rupture plastic tubing. It takes a deeper freeze to rupture a copper supply line, but it will weakened. Best to turn off the water supply to the cooler each night and drain the tubing if a freeze is anticipated.


If night temps are dipping into the low 30's, the day temps may be cool enough that using the cooler on the vent setting (no water and the pump not running) will be sufficient for your needs.
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Old 09-25-2018, 06:11 PM   #12
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I've used swamp coolers for 40+ years out here in the desert of So. Cal.
If weather gets down into the 30's our highs might be in low 70's at most. Sure don't need swamp cooler then. I drain the water out of ours come cooler temps. Hi should be in low 100's here this week. Swamp cooler is on right now.
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Old 09-25-2018, 06:18 PM   #13
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Some RV antifreeze brands brag that the oily nature of the antifreeze will lubricate valve seals. That same property probably will destroy the mat's ability to absorb water and allow it to evaporate from the fibers. Drain the water if you're afraid of freezing, or add a heating device (lightbulb) as I said before.
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Old 09-26-2018, 05:42 AM   #14
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Totally ignorant about swamp coolers, but in very early years they tried alcohol as antifreeze. Did not work rear well because it boiled at to low of temp...
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