Before air conditioning, Swamp Coolers kept the well-to-do from summer roasting. Before that, folks wet curtains or hung sheets to cool precious desert breeze. Like the ancient original Persian version, catching wind and adding water. In hot 1940 nights grandma soaked her back yard mattress with a garden hose. Poor, cheap, or smart, some still do.
Nowadays swamp coolers are lower in “class.” Rightly so: refrigerated air triples your electric bill, making it stupid but “upper class.” Also, discovered firsthand: any idiot can fix a swamp cooler. The only drawback: it don’t help much on muggy days, boo hoo. The late-season algae swamp-like funk requires only clean water and a little bleach.
Such a home cooling device does require springtime maintenance. Maintenance is a fancy word for more work. Scrape, vacuum, oil, and replace the lime-encrusted excelsior pads. The wet pads cool the air the fan sucks into the house. Exciting stuff. Rather lay under a tree by our puny desert excuse for a river all day, half the year, but no one will pay me to do it.
Thankfully Leroy and I had the same sunny day off, and it’s a nice view from the roof, mostly.
The cooler was old when I “bought” the house 17 years ago. It breaks, I fix it. The mortgage company still owns the hut. They charge all the interest up front so you pay $250k for a $100k crib, and you’re supposed to be grateful for the chance. The American Ream.
Here is a classic half-assed fix by a Broke Hick. Too cheap to pay for help, too proud to ask for it, blundering through things, learning, or not. The copper water line freezes and splits when I forget to turn the water off for winter. Car fuel line hose and clamps fix the splits, poorly. Each season the clamps must be tightened and checked for leaks. Replaced this clamp, for about 50 cents. Moron this later.
Additional excitement in the appropriately-named crawlspace, to turn water on. I did turn it off last fall, apparently.
Trying to take a picture while leaning over the edge of the roof adds a cheap thrill to cooler maintenance.
Excelsior! Capital ‘E’ makes it poetry, soccer, starships, heroes. Here we see crusty small ‘e’ excelsior removed.
The saggy-ass britches of today’s youth must be chronicled, to make sure their children mock them unmercifully someday. Naming this generation is easy; Generation “U”: “Underwear hangin’ out.” Or “P”: “Pull up your pants!” Or just “S”: “Generation Saggy-britches” has a nice flow. This sartorial silliness makes hippies look good.
Often scatterbrained, I assume every project will have self-inflicted problems. So when Dudine hollered about water dribbling from the ceiling, no surprise. Only hand-smacking-head self-loathing, having spaced the attic splice. Crawl back under to turn off water, into the attic to tighten clamps, back under for water. Much easier to write than do, and just as boring, but it worked. Water damage was minimal depending on your definition. Ain’t repainting nothing today, double negative or not!
In desert, a section of garden hose attached to the cooler overflow directs that dribble to thirsty plants. This year, the segment in the dirt at left, originally from my sister’s trash, will be adapted for that purpose.
The Old Man of the Swamp Cooler.
By the time I remembered to oil the fan bearings, it was too dark. Yeah I own a flashlight, I was tired too, OK? Tomorrow. Maybe.
View from the top of the Swamp. The dumpsters sit with mouths agape. Coolness! Celebrate the triumph of Man over Machine, no matter how fleeting it seems!