Friday, May 13, 2011


In an effort to blog about something other than backcountry skiing or cycling I was thinking of some childhood memories. I thought they would make good blog stories. So, today I bring you the story of the Swamp Cooler.

I am sure many of you if not all of you grew up in a house that used a Swamp Cooler as its main source of Air Conditioning. In Utah, it worked pretty well 75% of the time. If it was Humid it didn't work so well. Some draw backs were sometimes your food would get stale from the extra humidity, loud, really cold right by the vent and not so cold further away, gettin it up and going. This post will focus on the last one. 

You see, at my house growing up, I had 3 older siblings. The closest of which was 4 years older than I. This basically meant that as soon as I was old enough to take on certain tasks, they were immediately passed down. Enter the Swamp Cooler. I cant remember exactly how old I was when I took this task on but Im guessing maybe 9 or so. The time would come to get the coolers up and running at some point in May usually. 

My dad would get a bucket, a screwdriver and a wrench. It didn't matter what kind of wrench either. My dad would get the ladder out, carry his bucket with his screwdriver and his wrench in it with the hose in the other hand. Now, to this day I have no idea first hand what went on up there I just have my reflections of being at the bottom. That is inside working the controls of the unit. Water was going everywhere my dad made his way up to the roof while I waited patiently at the vent where the controls were. Our controls were old school. You had pump, a hi and a low along with off of course. 

And it begins. My dad would start yelling. OK TURN IT ON! Im seriously laughing while I type this. I would turn the pump on. OK TURN IT OFF! BANG BANG BANG. I am not sure if this is what the wrench was used for or the screwdriver. OK TURN IT ON AGAIN! I could hear water running, BANG BANG BANG. TURN IT OFF! TURN IT OFF! OK, JUST WAIT A MINUTE! We didn't have Itouch's or any of that cool stuff to kill time. I just sat there, waiting for my next instructions. OK! TURN THE FAN ON LOW! click, click, TURN IT OFF! TURN IT OFF! In a slightly panic voice. BANG BANG BANG! This would go on for what seemed like hours, realistically probably 20 minutes. Luckily for me, we had 2 swamp coolers. All in all it took maybe an hour or so. Every year, those coolers cranked up and kept our house coolish. I got to the point where I could figure out if we opened the hall closet it increased the airflow into the bedrooms. Awesome. I miss those days. Any time I bring up Swamp Coolers at a family function we all start laughing. Its a good time. TURN IT ON!!! We are so spoiled nowadays. 


evilbanks said...

Dude, the first house I bought was outfitted with a swamp cooler. I got to be a damn expert at winterizing and then firing it up in the Spring. My friend at work gave me the suggestion of putting a block of ice inside it to keep the water cooler during the day. This was a grand idea until I got tired of climbing on the roof everyday when I got home from work. Good shit and good times....... Now I'm a spoiled bitch and roll w/ central air.

Judy said...

Of course I grew up with a swamp cooler too. I don't think we ever did a thing to either winterize it or get it up and running in the spring. I think my dad's philosophy was to ignore it as long as it would turn off and on. Sounds like we missed out on a lot of the fun part of swamp cooler ownership!