What happens when you don't service your evaporative cooler for the fall/winter months? Chaos, Mayhem and some major expenses. Here is the Tale of a Non Winterized Evaporative Cooler.
If you live in New Mexico or in the Southwest for that matter you are likely familiar with evaporative or (swamp coolers) some love em some hate them. Refrigerated A/C has gradually become the choice for air conditioning. But a likely majority are still swamp coolers. The system works when cool tap water is delivered into a reservoir pan then pumped through delivery pipes called a spider to ultimately soak the cooler pads ( assorted products serve this purpose) a large blower and motor then push the now cooled air through the homes duct system. This setup has been a favored type of cooling because of our dry climate, with this system you are actually adding a good bit of humidity to the interior of the home and subsequently a continued influx of fresh air unlike a refrigerated AC system. Most often this cooler is mounted on the roof and a small waterline is attached to the water heater, hose bib or other source either runing through the attic space or via the outside wall up to the cooler. Ok, so now you have a basic understanding of evaporative coolers or swamp coolers.
Now to the story!
Several years ago I had taken a very nice listing in NW Albuquerque. A beautiful two story brick home, nicely appointed and clean as a whistle. When the home was first listed is was occupied by the owners who were relocating to California. Shortly after they packed up and moved on. The home was only on market for a few weeks when we received two competing offers, negotiations commenced and ultimately terms agreed upon. That very night in early December the temperatures had dropped into the teens. About 10pm, I get a call from the neighbor of this home. They wanted to know if I was the listing agent..YES. The man explains that the alarm is blaring non stop and when he investigated found water running underneath the threshold of the front door! Say that again, I said! He repeated and I said I would be there ASAP.
I arrive at the home on this very cold night, it was quite dark and indeed the alarm was sounding and the entire front porch was standing in water. I took a deep breath and opened the door to hear what sounded like a waterfall. I found a light switch but it wasn't working, I had a flashlight and turned it on. What I saw horrified me, it looked like Niagara Falls. Most of the sheet rock from the first floor ceiling was hanging down or on the floor, water was running down through the rafters, the carpet was heavily flooded with water and debris. I began to frantically look for the main water shutoff of the home, I looked in all the typical places but could not find it. I started up the stairs which too were saturated with water only to find more chaos and mayhem. A portion of the ceiling there had caved in as well from the weight of the rushing water which was coming directly from above. At that point I pretty much knew what had happened but I still could not find the main shut off. I stepped out to my truck, opened my tool bag and then located the water main. With my Channel Locks and very wet and cold hands was able to get the main turned off. The siren of the alarm finally ceased and I was able to compose my thoughts just a bit. This was a disaster no doubt and the home in complete havoc.
So what happened was that the water line that feed this cooler was an oversized 1/2 inch diameter and was routed through the attic (not a good idea) the cooler was never disconnected for the winter months. Shutting down a cooler is IMPERATIVE no later than October. In their haste to get moved the seller overlooked this critical step and the result was the story above. The next day we immediately went to work calling the insurance companies, water evacuation teams and yes the buyers agent for the negotiated contract. The buyers dropped by the next day and immediately terminated. We knew the insurance company was going to rehab the entire home to include a thorough drying process to elevate any mold issues, new sheet rock, insulation, carpet, paint etc. I called the other interested buyer who was also a Realtor and described the situation to her. She came back out to the home, analyzed the damage and decided to resubmit her offer. Ultimately the home was completely repaired and we closed on time.
The moral of the story is to make sure your Evaporative Cooler is serviced for the winter, this is NOT something you can put off for a later day. It also proves that even a disastrous situation in Real Estate can have a positive outcome.
Albuquerque Homes and Lifestyle Blog
John McCormack Owner/Managing Broker, e-PRO
505-980-4576 / John@AlbuquerqueHomes.com
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