Replacing A Swamp Cooler Float Valve

Last season I noticed our swamp cooler had a small drip out of the overflow release at the bottom of the unit. When it was fired up this season I put a bucket under it to catch the water for reuse. It turned out to be 3 gallons a week were leaking out. By the looks of the valve it was the original one.

Bad Swamp Cooler Float Valve
Bad Swamp Cooler Float Valve

Start by shutting off the water valve to the swamp cooler. I planned on replacing pads and running some vinegar to clean up the mineral deposits so I drained it as well.

The replacement valve purchased was a mid priced, less than $8, brass one from Home Depot.

New Float Valve
New Float Valve

Remove the water line using a crescent wrench or open ended wrench, I believe its usually a 1/2″ open ended wrench.

Removing Water Line From Float
Removing Water Line From Float
Water Line Removed
Water Line Removed

Use the wrench to remove the nut holding the old valve in place.

Removing Old Float Valve
Removing Old Float Valve

Take apart the new valve. Make sure it has the nut to hold the valve in place, a compression fitting and nut that goes on the water line.

New Float Valve Parts
New Float Valve Parts

When positioning the new float the gasket goes on the inside of the swamp cooler. After hand tightening the nut in place make sure the float will be perpendicular to the water level.

New Float Valve Position
New Float Valve Position

There’s a right way to cut the copper pipe and then there is the way I did it. The easy way would be to have the forsight to purchase a pipe cutter for less than $8. What I did was a work around let’s say. A pair of wire cutters was positioned on the copper pipe and rocked back and forth to score it. After there was a sufficient groove in the copper pipe a hacksaw was used to cut the pipe. This was all in attempt to keep the copper tube in its shape.

Scoring Copper Tube With Wire Cutters
Scoring Copper Tube With Wire Cutters
Continuing Hillbilly Way Of Cutting Copper Pipe
Continuing Hillbilly Way Of Cutting Copper Pipe

When connecting the water line to the new float valve put the nut on first then the compression fitting so the order looks like the picture below.

Water Line Connection Sequence
Water Line Connection Sequence

The water line connection should be fairly tight. It may be necessary to hold the interior part of the float valve in place while tightening.

Turn on the water to the swamp cooler again. Do a visual inspection of the connection between the float valve and water line. If there is no water starting to form, I will usually touch around the connection to double check for slight water build up. If water is detected, tighten the compression fitting a little more.

NOTE: I’ve been known to cheat on water line hook-ups by using some teflon tape on the threads of the water line nut.

Installed Swamp Cooler Float Valve
Installed Swamp Cooler Float Valve

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30 thoughts on “Replacing A Swamp Cooler Float Valve”

  1. I almost threw my swamp cooler off the roof in rage. I found your page and it helped so much. You have saved my swamp cooler and most likely my marriage.

  2. I’m glad it helped. I’m also lucky my wife is patient with me especially when it comes to my inability to judge how long it will take to do something. 🙂

  3. Thanks for the visuals. I have been working on my cooler for a couple of weeks and this was the best help I have found. Thank you.

  4. You might have to bend the wire that the float is on so the float is further down in the water. This will cause it to shut off at a lower water level.

  5. Thanks for the great pictures and narrative – I’m on my way up the ladder with my new float valve!

  6. I’m glad you found what you need. I started this because I couldn’t find detailed information on stuff I wanted to do. I hope between what I post and people’s helpful comments that it makes things a little easier for everyone else.

  7. if the tubing is out of round ( you bent it a bit), take the adjustable wrench, place the jaws on the outside of the pipe and make a few turns around thepipe, the outside should then straighten out.

  8. making the walls of the pipe more round taking out the kink. this works if the kink isn’t really bad.

  9. thank you so much! you rule! and screw my father in law! im going to do it myself, im not waiting any longer!!!!!

  10. LOL! Glad to help. Don’t forget to make your life easier when cutting the copper pipe and get yourself a pipe cutter. They aren’t that expensive. If you’re not sure how to use one, the sales person should be able to show you. If not, contact me and I’ll explain it.

  11. Hello my problem is the float i installed a float and it still leaked i bent the float and it was the same problem.do you bend the float

  12. I did bend the float arm for some final tweaking to stop mine from filling past a certain point.

  13. Like everyone else says… THANKS. The job didn’t look hard but it helps to know what has to be done before you start tearing things apart. I avoided the tube cutting by using the old water line fittings — so far they seem to be watertight. We’ll see…

  14. I can’t thank you enough for the PICTURES! Your text easy to read and your pictures are excellent.

  15. Hey there Mr. DIY Guy, I need some help. The compression fitting won’t go onto my copper pipe. Does copper swell or enlarge over time? If I have 1/4″ copper pipe, and 1/4″ fittings, do you have any suggestions for how to get the fitting onto the pipe? I’m a gal who has always done her own cooler maint. but this year I’m hitting a few snags. Thanks in advance for any help you can offer. (*~*)

  16. If the tube is round and your still having problems putting the fitting on you might try lightly sanding around where the fitting goes. There might be some corrosion on the copper.

  17. TYTYTY.Although I had a plastic tubing,it went smooth.Took a total of 10min max.Turned it on,so now we will see.Will let ya all know in a bit.

  18. What’s the trick to putting the compression fitting onto the copper tubing? I’m having the same problem as #22 above. Frustrated.

  19. Sorry Paula for not seeing your comment sooner. When I used to do a lot of installations for water lines on fridges I’d run across some really old copper lines.

    It always came down to brute forcing the fitting in place by turning the fitting while pressing it in place. You might also try lightly sanding the copper pipe to smooth it out.

  20. Thanks. Everything (great pictures) was clear and helpful. The thumb screw that adjusts the angle of the float arm was on the wrong side to be able to adjust it. That gave me some fits.

  21. Hi. I am not clear on how much bending I need to do on the float arm. How much of the floaty part has to be submerged? Thank you so much 🙂

  22. I thought your illustrations were perfect. My installation is a little different in that I am installing mine in a room that has no incoming water, so I am using a giant jug on top as a reservoir and have plumbed that using a hose barb, but the float part is the same.

    But I did want to say, I was kind of grossed out that while you were in there replacing the float that you didn’t take that opportunity to clean up the sediment on the bottom of the unit. I always shop vac the water out of mine, and give it a good cleaning every time the float needs to be replaced.

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