How to Remove a Swamp Cooler From Your Roof

Remove A Swamp Cooler

If you have an old unused evaporative cooler (aka “swamp” cooler) on your roof, you may think it’s an eyesore that you’d like to remove. At Sol Vista Roofing, our process to remove a swamp cooler has been tested hundreds of times. The information below is what we have learned about this specialized repair.

This can be a risky project to undertake as a DIY project, but for handy homeowners it is certainly possible. Please take safety precautions as to not injure yourself or damage your roof if you choose to attempt this project yourself. If you decide you need professional help, contact a Denver roof repair company.

Before You Begin

Please understand that Denver swamp cooler removal projects should be a 2-person minimum job. Do not attempt it alone. Swamp coolers can range from 70-180 lbs in weight.

Tools needed

  • Ladder
  • Rope – can be helpful for lowering your swamp cooler down from the rooftop
  • Hammer
  • Screwdriver
  • Reciprocating saw
  • Power drill
  • Pry bar
  • Plywood, screws, 2”x4” lumber, ice & water shield, and shingles (for patching the opening after swamp cooler removal)

Steps to Remove a Swamp Cooler

Keep in mind every swamp cooler and every roof is unique, no one set of instructions can be comprehensive. But these basic steps should help you understand the fundamentals of how to remove your swamp cooler.

  1. Drain your swamp cooler – if there is any water in the bottom of the unit, it should be drained either with a siphon or a pitcher/bucket.
  2. Shut off all power to the roof – to avoid risk of electrocution.
  3. Remove the side panels of the swamp cooler and lower them to the ground.
  4. Disconnect the swamp cooler unit from the ducting base (aka the “plenum”) – this likely involves removing screws and cutting adhesives.
  5. Remove any panels or flashings between the roof and the swamp cooler.
  6. Disconnect the electrical wires – and properly cap off any exposed wiring.
  7. Lift the swamp cooler unit up and off the base – ensure there are no remaining electrical or water line connections between the swamp cooler and your home.
  8. Carefully lower the swamp cooler onto the ground.

What to do Next?

With the swamp cooler removed, an opening is now exposed in your roof. That hole must be covered to avoid a potential roof leak, and there are options for how to cover it. The most common option is to patch the hole with new plywood and cover with matching roof shingles. You can also opt to have a skylight, solar tube, or attic fan installed in the opening.

If you choose to simply patch the hole, you do not need to move or remove the old swamp cooler ducting. However, if you plan to install a new skylight, solar tube, or attic fan, the ducting in your attic will need to be moved out of the way (or removed entirely).

Swamp Cooler FAQs

Can I leave my swamp cooler running all night? Because your swamp cooler saturates your home’s air with humidity, letting it run all night is not recommended as this could lead to oversaturation and interior mold.

Will using a swamp cooler ruin electronic devices? Because of Denver’s dry climate, your electronics should be able to withstand the added internal humidity with normal swamp cooler use.

Are upgraded swamp cooler side panel filters worth it? Using upgraded foam-based panel filters can help your swamp cooler function more efficiently and extend it’s life.

Should I keep my swamp cooler or upgrade to air conditioning? A/C units have become more energy efficient and cost effective in recent years and may be a better option in the long-term for your home. However, in some cases, swamp coolers may still be an effective option for you.


For professional help removing your swamp cooler, we recommend contacting a Denver roofing company and/or a Denver residential HVAC company for assistance. The team at Sol Vista Roofing would be glad to assist!