It should be noted that water cooler pumps are the least of MasterCool's poor quality control and reliability problems.
The primary purpose of this page is a review of the MasterCool and same-company other brands of evaporative coolers. The detailed How-to-Replace-Water-Cooler-Pump segment was included simply because it is such a frequent problem. The pump failure is a side issue, it is the other poor quality standards and reliability issues of MasterCool evaporative coolers that resulted in the publishing of this negative review. These issues are addressed immediately following the water cooler pump segment.
|MasterCool window evaporative cooler.|
My personal experience and what this review specifically is referring to is the the MasterCool MCP44E Evaporative Cooler. However, the same company that makes MasterCool also makes the Champion and Essick brands of evaporative coolers. If a company makes a poorly manufactured one brand or model, it's a pretty good bet their other brands are of equally poor quality. That's a decision only you can make. At minimum, you definitely want to at least avoid MasterCool.
The first problem was the failed water pump, it lasted a little more than a year. If you are only here for the review, you will find the first paragraph immediately below the cooler pump picture informative; then might as well skip past the numbered list to the next section where things really get interesting.There are also pictures after the review showing what the inside of the MasterCool window evaporative cooler looks like.
About and a Detailed How to Replace or Install the MCP44 Series MasterCool Evaporative Water Cooler Pump (instructions will probably work equally well with many other brands and models)
|Model ESK5500 Cooler Pump.|
There is additional information and pictures of the MasterCool evaporative cooler with the back panel removed following the review.
I acquired the new MasterCool MCP series evaporative cooler unit a little less than four years ago. The water pump lasted a little longer than a year. If you think getting the back panel off the evaporative cooler unit is a major project, just wait until it's time to correctly put the thing back on. There sat the water pump; "Made in China" it duly informed me. Water pumps are the known weak link when it comes to evaporative coolers, the manufacturers know this and so try to make the component fairly easy to replace. Here is the procedure, don't forget to check out the additional pictures and warnings following the main review.
Read the entire list and and check out the additional pictures and information a few times before beginning the actual step-by-step pump replacement process. You will then have a pretty good idea of the overall procedure and there will be fewer surprises. In other words, now that you know the hazard points, things will go a lot quicker and easier. In fact, once that back panel is off, the whole procedure will pretty much be intuitive. All the information and pictures makes it sound a lot more complicated than it really is. "Check list" might be a better description than "step-by-step".
- Check the electrical info on the replacement water pump and plug into a wall socket for a couple seconds to be sure the new pump works. Note if the new pump already has a protective screen wrapped around the bottom of it.
- Unplug the entire evaporative unit from the wall socket and turn off the water feed.
- Read the manual. Among other things, it tells you how to remove the back panel and about the water hose you need to disconnect at the top and inside of the unit before you can completely remove the back panel. The additional pictures further down this page have more info.
- Drain/siphon water from tray.
- Very carefully retrieve the water-protected water pump electrical power cord from the enclosure. Definitely peruse the additional pictures and information further down the page before attempting this, otherwise you might accidentally unplug the cord while it is still in the protected enclosure. If that happens, retrieval of the inside cord could be a major problem. Once the plugin part is reached and extracted, do NOT unplug yet.
- Unbolt and/or unscrew the clamps/brackets/etc. that are holding the pump in place.
- Pull off the water hose from the pump. There may or may not be a clamp you have to undo first.
- Remove the still plugged in old pump and set aside elsewhere on the tray. If no new screen was provided with the new pump, retrieve and clean the filter screen wrapped around the bottom of the old pump.
- More than likely, the entire bottom of the evaporative unit is filled with peeled paint and other debris. Now is a good time to clean up and get rid of all that. You'll have to move the old pump around while doing this, maybe place it on top of the bracket. Do not unplug it.
- Bring out the new pump. It will also be made in China, apparently no other options are available for this unit. If needed, wrap old screen around new pump as it was on the old pump.
- Place the new pump where the old pump originally was.
- Make sure the water hose, electrical cord, and bracket(s) are all completely untangled from each other. Review pictures.
- Unplug the old pump. Do not let go of the cord coming from inside of the evaporative cooler, otherwise it might slip back inside the housing; you do not want that to happen. Plug in the new pump. Reinsert electrical cord back into the water-protected location. Don't reattach plastic cap yet.
- Reconnect the water hose.
- Position everything as you want it to be and attach pump to all the previous bracket and other connection points.
- Check tray. Remove all tools, parts, rags, the old pump if it is still laying there, and everything else that doesn't belong.
- Turn the water feed back on and confirm the water level rises to the level you wish it to be, give it at least 15 minutes. The higher, the better; but not above the overflow drain height. Adjust float if necessary.
- Time for the test. Unhook/Pull away the water hose from the plastic holders on the evaporative cooler and make sure the hose is pointed at the ground and well away from the pump and tray. The absolute last thing you want to do is spray either of those pumps with water. Plug the evaporative cooler back in the wall socket; turn the pump on for several seconds to check that everything works. Give the fan a couple seconds as well. Turn everything off and re-unplug the cooler.
- Push the water hose back into the plastic holders on the swamp cooler. Review pictures and accompanying information. Reattach plastic cap. Give everything one last, good look over.
- Time to reinstall the back panel. Brute strength and ingenuity will be required to get that thing setting back on top of the tray. Reconnect the hose at the top. You should be able to get your hand in there; grab the rubber hose; and force it back to the top of the tube. Twist and turn the hose as needed to remove any kinks.
- Time for more brute strength, ingenuity, and persistence. You will need to lift the panel about an inch or two above the tray; line it up with the sliders on the sides of the cooler; then shove panel flat against the cooler and pull down, hooking the panel back onto the sliders. Multiple attempts will probably be required. When there are no gaps on the sides and between the tray and panel, it probably means you succeeded. I didn't bother putting the two screws back in, that panel wasn't going anywhere. Recheck the water feed valve is still on.
- Plug the unit back in the wall socket; ponder that switch panel for a moment before reaching for it... Check the back panel that all the pads are getting wet. If they are, then it looks like you were successful in reinstalling the back panel correctly. Good luck.
If the water cooler pump had been the only incident, I would not have written this negative review. It is what happened next that pretty much made this review mandatory.
The Day the MasterCool Died...Everything worked fine for another year or two. Then came that fateful morning...
It was going to be a hot one, temps in the 90's were on the way. I turned the water pump on to soak the pads as usual for five minutes before turning on the fan. The little, green light benignly glowed and the pump happily whirred.
I then went back and turned on the fan. The fan started up. Then the whole unit suddenly shut down. The fan. The pump. The switch lights. Everything.
I tried again. Everything shut down again. I tried different combinations of turning on the various switches. Self-shutdown every time. I tried using the remote instead. Same results.
I somehow sensed and knew I was already doomed. But I went through the motions and checked the house circuitry and fuse/switch box six ways from Sunday. There were no problems, that cooler was getting uninterrupted power.
I tried messing with the switches again, same results. Then the symptoms changed. At first, the pump and the fan worked fine when each was turned on alone. But whenever I turned the second one on, that's when the whole system would shut down.
Suddenly though, now with each attempt, the switch lights would flicker on and off at random for a few seconds before shutdown occurred. In other words, the lights would start doing a strange, little dance; water pump and blower fan sometimes automatically responding accordingly, sometimes not.
As for checking for loose wire connections, chip creep, or anything else a non-expert might be able to fix; forget it. The switch panel circuit board location was completely inaccessible.
I'm standing there looking at the thing after it had done its little dance and shutting itself off for the 30th time or whatever. Then MasterCool decided it was time to perform the coup de grâce to any remaining hopes of repair. It turned itself on. That's right. The unit started itself, all the lights happily flickering back and forth for several seconds with the fan and pump sometimes joining in, and then once again shutting itself down . That control circuit board was not only toast, it was unsafe.
"And that truly is indeed that," thought I. I unplugged the unit for the last time.
I'm sitting at my desk, pondering my next move, when I happened to glance down and notice the back page of the owner's manual (printed in China by the way). It proudly informed me the Essick, Champion, MasterCool family of evaporative coolers are designed, assembled, and serviced in the USA. What they don't mention is all the components were made in China or elsewhere.
As far as I'm concerned, lying by omission is still lying. I put the odds at 99.9% that circuit board switch panel was made in China. Even if it wasn't; it was still a low quality, poorly manufactured component no matter where it was made. And you can bet Champion, Essick, MasterCool brands all use the same supplier(s). That's when I decided to write this review.
|Bottom, back page of MasterCool manual.|
This page is just my opinion. However, evaporative coolers are an expensive proposition. Please really do your homework and research before making that final decision. Suddenly having your cooling system malfunction during a hot, summer day is not a pleasant experience.
Side note. Here's a video review (opens in new tab or window) from a new buyer of the MasterCool MCP44 series brand. He has both positive and negative things to say about it. He also mentions one very serious flaw. Basically, every insect in the neighborhood will end up inside your home; he'll tell you all about that. I'd wondered where all those moths and gnats were coming from, I even had an indoor mosquito. Now I know.
I would avoid MasterCool evaporative coolers at all costs. And since Essick and Champion are made by the same company with the same poor quality standards, I would seriously try to avoid those as well. Unfortunately, there seems to be some sort of monopoly situation in play. Other brands are hard to find. If anyone can recommend another brand, there are probably a whole lot of people who would very seriously appreciate it.
An Update. A contractor recently told me how to get the front panel off to access the circuit board(s). Basically, you scrape off the plastic at certain points and the screws are underneath. We will see how that goes.
[End of Review. Pictures follow.]
Here Are Some Pictures of What You Will Find When You Remove the Back Panel of the MCP44 Series Evaporative Cooler
|There are two more screw holes at the base. Both were covered with silicon dry gel.|
When I removed the gel, no screws were present. Your results may vary.
|Success. The panel can now be removed. Brute strength and ingenuity will be required.|
|Everything re-attached and ready to go. Time to do the test as described in the first segment.|
|After the test, refasten the hose back into the plastic holders. Check entire length for kinks.|
|A side note picture of the floater, controlling the water level in the tray. Slightly bending the floater rod up or down will change the water level accordingly.|
|A side note, example picture close up of how the water feed and valve might be connected to the water supply. Configurations vary.|