Letter Re: Well Pumps

Hugh,

I’ve been following the discussions about well pumps here and have two concerns: People’s general unfamiliarity with hand pumps and the danger of relying on alternative energy to pump water.

The past two generations don’t know what it’s like to pump water by hand for their daily needs, because they have probably always had electricity for pumping water. As such, many people today do not understand how a pump works or the effort required to bring just a small amount of water to the surface.

Many different types of hand water pumps are now on the market for folks to choose from. Some pumps can be used with existing electric well pumps, if the cylinders are small enough (yielding less water) to fit in the casing with the existing pump. Most of these pumps are installed as an emergency backup and are not practical for long-term use. Some can also pressurize a tank for indoor plumbing; however, it takes a lot of time and effort to pressurize an empty 40-gallon tank to 50 psi with such a small cylinder.

Consumers should take all the claims of capacity, gallons per minute, and ease of operation of manual well pumps with a grain of salt ? unless they have an actual demonstration of a deep-well application that reveals the static water level, size of cylinder, length of stroke, and age and fitness of operator.

When considering a sucker rod hand pump for long-term and heavy use, use metal rigid pipe, not PVC, for the drop pipe. PVC is too lightweight for a sucker rod pump system. When pumping the handle, the cylinder will lift first before the piston begins to move up within the cylinder, causing the drop pipe to compress between the cylinder and wellhead. This causes the pipe to flex and spiral up within the well casing, creating friction between the sucker rod and the inside walls of the drop pipe which reduces the efficiency of the stroke. Eventually, a PVC pipe in the middle of the drop pipe string will crack at a coupling, causing the pump to lose its prime. Metal rigid pipe is much heavier and stronger, maintaining a straighter line between the wellhead and cylinder. Rigid pipe is more expensive, but one should consider the value of fresh water.

There is a hand pump for nearly every need. When selecting a hand pump for your home, farm, or community, consider your average daily use, static water level, size of well casing, water yield, and whether the pump will be used only in emergencies or everyday use. You should also consider the effort required and how much time you will spend pumping for your water needs. The larger the pump cylinder, the better.

My second concern is relying on technology again (a solar pump system) to pump water needed during a SHTF scenario. These systems are just as vulnerable as the power grid is. An EMP or other natural catastrophe can easily disable solar systems. With a disruption in the supply chain, homeowners will be trying to find manual ways to supply their water needs.

Writer G.L. said, “If you want a system you do not have to physically operate on a daily basis or one that will produce a larger volume of water than you can get from a hand pump, a solar pumping system is something to consider.” G.L. may not be aware that there is a hand pump capable of producing high volumes of water. New to the market is the WaterBuck Pump. It has the power and capacity of electric submersible water pumps. The WaterBuck is more expensive than regular hand pumps, but it’s comparable to the cost solar systems. With the right preparation, this pump can also withstand natural catastrophes by being enclosed in a strong structure.

If homeowners want a high-volume hand pump and don’t mind pumping a few minutes a day for their needs, they might want to consider a WaterBuck Pump. – L.G.

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