Pump Assembly Notes and Instructions
Update 2 July 1999
Keith states he built this hand pump in 20 minutes for about US$20.
It can be used in water wells that have no existing feed lines,
wiring or submersible pumps in place, or in water wells with them
in place by the addition of a 1-1/2" interior diameter PVC pipe
as a pump guide sleeve. The 1-1/2" interior diameter PVC guide
sleeve should have a cap glued on the bottom end and 1/2" holes
drilled through the bottom pipe section above the end cap. The
holes allow water to flow freely into the 1-1/2" interior diameter
sleeve when it is submerged into water. The sleeve separates the
hand pump from feed lines, wiring or submersible pumps so they
do not rub during pumping. It also keeps the water clearer by
keeping the hand pump off the bottom of the well. The guide sleeve
can be bolted to the above ground well casing area with 1/2" carriage
bolts and nuts. Be sure to seal the bolt holes with rubber washers
or caulking. The guide sleeve and pump should extend down below
the water table. As the foot valve of the pump is pushed down
below the water table, the water flows up through the foot valve
and into the pump shaft above it. The valve is open on the down
stroke and closed on the up stroke. Repeated pumping motion shoves
the water up the pipe and out the hose by a hydraulic ram effect.
The water flows out the hose on the down stroke only.
Pump length is based on well depth and the water table height
in it. The pump should be long enough to stay submerged in at
least 3' - 5' of water so the pump remains in the water during
the pumping motion cycle. Remember that water tables may change
with seasonal conditions. If you know of wells that you may need
to use in the future, you should get proper water samples from
them and have them tested. Stagnant or unused wells should be
cleaned out with a power pump and disinfected. Local health departments
and well drillers maintain well records and can give you information
on well depths, testing and on keeping wells sanitary. You can
also measure a well and water table with a sanitized cord and
plumb bob. When using untested well water, you should use water
treatments (boiling, bleach, iodine, filters, etc.) to protect
you from typhoid, dysentery, diarrhea, cholera, giardia and other
You must disinfect your hands before using the well. Keep all
the pump parts off the ground and disinfect them before placing
them in the well. Sick persons must not have any contact with
the well area, pump or water containers. Keep the area around
the well sanitary and never drink from the hose or allow any waste
water or animals near the well area.
Leaving the pump in the well and keeping the well cap on when
not in use will help keep the well sanitary. If no sleeve is used
in your well, you can hang the pump inside the casing by a cord
with a prussik knot (Scout handbook) around the pump shaft. Install
a hook below the well cap area on the inside of the casing and
hang the pump from it. If you use a pump sleeve, you should make
the sleeve about 2" shorter than the well casing top. Make the
pump long enough to stand above the sleeve but still be short
enough for the well cap to be replaced over the well casing. You
can also wire a hook to the top of the pump shaft and hang it
over the sleeve edge.
The pump can be made from copper and brass. It will cost more, be heavier and freeze easier in cold climates, but will allow the pump to be used on fuels from storage tanks. Some makes and models of brass foot valves are:
Simmons model 1402
Merril Series 810, model FV75
Water Ace model RFV75
Brady model SFV75 (plastic)
A plunger action check valve can be used but you should put a
1/8" screen over the intake end and secure it with a ring clamp
to help keep any well debris out of the valve. Foot and check
valves have a closure spring which may need to be trimmed down
or removed to get the best flow rate from pressures generated
by hand pumping.
The weep hole is about 1/8" diameter. It should be drilled through
one side of the pump shaft above the foot valve but a good distance
below the frost line in your area. This allows the water in the
pump shaft to slowly drain back down into the well when the pumping
stops. This helps keep the well from freezing in cold weather.
NOTE: This pump works great at depths of 0 to 20 feet; good at 20 to
35 feet; OK at 50 feet. It remains workable down to 75 feet for
one person, but beyond that, it is too heavy for only one person
to operate due to the increased water and pipe weight. It will
work deeper and is limited only by the person's downward thrust
with more energy than it takes to suspend the existing water column
in the pipe.
If you need access to water at greater depths, the following changes
can be made which will increase working depth to about 150 feet:
1.Substitute 1/2 inch PVC pipe instead of 3/4 inch for the pump sections, collars and adapters.
2.Do not drill the 1/2 inch holes in the 1-1/2 inch casing, keep the guide sleeve as a closed pipe except at the bottom. Use a 1-1/2 to 3/4 inch reducer as a replacement for part "S" (the end cap) and thread another 3/4 inch foot valve into it, facing downward into the well.
The finished product should be a 1-1/2 guide sleeve with a foot
valve at the bottom and the 1/2 PVC pump with a foot valve on
the bottom of it. The guide sleeve should be suspended into the
water table at least 5 to ten feet. When the pump is stroked up,
it will suck the water in through the guide sleeve foot valve.
On the down stroke, the guide sleeve foot valve closes and the
pump pipe foot valve opens, shoving it up the 1/2 pipe.
Flow rates of two to three gallons per minute are possible at
this depth with a steady stroke. Mark your pipe lengths so you
do not bottom out on your stroke when pumping. The reduction to
1/2 PVC reduces the overall weight of the unit to allow for the
The pump model displayed in only one of an endless number of pump
variations you can build. Parts are becoming harder to find in
quantity due to low inventory stocking practices at stores. Other
pipe types, sizes, adapters and fittings can be readily made into
pumps that will work with varying degrees of efficiency levels.
A functional pump only needs a foot valve, a weep hole (cold climates),
a stiff hollow pipe shaft above the valve for the water to flow
up in, and a hose or side pipe discharge to get the water away
from the pump shaft and into a container.
The best way to survive a power outage or any emergency is to
prepare before it occurs. You need shelter, heat for cooking and
warmth, water, food medicines, medical supplies, hygiene items
and other things. These will not be easy to get in a power outage
or emergency. Build a pump now while you can still get the parts.
After a power outage will be too late.
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