As my husband and I have really begun to feel an urgency to get our final emergency preparations in order, particularly before the end of this year, securing a source of fresh, convenient water is obviously high on our list of priorities.
Since our water is supplied through a personal well, when the power goes out so does our well pump. Meaning our water stops.
If the grid ever goes down for a long period of time, or electricity gets too expensive to afford, or if the power supply is rationed resulting in rolling black-outs, we would be at the mercy of the powers that be.
Obviously, that’s not good enough for us. We need an emergency backup plan.
We do have a pond on the property, but it’s a good walk down a steep hill, and we’d have a hard time getting that water back up to our house.
It would be so much nicer if we could just walk a few paces from our home and hand pump fresh water into a bucket, or even a hose that could gravity feed down to the house.
(Or better yet, have water pumped right through the faucets in our home! But more on that in a moment…)
What Are Deep Well Hand Pumps?
Hand pumps are used all over the world, working to lift water from the ground small amounts at a time. It’s drawn upward with the downstroke of a long handle. On the upstroke, a plunger is reset to a starting position, with a number of simple valves preventing water from falling back down into the ground.
These pumps are especially important for people who live in rural areas. When you lose power, you lose access to water – typically, if you live outside of a municipal water system, you rely on a drilled well with a deep-well submersible pump to pump water into a pressure tank.
If the wells aren’t that deep, you can use hand pumps as a back-up when the power goes out. Of course, as I’ll explain below, a deep well is an unfortunate exception that can make using a hand pump more challenging.
Water is essential for life! Without it, you can’t survive. If you’re dependent on an electrical grid (one that tends to be getting less and less reliable, as a matter of fact!) you should have a backup for getting water for drinking, cooking, washing, and other needs.
Hand pumps are the perfect solution. The best of the newest line of technology includes those that are meant to be installed alongside an existing electrical pump that is already inside a well. These technologies are game changers when it comes to survival and disaster preparedness.
Deep well hand pumps are designed to solve a common problem that arises from the challenge of drawing water from deep below the ground. The deeper the water, the more challenging it is to pump.
When you try to pump water more than 22 vertical feet upward, the suction can reduce the pressure in the pipe to where the water is essentially vaporized.
Deep well pumps, on the other hand, push water upwards rather than pulling it up by suction. All the “pumping” actually happens in a machined cylinder that is beneath the water level in the well. With this technology, it can push water 300 feet up to the surface, where you need it.
A deep well pump essentially contains three main components – a hand-powered mechanism that sits on top of the well, a pumping cylinder that pushes the water up, and a rod and rigid pipe that connect these first two components.
As you apply pressure to the handle, the rod moves the piston in the cylinder. The piston rises and forces water through the pipe and out the spout.
The Deep Well Exception
A couple of years ago I looked into the cost of putting a hand pump on our well. But there were two main problems that I kept running into:
1. Almost all hand pumps are not meant for deep wells, and will not work alongside your electric pump.
2. The very few hand pumps that actually can be used in deep wells require the use of special machinery to lift and lower the extremely heavy parts that go down into the well.
After learning that hiring a professional to install one of these pumps would cost us over $5000 (not even including the pump itself!), putting a hand pump on our well was just out of the question.
In despair, I gave up hope of ever being able to afford fresh, convenient water without the use of electricity. I’d resigned myself to filtered water from our rain barrels.
But recently I started looking again… there must be a solution!! I knew there had to be a product out there that was meant for situations such as mine.
I searched and read forums for hours. And I discovered two brands that actually sell hand pumps that can be installed in the same casing as your existing electric pump, and both can be installed without a professional’s help!
I’ll tell you all about these two pumps – Bison Pumps and Simple Pumps – but first, here are some tips on what to look for.
How to Find the Right Hand Pump
As with anything, it’s important that you invest in a pump with quality construction. Make sure the pump is built with stainless steel – most modern pumps use this metal as a rule of thumb, but there are some that contain plastic. These can become brittle and worn-down over time.
This certainly isn’t mandatory, but if possible, see if you can purchase your hand pump from a local dealer. This will help you find a pump that’s designed to hold up to your local climate, and will also make it easier when it comes to servicing and installing your hand pump.
Depth of the Well
This is one of the most important considerations to make when you’re shopping for a and pump. Get an accurate measurement for the depth of your well (I’ll give you some ideas on how you can do this later on in the article, or you can consult a local hydrologist or well witcher).
Be sure to take a close look at the serviceability and warranty that come with your hand pump. If parts are challenging to find, you may have a hard time servicing your pump yourself.
You should also consider the design of your hand pump. One with a long handle will reduce the strength you need to pump – the opposite is true, of course, for a short handle.
You also need to consider whether the pump can run alongside your existing pump or needs to be installed in its own dedicated well.
One other consideration is whether you want a deep well or shallow well pump. Deep well pumps are expensive but necessary for many situations.
There are even aesthetic design considerations to be made! Most are pretty basic but you can even find some with decorative finishes- a nice touch if you plan on including the pump in your garden.
Pay attention to the ease of installation when you’re shopping for your hand pump. Some can be installed quickly without requiring the help of a professional – others may require drilling or help from a licensed pro.
If you choose a pump for which self-installation isn’t recommended, that’s fine – but you might want to have the gear on hand and get some help from a local professional. Another reason why it makes sense to buy your hand pump from a local dealer!
The flow rate of various hand pumps can vary. This makes a big difference in how well your pump works, too. Look for a pump with the maximum flow possible if you need a pump for something with high water needs – like watering livestock. A lower flow pump is fine if you only need a few gallons of water each day.
Simple Pumps and Bison Pumps: The Similarities
So I went about determining which was the better option for us.
Both brands share some common characteristics. Both are made from top quality stainless steel.
Both can be used in the same well as your conventional deep well pump, so that you can use the electric pump in normal operation but also have a backup for when the grid is down. Most can bring water up from pretty deep depths.
And both have really great consumer reviews. But Simple Pump offers a couple of extra features which sold me in the end.
Bison Pumps can be installed in wells with existing submersible pumps, as can Simple Pumps. Bison Pumps can be set up with wires that protrude from the base of the pump or out of the casing. This can be done without the assistance of a professional installer.
The same goes for Simple Pumps. It’s quite simple, as the name implies! As with the Bison Pump, it can be installed alongside a working submersible.
Both the Simple and Bison pumps have standard-sized hose fittings, a plus if you’re trying to outfit them to deliver water to your home. You can purchase potable water hoses from suppliers that deal in RV equipment. You do need to be careful about positioning and storing these hoses. They are usually made out of PVC and can’t be driven over, as this can crush or crack them.
Both kinds of hand pumps can be extremely expensive. Remember that the deeper the pump needs to go, the more expensive it will be to install it (and the more work it will require to pump the water). A pump installed in a cold climate will also require some sort of freeze protection. This is usually done with a drain hole that’s located around ten feet below the ground.
Both the Simple Pump and the Bison Pump can be used in the winter. The key is in installing a drainage hole. It should be about ⅛” in diameter to allow for frost-free wintertime operation.
It should be drilled in the side of the pipe that comes up from the pumping cylinder, generally about a foot below the deepest level of frost penetration.
It’s a simple setup that requires water in the intake to drain down before it freezes.
It’s also important to note that these newer style pumps are different than the ones our grandparents may have used. The parts are precision-milled and the prime is maintained for several months.
Older pumps often used leather bushings that leaked water and had to be refilled with water prior to each use.
Simple Pumps and Bison Pumps: The Differences
Where the Bison states that their pumps can access water as deep as 200 ft., Simple Pumps can pump down to 350 ft.
Seeing as our well is 300 ft. deep, obviously we need a pump that could reach the water if it ever dropped that low.
Simple Pumps are the only hand pumps that pump into the pressurized water tank of your house, giving you full use of ALL your household plumbing.
You could pump water to run straight through your kitchen faucet, no buckets required! I don’t know about you, but I think that’s GREAT.
Simple Pumps can also be upgraded to work alongside solar power, if in the future we decided to go that route. I didn’t find anything anywhere on Bison’s website stating that their pumps can do the same.
I like that the Simple Pumps can be hooked up to solar power as it gives us yet another option for going off the grid.
Simple Pumps, as a company, has created an option that utilizes a ⅕ horsepower pump that is smaller, with a smaller flow of water, but is solar-powered and surprisingly affordable.
Simple Pumps are also less expensive than a Bison. And Simple Pump offers a 5 year warranty on their products, whereas I couldn’t find anything guaranteeing a warranty on any of Bison’s pumps or parts.
Usually, hand pumps can be anywhere between $1600 and $2000, but the cost range varies depending on where you are installing the pump and at what depth.
Upkeep and Maintenance
Another factor to consider when looking for a hand pump is the upkeep and maintenance expenses.
According to SP’s official website, the average Simple Pump customer can expect to pay $25 for a seal replacement every three to ten years. That’s it.
Here’s a note from Simple Pump regarding another company’s pumps (not a Bison):
One competitor’s pump is a little cheaper, but 25-30% of these pumps are inoperable after 2-3 years of service! Ongoing maintenance cost is a critical factor in making the best purchase decision.
Whenever making a large purchase like this, I put a lot of credibility in customer reviews. Emily at Eat Close To Home wrote about her experience with their Simple Pump, and seems very pleased with her purchase.
(I think it’s worth pointing out that they chose to hire a professional to install their pump, which ended up costing them quite a bit more. She also mentions her concern about drinking water from a PVC pipe, but Simple Pump actually uses Food Grade PVC.)
After reading, reading, reading, and then watching their installation video to see just how doable a self installation would be, Jerry and I were sold on a Simple Pump:
Two Additional Options: Flojak and Lehman’s
Without a doubt, the Simple Pump and Bison Pumps are the two most common hand pumps for deep wells. But if neither of these fit the bill, you might want to consider a Flojak or Lehman’s pump.
Flojak pumps have unique T-handle grips that make it easier to pump the water with less work for the same volume. However, these pumps are depth-restricted, so if you’re looking for a deep well pump (one that can work at depths of 150’ or more), this one is not for you. It’s a good option for someone with a shallow well and a slim budget, though.
Another option to consider is the Lehman’s pump. This one has a deep well and shallow option, both of which have unique rustic, cast-iron fixtures that are stylish and aesthetically-pleasing. It only has a one-year warranty and its flow rate isn’t as great as the Simple or Bison Pumps.
It’s also not as great when it comes to freeze protection. However, it’s pretty easy to assemble as long as you order the right parts (some customers recommend calling to make sure you get the right ones).
How to Install a Deep Well Hand Pump
Both the Simple Pump and Bison Pump are relatively easy to install. Before you do so (and before you choose from the options above) you do need to decide which pump is right for you.
You’ll also need to figure out how deep the water is – this will tell you how much pipe is necessary to extend the pumping cylinder beneath the water line. This measurement is referred to as the “static water level.”
You can figure this out by tying a weight to a piece of rope. Lower the rope into the well until you hear the weight splash into the water. Tie a knot in the rope, raise it, then measure the length. There are also special laser measuring devices you can use.
Once you know how deep you need to go, it’s time to purchase your pump hardware (one of the options listed above). The installation will vary depending on your existing setup and one which kind of pump you choose, but in most cases, the pumping cylinder will have some sort of a lug that is tied to a safety rope.
You’ll then fasten your length of pipe to the cylinder. A stainless steel inner rod will connect to the cleaner, then the pipe will thread into the pumping cylinder.
Once assembled, you can lower the cylinder and pipe into the well. Support the very top end with the aluminum paddle. Repeat with your second length of pipe, thread the ends together, then thread the body into the lower pipe.
Finally, you’ll drill a drainage hole about five feet below the top of the upper pipe. This is necessary if you plan on using the well in the winter. You can then install the pump body on the top.. All in all, installing your new deep well hand pump shouldn’t take more than a couple of hours.
So… Do we have one installed yet?
We finally saved up enough money and invested in a Simple Pump. It has been one of the best purchases we’ve ever made.
I’d love to hear from any of you who have installed a hand pump alongside your existing well, especially if you have any experience using a Bison or a Simple Pump.
updated 01/06/2021 by Rebekah Pierce
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Can you put a hand pump on an existing well? ›
A hand pump can be installed alongside the existing electric pump in most wells so that it's ready and waiting when the power fails.Which pump is suitable for manual pumping of a deep well? ›
Bison Pumps Deep Well Hand Pumps are the highest-quality manual deep well water pump on the market. The Bison Pump boasts unrivaled quality in design and construction.How deep can a hand pump pump water from a well? ›
Deep well hand pumps can lift water from depths greater than 25 feet. The deep well hand pumps accomplish this by lowering the pumping mechanism into the well. When the pumping mechanism is in the water, there is no need for suction.What kind of pump is used for a modern day deep well? ›
Types of Water Well Pumps — Jet Pumps vs.
Jet pumps pull water, while submersible pumps work by pushing water upward. Since pushing water requires less energy, submersible pumps are often more efficient for deep wells. Choosing a jet pump or submersible pump will likely depend on the depth of your well.
The sleeve bucket is the simplest and cheapest way to get water from your well without electricity. Also known as torpedo or cylinder buckets, the modern-day “well bucket is simply a long, skinny bucket that can be lowered into the narrow confines of a well casing to bring water to the surface.”How much does it cost to have a hand pump well installed? ›
Hand pumps for water wells cost $50 to $600 on average, with labor rates of $195 to $300 to install. Hand pumps are made of plastic, stainless steel, or cast iron. Premium hand pumps cost $500 to $2,000 and are suitable for deep wells—pumping one gallon per 7 strokes from 300' deep.Which pump is best for well? ›
A jet pump, the most popular option for a shallow well, sits over the well and draws up water via suction. The distance it can suck up the water depends on the air pressure.Which type of pump is frequently used to pump water from wells? ›
One of the most popular well pump choices among homeowners, submersible well pumps look like long metal cylinders that are completely submerged in a well. They use a motor to draw water from the well up through the pump and into an above-ground reservoir.
There's no single, set-in-stone right answer, but according to O'Brian, “Well pumps with flow rates between 6 and 12 gallons per minute are generally considered appropriate for most single-family homes.”How much psi can a hand pump produce? ›
Today nearly all the available hand pumps can fill to either 4350 or 4500 psi.
How deep can a hand drill a well? ›
Generally speaking, hand-drilled wells can go down to a depth of about 15-20 feet while power-drilled wells can go much deeper.How far can you pump water from a well? ›
Different well pumps can push water different distances. For example, a well pump with a single line tends to push water a maximum of 25 feet vertically. Comparatively, shallow well pumps can push water 30 feet vertically.How long can a well pump run continuously? ›
Regardless of whether a well pump is an above-ground or submersible type, it requires routine maintenance. This will save you both money and stress. Some pumps can run for up to 24 hours while others can run for 6 to 18 hours.How deep should a submersible pump be in a well? ›
When it comes to installing submersible pumps, the depth of the well plays a role. The pump should be placed at about ten to twenty feet up from the bottom of the well.What do you need for a deep well? ›
- Piping. The well pump utilizes piping to lift or push water out of the well.
- Ejector. Deep well jet pumps need an ejector to work properly. ...
- Foot Valve. ...
- Check Valve. ...
- Pressure Tank. ...
- Pressure Switch. ...
- Thermal and Overload Protection. ...
Hand Pump Well , off-grid, self-reliant water, everything you need to knowWill well pump work without electricity? ›
If you experience a power outage, your well pump will not work. You will continue to use water for a short time, as your system draws the remaining water from the well storage tank. However, once that water is used – you will not have access to fresh water until power is restored.How deep can a pitcher pump work? ›
The pitcher pump can pump water from a depth of 20-24 feet. It can also be used to pump from any water source less than 24 feet (barrel, boat deck, etc). The pitcher pump is designed to sit on a flat surface (8 inch diameter).Can a well pump last 30 years? ›
Your well pump is an essential component to ensuring your home has a steady source of fresh, clean water. With proper well maintenance, your well pump can last, on average of 8 to 15 years, though many homeowners report their pumps lasting far longer, often between 20 and 30 years!How long can a well pump run dry? ›
If the pump is run dry for less than 45-60 seconds, the pump should not suffer damage. Anytime you are aware that the pump may have to be run dry to empty the tank, the operator must take care to ensure the pump is run dry for the absolute minimum amount of time.
How much electricity does a well pump typically use per month? ›
At current electrical rate schedules each horsepower costs between $0.10 and $. 20 per hour to run. This means if you have a 5 horsepower pump and it needs to run 5 hours a day to meet your irrigation and household needs you could be spending up to $5 per day or about $150 a month to power your well pump!How much water can a 1/2 HP pump? ›
* Centrifugal pump with pumping power of 1/2HP (370W) with flow rate of 40 liters per minute. * Has a suction maximum of 9 meters and discharge head maximum of 40 meters.How do I choose a water pump? ›
The most important factors to consider when sizing a water pump come down to GPM/PSI ratings, inlet/outlet size for water and hoses, how high you'll need to pump the water (measured in vertical feet), referred to as total head lift, and how far you'll need to pump the water horizontally.How much HP do I need a water pump to lift water to a height of 60 feet? ›
|Power Required to Pump Water (hp)|
|Volume Flow (gpm)||Height (ft)|
The average price of a new well pump falls between $1,330 and $5,300, including installation and depending on the size and type of pump. Submersible pumps range between $400 and $2,000 while jet pumps cost $400 to $1,200. Solar units will run you at least $1,500. Hand pumps start at only $150.How does a manual well pump work? ›
How a hand pump works - YouTubeWhat two types of of well pumps are used and what are the limitations of each? ›
There are two types of pumps that can be used: the shallow well jet pumps and the deep well jet pumps. The shallow well jet pumps are similar to the centrifugal pumps in that they can only suction water for 25 feet, making them only useful for shallow wells.What is the average gallons per minute for a well? ›
5 gpm (two fixtures running simultaneously at 2.5 gpm) is a good estimate of peak demand, for the typical household. Water wells that reliably yield 5 gpm should be able to meet peak and daily needs for most residences. Wells yielding less than 5 gpm, however, are sometimes the only water source available.Is 10 gallons per minute a good well? ›
Typical numbers for well recovery rates (if measured honestly over a 24-hour period) run from a fraction of a gallon per minute (a terribly poor well recovery or flow rate) to 3 gallons a minute of water flow (not great but usable) to 5 gallons per minute (just fine for residential use) to more than 10 gpm (a great ...How much water can a 1 hp pump move? ›
|Table of Submersible Pump Stages vs HP vs Total Dynamic Head vs. GPM Flow Rate Capacity|
|Water Pump HP||Nr. of Pump Stages||GPM Flow Rate Capacity|
|1 HP||8||4 - 40 GPM (varies by TDH)|
|1 1/2 HP||11||4 - 40 GPM (varies by TDH)|
|2 HP||14||4 - 42 GPM (varies by TDH)|
How do you drill a well by hand? ›
How to Drill a Well by Hand - YouTubeHow do I know how deep my well is? ›
You can measure the depth of water by lowering a wetted steel tape to into the well until the lower part of the tape is under water. A chalk coating on the last few feet of tape indicate the exact water level.What can I use to pump out water? ›
Utility pumps are used for short-term purposes or emergencies to transfer liquids from one place to another. If you're just moving water, go with a utility pump. However, if the water contains debris or solids, go with a trash pump or sewage pump, instead.How do you prime a hand pump well? ›
How to Prime a Well Pump - YouTubeHow deep can you drill a well by hand? ›
Generally speaking, hand-drilled wells can go down to a depth of about 15-20 feet while power-drilled wells can go much deeper.Can I drill my existing well deeper? ›
The truth is that drilling experts can easily deepen wells that are already in place. The process is much cheaper than paying for a completely new well and lets you continue to draw water from your current source.How deep are old hand dug wells? ›
Since it is so difficult to dig beneath the ground water table, dug wells are not very deep. Typically, they are only 10 to 30 feet deep. Being so shallow, dug wells have the highest risk of becoming contaminated. To minimize the likelihood of contamination, your dug well should have certain features.What is the average depth of a well? ›
Typical Depth of a Water Well
The typical depth of a residential well ranges from 100 feet to 800 feet deep. Some wells are even 1,000 feet or deeper. The deeper a well is, the better the water quality.
The average lifespan for a well is 30–50 years. 2. How deep is the well? Drilled wells typically go down 100 feet or more.Can I use my phone to detect underground water? ›
-Underground water detector mobile app is an easy water leak detector and easy Scan Water Leak Detector A simple water finder This apps transforms any Android into a genuine water identifier to discover water around you, just hold level and follow the needle & This water detection sensor gives you a comprehensive ...
How do you increase your water pressure? ›
Look on the main supply pipe near your water meter for a conical valve that has a bolt sticking out of the cone. To raise pressure, turn the bolt clockwise after loosening its locknut. Keep an eye on the gauge to make sure the pressure is within bounds, then retighten the locknut.Can you use a pool pump for a well pump? ›
You'll also have to ensure you pump it a far enough distance away that it doesn't just re-enter the well, seeing as dug wells are largely collecting surface water. A pool pump would not be appropriate here. Typically they are not capable of priming more than a foot or two above water.Do you need to prime a hand pump? ›
Generally, you don't need a foot valve with hand pitcher pump. However, if you use it frequently and want water without priming, you can install a foot valve at the bottom end of the pipe. The use of a foot valve will maintain permanent prime.Do I need a check valve for a hand pump? ›
A check valve is needed to help keep it up too. Its better to use electric driven pump, keep hand pump there just for looks.How much water is needed to prime a well pump? ›
When you first install your well pump, you need to prime it. You will need about one to two gallons of clean drinking water for this process since the water will ultimately be flowing from your pipes.