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Home » Preparedness

The Best Hand Pump For An Existing (Deep) Well

Submitted by on August 27, 2012 – 7:33 pm 34 Comments
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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…)

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!

Simple Pumps and Bison Pumps.

So I went about determining which was the better option for us.

well hand pumpBoth brands share some common characteristics. Both are made from top quality stainless steel. And both have really great consumer reviews. But Simple Pump offers a couple of extra features which sold me in the end.

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.

 

well hand pump 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.

They’re 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.

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.

So… do we have one installed yet?

Well. Not yet. There’s always that small matter of money. But my heart is set on this one whenever that time does come around.

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.

 

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34 Comments »

  • I have been in the water well industry for 41 years. I have frequently been asked to recommend a hand pump as backup for the usual electric submersible pump system. I hadn’t found one I would recommend, including the brands mentioned in the comments here.

    Two years ago I teamed with a very experienced (30 yrs+)owner of a local pump company to design and produce a hand pump we could both be proud to recommend. It took a year of design arguments and prototypes to finally produce our Storm Pump.

    It is made of stainless steel channel stock and fittings above ground, sched. 120 NS approved PVC for the drop pipe (cut and threaded in 10ft lengths for ease of installation), and stainless steel connecting rod and piston with redundant seals and check valves (cut and threaded in 6ft sections).

    The Storm Pump is new to the market. We have spread the word for about a year in county fairs and Expos by word of mouth and a website, stormpump.com. It produces 8.5gpm at 100psi. It has been installed in very tight drilled wells with electric systems in place on pitless adaptors. It is designed for homeowner installation without professional help.

    I am sorry that we have not reached everyone with word of this pump. Word of mouth is a slow way to go. I invite anyone to contact me for details by visiting our website. My contact information is on the opening page.

  • vince says:

    i have a 4″ casing , well depth 120 ft, static level about 40 ft , electric pump at 70 ft, with pit adapter. Any suggestions about how to incorporate a hand pump, or am I just out of luck and need a new well. I read the earlier comment that Bison and Simple pumps can’t fit in a 4″ casing with a submersible.

  • Kickstand Hamilton says:

    I’m looking for the same thing. I live in FL. On top of the second largest spring system in the state.My pump is outside above ground. I want a hand pump for back up.

  • josh says:

    I have only experience with the simple pump. ours is 140 feet deep. hand operation yield is about 40 strokes per gallon. these are big exhausting strokes mind you. im 40 years old, good shape. we purchased the 12 volt geared motor in addition and run it of our truck via jumper cables and it is slow……… maybe a half gallon a minute maybe. you can increase the speed but the motor will not pull it. neat idea but would look elsewhere if you are very deep at all. my 2 cents

  • Darren says:

    I have a typo in my last comment. The amount of strokes that delivered the 17.5 gallons in one minute from a static water level of 80’ is 20 strokes. The WaterBuck Pump is also designed for two operators which can yield a lot more water per minute with more cycles.

    And with the use of a larger cylinder for a shallow well, one average man can yield 55 gallons during a sixty second sprint. Our pump can also be equipped with twin cylinders and two pump levers, doubling the capacity for irrigation, if needed.

  • Darren says:

    In response to Michele King

    I see you have an interest in Bison hand pumps and you stated the following:

    “6. Bison Pumps now has a commercial hand pump for agricultural or community needs which yields 13 gallons per minute.

    Be careful when researching any hand water pump. Call all the players, ask all the questions. Often these blogs only give part of the information or information received from uninformed sources.”
    End of Quote

    Pumping from shallow static water levels will result in much more water being pumped than from deeper static water levels. So, I am curious to know, what is the maximum static water level this 13 gallons per minute yield is being produced from with this new Bison commercial hand pump? In other words, at what greater static depth is the yield reduced from 13 gpm to 11 by the same operator?

    Can an average man yield 13 gallons per minute at the maximum static depth or does it take a much stronger man?

    What is the length of stroke, size of cylinder and size of drop pipe used for the new Bison hand pump? How many strokes per minute is required to yield 13 gpm?

    Well WaterBoy Products has a new hand pump for agricultural and community needs that yields 17.5 gallons in one minute with only 19 strokes. These current field test results are not produced from a shallow well, but are the yield from an 80’ static water level with a 2″ column of water and 4″ pump cylinder with a 16 inch stroke. These current test results were performed by an average man in his fifties.

    A video demonstration of these test results can be viewed from the following page. http://waterbuckpump.com/main/

    I would be interested in seeing the pump specifications for this new pump you speak of. Perhaps there is a video you can share of this new pump in operation yielding 13 gpm?

    Thank you in advance.

  • Lilia says:

    I am pricing out a well for a new property; my requirements were to have only solar power (no grid!) plus a hand pump. The well guy was great, but he did caution that trying to pump by hand produced small volumes of water with a great amount of arm strength. I remember reading a book decades ago (title included the word “Gaviotas”) that used non-electrical water pumps. They made a teeter-totter to use with the pump handle and the village kids couldn’t wait to pump the water. I thought of it because while I have very little arm strength, my leg muscles are very strong.

  • Dorene says:

    I too have been searching for a hand well pump for power outages and emergencies. I live on top of a big hill and my well is dug 368ft deep , my static water is at 300ft and my well pump is at 305ft. I was able to get this information by calling my county office and speaking to the sanitation and zoning department. they were able to pull up all my well info using my address. Hope this helps. I was unsuccessful getting the company who installed my well to help me with anything. They pretty much laughed at me and never called me back. Whatever type of pump I find that will work for my situation I will need it to be installed because my husband doesn’t want to mess anything up. :-)

  • Michele King says:

    Just to clarify:
    1. Bison Pumps are pressure pumps and can be used to pressurize a tank.
    2. A Bison Pump could pump from deeper depths as the competition claims, but in either case, it will be hard to pump and will yield very little.
    3. Bison Pumps has an inline hand pump for 4″ casings with a submersible in the well (as long as freezing isn’t an issue).
    4. In 6″ wells, a Bison can be installed with a pitless adaptor. Bison Pumps has cylinder sizes from 1 1/2″ – 3″ to accommodate this.
    5. Bison Pumps has a shallow well hand pump for inside the home (with static water levels less than 25′).
    6. Bison Pumps now has a commercial hand pump for agricultural or community needs which yields 13 gallons per minute.

    Be careful when researching any hand water pump. Call all the players, ask all the questions. Often these blogs only give part of the information or information received from uninformed sources.

    Good luck!

  • Bluebird says:

    But HOW does one find out how deep his well is? Please, someone, give me the step by step instructions for measuring the depth of a well–we have a little “pump house” built over our well (I guess that’s what it is), and whenever the electricity goes out we are totally without water. We need a hand pump for emergencies, but I don’t know how deep our well is.

  • I’m a well driller and ran across your post when searching myself for hand pumps. There are lots of pumps that can build pressure and be connected to pump into your house pressure tank. There are lots of pumps that can be used with your existing electric pump…..none, including the simple pump or bison pump can be used with an electric pump in a 4″ cased well with a pitless adapter installed. In fact, many models that advertise they can be used with an existing electric pump CAN’T be used if a pitless adapter is installed on the well (all depends on size of well and type of pitless adapter). Also, many brands can lift from 350’…that’s more a function of the force required to lift the water than anything else. Also…ANY hand pump installed to a depth of 350′ will require machinery to install.

  • Jeni says:

    I’ve been searching website after website trying to figure out the best way to pump water from our well if we were in an emergency situation. So far as I can tell, all the products on the market are for wells only up to 350 feet deep, but ours is drilled to at least 800 ft. Anyone have suggestions? I’d just like to have something on hand so that if we were ever without power for an extended period of time, we’d still be able to hand-pump fresh water. But it sounds like it might not really be possible? Should I maybe contact the local well-driller and pump guy to see what he suggests?

  • kelly says:

    What about a hand pump called EZ WATERWELL HAND PUMP. Has anyone got any experience with this hand pump. Thanks

  • kelly says:

    Been looking into hand pumps. The EZ pump seems good, because of price and was wondering if anyone has purchased and installed one and how well it works. Seems like a good idea to have galvanized pipe at the top. I have a 5 inch well OD and 4 and 3/8th ID. any info on the EZ pump, Flojak, or others would be appreciated. Just want something reliable without spending to much money. THANKS!

  • Lou says:

    I just wanted to share a remarkable hand pump machine that’s coming to the market soon. It began in a garage.

    Before now, it took the power of a 12-foot diameter windmill to pump water from 80 feet operating a 4-inch pump assembly. But now, a 63-year-old grandmother can pump 5 gpms and her daughter doubles using a new invention – a hand pump machine.

    http://www.wellwaterboy.com/id88.html
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=lHVc38T5lWc
    http://www.motherearthnews.com/the-happy-homesteader/living-off-grid-a-home-made-deep-well-pump.aspx

  • Allen says:

    Hi”
    I am green horn,from ,city mpls/
    have been interested in land Alaska”

    recently talking to land reality type person and mentioned about
    could put well in”
    my grampa and uncles had them on their farms”
    they laid into me saying can’t be done,
    that’s why Alaskans go to rivers and streams
    would cost like 15000 to do”

    My question is are they doing their self,herd people doing for like
    $5000 to $7000,
    and how does winter affect them,permafrost .
    any support is welcome

  • Harry says:

    I also researched deep well hand pumps and found most good ones to be extremely expensive. Then I ran across EZ Water Well Hand Pumps. They just sell the pump cylinder ($179), which is the the most important part. The rest of the system components can be purchased locally. This model utilizes pvc pipe for the sucker rod instead of expensive stainless steel, fiberglass, or brass. The entire unit can be built in a couple hours for $200+, depending on the depth of your well. They can be installed along with an existing electric submersible pump. The pump cylinders can be purchased from their website or from ebay.

  • Earthchild says:

    Gee. 2 grand. I was told I cannot have a $20K well on my mountain because the roads are not good enuf for the truck to come up, and anyway there is no place for a truck that size to turn around….we had the place witched before we moved up here with my tipi, there are 6 water veins and the closest was 12’deep so we started digging and when we hit bedrock, we rented a LeRoy and a rock drill and a 2man crew. At this point, a LONG time later, and after about 4 episodes of weeklong $1K drilling, are within a foot of SOMETHING according to the witch rods… it better not be oil!!! Maybe next summer we will finally finish it. Unfortunately, the hole is now about 15′ below the cottage….

  • Milkmaid says:

    Hi Everyone, I wanted to throw my two cents in before anyone spent a bounch of money. You have to understand that just because your well may be 350 feet deep that is not where you water is. It is much closer to the surface. The static water line here is about 40 foot deep. Also depending on what kind of well you have makes a differance. If you have an old well, the kind with a big tile in it, it is probably only 50-75 ft.deep and could easily get water. The next type is a punched well, they are usually around 100ft. The newest is the air-drilled well and they are the most common type in the last 20 years.They can run up to 1000ft. In all these types the water line still rises to the statis water line in your area.If you have a punched or drilled well it will have a plate on it that will tell you how deep it is and how many gallons per minute you can pump from it. Also you will want to find out if you have a submerged or above ground pump,because if you have a submerged pump it will be harder to fit anything in becide it unless it is well below the water line. I know all this may be boring to some so I will slow down for now, but if you are really serious about you water supply(and you should be)do some home work. First find out what kind of well you have, how deep it is, and how many gallons per min. you have. You could also ask an old timer(most are full of wisdom we need)about the water level in your area. These are things you have to know before you invest in a pump. Kenda just give us a hollar if anyone wants to know anything else. If I don’t know my wonderful hubby will. Blessings Miracle Farm Homestead

  • Lanna says:

    Kendra, nice! That price isn’t really all that bad then. Around here, wells are usually 250-400 feet (I think there’s a few 500ft ones around), so just getting them put in is like a $10K-$20K ordeal. $2K or less for a handpump doesn’t seem all that nuts.
    Now, to figure out how to convince my local water system we need one of these (we have private water districts, but with my plethora of young children, I haven’t had the time to get on the water board yet).

  • Gary Near Death Valley says:

    Kendra, my Simple Pump was put into the same well as my electric pump and can be in the same well as the electric pump. That is one reason why they are so great. One thing though, a person should at least work the hand pump once a month to keep all the seals nice and damp.

  • Anonymous says:

    I have a Bison pump on a hand dug well, depth is only around 35 feet. Beautiful water, tested clean (better than city municipality water). I’ve had my Bison for about 3 years now and we love it! Glad to hear the great reviews on Simple Pumps as well. Nice to have choices! Glad you are hurrying to make this a reality.

  • Ketera says:

    Thank you So much for this information. I gotta save up money for it myself but will definitely go through you to help you out.

  • Gary Near Death Valley says:

    I had a Simple Pump a year ago and have been totally satified with the results. Within 200 yards, their are three neighbors that have installed hand pumps, so this little part of the desert will have water if needed. They are great.

  • Khadija says:

    Hi, I was wondering, have you talked to any old-timers? I remember my grandpa having a bright orange hand pump on his well and his well was deep. Maybe there is another answer that really is cheaper?
    I found these pumps on ebay: http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_trksid=p5197.m570.l1313&_nkw=well+hand+pump&_sacat=0

    I’m not sure if they’d work for you but you could ask the sellers about the item too. Sometimes I find the best information from the most unlikely sources. Either way, I hope you have fresh water whenever you need it!

    • Khadija,

      I’ve looked at those types in the past, but the problem with those is that even if they can pump deeply, the cannot be used alongside an existing pump. Which means you’d have to completely disassemble and remove the existing well components before you could install one of these. And it would take heavy machinery to lift all of that out. With these old fashioned style pumps you have to choose to either have an electric well, or only have a hand pump well, or dig a new well just for the hand pump. You cannot have both. Thanks for trying to help, though! Believe me, I’ve read and read and tried to find the best options out there. Simple Pump is it.

  • Lanna says:

    So… what’s the price range on these? (yes, I’m nosy, and don’t want to get their hopes up with requesting a quote)

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