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The Best Hand Pump For An Existing (Deep) Well

>27 August 2012
 
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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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28 Comments »

  • Lanna said:

    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)

  • Kendra at New Life On A Homestead (author) said:

    Lanna- LOL, I hear ya ;) They have a sample cost of a pretty basic example system on their site of a system for a 100 ft. deep well, and it’s priced at $1630 (shipping included). I know… they aren’t cheap. But as a comparison: the pump (including the well cap and arm lever/handle) of a Simple Pump is $650; the same products from Bison are $790. A pump cylinder from SP is $335; a Bison cylinder is $438.

    Expensive, but if your life depends on the water you get from your well… well, I figure you can’t put a price on that.

  • Khadija said:

    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!

  • Gary Near Death Valley said:

    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.

  • Kendra at New Life On A Homestead (author) said:

    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.

  • Kendra at New Life On A Homestead (author) said:

    Good to hear your experience, Gary :) And congratulations on the pump!! You lucky dog.

  • Ketera said:

    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.

  • Anonymous said:

    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.

  • Kendra at New Life On A Homestead (author) said:

    Thanks, Ketera :)

  • Gary Near Death Valley said:

    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.

  • Lanna said:

    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).

  • Milkmaid said:

    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

  • Earthchild said:

    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….

  • Harry said:

    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.

  • Allen said:

    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

  • Lou said:

    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

  • kelly said:

    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!

  • kelly said:

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

  • Jeni said:

    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?

  • Kendra at New Life On A Homestead (author) said:

    Jeni,

    Your well may be 800 feet deep, but that doesn’t mean your static water level is that deep. Find out he depth of your water table, and you’ll probably find a pump that will reach it. Hopefully it isn’t at 800 ft!

  • Richard O'Dell said:

    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.

  • Bluebird said:

    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.

  • Kendra at New Life On A Homestead (author) said:

    Bluebird,

    There’s a metal plate on the outside of our well casing that tells the depth of the well. You might look and see if you have something similar telling the depth of your well.

  • Michele King said:

    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!

  • Dorene said:

    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. :-)

  • Kendra at New Life On A Homestead (author) said:

    Dorene,

    I hope you’re able to get a hand pump installed. *Still* on our to-do list!

  • Lilia said:

    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.

  • Kendra at New Life On A Homestead (author) said:

    That sounds like a fun pump, Lilia!

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