Used hand-pump - what do I look for? : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

We have (we think) burnt out our second well-pump motor in 2 months. I don't really want to spend $200 to replace it, especially when there's the possibility of frying it again. The existing regular motorized pump is about 15 feet down. I want to get a hand-pump, and just haul water. (We've been hauling it from next door, and have found hauling really isn't that bad!) I'm fairly sure that I could find a used "Y2K surplus" pump somewhere local. Any idea of what to look for or watch out for? I'm in Northern Michigan, so freezing is definately a factor. I think our well is a 3" pipe. Could a hand-pump installation make installing a new conventional pump impossible in the future?

-- Becky Michelsen (, February 08, 2000


Becky, have you looked into why you are burning up pumps ? This is not normal, there is something wrong .If you bought the last one new , I would try to bring it back for a new one.Look into seeing if some one locally can rebuild it .

-- Patty Gamble (, February 08, 2000.

Hi Becky,

We have a couple of pump arrangements in our bunkhouse. One is a handpump that pumps water out of our water tank (goes through a couple of filters so we can drink it, etc). It pours into a double basin stand up wash tub. We have a cast iron hand pump that we bought from Cumberland Store was pretty spendy...over a couple of hundred dollars...we also looked at cheaper models of such a pump at True Value Hardware stores...they sell for around $65. They are made in China and made of pot metal which is supposed to be not so good quality. I wouldn't know...just going by what my spouse sez. Also the insides of these pumps have leathers which will eventually wear out so you want to buy quality. (again I defer to the resident pump guru).

There are ornamental garden hand pumps (look like old fashioned hand pumps) which aren't functional, just decorative, so make sure you get a real one if you go this route.

We also have a barrel pump which goes into a 55gal barrel. It's pretty cheap, and probably pretty available (and y2k surplused from someone probably by now!). You can get those at hardware stores too. This kind of pump fits into the hole in the lid of the barrel.

I think 55 gal barrels are pretty easy to come by, too. And you could store water inside your house so it wouldn't freeze. I think this would work pretty good if you can fill the barrel(s) somewhere and transport them (heavy!)

Good luck!

-- sheepish (, February 08, 2000.

Be careful when finding the 55 gal barrels. We located a supply of free barrels, all you want, from a wholesale rock shop. These folks import rocks from South America, etc. When we checked on the barrels, they asked what we planned to do with them, and frowned at saving water in them. Said they had no idea what the barrels were originally used for before rocks were shipped in them, and worried that they could have possibly had toxic chemicals, etc., as their original content. Bummer. We decided against using them for feeders, or to store water in. Just a thought, to be careful of what the barrels were used for.

-- Jan Bullock (, February 08, 2000.

Hi, Becky,

Hey, I agree that you should not give up on an electric pump. If you want to know what is wrong with your pump, I'll be glad to help you figure it our. I used to install pumps for a living.

I don't know what kind of pump you had "down about fifteen feet" inside a three inch well casing. If I had to guess, though, I would guess your pump pumped itself dry, and burnt up the motor. There are all sorts of ways to keep this from happening, as well as pumps which won't burn up when they pump the well dry. Lots of options.

Write me if you want, or we can do a running dialogue here.

-- jumpoff joe (, February 08, 2000.

I would follow jumpoffjoe, find your problem. If possible drop your pump to the bottom of the well and then pull it back up 5 feet, get a pressure switch with a low pressure, (reset) shut off that will shut down the pump when it goes dry. A submersible, freeze proof, force pump for a well can cost as much or more as an electric pump. Cast iron cistern pumps are cheap enough, will lift about 18' (Max) there is a way to empty them when your bucket is full but then you have to prime the pump each time you use it. Lehaman's has a well pail that will slip down a small casing, holds about 3 gallons of water at a time, it looks like a piece of stove pipe and has an valve at the bottom which automaticaly open when it touches the water, it is much like a bailing tool used by well drillers, cost about $40. and is an excellent choice.

-- Hendo (OR) (, February 09, 2000.

We use a handpump (pitcher pump) to transfer water from the storage tank which is buried outside, to the sink inside. We went through two cheapies: one from Northern Hydraulics, one from True Value Hardware, before we "bit the bullet" and bought a good one. It came from Lehamns and was costly but it has worked great for years now with no problem. I think this was one of those times that we got what we paid for.

As long as the water drains back into the well from the line, freezing shouldn't be a problem. Out line is buried from the tank to the sink and we have a foot valve on the end of the line that is in the tank so that priming the pump isn't necessary everytime. I do know that some of the pumps are designed to be used outside and drain themselves when you are finished pumping. Hope this was some help.

-- Marci (, February 09, 2000.

I'll bet that your problem is low voltage. The power company (if they are reputable) will put a voltage monitor on your line for free. If the voltage drops below 90 you will fry everything that draws a lot of current. Good luck, John and Pat

-- John and Pat James (, February 09, 2000.

Lots of good info here! If you are drawing from a dug or drilled well, and your pump is only 15' down, I wonder at the honesty of your pump installer. Granted, a submersible pump is generally more reliable and efficient at greater depths, but at 15' a "shallow well" pump is all you need. I'd find a second opinion in the well-drilling trade. Good Luck!


-- Brad (, February 12, 2000.

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