Add a Hand Pump to an Electric Well

A few years back, a severe ice storm knocked out my family’s electricity for a couple of days… and we suddenly found ourselves without the use of our electric well pump. As we groped about the candlelit house — unable to make coffee, prepare meals, wash dishes, flush the toilet, or even take a sip of tap water (yet all the while keenly aware that just 15 feet below us was all the thirst quenching liquid we could ever want) — we felt like the shipmates becalmed at sea in the “Rime of the Ancient Mariner”, with “water, water, everywhere, / Nor any drop to drink”!

I remembered then that when I was a youngster one of our neighbors had attached a working hand pump to his electric well pump . . . and I wished I’d had the foresight and know-how to install a similar fixture on our unit. I made up my mind — then and there — to at least investigate the possibility. It’s fortunate that I did, too, because putting a hand pump on our well turned out to be an easy task (even for an amateur do-it-yourselfer like me!).

And if you’re looking for a low-cost, nonelectric backup design for a “juice powered” pumping system, my solution just might do the job for you!

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13 Responses to Add a Hand Pump to an Electric Well

  1. WiscoDave says:

    Depth can be the enemy.
    Article states 13′. Deeper wells are another story.
    Systems from Simple Pump and Bison Pump are options albeit more than $50…
    You can also use a hand pump to charge your pressure tank.

  2. Bob M says:

    Great for extremely shallow wells, but our well (Sante Fe, NM) was 400 feet deep. No hand pumping possible from that depth.

    • truthzzzz says:

      Look at flojak. It comes close. It may depend on where the static water level in the pump casing is.
      Q-Are some wells too deep?

      A-Actually the right answer is both “yes” and “no.” The well depth doesn’t matter as much as the depth to water. For example, FloJak Plus is warranted to lift water 150 feet vertically, but” lifting” begins at the static water level. So in theory, you could have a 500 foot long FloJak in a 700 foot well, with a static level of 100 feet. In this case you are pumping water from 500 feet (where the foot-valve inlet is located), but there is only 100 feet of actual “lift” from static. So it’s all about the distance to static water level.

  3. Dumbplumber says:

    The Dumbplumber is a well pump guy. Here in Northern Kalifornia very few wells have water at a level that can be pumped by hand (100-400 feet). But if you have a shallow well, more power to you.

  4. riverrider says:

    i would say his cost is off by a factor of ten, at least for any well deeper than 15 feet.

  5. dangero says:

    Our well is about 200+ feet down so hand pumps are out. Wiring the well to allow it to plug in to a generator works though and is a great solution for even weeks long power outages because you only have to run it for short periods of time each day but isn’t an End of the World long term solution. That’s what the year round creek with filters and several natural springs are for.

  6. H1 says:

    Stepping transformer and 1.5kw generator.
    Fill bathtub for flushing water and 5gal jugs for potable.
    6 gang sub panel to balance load to furnace, fridge and one outlet per room.

  7. SgtBob says:

    Way back in kidhood, my family had a bucket, a pulley and a rope. Worked every day.

  8. Sanders says:

    For some, a 12 volt pump may be an option. You can check environmental supply companies to see what they have. I haven’t found anything that pumps more than 200 ft. though. Here is one outfit that sells them:

    • Sanders says:

      Deeper wells may want to think about a solar or small wind generators. I’ve seen guys living off the grid with one or the other, or even both.

  9. nwoldude says:

    One might want to consider buying or making a good water filtering device to help with a safe water shortage problem. I have a homemade one made from two 5 gallon buckets and Black Berkey filters. All info easily found on internet.

  10. Gregbee says:

    Past summer my well pump quit. Electric was working fine, didn’t know if it was the in-well pump or the controller. My plumber couldn’t make it or for 6 days so I bought a shallow well pump with attached pressure tank,attached a heavy duty non collapsing garden hose with foot valve. Plumbed it in with screw together cpvc connectors before the pressure tank. Ran the entire house like normal. 15 minutes and could have it hooked up again if needed. Got a 12 volt dc pump, solar panels and a small rv battery bank if my generator won’t work or fails for next time. Glad I didn’t have to figure it in a emergency.

  11. Jeffery in Alabama says:

    At 15′ a handpump should not have any problem if you can make it work with the space you have in your casing. A “well bucket” is another option too (again if you can make the fit). In a longterm grid-down scenario one could “pull the electric pump: to rig up a system for the bucket. The slender well bucket can be lowered into a well. My granddaddy had one all my life and taught me to be gentle as not to “muddy up the water” when lowering the well bucket into the well and to listen for the bucket to reach the water. Then you listened for the “bubbling” sound to stop signaling the bucket was full. Then, it was hoisted back up using a simple handcrank, rope, and pulley situated above the well. My grandaddy had a peg beside the pulley that the bucket could be hung on and then a regular bucket placed underneath to catch the water as it was released. His well probably wasn’t thirty feet deep and the well bucket had no problems fitting in the casing as it did not have to compete with an electric pump. The distance from which water could be retrieved would be dictated by the length of the rope and the physical endurance of the person turning the crank.|pcrid|54869971724|pkw||pmt||&&gclid=CjwKCAiA1uHSBRBUEiwAkBCtzbzyhTk9_vUv4SqiBzg_v5aIAtjOvUvSqWEWHjwKIUiAK4K8n98gVRoCZTYQAvD_BwE

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