Earlier in the week when we were preparing for Hurricane Irene and looked at areas that we needed to improve, if there was an extended period of no electricity. The biggest thing that we noticed was that we didn’t have the ability have a long-term drinking water option, after the initial emergency supplies are used up.
We have a drilled well and have an electric pump, which doesn’t work all that well without power (no s#!& Sherlock). There were a couple of options, because our well, has water that is only about 20 feet down, so that gave a few more options:
- buy a generator and hook up the water pump – too expensive to buy and run and very noisy. Nice if you have one, but beyond our budget.
- a three or four-foot skinny water bucket that can fit down inside well head, but I really didn’t like that solution, it would mean having to pull the electric pump out and we would have to manually pull up the bucket. Also manually lowering and pulling up the bucket would knock rust and crap from the sides of the pipe down into the drinking water each time. Also what happens if the rope breaks or comes untied (I would have two ropes to prevent the this with one tied off to something, but…) then you have a stainless steel bucket in the bottom of your well, which might cause problems later. No I didn’t really like this option, even though it might be very reliable, it might be a good back-up to the back-up, if there were no electricity for a long period.
- a pitcher pump, the old well pump that you see pictures of from the 1800s to around the Depression Era. This seemed to be the best and easiest long-term option for getting water out of our well. After settling on what we needed, I had to figure out where to get it and looked at a few, the prices ranged from $42 to hundreds of dollars. After looking at them and researching what I really needed I picked the $42 one from Tractor Supply Co. It seemed to be reasonably built compared to the others and the cost wasn’t too bad. If this was going to be a full-time hand pump, I would probably opt for a higher quality one that would not freeze up as quickly during the cold weather as this one will.
Screwing on a 1 1/4 pipe on the pitcher pump was the recommended way to use the pitcher pump, but our power line is almost directly over the well head. So having a 25 foot metal pipe waving around while I was putting it in the well and then out again when the dust settles, didn’t thrill me too much – My hair gets curly enough and I don’t like the idea of being dead, because of something that I can anticipate and prevent.
Because of the powerline overhead, I considered that a safety hazard. Also you would have to pull out the electric pump to make sure that if you drop the 25 foot pipe (shit happens) in the well, while screwing on the pitcher pump. That would probably make for a very expensive repair job to the electric pump.
I looked around for a way, to simply hook up a garden hose to the pitcher pump. I am not an expert plumber, but I knew that there had to be an easy way to hook something like this up. So I went to the local hardware store and wandered around the plumbing section. They had a 1 1/4″ screw-in reducer to female 3/4″, I then got a 3/4″ double male fitting and 25′ of garden hose (I wanted new and clean for this). When I put it together finger tight in the car, it worked easier than I had any reason to expect. I had the parts and just needed to put everything together on a base.
Below is the finished product of my emergency well water hand pump setup
I feel a lot safer with this setup than trying to put a 25 foot pipe down into my well beside a powerline (energized or not). The other thing it stores all ready to go right on top of my cabinets in the back room, so that I don’t have to put anything together during an emergency. All I have to do is loosen 3 bolts, take off the well cap and put the hose down the pipe, prime it and magically water appears.
A fairly simple solution to my long-term emergency water problem for less than $70. I have thought about how we would get for a couple of years in a long-term power outage, but never really got around to doing something about it. Preparing for Irene was the perfect excuse to stop and do, instead of just thinking about it and waiting until later to figure it out. Usually later is when you don’t have time to figure it out and take unnecessary risks or jury-rig something that may cause more problems. That is the problem with doing things “later”.
We now have access to an emergency water supply, if the power does go out for extended periods of time. The one thing that I will probably do is go out and get a couple more reducers and double fittings, because while plastic does okay, it can crack or break.
Like they say 2 is 1 and 1 is none. I would prefer to keep having emergency water supply and if going out and spending $5 for a couple of spares is all I need to do, it seems like the right thing to do. I might even go out and look around for 1 1/4″ 25 foot pipe just to keep out back, in case of a long-term power outage or if I want a more permanent setup in place for an alternative water supply outside.
I do like simple solutions.
What little things did you find out when preparing for Irene that were easy to do and a lot cheaper than you thought they would be, when you finally decided to just do it.
I came within 5 minutes of posting this on Sunday and actually had a chance to try this setup on Monday and Tuesday. Part 2 will go over how well this emergency well pump worked.
Your idea is great if your water level is 25 feet or less, but if it is 30 feet to 150 feet, a pitcher pump that works on vacumn will not lift the water. There are several pumps on the market that will work for the deeper water wells.