Emergency Hand Water Pump – Did It Work?

Hurricane Irene has come and gone and we got to test out the Emergency Water Pumping system that I put together in Part 1.

So how did it work?

Initially it didn’t work worth a damn!

Which was very frustrating to say the least.

Using a curled up 25 foot hose and then trying to put it down a straight well pipe with lines and electrical connections in the pipe already, led to a lot of interesting language and crap being knocked off the side of the well pipe into the well.  After trying several different things I tied the hose to a 20 foot stick and put the hose down the pipe without a lot of problem. When I took the stick out the hose re-curled quite a bit, but at least the hose was still in the water.

Once we got that taken care of, we primed the pump (several times), and pumped and pumped and pumped and pumped, but couldn’t get any suction (but it was a great workout).  Finally we gave up and went to eat lunch inside.
I was tired and p$#@^@-off, so I wasn’t thinking about what was wrong and really needed the break.

While eating lunch I had re-focused and I figured out that the pump was sucking air instead of water and that it would never draw water, unless I made the connections air-tight.  No Duh!!!!!

After lunch was over, I pulled the pump and tightened all the fittings (which were all too loose) and attached a 3 pound weight to the end of the hose to keep the line straight and help get it in and out without putting too much more stuff from the well pipe into the well.

I put the hose back down the well pipe without too much problem, primed the pump and started to pump.  On the fourth time water spurted out of the pump!


We had water coming from the pump.

The only problem was that because of all the tries to put the hose down the pipe, a bunch crap from the well pipe was in the well.  The water was coming out red (from the rust) and not very drinkable. However, it was good enough for non-drinking water needs and if necessary we could filter and treat it to make it drinkable.

I learned a lot about how to make the water pump work and things that I needed to do differently to have it pump water.

  • make sure that the pump fittings are air-tight.
  • add a rubber gasket between the hose and pump fitting (this was a major air leak point)
  • have a weighted system for the hose to help put it down the well pipe and pull it back out.
  • make sure you have a line tied to the weight as well, so that it doesn’t stress the hose or plastic fittings on the pump. Also if the weight comes loose, it doesn’t damage your electric pump or sit on the bottom of your well for all eternity.

  • tape the extra line to the hose, so it doesn’t get tangled with the electric water pump lines already in the well-head (had a scary moment when I thought the line had gotten tangled, but luckily it didn’t).
  • when storing the hand-pump keep the hose straight.
  • go out and buy extra fittings (especially since they are plastic) as they say “two is one and one is none”.

Yesterday I created a way to hang the pump from the wall in the garage with the hose being out straight instead of coiled up.  I also checked the fittings for cracking or other signs of wear and didn’t see any.

Future plans, eventually buy a 25 foot 1 1/4 inch metal pipe, if I have to use the hand pump for more than a couple of weeks. I already bought the extra fitting and will probably get one more set.

Lift weights more often, working that damn pump is not a cake-walk and carrying a 5-gallon bucket get pretty heavy, really quickly.  It was a great workout program and helped me loose 5 pounds this week :).  But seriously, if you need to do things manually, you can’t have chicken wings for arms and shake like a bowl full of jello when you walk, you won’t be able to do the work you need to for very long.

The well is almost back to normal and next time, with the improvements I have made to the system, red water shouldn’t be an issue.  Luckily we were without power for less than 48 hours and using the pump this time was more an exercise to see how things work and an opportunity make improvements.

When you start getting really frustrated, take a break, but don’t give up. Persistence in an emergency is necessary, because the first thing you do is not always going to work and it might take quite a few tries to get something to work.

Yes the emergency hand water pump does work, but it is a hell of a lot more work to get water than walking over to the faucet and turning it on. It is a nice feeling to be a lot more self-reliant when it comes to water, but hopefully, we don’t have to use it again for a long time.

If we do, I know that we will have water.