Looking for advice re human powered well pump

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Trun87114's picture
Trun87114
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Looking for advice re human powered well pump

Hi folks,

I hope to get an opinion or two from you all regarding potentially installing a hand pump on my well.  

We live in a rural location in the high desert.  The population density is low and we've instituted many of the actions recommended by PP.  We've dramatically reduced our energy consumption, planted a 200sqft garden, invested in silver, etc.  But being as we are in the desert, my main concern is water.  We currently have a well with an electric pump.  If the grid fails I have a propane generator that is attached to my house and will run, among other things, my well pump.  Obviously that is only a solution for grid outages of less than a couple of weeks.  

I recently got a quote for a Simple Pump of $1600.  This would allow indefinite access to well water but comes at a steep price.  I hesitate primarily because most of our "preps" to this point will pay dividends in the long run regardless of if/when hard times come or whether those times are mildly tough or disastrous. But I don't imagine I'll ever touch the hand pump except in a TEOTWAWKI situation. Given our tight budget, that makes spending $1600 really tough.

i would really appreciate feedback and advice about this decision.  I'm guessing there are likely some perspectives that I have not considered.

 

T. 

johnnyyuma's picture
johnnyyuma
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Simple pump

I bought a simple pump 3 years ago and love the security it gives. However, you can look for a cheaper alternative. A good well man/plumber should be able to install a hand pump on your existing well. As long as it's depth is above your submersible you should be OK. May have to be diligent and get a few opinions but it can be done.

alfrede's picture
alfrede
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water

water is of course a no. one priority in your situation. the simple solution  is some type of bailer. a pvc one works for pipe wells. google; pvc well bailer. they can have a rope to hand pull, or various spool type devices for raising the pvc bucket.

Lehman's has hand pumps that are a lot cheaper than your quote ; but you install.

Good luck.

Thetallestmanonearth's picture
Thetallestmanonearth
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Sand-point well with pitcher pump

Being in the desert your water table is probably too deep for this option, but for others reading the tread who live in more temperate areas a sand-point well with a pitcher pump may be a good option.  They only work at depths less than 32', but the whole set up costs less than $200 and can be installed in one afternoon of hard work with a post driver and a plumbers wrench.  I just purchased one but haven't gotten it installed yet.  Even just having it in the shed gives me peace of mind.

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Jim H
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Trun87114's picture
Trun87114
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Pumps

Thanks for the replies and the ideas.  I had considered a well bucket.  Lehmans has a nice one for $69.  Obviously the price is right.  I guess it's just a matter of how bad I think things might get.  

If we suffer, most likely in my mind, an economic collapse that result occasional grid outages, then it's not a big deal, as my generator will take up those periods.  If we suffer hyperinflation that makes using energy to run my well pump super expensive, I'm covered by my grid-tied solar PV system.  

It's the TEOTWAWKI situation where we'd be in trouble.  (Wouldn't we all?)   I do think such a scenario is very unlikely but certainly possible.  A well bucket would allow us to drink enough to stay alive but would not be practical, hauling water up 80-90' by hand to use for watering our garden and animals.  

So I suppose it is a matter of just how much I'm willing to pay for "insurance."  Right now I'm leaning towards the well bucket.  I will look into the Flojak more, though, it seems to do what a Simple Pump will do, but at about half the price.

Tapeguy's picture
Tapeguy
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Hand Pump

T.

Water should be the first thing on the list. Having lived twice, hurricane & ice storm, for 2 weeks with no electricity, I know its importance. I assume like my situation you have a 6” drilled well, if the powers out, can’t really drop a bucket down a 6” shaft. I purchased and installed an ez water hand pump in tandem with my submergible deep well pump.

Well info:

205 feet deep

PVC 6” casting

Static water level 30 feet from surface level (30’ down to the water)

½ hp pump set at 160 feet down.

 

Ezwater hand pump hung side by side the submergible.

Installed 10-17-2012, tested yearly, how durable?

Depth 60’

 

http://www.ezwaterwellhandpumps.com/

 

As the pump is in the water it is much easier to “draw” or “push” the water up.  Vs sucking from ground level as the old farm pump did. It only takes a few strokes and water is shooting out the top.

 

Tapeguy

Trun87114's picture
Trun87114
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EZ pump

Tapeguy, wow those are cheap, about  10% of the price of the Simple pump!  Thanks for providing another alternative. My fear, of course, is that the cheap price means a poor product.  It looks like you put one of these in nearly two years ago.  Would you mind sharing a little more of a review?

what prompted the purchase and convinced you it was worth it?  How difficult was the installation?  And how has it performed?

T.

 

 

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Michael_Rudmin
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Find out what they do in Central Europe

We lived in Lithuania, and every town was surrounded by Sodai (gardens).  The gardens typically had a hand-powered pump.  Prices back there were 1/4 of what they are in America, and wages were 1/8.  I expect that the pumps they sold were cheap and reliable.

I'd start by seeing what they did in the old Soviet Union,  If you have friends from there, ask them.  

The word in Lithuania would be siurblys (pump) vandens (of water), ranka (hand... but I'm sure I have the wrong form of the word).  

Or you could look on Ebay for a cast iron hand water pump:

http://www.ebay.com.au/sch/sis.html?_kw=DUAL+OUTLET+CAST+IRON+HAND+OPERA...

Or you could buy an electric pump that you know works, and rig it to solar panels, so that it runs long enough to fill up a tank.  Worst comes to worst, you then have a tank full of gravity-fed water.   Put the solar panels on the roof of the tank, and it keeps the tank cooler, powers the pump, and maybe is even inconspicuous.  I'm pretty sure the wattage of the pump doesn't have to be all that great, so the wattage of the solar panels doesn't, either.

Or here's another one:  there have been developed condensation systems that still provide water in the desert, condensing it out of the air by cooling the air.  You could look into that.Again, it's electric, but it doesn't have to be obvious, and it doesn't have to be on-grid.

 

 

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Michael_Rudmin wrote: We
Michael_Rudmin wrote:

We lived in Lithuania, and every town was surrounded by Sodai (gardens).  The gardens typically had a hand-powered pump.  Prices back there were 1/4 of what they are in America, and wages were 1/8.  I expect that the pumps they sold were cheap and reliable.

 

Excellent point, for me. I live in Romania but we just bought a homestead in Canada and will be moving back permanently by the end of the year. I'm deciding if it's worth it to buy a bunch of equipment here and have it shipped. So far, I have priced here:

Locally made sickle - $8

Locally made scythe blade - About $12

Wooden scythe handle - About $4

I priced a scythe at my local farm store in Ontario at $180. It was an all-metal construction and vastly superior in quality to the $12 jobbies I find here, but still ... People here actually use scythes and sickles on a regular basis (as well as horses and other more basic tools).

I go frequently to the local local garden supply store here. And I am also looking to install some form of manual access to my well in Ontario. Perhaps it's worth it to look. Most of the stuff is imported - Fiskar's axes, etc - and the price is similar to North American prices. But local stuff is just dirt cheap.

In fact, I'd be happy to price specific tools, pieces, etc, here if anybody has any requests.

Cheers,

Mackay

Tapeguy's picture
Tapeguy
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EZ Pump

T.

 

Like Chris says, something just does not feel right so I started adding layers of redundancy to my life. It’s not easy to write a “must do” list, but surely water is at the top. I’m not a build a bunker and live off the grid guy; I just don’t want to be 100% dependent on the “system”. Having a 6” diameter drilled well there’s no easy way to get water out if the power goes off. I explored all the options,

Storage? No don’t have room.

Ground source? Too far away.

Filtration? Yes I have an Aqua Rain ceramic filter.

Chemical Sanitizing? Keep 8 gallons of bleach and rotate on FIFO (it has a shelf life).

Boiling? Yes have a rocket stove and kerosene stove.

Accessible nearby wells? Yes both my neighbors have 24” ID bored wells, drop a bucket on a rope 60’ down and pull up and out. (remember water is heavy).   

 

I looked around for systems to get water out of a drilled well.

 

Bucket to drop down a 6” shaft? Would need to remove the submergible pump and pipe.

https://www.lehmans.com/p-1384-lehmans-own-galvanized-well-bucket.aspx?s...

Old stay cast iron hand pump? Only work on shallow wells.

 

Found the ez pump and liked the idea. Looking at their web site I see they have changed the design.

My pump is housed inside a schedule 40 pvc 1 ¼” pipe, with a schedule 40 pvc 1/2” pipe attached to the pump head. Looks like now the pump is housed inside a schedule 20 pvc 1” pipe which has a thinner wall and weighs less, with a schedule 40 pvc 1/2” pipe attached to the pump head. It is really just a pipe inside a pipe with a suction pump at the bottom. I can’t say it was easy or fun installing it, but very doable. I used a 6”well cap for the old style jet pump that used a 1” and 1 ¼” pipe. Dropping the submergible pump in the 1” hole and the ez pump in the 1 ¼” hole. it’s difficult to say how durable it will be as it receives no use.

Tapeguy Tech  (Technologist of adhesive tapes)

Newgie's picture
Newgie
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pumpiing

I live in Bulgaria and am a bit older. I too am looking for an alternative to my electric well pump.  I've scoured the net, and decided against a manual hand pump, mainly because I find that much of the physical work I do requires my arms and I am beginning to have some elbow and shoulder problems.  I figured a hand pump would further aggravate the problem.  So I found pedal pumps and treadle pumps that get used in third world countries.  I'm kind of favoring the treadle pump for myself - I've included 3 links so you can see for yourself.  You can buy a very high quality treadle pump for $500 from New Zealand, or make one/have one made.  The links will help.   You can also google peddle pump and treadle pump and look for "images" of those, and you'll be on your way.

Treadle pump
http://practicalaction.org/treadle-pump-2

Build your own treadle pump
http://treadlepump.blogspot.com/

$500
http://www.resilientcommunities.com/a-human-powered-water-pump-you-have-...

 

I still have a number of other things to handle first and as I have limited financial means, the pump is a bit later on my list.  Would love to hear feedback what you guys think about this.

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sand_puppy
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Thank you Newgie

I had heard of the Treadle Pump being used in India where it is common to have good farmland just a few feet above an underground aquifer.  Thanks for finding these links and posting them here.  

If anyone hears any reports about how these foot powered water pumps are working and holding up to use, I would love to know.

Newgie, in Bulgaria, is rainwater collection being used much?  Are you in an area where it rains enough to warrant collection?  The effort to build a rainwater collection system would be very well spent as there are no moving parts and once built should work for years without any muscle work.

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Newgie
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Hi Sand Puppy! For some

Hi Sand Puppy!

For some reason rain water is not used much at all by individuals.

Most village people have wells or bore holes or just use  tap water.  We do have many reservoirs throughout the country which trap rainwater, but we had so much rain over the past two months, these reservoirs are being slowly drained a bit to prevent flooding in case of further massive rains.

The other thing is that we have two big mountain ranges in the country, and it seems that there is water stored within the mountains.  Many villages have a central water area, where a pipe with mountain spring water comes out.  Its really good drinking water.  And even some of the plains villages get the piped mountain water.  I think in the communist era a lot of this kind of infrastructure was built in.

 

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sand_puppy wrote: The effort
sand_puppy wrote:

  The effort to build a rainwater collection system would be very well spent as there are no moving parts and once built should work for years without any muscle work.

I have also been looking at water cisterns.  There's a site called Velacreations - a family in Mexico somewhere I think, and they built a massive cistern for not too much money, using cattle panels and pond liner.  They have diagrams on how they did it.  It looks a little overwhelming for me at the moment, for some reason the treadle pump seems not so big and like something I could face making :)

Newgie's picture
Newgie
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sand_puppy wrote: The effort
sand_puppy wrote:

  The effort to build a rainwater collection system would be very well spent as there are no moving parts and once built should work for years without any muscle work.

I have also been looking at water cisterns.  There's a site called Velacreations - a family in Mexico somewhere I think, and they built a massive cistern for not too much money, using cattle panels and pond liner.  They have diagrams on how they did it.  It looks a little overwhelming for me at the moment, for some reason the treadle pump seems not so big and like something I could face making :)

sand_puppy's picture
sand_puppy
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Building Own Water Storage Cisterns

I was absolutely fascinated to see how an ingenious and inventive family in Mexico (we think) developed ways to build several rain water storage cisterns by hand at their off grid farm.  Their approach is stunningly low tech using hand tools and string to measure and inexpensive materials.   Thanks Newgie for the pointer.  Their website is Velacreations and this is the link to their HowTo section for building cisterns.

They made a 8 foot radius circle by pounding a stake in the center and measuring the circle with a string.  Then put a ring of large bricks around the circumference and filled and packed a sand floor.

 

Then the bolted pieces of sheet metal to make a wall and put a pond liner in it and some pipes.  All from PVC pipe, pieces of sheet metal, common bolts and inexpensive material.  The result is a 6,000 gallon rainwater storage tank.

Dimitri Orlov saws that during a major collapse we will be seeing LOTS more of this kind of innovation from very practical builders who must develop ways to do essential tasks inexpensively with whatever materials can be salvaged.

And I think that collecting rain water sounds much easier than pumping it out of the ground if given the choice.

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ronpoitras
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Bison hand water pumps

You can't beat the quality of a Bison hand water pump (http://bisonpumps.com/) !  We've had one for several years and it's been very reliable.  Our well is 90 ft deep but Bison has deep well versions that can work down to 300 ft.  Ours works ahead of our jet pump and when the power goes out we head for the basement, turn two valves & pump away.  we can pressurize the water system for the entire house from our Bison hand pump.  Made in Maine so you know its gonna be good!

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