A Homemade PVC Manual Well Pump

John Hartz builds a homemade PVC manual well pump that is simple to use and pumps water from as deep as 60 feet.

| June/July 2000

  • 180-034-01a
    John Hartz of Elmira, Oregon, demonstrates his Holopump
  • 180-034-01leta
    John Hartz of Elmira, Oregon, demonstrates his Holopump
  • Diagram: Outer pipe detail
    Diagram: Outer pipe detail.
  • Chart: Material for the Holopump
    Chart: Material for the Holopump.
  • Diagram: Rod detail
    Diagram: Rod detail.
  • Demonstrating the Holopump
    John Hartz of Elmira, Oregon, demonstrates his Holopump.

  • 180-034-01a
  • 180-034-01leta
  • Diagram: Outer pipe detail
  • Chart: Material for the Holopump
  • Diagram: Rod detail
  • Demonstrating the Holopump

Learn how to build a homemade PVC manual well pump.

A do-it-yourself  PVC manual well pump.

After several power outages left us wanting for water, I decided it was time to install a hand pump on our 45-foot-deep well. Turns out that was easier said than done. I wanted something I could install alongside our submersible electric pump, but I didn't want to spend a fortune. Lightweight manual pitcher pumps sell for around $50, but unfortunately these only work to a depth of about 25 feet — some 20 feet short of what we needed. Mid- to deep-well jack pumps will draw water from depths as low as 300 feet, but they'll also leave an $800-plus hole in your wallet.

Out of frustration, I hit the drawing board, determined to devise a solution. The result is an invention I've dubbed the "Holopump," a PVC manual well pump capable of efficiently drawing water from as deep as 60 feet. All of the parts are available from, or can be ordered through, most any hardware store . . . at a cost of only about $120 for the whole shebang.

How the PVC Manual Well Pump Works

The design is amazingly simple: An inner pumping rod, fitted at the end with a coupler and cap, is slipped into an outer water pipe. With each downstroke of the pumping rod, water equal to the volume of the rod rises into the pipe; this is what's known as positive displacement, and it happens regardless of the force or speed of the downward stroke. It's best, in fact, to keep the downstroke slow and deliberate. It's on the upstroke that you need to pick up the pace: This stroke needs to be quick enough so that fresh water enters the pipe before what's already gone up drains around the coupler and end cap. That way, pushing down or pulling up, you're drawing water. A simple foot valve at the end of the water pipe prevents water from draining back into the well.

Pumping water from a depth of 60 feet below ground requires a minimal effort of about 15 to 20 pounds for the upstroke and about 25 to 30 pounds for the downstroke (it's a force even my 12-year-old daughter can muster). Water comes out of the spout on both the upward and downward strokes. By pushing down slowly and steadily and pulling up quickly, using the appropriate force, you can expect to draw two to three gallons a minute from a well with a static water level of 60 feet — without breaking a sweat.

7/30/2016 9:39:49 PM

Are there plans availble for this pump

1/9/2016 8:55:51 AM

Is there some where I can get a complete set of plans. There appears to be two different sets of plans on here. One with a brass foot valve and one with a home made foot valve internal to the outer housing, and one "one way valve" internal to the pump shaft.....I really need to understand it to build it?

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