I Got The Well Hand Pump Blues

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I’m SO frustrated. After countless hours of reading, searching, and talking with professionals, it seems that putting a hand pump on our well is a much larger and more expensive project than we had anticipated!

Why??!!! Why can’t it just be easy??

All I want is to be able to get access to our water without the use of gas or electricity. Every installer I’ve spoken with has the same answer, “Just get a generator.” They obviously don’t understand. If things get crazy, and we can’t get gas for our generator, what good will it be?

I just got off the phone with the local well company. You wanna know how much they’d charge me to come out and put a hand pump on our current well? Oh, about $5000! Yeah. They really don’t like putting a hand pump on an existing electric pump well. Okay, well how much do you charge to dig a new well just for the hand pump? Oh, about $3800, and then another $2800 for the pump to be installed. Oh, is that all? Good grief.

Lots of people have hand pumps on their well. Surely it didn’t cost them an arm and a leg to do it!

What do we do? I need a practical option. We don’t have room for a wind turbine. Solar? I’ve had no luck trying to find a system that would work for us. Hydro? We do have a few small creeks on the property, but they are all a little ways from the house, and downhill at that. Ugh!!!

I wish I knew somebody who knew how to do this kinda stuff. There has to be another option. Our well is 300′ deep, but the static water level is 65′, so it’s considered a deep well. What can we do without breaking the bank?

UPDATE (2014): We finally saved up enough money to buy a Simple Pump hand pump for our well. It actually wasn’t quite as expensive as we initially thought it would be. Definitely worth the investment. You can read a little more about our setup here.


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Kendra
About Kendra 1106 Articles
A city girl learning to homestead on an acre of land in the country. Wife and homeschooling mother of four. Enjoying life, and everything that has to do with self sufficient living.

28 Comments

  1. Hi. I have 2 comments.

    First many houses are plumed with plastic already if you are concerned about food grade PVC. In an emergency I would rather had regular PVC which is cheaper and have water than no water at all. You won’t use it enough to matter if it is only for emergencies.
    Second here is a site I found with a good stainless steel pump for 500.00 – 600.00. It is a different format but I think it is a good option to consider. It isn’t that hard to put in either. Here is the link http://flojak.com/flojak-plus-50-foot-stainless-steel-pump-kit/
    God Bless, May He keep you safe in the days ahead.
    John

  2. Thanks. Will have to look that one up. We are in the same boat, so to speak, on being able to afford it. We would love to install it ourselves, but like you feel very unsure about doing it. We really do not want to do more harm than good.

  3. Have you ever found a solution to your manual hand water well pump? We are currently researching this and was just wondering if you have found a solution yet or not.

    I guess we are way behind schedule in trying to get this done compared to most people.

  4. you will be surprised at the things that country high schools will do… when i was in school our boys built a house. now they do wood working and automotive stuff. give the school a call and see what they do? the pump might be a project for them during the year. who knows,

  5. Look online for simple hand pumps. They install into your existing well and can even be used to prime your pump in case of a power outage. Looks like its about $900+. It looks like you can install yourself. Simple option if your husband will let you hook into existing well. Mine won’t. We are still looking into driving a new well just for hand pump. I’ll let you know what else I find out on that matter when I do. πŸ™‚

  6. Hello! Lehman’s sells a DVD called: “From the Ground up: How To Install Your Own Water Pump.” It shows you how to install a hand pump on an existing electric well. Sounds like just what you’re looking for. If you can’t find the DVD on their web site, give them a call!

  7. Kendra,

    To answer your question, yes we did use PVC pipe. My husband first
    watched the on-line videos at the Bison site. Then he took our
    measurements of the well and emailed Bison. They told him what he
    needed to do the job. We ordered from Lehman’s during their one day sale. It shipped to the house 3 weeks later. He read the instructions (yes, he READ the instructions first). He asked if I
    wanted to raise the height of the pump (my back sometimes gives me fits.) He unboxed the pump and set it up on a few cinderblocks and I would go through the pumping motion. He measured exactly how much
    higher I wanted the pump and asked a welder from our antique car club to make an extendion platform that raised the heigth about 14 inches.
    This cost us $150 to customize. Husband primed and painted the extension piece made of steel and assembled the whole thing in one hour. Piece of cake! If you want to email, I’ll privately give you our phone number where you can speak with my husband about the ease of installation. Also could email you pictures of it installed.
    This pump has been a joy! Hope this info helps!

  8. I see where your hand water pump post was from the month of June.
    I am new to your site and thought I would share what my family has recently done… even if my comments are late.

    We live in a 104 year old house (built before Okla. became a state) and our old house has a hand dug well and the walls are brick lined.
    Our well is about 33 feet deep. We are on city water but use our well to water the fruit trees and the garden…and this is pumped from the ground using electricity and a Little Giant submersable pump that we dropped in the well years ago.

    I wanted a way to hand pump water in case we ever lost electricity. We know of two families who bought the Bison brand (Made in Maine). They have on-line video demonstrations/info. My husband emailed our specifications and questions to the Bison manufacturer and found out what parts we needed. About 10 days later, Lehman’s sent out a one day sale email and we ordered all of the needed parts from Lehmans at a 10% savings (direct from the manufacturer priced out the same as the everyday price at Lehmans…so the one day email 10% off sale was nice). My guys installed everything in one hour and we were pumping H2O!!! I felt a sense of relief to have this in place. It’s a beauty!

    This pump has a “nail” on the spighot that holds a bucket OR you can thread a garden hose onto the spighot and pump water thru the hose to where you want it to go. At age 48, I can pump for 10 minutes straight before I need to take a break. I think I get one gallon of water to every 8 stokes, so maybe that is about 4 gallons per minutes, or about 40 gallons in 10 minutes.

    Hope this info helps.

    • Saving The Canning Jars,

      Thank you so much for your info! I have checked out a Bison, but it looked to me like I’d need a professional to install it. Do you know if you used PVC pipe instead of steal to go into the well? Also, your well is much shallower than mine. I think that is going to be my main problem. Thank you for sharing what has worked for you though! I am still looking.

  9. I think the installer you talked to was trying to scare you out of doing it yourself.

    You can drop the pipe right down the hole, and use plastic so it’s lighter. The hand pump pipe only needs to be 20 feet lower than static water level, and the electric pump is typically towards the bottom of the well, so you won’t hurt anything, unless you drop something all the way down there…which is why you have safety ropes.

    Seriously, check out some installation videos and instructions on the Bison or Lehman site, and you’ll see how easy it really is. I bet you could even call Bison and they’d give you some positive responses.

  10. OK. Do the Lehmans deal–you will need the pump and the proper length of draw pipe–make sure your pipe will go further than your water level as wells sometimes have their water table drop. Either get the video and do it yourself or if you are in the right part of the country, find a Mennonite or Amish man do install it for you.

    The Amish use them, and although the Mennonites are more modern, they are usually well versed in them as they do a lot of disaster relief and in areas where the power is out, they first drop in a handpump.

    It really isn’t that hard–I have seen my dad, and uncles do it. We have one as well that my husbad did.

    Good luck-
    Just sign me “been there, done that, and you can too”

  11. Kendra,
    Check with Lehman’s. They have a ‘well/hand pump’ specialist at their store. Bonus is, they are truly helpful and polite.

  12. I just wanted to let you know I just looked on e-bay and under ‘well hand pump’ there are some (new). (Not as pretty as the Bison brand!) Do you know anyone you could barter with for the work?

  13. It isn’t even legal to install a hand pump in the town we live in. Thankfully we have a creek, but it is dry much of the year. At this point we are looking at a few options. First is getting out of town. Best option we have. Followed by installing a massive rainwater collection system in our current house. And third praying for the second coming πŸ˜‰ We are toying with installing a hand pump even though it isn’t “legal”

  14. Hmm I’ll have to ask Clay. He’s planning installing a deep well hand pump on ours soon. I’ll see what research he’s done because from what he’s read he was going to do it himself but… now I wonder if he can. Oh and you can buy a deep well hand pump for about $2000 instead of $3800.

  15. Isn’t it amazing the price you have to pay to get free from the control. I want to check into solar panels, wind turbine, solar oven, getting our well to work again (the old man filled in the well head…duh) and a number of other projects. I know it will save us money and regain some freedom that has been lost, but the expense is enormous. πŸ™

  16. Installing your hand pump is a little more costly because you have a low water table, but it still should only cost $500 at the most. Lehmans has a video that shows you how to install it…I’d be willing to part with my hubby for a week if you want to fly him out there (from Providence, RI) for him to install it for you. It’s totally something you should be able to figure out though.

    Materials:

    85′ (twenty feet lower than static water level to account for seasonal changes) of 1-1/4″ plastic pipe
    Some Connectors (the company you get the hand pump can tell you the size you’ll need)
    a hand pump (I recommend
    hole saw

    You can even see where the pipe connects to the pump on Bison’s home page.

    • Amanda,

      Thanks so much for the help. The well guy said something about I’d have to get a new 2β€³ cylinder for the electric pump (or something like that?), and that the steel pipes would weigh too much to try to lower by hand. Know anything about that?

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