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how to install a hand pump alongside an electric well pump???  RSS feed

 
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We have shallow well (21 feet down is the static water level), and the pump and pressure tank are nearly 20 years old. They all seem to be functioning well, but I would love to have a backup way to access my water (1) in case of well pump failure and (2) in case of a power outage. Our last big power outage lasted 3 days, and we managed to have drinking water for all of it due to using rain water to flush the toilets and boiled rain water to wash the dishes, and only using the tap for drinking. But, near the end, the water was flowing a lot more slowly.

Anyway, does anyone have experience with putting a hand pump down a well alongside a normal pump?

More info about our well: The previous owner put the well house OVER the well, which makes it more difficult to try to put piping down the well. Well is 6 inches in diameter, and drilled down to 71.5 feet, with static water level of 21.5 feet. There's no artisan pressure. I'll try to get pictures of the well today after nap.

I really know very little about wells, and really appreciate your help. Thank you!
 
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Here is an article discussing the installation of a hand pump alongside an electric pump (same well casing): https://www.motherearthnews.com/diy/hand-pump-electric-well-zmaz84zloeck

Google different hand pump types and each likely has its own installation instructions, there are lots of youtube videos showing you how to install various pumps as well. I would love to have one but I lease this house and don't want to spend the $.

FYI anyone that depends on well water should know how to make a pvc well water "bucket" in the event of a long term power outage (I mean really long term desperate for water situations since the pump would have to be removed). Basically its a piece of PVC that can fit inside the well casing and it fills from the bottom with a flap. Understanding the concept means you could probably find a way to make one in a serious shtf event even if it meant using the flap from your toilet tank.

Instructions here: https://preparednessadvice.com/well/make-your-own-deep-well-bucket/
 
Nicole Alderman
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I got some pictures, but I don't even know what type of well pump my well has. Does anyone know what to look for to find out?

I've looked at flojac Earthstraws (https://www.flojak.com/earthstraw-code-red-50-foot-pump-system/), but I'm not finding any reviews of the product other than those on their website...

I also read about using a pitcher pump  and PVC pipe and installing it along-side the existing pump in the well (like referenced in Lucrecia's article)....but does that work with all well pumps?

FYI anyone that depends on well water should know how to make a pvc well water "bucket" in the event of a long term power outage (I mean really long term desperate for water situations since the pump would have to be removed). Basically its a piece of PVC that can fit inside the well casing and it fills from the bottom with a flap. Understanding the concept means you could probably find a way to make one in a serious shtf event even if it meant using the flap from your toilet tank. 



I have read about these, and have the directions on how to make them printed up and in my emergency folder (https://permies.com/t/70703/National-Preparedness-Month-prepare). It is a really good bit of information to have ready in case of emergency! I'd like something a bit more accessible and less prone to accidentally contaminating the well, and easier for my kids to potentially use.

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Top view of the well cap
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Side view of the well. My dad insulated everything.
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I'm not sure how to get 25 feet of PVC pipe to go through the door and down the well....
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The well house from the outside
 
Lucrecia Anderson
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Are you thinking about doing this all by yourself?  You better fill up a whole bunch of water containers before starting if that is your plan. LOL. But seriously I wouldn't want to try to tackle a job like that alone, just getting the cap off the casing is probably pretty darn difficult especially for a woman.

Maybe call some local well drilling companies and ask if they install hand pumps, even if you don't want to hire them they can probably give you useful info.

Here is a video showing how to install a "handy pump" next to a regular electric pump. The man says they often have to fabricate a well cap thing to accommodate the hand pump.

 
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I have a sand point well but some of the things discussed in This Thread could work for you.  Since my well doesn't have a casing, all the connections and pumping need to happen above ground.  You have the luck to be able to add a second intake line down in your casing if you want (I think).  You could possibly be able to connect to the line after the pump with a second pump but I'm not sure about sucking water through the pump at the bottom of your well.  That's where the experts come in.... 
 
Mike Jay
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Getting the cap off the well shouldn't be too hard.  In your third to last picture (Side view of well) there are two bolts that hold it on.  There are probably 2-3 more on the other side.  They don't look too rusty (my well had stainless steel bolts which was nice) so give them a turn and see what happens.  Use the correct size wrench or socket so you don't round off the bolts.  The cap doesn't affect the pump and plumbing so you could just pull it off and take a peek inside.
 
Nicole Alderman
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Thank you, Mike! That's good to know that the bolts aren't too hard to get off. Mine looked stainless as well, and since this well has been stored in a house since it was dug (just under 20 years ago), it hopefully won't be too hard to get it off.

I just finally found how to identify what type of pump I have in my well, thanks to Minnisota's Well Owner Handbook. It took me a frustratingly long time to find that result, as multiple search variations of "how to identify my well pump" came up with page after page after page of links to places trying to sell me well pumps. I don't want to buy one, I want to know what mine is, how to maintain it, how it works, and how to add a handpump to it. One wouldn't think this would be hard to find, but google seems to think I want to buy stuff rather than learn stuff. Grrrrr!

This isn't a project I want to blindly jump into. In fact, it's been stewing around in the back of my mind for quite a few years. But, I've done nothing about it because it seemed cost prohibitive and I knew nothing about wells. Then I was reading The Fine Art and Subtle Science of Scrounging and the author mentioned that shallow well pitcher pumps were inexpensive. That made the whole task actually seem do-able. Of course, I don't want to break open my well and destroy things on accident, so I turned to my buddies here one permies to see if anyone had done this and could guide me where to find more information (because all the searched I found were for videos, which I usually can't watch because I'm only on the internet when my kids are sleeping, and I don't want to wake them, or were links to places selling me things.). It was hard to even find REVIEWS on these hand pumps, let alone a site explaining the advantages/disadvantages of the various pumps.

I have a sand point well but some of the things discussed in This Thread could work for you.  Since my well doesn't have a casing, all the connections and pumping need to happen above ground.  You have the luck to be able to add a second intake line down in your casing if you want (I think).  You could possibly be able to connect to the line after the pump with a second pump but I'm not sure about sucking water through the pump at the bottom of your well.  That's where the experts come in.... 



I was reading your thread (thank you for it!), and was impressed by the Excelsior E2 pump. I had no idea that I could mannually pump and pressurize my pressure tank. Did you happen to install it? Is it easy and quick to pump?

Are you thinking about doing this all by yourself?  You better fill up a whole bunch of water containers before starting if that is your plan. LOL. But seriously I wouldn't want to try to tackle a job like that alone, just getting the cap off the casing is probably pretty darn difficult especially for a woman. 



There's some really capable women here on permies, and I definitely wouldn't put it past them to do these sorts of tasks. Bethany Dutch is a great example, and her threads (https://permies.com/t/93195/man-jobs-single-woman-homesteader and https://permies.com/t/52046/Women-homesteading) are full of great examples. Personally, I find I appreciate a second, or third pair of eyes on a project, to make sure I'm not messing anything up. Thankfully, I have a father who is very knowledgeable about building and plumbing. But, I don't want to make him do all the research and just stand by feeling useless and ignorant. I want to know and understand my well, and anything we're doing to fix it up. For many, many years I felt that I was unable to fix or build or do things that required strength...because people never let me or said I couldn't. I consider the homestead my "job," as my husband works full time. For a while, he was so disabled that he couldn't walk and sat in a bathtub or on a toilet all day, thanks to Crohn's. And, I've found that I CAN do a lot of things. And the more things I do, the stronger and more skilled I get. It's kind of a snowball effect. I just need to take the time to learn--which is why I'm here on permies! It's a great place to learn!

Speaking of learning, I look forward to finding a chance to watch your video, Thank you for your help!
 
Mike Jay
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Nicole Alderman wrote:I was reading your thread (thank you for it!), and was impressed by the Excelsior E2 pump. I had no idea that I could mannually pump and pressurize my pressure tank. Did you happen to install it? Is it easy and quick to pump?


I haven't installed it yet.  It fell a bit down on my priority list due to other projects.  I plan to add a sand point well to my greenhouse which would further reduce its priority.  But if the power was out for a month I'll really kick myself for not doing it...

And I agree, there's no reason that you or anyone else can't figure out a well, plumb a house, fix a car, etc.  I often wonder how I got to the point of being able to build a house.  It just came from finishing a basement, then finishing another basement, then building a cabin, then remodeling a house.  Each one built my skills a bit and I got fully capable.  If you don't get your feet wet you can't swim.  (not sure if that's the whole saying but it is now )
 
Lucrecia Anderson
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Mike Jay wrote:
And I agree, there's no reason that you or anyone else can't figure out a well, plumb a house, fix a car, etc.  I often wonder how I got to the point of being able to build a house.  It just came from finishing a basement, then finishing another basement, then building a cabin, then remodeling a house.  Each one built my skills a bit and I got fully capable.  If you don't get your feet wet you can't swim.  (not sure if that's the whole saying but it is now )



I didn't mean to start a PC kerfuffle about women's empowerment etc... I live alone and have fixed various things, I changed the alternator in my car (thanks to youtube) a few months back which made me feel very very capable, but I also recognized that the task was pushing the limits of my physical strength. Having said that some things, like starting a project that will cut the water supply off to your home, are not to be taken lightly! Not only does it cut the water supply off but it seems like one of those projects that would get expensive real quick if you had to hire a company to come in and put things back in working order. With the alternator I knew that in a worst case scenario it wouldn't cost me very much to have the car towed to the local garage.

Just sayin' it isn't something I would jump into casually! They often turn into lengthy learning experiences especially if one discovers they don't have the right tools and trips to the store are required. Since the op has someone with knowledge about plumbing AND plenty of tools to help out then it seems very doable, but going through ones little tool box looking for something that "might do the job" is another matter entirely.
 
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