Our bodies are up to sixty percent water. We cannot live without it. So it only makes sense to ensure we have constant access to a safe source. Those of us that have a well have an advantage over our neighbors that do not. Not being reliant on a municipal supply, and the chemicals they inject into it, makes us the masters of our own thirst.
However, having a well doesn’t mean you’ll always have access to the water contained in it. The biggest and most frequent problem for well owners is disruptions in power. When the power goes off, be it for an hour or a week, so does your water. Whereas our city dwelling brethren may lose power, they will still have water, in the short term at least.
We have some options for running the well without power. Of course, a generator can be used to run the pump. This is a good option if you have the equipment, fuel and know how to make it happen. Another option is installing a hand pump on your well in addition to your submersible pump.
In most cases this is easily done, but there are some considerations to be made. First is the depth of your well. This is the most important consideration because it will affect the cost dramatically. A deep well—more than thirty-four-feet deep—requires a more advanced pump than a shallow one.
If your water table is under the thirty-four-foot mark you can use a less expensive pump from any number of places like Home Depot or even Harbor Freight. This type of pump uses a leather washer and check valve to suck the water up. A short drop pipe going into the well with a foot valve at the bottom prevents the pump from losing its prime. Even with these valves, the leather components are very susceptible to drying out if not used regularly. The main issue with having one of these is that because they won’t be used often, it will generally require priming.
However, the shallow well is the exception, not the rule. Once you move deeper than the thirty-four-foot mark, or one atmosphere, you have to use a pump with closer tolerances and better engineering. This is where companies like Bison Pumps come into play. Bison is one of a new breed of highly engineered modern hand pumps. These are not the old pitcher pumps of yesteryear. These new pumps are constructed of 304 stainless steel and provide a lifetime of service.
Even better than a pump you’ll only have to buy once is one that requires virtually no maintenance. Once installed, they will work for many, many years with no input from you other than a strong arm when you need water.
To get the water up to the surface from a deep well requires a different approach. Whereas the old-style pitcher pumps rely on the leather cup to provide suction, the deep well pumps actually lift the water to the surface. This is accomplished by the use of lift, or sucker rods, that extend the full length of the down pipe to the pump cylinder.
The cylinder must be installed twenty feet below the static water line. The best part is, it can be installed on the same pipe as your submersible pump! Simply pull your existing down pipe until you are at a point twenty feet below the static water line and cut the pipe. Add a threaded adapter to connect the pump cylinder, then install the new pipe and sucker rods that come with your hand pump. It’s that simple.
Bison Pumps includes some tools to make this easier for you. One of the most important is a safety tool that will hold the bell ends of the pipe on top of the case to prevent them from dropping down. It’s like an extra pair of hands. With the paddle in place, you can turn loose of the pipe and use the rod retrieval tool to pull the sucker rod up. Each section of the eight-foot pipe has a stainless-steel rod inside of it. Pull the rod up and connect it to the one in the next piece of pipe. Tighten the jamb nuts and thread the pipe together. The threaded connections preclude the use of any solvent based adhesives, something no one wants in their water.
With the new piece of pipe in place, remove the paddle and lower that section of pipe. Replace the paddle at the next bell to hold the pipe in place. Very simple installation. The cylinder also has a rope attached to it so that, should it slip, it can be retrieved.
The pumps come with a new well cap, also of stainless-steel. This will replace the old cap and will require the wiring of the submersible pump to be routed through it. Ensure the power is off to the existing pump before doing so. Once the cap is in place and the wires are routed through their opening, you can install your pump. The sucker rods will connect to the rod in the base of the pump and the pipe will screw to it. Then the cap is placed on the wellhead and secured. You’re done! You now have a hand pump on your well.
For areas where the ground freezes in the winter, or where permafrost is close to the surface, you can get a section of pipe with a weep hole to allow the water to drain out. This is to prevent it from freezing. But the pump won’t require priming and a couple pumps of the handle will restore the flow.
Hand pumps can also be installed beside your existing submersible pump, provided your well case is large enough in diameter. The installation is simpler, in that you don’t need to pull your existing submersible pump. Simply drop the cylinder, pipe and rods into the well to a depth of twenty feet below the static line.
Adding a hand pump to your well is the surest way to ensure you always have access to water. It is an improvement you can make to your homestead with dividends for life. No more running out with the masses for cases of bottled water in preparation for a looming disaster. Instead, you can focus on other preparations, secure in the knowledge that you have access to unlimited water in your own backyard.
You can check out Bison Pumps online here: https://www.bisonpumps.com/ Tell them Survival Dispatch sent you.
This article was originally published in the Survival Dispatch Insider Volume 1 Issue 2.