HOW DO I KNOW IF I NEED A SHALLOW WELL PUMP (PITCHER/CISTERN) OR A DEEP WELL PUMP?
Consider the following:
You must know the static water level (not well depth) and how much it varies - Static Water Level is the distance from the top of the ground to the top of the water level in the well (not the well depth)
To find the static water level, check with the well driller who drilled the well, or look at the well driller’s records to find the static water level, or you can check the level yourself:
Attach a weight (nut or metal washer) to the end of a string (optional: attach a bobber/float 1” above the weight)
Lower the string/weight into the well casing – be careful to not get it caught on electrical wiring (if present)
Listen for the weight to “plunk” in the water (if using a bobber, the line will go limp when it hits the water)
Mark the line (tie a knot or wrap a piece of tape) at the top edge of the well casing
Pull the line back up and measure the length of the line from the weight and/or bobber to your mark – this is your static water level
Once you know your static water level, you can determine what kind of pump you need
20’ or less = shallow well pump
Over 20’ = deep well pump
Cistern (pitcher) pumps use suction, so they are not able to pull from much more than 25’; roughness inside the well casing and leather quality can affect the depths able to pump
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SHALLOW WELL PUMPS AND DEEP WELL PUMPS AND HOW THEY WORK?
Shallow Well Pumps:
Most are “self-contained”, meaning the cylinder is located inside the pump head
Work like a straw to suction water up the well
Deep Well Pumps:
Cylinder is located 10-20’ below the static water level, instead of inside the pump head
Pumps use the cylinder to push or lift water up the pipe and not by suction like a cistern pump
HOW DO I KNOW WHAT LEATHERS TO GET, AND HOW LONG DO THEY LAST?
Leathers usually last about 4-5 years, depending on use and acidity of the water
Suction or cup leathers (upper):
Sit on the plunger and are shaped like a cup with round holes in both sides (like a donut)
Measure the ID of the cylinder and match it to the OD of the leather; the ID of the leather should fit on the plunger (can be cut if necessary)
Check leathers (lower):
Located at the base of the pump head; a weight is attached to the flap in the middle
Measure the OD of the cylinder or the circular indentation in the base of the pump that surrounds the drop pipe opening
WHAT SIZE CYLINDER SHOULD I CHOOSE?
The cylinder must fit inside the well casing, so you need to know the inside diameter (ID) of the well casing.
The cylinder must be able to slip past the pitless adapter and any other obstructions from submersible pump (if present)
Deeper wells—use a narrow cylinder so it’s easier to pump (the wider the cylinder, the more water pushed up per stroke)
HOW DEEP DOES THE CYLINDER NEED TO BE?
For best use, cylinder should be at least 10’ under water, and at least 5’ from the bottom of the well and/or electric pump
The cylinder should always be wet to keep it from corroding and to be able to provide suction; modifications with drop pipe BELOW the cylinder can allow you to raise the cylinder out of the water
HOW DO I MAKE MY PUMP FREEZE-PROOF?
Shallow Well Pumps:
Keep the handle raised, this will let all of the water drain out of the pump (will not work if using a foot valve)
Cup leathers may freeze to the cylinder wall—pour hot water into pump, or wrap a hot rag around the cylinder and then gently raise and lower the handle to loosen it
Deep Well Pumps:
Drill a 3/16” or 1/8” weep hole about 1’ below the frost line in the drop pipe to let water drain out of the head
CAN I INSTALL A HAND PUMP IN A WELL WITH MY ELECTRIC PUMP?
Yes, but it isn’t always recommended depending on the situation; and yes, they can both be used at the same time
Must have a minimum of a 4” well casing (6” is better), and should use no bigger than a 2” cylinder
Cylinder must be able to slip past the pitless adapter (located about 1’ below the frostline)
Electric pumps are generally near the bottom of the well, and you want to keep the hand pump’s cylinder at least 5’ away, but don’t put it any closer than you have to – as far away as possible is recommended
Install hand pump as normal, but make sure the electric cords from the electric pump are pulled up and out of the way