Hand Pumps for Sustainable Water

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Hand Pumps for Sustainable Water

Postby George Collins » Wed Jul 04, 2012 12:02 am

With the projected increase in the cost of energy, anything that requires energy inputs will force an increase in the costs of all goods and services. In such a world, a penny's worth of energy saved under our present circumstances will likely equal several pennies worth of future earnings. Having lived through Hurricane Katrina and being forced to be without running water for a protracted period of time put the value of such in stark relief. Additionally, contrary to what Geoff Lawton et al recommend, our house is situated on a ridge line so passive running water systems into the house are limited. Presently, we have four apparent options:
1. Using our roof as water catchment and storing it in a cistern
2. Digging a well with a windlass drawn bucket
3. Installing a hand pump
4. Buying really good buckets and sending the kids to the bottom of the hill to fetch water

After mulling these options over for a time, seems like the hand pump might be the best option but all opinions on the matter will be welcome.

If the hand pump is the option ultimately decided upon, does anyone have any experience with the installation of such a system?
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Re: Hand Pumps for Sustainable Water

Postby pa_friendly_guy » Wed Jul 04, 2012 1:58 am

What is your water source now George? I am guessing that you are on a well now. If you had City water it would run with out pumping . If you are worried that the City water system will go down in a major storm etc that is a different issue than just a Hand pump. If you have a well system now then I think a hand pump can be installed fairly easily to the line from the well to the house. I would put it in your basement. Have a shut off valve on the line to the hand pump, and another valve on the line into the house. When the power is out, or when ever you wish to save on electric, turn off the water to the house and turn on the hand pump valves, and pump by hand. Your hand pump can go into buckets that you can haul up stairs to wash, flush, cook etc. If the hand pump needs to be primed just keep a container of water handy for that purpose or let the water in your lines in the house prime the pump befor you turn the house valve off. The reason I suggest the basement is, 1] it is inside so cold, or rain etc are not a problem, 2] The lower it is to the water the easier it will be to pump, 3] Pumps that pump water from deeper depths are Much more money, so the less distance from the water level in the well to the pump the better. That is about all I can tell you. If your situation is different, well then I guess my advise would be different, :lol: The citern idea is not a bad one, but they can be expensive. Having the Kids haul water up the hill in buckets works Great in the short run, but unfortunately they get old and move away, and at just about the time when you are getting older and needing more help. Just ask Young Blood. ;) In the short term I would go with the kids and several clean buckets, but that is truely Not a Long Term solution. Thinking more long term does tend to make more sence. :D
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Re: Hand Pumps for Sustainable Water

Postby Lollykoko » Wed Jul 04, 2012 3:12 pm

George, I recently purchased a hand pump for the well that is in progress. The "site information" says that the pump will work for water within 25 feet of the surface. That should be your first go/no go item on the feasibility list.

I've watched some videos on YouTube that show DIY pumps using pedal power and I got the impression that they would work at deeper levels. Either stair steppers or bicycle power can push/pull water when you use a couple of directional flow valves in the system. How far down the hill would those kids have to haul water?

Or maybe you could give the kids the challenge of how to get the water uphill without being carried in buckets. A water wheel and garden hose can do a lot. To my memory, ALL kids love to play in water whenever possible. Some of the best engineers figured out what they wanted to do when they grew up while they were kids. I saw a video of a six year old who created a suction pump that worked like an old bicycle pump. Of course I can't find it now, so I will watch this one http://youtu.be/j_RqQ3elzNU in all it's parts while I drink coffee and do laundry this morning.
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Re: Hand Pumps for Sustainable Water

Postby pa_friendly_guy » Thu Jul 05, 2012 12:37 pm

I am sure that there maybe cheaper places to buy pumps, but here is a link to Lehmans Store. http://www.lehmans.com/store/Water?Args= They carry alot of really great produces and things that maybe hard to find. The Amish seem to deal here alot and the products seem to be of good quality. They have deep well pumps as well as shallow well pumps and Ram pumps. Deep well pumps are expensive, $400 to $500. It seems to me that if it has a crank on it Lehmans handles it. ;)
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Re: Hand Pumps for Sustainable Water

Postby matt walker » Fri Jul 06, 2012 6:05 pm

George, I too wonder what you are pumping from. How much head, etc.? Depending on your needs and the depth of your water source, I might be inclined to advise a cistern system. The price of hand pumps that can draw from any depth is not insignificant, and you can store a lot of water for not much investment.
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Re: Hand Pumps for Sustainable Water

Postby George Collins » Sat Jul 07, 2012 11:07 am

First, thanks for you replies and please forgive the delayed response. For the past several weeks, the pace of farm life has quickened. Youngblood has brought in an impressive butter bean, corn and tomato crop. Add to that blue berries, figs and the new hog fence on top of the normal watering chores of the black walnuts and life has grown pleasurably hectic. Fortunately, we started getting our summer afternoon thunderstorms on July 4th which has provided some relief from daily waterings so that our attentions can be diverted to preserving the harvest.

As far as the expense is concerned, I am fortunate. However, I hope to divert those resources as wisely as possible for every wasted dollar here means one less to devote elsewhere. The way I came to learn of permaculture was via studying survival related topics. Without going through the whole process of how my present mindset came to be, instead, perhaps the present mindset can give better insight as to the present direction:

Impagine you are living in the year 2022 and you are four years into a Zimbabwe style, hyper-inflationary period where a wagon load of money is required to purchase a wagon load of goods. Our troubles are compounded by, what in retrospect was determined to be, peak oil plus 8 years and a gallon of gas costs a half a days wages and all else is priced proportionately. Now Imagine you have a time machine that will take you back to now and then back to the future but will only do so once. Now imagine your 2022 self filling out a "to-do" list for his journey back in time.

What are the things that your 2022 self would like to accomplish in 2012 to make life as easy as possible in 2022?

We got lucky once in that we were able to live for a couple years in a house built in 1850. From that experience, we knew much about how to design a house for South Mississippi's environment. The one area though where we were unable to learn any lessons was the issue of water for whatever water systems the house originally had, had long since been lost to time. However, I am barely old enough to remember some of the houses of those that were ancient when I was but a wee lad and how they solved their water issues and without exception, they used open wells with hand-drawn buckets. Those things always scared me though because of the stern warning we heard frequently as childre about staying well away from these wells lest we fall in.

Pre-Y2K, we had some friends that installed hand pumps in their yards in anticipation of a break down in services. Fortunately we didn't buy heavily into the whole Y2K scenario although I did convince my wife to let me buy an AR-15. However, the one family we still break bread with on a regular basis that installed a pump, lost the father to a weird bicycle accident a little while back and he was the only one of that family that could have given me any insight into the particulars of installing a hand pump.

Having said all that, I am not opposed to having both a cistern and a hand pump or one to the exclusion of the other.

Lolly, to haul water by hand would be the last of all options. We have streams both to the north and South of our house. Each are about 1/8th of a mile away but the bad part is that the hills are quite steep. I have a young man that I hired to help me back in the spring that was in training togo to Marine boot camp (and who is actually on Parris Island as I type this) that was winded by carrying a bucket of water most of the way up the hill my kids would be required to climb multiple times per day, every single day if we were to employ the forced child labor option. I'd rather not for if the water issue can be solved more efficiently, their efforts can be much better directed elsewhere.

Guy,

We have county water and so there is no existing pipe. Our house was built with two scenarios in mind: incredibly expensive energy and short-term power outages in every respect we could then foresee, save one: water. That is the last really big issue, or at least the next really big issue that I would like to solve. As for putting it in the basement, that would required knocking a hole in the floor. I'm not necessarily opposed to the idea but I had though along the lines of putting it on the front porch. I One of the wells that I saw as a kid was through the back porch and just outside the kitchen. The water was retrieved via a hand drawn bucket. This seems to me to have been a really good answer to the water question but could have been made better with a hand pump methinks.

Matt, do you know of a source for cisterns or perhaps might you know of plans for building one from scratch? I have seen exactly one cistern in my life and it was attached to a house preserved for its historical value (Jefferson Davis' last home) and the caretakers of the place don't cotton to young folks like me climbing up and into the thing to check out its construction particulars.
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Re: Hand Pumps for Sustainable Water

Postby pa_friendly_guy » Sat Jul 07, 2012 12:13 pm

If you do not want to drill a well, or you feel the local water table is deep so a drilled well would be expensive then a cistern is a good option. Many people around here have cisterns because of the heavy coal mining in our area. In some places the mines have taken the water. Building a cistern that does not leak from scratch is alot of work. Stone or cement block walls tend to leak over time. Per formed fiberglass tanks are alot cheaper and they do not leak. I would suggest at least a 2000 gal tank because of the size of your family. Many familys with a 1000 gal cistern tend to run out of water more often. Even with a 2000 gal cistern you might run low or even run out of water in a draught. The good news is that around here the people that have bulk milk tank trucks will generally haul you in 2000 gal of water pretty cheap. So your annual water bill in a very bad year would be one tanker load. The rain collected from your roofs normally keep the cisterns pretty full. Having a hand pump on the porch is a nice idea, it is close and easy to get to, and the porch would give you some shade as you pumped the water. In south Mississippi freezing of the pipes may not be as much of a concern as it is here up North of the Mason Dixson. If there is a freeze warning you can take sheaves of straw and tie them around the pump to keep it from freezing. Make sure you make a thick layer of straw all around the pump and that the top is covered. The pump handle will stick out so that you can still pump water. That is an old time way to keep pumps from freezing around here. There is even a small community called Straw Pump.
I was at a hunting lodge some years ago, they had a hand pump on the back porch that supplied the whole place with water. The pump was a high pump [ not what you call a pitcher pump ] and there was a valve on the out flow of the pump spicket that you could turn to get a bucket of water on the porch, or close so that the water was diverted into a pipe. The pipe went up the building [ 2 story house with an attic ] and flowed into the top of a tank up in the attic. When the tank was full there was an exit pipe that flowed out onto the roof of the house. That was so you could see when the tank was full and stop pumping. They had a gravity flow system from that tank with a bathroom on the 2nd floor with a shower and flush commode as well as a sink in the kitchen on the 1st floor. We used the out house alot so that we did not have to pump as much water, but at night, or if it was cold the bathroom was alot closer. The tank in the attic did not freeze. The line from the pump was mostly inside the wall going to the attic. The pump was drained and re-primed every time in the winter. I was there when it was warm so we only primmed the pump once when we got there. I had not seen a system like that befor but it worked very well. The kids all enjoyed trying to pump the pump for awhile [ it is hard work but it is much different than what they normally do and therefor fun ] I am not sure of the size of the tank in the attic, I did not go up and look, but from the amount of pumping it took to fill it the 1st time I would guess 200 gal. That gives you alot of flushes and even a good many showers. That would be my ideal system if the power is out because you can still flush and still have running water to do dishes and cook etc.
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Re: Hand Pumps for Sustainable Water

Postby pa_friendly_guy » Sat Jul 07, 2012 1:17 pm

If you need a place to buy a fiberglass cistern tank I would check plumbing supply stores. Places that handle septic tanks should have a sourse for cistern tanks There is a difference, cisterns have to hold Pottable Water and the chemical make up of the plastic or fiberglass is different. Your collection system from the roof should have a filter of some kind to keep out leaves dirt etc that will wash off your roof. Metal or slate roofs are best for a cistern system but many people around here have cisterns with regular shingles. Most of them do not drink the water from the cistern then but use it for bathing flushing washing dishes etc. Many do cook with it because you boil it as you cook. The cistern water will have a different taste than well water or county water. The cistern also needs a way to get down into it to clean it out. After many year even with a filter you may get some build up of leaves etc at the bottom. I do not have a cistern at my place, I have thought about putting in one to catch the rain from the roofs. My question has always been what would I do with the water once I had it in the tank. My tank would have to be much lower than my house or garden so I could not get a gravity flow system here. I have thought about building a Log Cabin guest house down in the woods, sort of a dog house for me actually, ;) but I have been able to sleep here in the main house so far so I have not really needed that opion, :lol: My one good friend always told me that if you are goiung to build a Dog house make it a nice one. :D So a gravity flow water system with a flush toilet and a shower would be very nice.
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