Hand water pump installation.

This pump was purchased through Lehmans.  When it arived, I discovered that it was made in Maine by Bison Pumps, whom I contacted for assistance.  They listened to what I wanted to do, answered my questions, then helped me figure out what parts I needed to connect the pump to my well.

I wanted to be able to switch between the hand pump and my existing electric pump.  Bison said I needed two shutoff valves, a check valve, water line and various other brass and plastic parts and pieces.  They made a diagram, showing how to connect everything, and were extremely helpful.

The Bison pump is a two part system, an upper handle and a lower cylinder.  The handle lifts a rod that extends down into the cylinder.  Inside the cylinder are the valves that actually lift the water.

A suction pump uses a system of valves to create a vacuum, which water rushes in to fill.  The water is then trapped inside, where it is lifted to the spout. A vacuum can only lift water about 33 feet (depending on air pressure).

Since the cylinder of the Bison is where the valves and vacuum are, I wanted it as low as possible so that I did not exceed this limit.

Using a heat vent in the floor as a guide, I measured and located the spot in the basement where the cylinder would go, if I put the handle on the counter in the kitchen.

A 40 inch extension was needed to connect the handle on the counter to the cylinder in the basement.  This would put the cylinder about 2 feet higher than the existing electric pump.  Since a hand pump is more efficient than the electric pump, this should work quite well.

The extension has both a piece of pipe and a matching piece of stainless steel rod.  Bison Pumps custom made it at a very reasonable price.

This is the original configuration.  The black, flexible tube connects the well to the electric pump.  Before doing anything, I made sure to have a days worth of drinking water and buckets of water for anything else (if you have a well and have had a power failure, you know what I’m talking about).


First, I removed the flexible tube and 90 degree elbow.  I had a plastic tub under everything to catch any water that spilled, but nothing did.  There was a distinct sucking sound as the water backed out of the pipes.  The foot valve had failed.  The electric pump isn’t enough to re-prime the well, so from this point on, there would be no water until until the hand pump is installed (it can lift water, then I can switch the valves and the electric pump can take over, but I’m getting ahead…)

These are the parts.  2 brass elbows, a T, connectors and two ball-valves and 2 check valves.  Not shown, 8 feet of 1 inch black plastic pipe to connect the valves to pumps and 14 hose clamps.

I applied pipe tape to these parts and assembled them.  These will connect to the well, splitting the water line for the two pumps.  When attaching these to the well, I used a pipe wrench on the T to tighten, then on the elbow.  No need to tighten the couplers, tightening the other pipes will take care of it.

Make sure to wind the pipe tape clockwise only.  If you are right handed, hold the pipe in your left and the tape in your right and you probably will without thinking about it.  When you thread the pipes together, it will tighten the pipe tape.

Here, I’ve attached the first ball valve (with the handle) and check-valve.  The check valve keeps the water from going backwards.  Be sure that the pipes are good and tight.  It’s very hard to go back and fix leaks.

The second ball valve is attached.  This one is for the hand pump.  The hand pump gets a check valve also, but it is on the bottom of the pump cylinder.  There are also barbed connectors, for the black pipe.

Here, I’m holding the brass elbows in place so I can measure how long the black plastic pipe needs to be.  I held up a piece of paper and made marks on the paper to get the length. There are three sets of marks, one for each pipe.

I slipped hose clamps on the black plastic pipe, then assembled.  The black plastic pipe is “pressure fit”.  I had to stack things under the well pipe so I could use a wooden mallet to pound the pipes together.  I also held a rather large log tightly, on one side while hammering the other side for the upper pipes.  The log absorbed the force from the mallet.  Without it, I might have damaged the joints.At this point, the electric pump is re-attached.

If you don’t have a wooden mallet, they are a fantastic tool to have.  Just take a 6 inch piece of a 4 to 5 inch diameter log and attach a hammer handle.  If you can’t find a log, just use a 6 inch piece of a 4×4.

Marking the counter top.  This was the most important hole and I erased and redrew these marks many times.  It had to be in just the right position.   I wanted the handle as close to the edge (lower edge in photo) so the spout would be away from the counter as much as possible.  It could not get too close to the edge because of the nuts that attached to the bottom, to hold the handle in place.  The distance to the right edge was determined by where the pipe would extend through the cabinet.  If it went through in the right place, it would pass through the bottom shelf and then be just outside the baseboard.

While drilling, one of the original cabinet braces broke.  I made a new brace out of some scrap aspen I had.  I made it larger than the original, so I could anchor it to the cabinet.I made sure to REMOVE EVERYTHING from the cabinet, including the shelves and drawer.  The drawer slides were in the way, so they came out also.  Later, I found a different kind of drawer slides that went under the center, rather than on the sides.

Once the top holes were drilled, I placed the 40 inch extension pipe into the top hole and marked where the lower hole was going to go.  It  was in just the right spot to be on the OUTSIDE of the base board.

In order to lower the extension pipe and connecting rod extension into the basement, I had to detach the counter top and move it out of the way, lower the pipe and rod through the bottom hole, then reattach the counter top.  The rod was attached to the pump, then the pipe was raised and attach to the bottom of the pump.

Working in the basement, I attached the connecting rod.  Notice the pipe tape on the extension.

I raised the cylinder and attached it to the extension pipe, then attached a 90 degree elbow.  The concrete wall is close here, so I had to stop at this point and tighten everything.  Then barbed fitting (for the black pipe) was attached.  I didn’t get the check valve and cylinder joint tight enough and have a very small water leak.

I attached black hose to connect the hand pump to the valve.  There is a 90 degree elbow that is not visible in this photo, that turns the black pipe to meet the fitting on the cylinder.

I unplugged the electric pump (wouldn’t want that ON with the valves closed!), closed the valve to the electric pump, opened the valve to the hand pump and started pumping and Water! Now, we’ll have water with or without electricity.

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A computer geek with a taste for sustainable living, organic food, green products, buying local, woodworking, bicycling, running, yoga, recycling and doing-it-yourself.