History of Hand Water Pumps

Written by jason isbell
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Pumps are the earliest machine used to take control of natural energy. To this day, pumps are still one of the most common machines used throughout the world. Hand water pumps are pumps that take human energy to manually pump the water up out of a well.

Pitcher Pumps

This simple pump is simply a pitcher or bucket, that is lowered into the water. The water is then extracted and used. These pumps often end up with contaminated water supplies as the pump is not sealed and contaminants can easily enter the water supply. Because of contamination concerns, pitcher pumps should not be used for wells with potable water.

Hand Pump Anatomy

Hand pumps should be sealed to keep out contaminants. In a hand pump, the handle is attached to a piston which is forced down the cylinder. When the piston is pulled back up, water is pulled along with it. The water then flows out the faucet. The piston has a check valve that will allow the pressure out as it is pressed down, but not when being pulled up. The base of the cylinder also has a check valve that keeps the water from returning to the well.

Hand Pump Use

Wells have been used for water for thousands of years. Hand pumps are more modern. To reach these wells, a hole is bored through the Earth and into an aquifer. The pump is then placed over the hole, with a pipe running into the well. Aquifers can be just a few feet underground or several hundred. Usually deeper wells are cleaner and safer for potable water. Some hand pumps can pump from wells as deep as 300 feet.

Impoverished Areas

While usually thought of as an item of ancient times, hand pumps are still in use today. In many impoverished areas hand pumps are the main source for receiving their water. The water is pumped out of the wells by hand, usually at a central location in the village. Without these pumps many villagers would not have clean water to drink and prepare their food. They would drink the same water that they bathe in and wash their clothing and dishes in, often a river.

Backup Pumps

Most modern wells are equipped with electric water pumps to pull the water into the house. These pumps work great, until the electricity goes out. Without power, the pump has to run either by a generator, or possible a solar cell. Hand pumps are often added as a backup in case power is lost for a prolonged period of time.

Barrel Hand Pumps

Another modern use for a small hand pump is to attach it to a barrel. The barrel can collect rainwater, which is then hand pumped out to water the plants. The barrel also might contain beer or other spirits, which is then pumped out for consumption.

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