How to repair a well hand pump

Updated February 21, 2017

With only two moving parts, a hand-powered well pump is a simple machine to troubleshoot and repair. Well hand pumps date back more than 100 years. Once a common sight in British kitchens and sculleries -- and sometimes still found in gardens, farmyards and other outdoor locations -- these simple machines are dependable and require little maintenance. Their main limitation is an inability to efficiently lift water more than 8 metres deep.

Attach a pipe wrench to the base of the pump and use it to remove the pump from the well pipe. Removing the pump from the well eliminates the possibility of dropping small parts from the pump into the well shaft.

Use an adjustable wrench to loosen and remove the bolt holding the pump handle to the lifting rod.

Pull the lifting rod completely out of the pump housing.

Remove the mounting nut holding the cup leather in place on the bottom of the lifting rod using the wrench. The cup leather acts as a gasket to hold suction in the pump's lifting cylinder. This is usually the only part of the pump to wear out. Use a screwdriver to remove the steel plate that holds the cup leather in place.

Remove the cup leather from the lifting rod. Cup leathers will deteriorate over time; scrape off leather pieces from the upper and lower retaining plates on the lifting rod. Clean both plates thoroughly before installing a new cup leather.

Place the new cup leather in position on the lifting rod. The upper edges of the cup must be facing the top of the lifting rod for the well pump to function.

Replace the bottom plate and retaining nut on the bottom of the lifting rod and reassemble the pump.

Wrap two layers of plumber's tape around the threads on the top of the well shaft or coat the threads with pipe compound. Thread the pump onto the well shaft and tighten in place with a pipe wrench.


If the pump is equipped with a check valve, inspect it for signs of leakage. A pump with a defective check valve will function properly. However, it requires priming before each use.

Things You'll Need

  • Pipe wrench
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Screwdriver
  • Cup leather
  • Plumbing tape or pipe compound
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About the Author

Finn McCuhil is a freelance writer based in Northern Michigan. He worked as a reporter and columnist in South Florida before becoming fascinated with computers. After studying programming at University of South Florida, he spent more than 20 years heading up IT departments at three tier-one automotive suppliers. He now builds wooden boats in the north woods.