Ultimate Guide to Buying Water Pumps

Last Update Nov 4, 2023 @ 5:48 am

The wild world of water pumps goes back much further than most people think – over 2,000 years ago to the Archimedes screw, a corkscrew-shaped screw inside of a pipe that was turned by windmills or cattle and used to move water from one area to another. Amazingly, this device is still in use all over the world today, although there are now far more efficient and powerful devices available for the modern consumer. 

There are innumerable uses for water pumps, and they are a staple of engineering and household maintenance around the world. Some of the reasons you might use a water pump are to bring water into your house, circulate hot water throughout your pipes, gardening or agriculture, fill a swimming pool or run a waterfall, fill a pond, or drain a flooded site like a basement or construction area.  

There are two main types of water pumps: electric or gas/diesel powered. 

Electric water pumps

For smaller households or DIY jobs, electric water pumps are the most common choice. They can typically plugin directly to your household outlets, and work quite well for applications such as clearing water out of a flooded basement. However, their portability is limited as they must be near a power source and you’ll want to be very careful not to expose any live electricity to the water. 

Gas/Diesel water pumps

For most large jobs, such as those contractors or farmers would undertake, gas or diesel-powered water pumps are the preferred choices. They work similarly to a gas-powered generator or lawnmower, and usually require a mixture of gasoline and oil to function. Because of their carbon monoxide emissions, this type of water pump must always be used outside. 

Types of Water Pumps

Now that you have an overview of the basics of water pumps, let’s look at some of the specific types that are available to consumers so that you can pick the right water pump for your needs. 

Dewatering Pumps

Also known as “gushers”, this type of pump is the most basic and simple. It performs one function: transferring large amounts of relatively clean water from one place to another quickly. 

Trash pumps

This type of water pump is meant to handle dirty water that has trash, waste, or other solid material in it. Depending on the type or severity of the dirtiness, there are varying types of trash pumps, such as hardier diaphragm pumps and chemical transfer pumps.

High-pressure/firefighting pumps

This type of pump pressurizes the water so that it can be used like a firefighters hose or pressure washer. This is ideal for spray irrigation of crops, among other uses.

Submersible Utility Pumps

This type of pump can be completely submerged, making it ideal for some applications like removing a large flooded area from a construction site.

Well pumps

Well pumps are used to bring water up from a well to your house where it can be used. 

Booster pumps

These are used to boost water pressure to the plumbing fixtures inside your house.

Power takeoff pumps

Power takeoff (PTO) pumps are very large and are both powered and transported by tractors to move huge amounts of water easily for farming applications.

Sprinkler pumps

This type of pump is designed to move water from an area, like a pond, and use it to power sprinklers to keep your lawn looking beautiful year-round.

Specialty pumps

Maybe you have a beautiful pool and want to add a custom waterfall to beautify it and keep the water fresh. No matter your need, there is a water pump for you.

Water Pump Terminology

There are some key things to look out for when purchasing a water pump. You’ll want to pay attention to the following specifications:

Gallons Per Minute (GPM)

This is a measurement of how much water the pump can move per minute. Smaller household water pumps might put out about 4-25 GPM, while the more powerful ones can move upwards of 50-80 GPM. Your household gallon per minute needs can be calculated easily and will depend on your individual use for the water pump as well as your budget.

Suction Head (SH)

This is a measurement of the vertical distance from the water source to the pump. This is important because the higher it is, the harder the pump will have to work and you’ll need more power. 

Total Head Lift (THL)

This is a measurement of the total distance the water will travel from the source to its final destination. Again, this will strongly affect the power requirements and the size and strength of the generator you will need. 

Water pumps can be very simple, or they can be highly complicated and expensive pieces of equipment. Making sure you buy the right one for your needs is critical to saving you money and energy costs, so be sure to use this guide and research fully. Once you’re sure, contact a water pump retailer today and get started!

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