Pumps are used every day to move fluid from one location to another. They come in all kinds of shapes and sizes, and may be operated by electric motor, engine, or even by hand or solar power. They can be turned on and off by timers, detectors and other time and property-saving features. This guide will help you identify the type of pump you need for a variety of common household and hobby applications, so you can feel confident you’re getting the pump you need to handle the job at hand.
Consider these factors for performance when selecting a pump: Capacity and power – Capacity is how much fluid the pump can move, which is measured in gallons per minute or gallons per hour; power is measured in horsepower. Pumps with higher capacities and horsepower are suited to larger tasks.
Materials – Pumps are designed for long life, and are made of a variety of sturdy materials, including sheet metal, cast iron, stainless steel, and various other materials.
Power Sources – Electricity, gasoline, diesel, hydraulics, natural gas, compressed air or manual.
Head – Head pressure describes how powerful a pump is. "Vertical discharge head pressure" describes the vertical lift in height at which the pump can no longer exert enough pressure to move water.
Types of Pumps
Below are just a few of the pumps you can use for various applications around your home.
Sump pumps remove water that collects in basins from around a home’s foundation. They’re the ideal solution for basements that flood. Refer to the table below for information about the different types of sump pumps.
Points to Consider
Motor is open and installed above water level.
May be noisy
Open motor is exposed to dust and moisture
Should be positioned where motor cannot be submerged
Easier to repair
May operate 25 – 30 years
Motor is sealed and unit is installed below water level
May require a larger up-front investment
Placed down in the sump pit
Safer if children are in the house
Functions even when submerged
Sealed design prevents dust and moisture from affecting operation
Ideal for finished basements
May operate 5 – 15 years
Use either pedestal or submersible; operates using battery power
Runs on rechargeable batteries for up to 7 hours
Look for units that alert you via a light or sound when problems occur
Available in a range of capacities
Discharge pipes may be separate or shared with primary pump
Switches control turning the pump on and off. There are many types of switches to choose from:Capacitive switches use a microprocessor to measure water level and engage the pump when the water level reaches a preset point in the sump basin. A benefit of capacitive or "water-sensing" switches is that there are no mechanical parts to wear out as with other switches.
Vertical switches are mechanical devices designed to automatically turn a pump on and off when water reaches a preset level. These switches are not adjustable. Because these switches travel vertically they can be installed in relatively compact applications but must be free from obstructions. The switch needs to be installed 90 degrees from the incoming liquid.
Diaphragm switches are mechanical devices that use water pressure levels to turn a pump on and off. As water rises in the unit air is released from a vent tube, activating the switch. As the water level drops, the air is pulled back into the switch to turn off the pump.
Sewage pumps are designed to pump liquids and semi-solids in a basement or below-grade area from a sewage basin up to the main sewer line for removal. They are an essential element in any basement remodeling project that includes a bathroom. The switch on a sewage pump functions in a similar manner to that of sump pump.As the liquid in the basin reaches a specific point, the switch is activated, starting the pumping action. When the liquids lower to a certain point, the pump switches off.
Sewage pumps may be submersible or above-ground and integrated into or outside a basin.
They may be used in a sump pump application where clogging is an issue, but sump pumps should never be used in place of sewage pumps.
Most models are capable of handling solids up to 2".
Effluent pumps handle solids up to ？" in diameter and are used for sink/laundry and septic discharge.
The higher the lift or longer the distance the waste must be pumped, the more powerful the pump needs to be
Macerator models reduce waste to a semi-fluid state for removal.
When selecting a sewage or effluent pump, be sure to choose the appropriate horsepower. If you are replacing a sewage pump, use a model with the same horsepower. Horsepower is dictated by how many drains from toilets, showers, washing machines, and other fixtures and appliances feed into the sewage basin.
1-2 drains = 4/10 HP pump
3 or more drains = ？ HP pump
Well pumps provide water from underground to your home. Refer to the table below for information about the types of well pumps available.
Shallow Well Jet Pump
Pump sits above ground and draws water out through one inlet pipe
For depths to water 25’ deep or less
Sits above the ground
One-way check valve keeps pump primed
Deep Well Jet Pump
Pump sits above ground and draws water out of one pipe and pushes water through another pipe
For depths to water 25 to 110’ deep
Sits above the ground
May include a tailpipe to ensure well is never pumped out
Requires a foot valve to prime the pump
Deep Well Submersible Pump
A single pipe comes up from the inside of the well into the home and connects to a pressure tank
Operate in depths to water 25’ to 400’ deep
Must be pulled from well casing for repairs
2-wire pumps have built-in controls
3-wire pumps require a separate control box
Utility pumps are a broad classification of pumps available in a variety of configurations and used for short-term or emergency use to move liquids, often water, from one place to another. Refer to the table below for the most common utility pump types and functions they provide.
Motor is housed in a water tight compartment so the pump can be fully immersed in liquid
Power ranges from 1/6 – 1/4 horsepower
Can have manual or semi-automatic activation
Dewaters down to the bottom intake at 1/6” or 1/8” off the surface
Manual pumps turn on when plugged in
Semi-automatic units turn on when plugged in and detect water periodically for motor draw
For temporary dewatering use only
A specific model of the submersible pump that removes water from your pool cover
Activation may be manual or semi-automatic, depending on the model
Usually come with a long cord
Some models have leaf screens
Transfer models move water from location to location via hoses
In addition to transferring water, boosting units increase pressure where low or inadequate water pressure is an issue.
Available in a variety of sizes and power, from light aquarium applications to heavy dewatering.
Boosting units add pressure for car washing or sprinkling
Remove collected condensation from gas or electric furnaces or air conditioning units
Available as manual or automatic units for convenient operation.
Note: Never use a pump to transfer flammable or corrosive materials, such as oil, gas, acid or other chemicals, unless it is specifically designed to handle such materials.
Other Types of Pumps
Lawn sprinkler pumps: Used to draw water from various sources, like wells, ponds, cisterns and tanks to lawn sprinkling systems.
Pond and Waterfall pumps: Power water flow and circulation for decorative water features.
Hand pumps: Inflate bike tires, sports balls, portable mattresses.
Swimming pool pump: Circulates water through a swimming pool, filtering debris and cleansing the water to keep it clear and free of contaminants like bugs and algae.
Hot water recirculating pump: provides hot water at every faucet or shower when you need it and eliminates water
Centrifugal pumps accelerate liquids with a revolving device called an impeller, which pushes liquids out through a valve opening. They may be surface mounted or submersible, and are an economical choice for dewatering applications.
Diaphragm pumps are a type of positive displacement pump that expand and contract a membrane in a regular rhythm to provide a steady, consistent flow. They are ideal for heavy duty tasks, like mud removal.
Submersible pumps are designed to work while immersed in the fluid they are moving, like a sump pump in a sump pit.
Magnetic pumps have no seals and use a magnetic coupling to power an impeller. They may have a rotating shaft or a stationary shaft. The lack of seals eliminates leaks