Thursday, July 12, 2012

Our Experience with The Simple Pump



    In a prior post, I had asked all of you what plans you have made, if you have your own well, to continue to pump water during a protracted power outage.  In my own home, our diesel generator can pump our water, but it does produce noise, which could alert someone at quite a distance that we have power and water, and this could be dangerous depending upon who hears it. The noise from he diesel generator also angers the swarms of bees during the hot summer months, which is something I would just as soon avoid.    In addition, in a really protracted outage, we may not have enough diesel fuel to continue to pump water from the well indefinitely.  We needed a way to pump water silently and easily in the event of a protracted power outage.

A diagram of "The Simple Pump"


              This began my search through some excellent companies for a solution which suited our needs. My efforts were stymied, at first,  by my husband, an engineer, who really felt that we already have a generator, and that nothing would ever happen that would impede our ability to use it in order to pump water.
              I think my husband's view may have softened in my favor a bit this week, when in 105 degree Farenheit heat, and during power outages when he saw how much water we need just for livestock, in order to keep them cool enough to stay alive.

             So,  some time ago I began research on what available pump system would suit our farm best from a standpoint of providing water should the electricity be out for a truly extended period.   We considered Flo-Jak but did not like the temporary well cover, as shigella is such a problem here.   One of our friends has recently installed a Bison pump, which works on a well of up to 200 feet.           When I wrote the original posts here, we also heard from an Australian company, Brumby Pump,
  ( which produces a pump which is especially effective in places with high iron, salt and sand in the water. Their pump also can be run in a variety of ways, solar, wind, etc.

             We selected "The Simple Pump" for our home for a number of reasons.  First, one of our friends installed one a few years ago, and uses his rather frequently, and pronounces his far and away one of  "the best investment he ever made on his large farm."   Our well driller had installed it in our friends home, and thought it was a quality set up, and was also comfortable that it would not damage the submersible pump that we have installed below it.  Since the well driller is going to be the person to remove the simple pump when the submersible pump gets replaced periodically in the future, his comfort was important to us.  I was not sold completely on "The Simple Pump" until I spoke on the phone at length with its inventor Gary Wittig.  Once Gary and his staff receive specific and complete information regarding the statistics of your well, they are able to suggest certain models which will work with your system. Every system is a custom quote and a custom project.  In addition, you have some decisions to make yourself.   "The Simple Pump" not only can hand pump your water from as deep as a 350' water level, but modules can be added at the time of installation, or afterward, that can run your pump using a 12 volt motorized system,  solar power,  or even bicycle powered.  There is another choice to make too. "The Simple Pump" can either be used to bring water to the spigot above  itself, or to pressurize the water tank in your house during an outage, and then to your indoor faucets !  When we learned that during an outage, we could easily hand pump sufficient water to pressurize our basement tank and then have water from all the faucets in the house, and the spigots ON the house, then that was our choice. Our system cost about $1800. to purchase and sent to us, in two boxes, one a long round package which had to come home on a truck, and a heavier square package, which I could easily carry.  Both packages weighed about 90 lbs collectively.   Although it is possible for a handy person to install the "Simple Pump" down a pre-existing well with a submersible pump below it,  we decided that since it involved a tie-in to our house, because of the manner in which we had decided to use it, that we would hire the well contractor to install it.  This turned out to be a good plan because with the heat alone, we found it was hard to think straight during the installation.  We kept our adult son available to the contractor for assistance in holding things during the installation.  A second set of hands was indeed helpful.  Pretty much everything needed for the installation was sent within the boxes with the exception of some teflon tape which we bought in advance at Lowes.

              When I last spoke to Mr. Wittig he told us that we could install this ourselves but the essential task was removing everything from its packaging and mentally examining each item and mentally installing it, prior to actually getting to work.  Our contractor did not do this, and I think this would have made his task easier.  Because ours needed to be tied into our house in order to pressurize it and provide water there, there was some digging necessary.  We do have TWO pitless adaptors now which will allow water to enter the house through the sump pump, and also through the Simple Pump.   The installation took several hours impeded I think by two things: One, the extreme high heat and humidity, and two, the contractor thinking that this would install just as our friends did, when ours is somewhat different by both configuration and by virtue of what we are asking of it. (Using it to pressurize and provide water directly to the house during power outages)  Several hours into the project, it was complete, and the well contractor added a spigot to it so that I can receive water both at the well, and then when I shut that off, also inside the house as was our intent.

"The Simple Pump"  exploded view     (found at:  ) 


               I cannot tell you how much better I feel about being able to pump water at our farm without power!  .  In all circumstances I can easily and freely pump quite large amounts of water, almost silently.  I will no longer need to stoke up a diesel generator just to pump some water during an outage.
               There are some final things I should tell you.  First of all, the pump and virtually everything needed to install the model we needed,  was a total of $1800. including postage.   This could be less depending upon the system you have, or conceivably a little bit more.   I paid an additional $500. to have my normal well driller install it.     Next, when you review all the materials sent by "The Simple Pump", you will be struck by the incredible quality of everything sent. Much of the pump is aircraft grade machined aluminum, or stainless steel, depending upon the item, right down to the custom selected well cap.  Everything in the pump is drinking water safe and compliant.

              Prior to ordering such a pump, there are a number of things you need to know about your well.  You can certainly ask your builder these questions if you have a new home. If you do not, many counties keep records of the information on the wells associated with properties, and they know these items.   Lastly, a well contractor can come out and assess these things if you literally have no clue.

In order to correctly order "The Simple Pump", or really any other type, for that matter, you need to know:

Depth of your well

It's yield    (how many gallons per minute it can deliver)

It's static water level     (where the water is in the well)

The depth of a submersible pump which is already in the well

You will also need to know:

The size of your well cap

  Information as to how to make some of these determinations will also be provided by the company itself.

This is The Simple Pump well cap
               The staff of the "Simple Pump" is not only completely well versed in it's installation and function, but you may call them during installation. They want this device to work and work well. This is not only a business to them, but a calling as well.

  This is a chart of required downforce.  The reality is that pumping is easy, even for a tired mom who just finished taking care of animals, like me.

           The product has a five year parts replacement on pump system and a one year warranty on the 12 v motor should you elect to purchase that module separately.   There are people who use this pump alone to pump all their water without a submersible pump.  You should expect no difficulties post installation, for five years.  At the end of every five years you will need to replace certain seals which are inexpensively purchased from the company and whose replacement is well described in the installation and maintenance booklet which arrives with the pump.  (Depending on use and probably climate, the paperwork says, I think 3-7 years before maintenance in the form of seal replacement is done.)

            I am so pleased that I have begun saving in order to place one of these identical units in our daughter's new house.  This is not just a question of post outage safety and survival, but an incredible selling point to a home as well.
            It is also possible that one can buy and install the hand pump and add the 12 volt module later to power the well during outages.

 I receive no discount, no reimbursement, or any type of special consideration whatsoever for my comments here, so I have no axe to grind, but I can recommend The Simple Pump unconditionally to anyone Mr. Wittig and his staff says can use one.
    These particular pumps are in use all over the world, by missionaries and remote villages,  and are significantly less expensive than many of the other similar pumps made in other nations

Prior posts on this subject:

Update:  May , 2013:   We have now had the Simple Pump installed for ten months.  This item is the most significantly important item we added to our own preparations.  It was well worth the advance learning, the money paid, and the money we chose to pay for installation.  We remain extremely pleased, and have used it during power outages when they were not long enough for us to decide to start our generator system.


JaneofVirginia said...

Thanks to everyone who contacted me privately on this post. Yes, we really are that pleased. It's a significant capital outlay for most families but it could be a lifesaver in an awful lot of serious situations. Consider one if you can.

Unknown said...

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Kendra at New Life On A Homestead said...

Hi Jane,

Would you recommend the solar option? Or is hand pumping to the pressurized tank convenient enough? Thanks!

JaneofVirginia said...

I think this depends on where you are, what your water needs are, etc. I would contact the Simple Pump people who can advise you reliably. I chose not to go solar with my hand pump and we've had it quite a while. It has been convenient for us to hand pump, pressurize our system and then use water from the house or barn as needed during outages. In a place where you needed more water than we use, or had a different set up than we do, or access to lots and lots of sun, then the choice could be different. Best wishes,

Kendra at New Life On A Homestead said...

Thank you. I guess I was just wondering if you had any plans to upgrade to solar. I think we're going to go with a hand pump to start with, and upgrade to solar hopefully next year. I appreciate your response. I'm working with Simple Pump right now to find our best option.

JaneofVirginia said...

I use solar here in a very limited way because we are in a deeply forested area. We use solar for some of the outbuildings. Of course this would be different in a sunnier location. The Simple Pump people were terrific ! Best wishes.

Unknown said...

My father in law asked I could help him this weekend with some well pump installation. I honestly don't know the first thing about this kind of stuff, so I'm online trying to get some insights on what I should be doing. So far this site and have been the most helpful. Thanks so much for sharing this, I'm hoping I can help him out this weekend.

JaneofVirginia said...

Don't forget som teflon tape from your hardware store's plumbing department ! Best of luck, Jason and thank you for posting.

Unknown said...

I just bought a house and in the back yard there is a well, and it still seems to have water in it. I would like to figure our how I can use that water for my sprinklers and drinking water and hose water. I don't know how all of that can work, but I would like to find out.