Which Pump?

Choosing your pump is fairly simple but it is an area where you can waste money really quickly. It is absolutely critical that you understand the difference between shallow well pumps and transfer pumps.

Shallow well pumps, also known as jet pumps or suction pumps, are made for sucking water up out of the ground. For your well you SHOULD buy a shallow well pump. They are exactly what you want for a DIY well.

Transfer pumps are made for moving water from one location to another at approximately the same vertical level. The most common example of this is a swimming pool pump. You DO NOT want a swimming pool pump. They are horrible well pumps. Even more confusing is a “sprinkler pump.” They are also transfer pumps. They are great for pumping water from a body of water to your sprinkler system. You DO NOT want a sprinkler pump. They are horrible well pumps.

To make things just a bit worse, a “convertible jet pump” is different from a “jet pump.” You do not want a convertible jet pump. You do want a jet pump. This page from Home Depot has an informative discussion on the types of pumps.

Next, lets talk a bit about a confusing stat frequently associated with shallow well pumps. Shallow well pumps routinely have specifications which show that they can only pump water from depths down to 25 feet. And this is an accurate specification. No suction pump can suck water up from deeper than 25 feet. It is an atmospheric limitation. You could connect a 5.7 liter Hemi to a shallow well pump and it won’t pull water from deeper than 25 feet. But that is not a problem…

The 25 foot limitation relates to the distance from the pump to the standing water level. It has no relationship to the depth of the well. So, if you have a standing water level of less than 25 feet when pumping and your well is 100 or 200 or even 500 feet deep, a shallow well pump will do just fine.

Imagine if you were in a row boat in the ocean. Crazy, I know. Also imagine that drinking salt water won’t kill you. Still with me? OK. Now – say you have a 500 foot straw stuck down into the ocean. You could lean over the edge of the boat and suck on that straw and easily get a drink of water. Sucking that water up a few inches would be no problem. The same principle applies to shallow well pumps. The depth of the well does not matter. The critical issue is the distance down to the ground water level that you want to pump. So, if you have a 500 foot well and water is at the 20 foot level, a “shallow well pump” will work just fine.

So, that brings us to the issue of what pump to buy. These are two excellent pumps.

Goulds JRS10 One Horsepower pump.

Goulds makes excellent pumps that you can reasonably expect to last at least ten years. Longer if you have it rebuilt which is not terribly expensive. It is typically about $500. Whitehead has it here for $487. Here are the specs on the Goulds JRS10 1HP pump:

1 HPSurface    
$450WaterPSI PSI PSI  
Goulds10 JRSFeet304050 

Sta Rite HNE One Horsepower Pump

This is another excellent pump from an excellent company. And again, you can expect at least 10 years of service from it. They stock parts for their pumps and if you don’t mind rebuilding it or having it rebuilt, there is no reason it won’t outlast YOU! It is also about $500. SuppliesDepot has it here for $499. Site One irrigation stores sell the HNE for mid $400s…..for pickup. https://www.siteone.com/en/store-finder Here are the stats for it:

1 HPSurface    
$450WaterPSI PSI PSI  
Sta Rite HNE Feet304050 

Cheaper Pumps

I get emails all the time asking about buying a shallow well pump from one of the big box stores or Harbor Freight. A shallow well pump from Lowes or Home Depot or Ace Hardware or even Harbor Freight will work but please understand they will likely need replacing in two or three years. If you want to buy one and use it for proof of concept with your new DIY well, that is fine. Just understand this limitation.

Pump Size

It is important to buy the right pump size. Frequently folks buy too powerful of pump and then have cavitation problems. Every well has a limit of how much water it will produce. Every place on earth is different but as a rule of thumb, a one horsepower pump will perform properly with three wells, each of which has a three foot long, 1.25 inch diameter wellscreen.

If you buy too much pump you will experience cavitation, i.e., the pump will not be able to get enough water and the heat will generate air bubbles. Trust me, its a thing. You’ve probably never hear of it but it can cause havoc in a water well pump system. I’ll have an entire page on this soon, but for now please just look at this video. It explains the problem.

Submersible Pumps

I also hear from folks wanting to use submersible pumps. And they are great! A submersible pump is a cylindrically shaped pump that goes inside the wellscreen either at the bottom of the well or at least significantly under the standing water level. Water is a lot easier to push than it is to pull so they are much more efficient than suction pumps. Problem it, they require a four inch wellscreen pipe. And us DIY drillers just don’t have enough power to drill a four inch well.

So, please just stick with a two inch drillpipe and 1.25 inch wellscreens and your DIY wells will go much easier. Simply drill parallel wells to get the GPM output you need.

NEXT: Connecting a Shallow Well Pump