What is a Hand Pump? | How does a Hand Water Pump work?

A pump is an equipment that uses to pump different fluids. Pumps are used in almost all industries of the world. There are different kinds of pumps, and a hand pump is one of them. In this article, we will mainly examine the different aspects of the hand pump.

What is Hand Pump?

A hand pump is a mechanical device that uses manual human power to pump the liquids or air from one location to another. A hand pump is also known as a manual pump because it operates manually. It is a type of the positive displacement pump.

As you know, a pump uses to deliver the fluid from the low head to the higher head, and a hand pump also uses the same mechanism to pump a fluid.

A manual hand pump uses to suck water or other fluids from the depths of the ground and transport them to the surface of the earth. This pump fully operates by an individual, and the fluid is pumped from wells or depths due to the mechanical work done by a human.

hand pump

These pumps widely use in various recreational, irrigation, industries, and marine applications in all countries of the world. Hand pumps have different types that mainly work on the principle of rotary blades, diaphragm or piston with check valves at the chamber inlet and outlet. The most common hand pumps are positive displacement pumps (such as plunger or piston pumps).

These pumps are widely utilized in developing countries for private and municipal water supplies because these can easily install in hand-dug wells or boreholes.

These pumps mostly use in the areas where there is a lack of electricity or water available away from the community. You can easily find manual pumps in rural areas or on the bank of canals.

Read also: Different types of Pump

Working Of Hand Pump

A positive displacement pump (reciprocating piston or plunger pump) is the most common type of hand pump. The piston pump is a most widely used manual pump all over the world. 

The hand pump has a simple working and works on a basic principal process known as the suction process.  

hand water pump working

The hand water pump works in the following way:

  • During the working of the hand pump, the handle performs the major function. Without the movement of the handle, the pump can’t suck and draw water from the ground.
  • First of all, a human operates the handle by moving it up and down to suck and draw the water (or any other fluid) from the ground depth.
  • This handle connects with the pump piston through a piston rod or connecting rod. This piston moves with the movement of the handle.
  • As the handle moves up then the connecting rod transfers its motion to the piston, and the piston also starts to move upward. As the piston moves upward, the outlet valve inside the pump closes, and the inlet valve opens. During the upward motion of the piston, the water pressure inside the pump cylinder starts to decrease than the external water’s pressure, due to which a vacuum starts to generate inside the cylinder.
  • As the vacuum generates inside the pump cylinder, the water starts to enter into the cylinder.
  • When the internal water pressure becomes equal to the external water pressure, then the inlet valve closes so that the cylinder fluid can’t escape.
  • As the handle starts to move down, the piston also starts moving downward. During this downward motion, the inlet valve remains close, and the outlet valve opens. This downward motion of the piston draws the water to the outside through an outlet valve. As the handle again moves upward then the whole process repeats.

For a better understanding, watch the following video:

Types of Hand Pump

The hand water pump has the following types:

  1. Deep Well Hand Pump
  2. Direct Pump
  3. Diaphragm Hand Water Pump
  4. Progressive Hand Water Pump
  5. Suction and lift Manual Pump
  6. Force Pump
  7. Siphon Pump
  8. Chain Pump

1) Deep Well Hand Pump

A deep well hand pump uses when it is necessary to pump water from the ground depth. It mostly uses in wells. The operating depth of these pumps is more than 15m. They help the humans to lift a large volume of water from the depth of the ground. In such conditions, some mechanical accessories (such as flywheels or levers) use to make the job easier.

deep well hand pump

The deep well hand pump has some more details that are given below:

  • These have high price and complex than other types of pumps.
  • Because of the nature of the work, these types of pumps have proven to be more powerful.
  • Theoretically, there are no limits to the pumping capacity of deep-well hand pumps. However, in reality, the depth is limited by the physical forces that an individual can exert when lifting the water column, around 30 meters.
These pumps have some mechanical accessories such as handwheels or levers that make the pumping job very easy.Deep well hand pumps need to be manufactured with stronger parts to withstand the additional pressure associated with lifting larger water columns.
The deep well hand pump has a robust design.These have a high cost
The foot valve and piston can easily remove without eliminating the riser pipe.This pump has a complex installation, repair, and maintenance compared to other types of hand pumps.
This pump has non-corrosive underground parts that can withstand corrosive water conditions.Pumping water from a well takes a lot of force.
It has an easy installation. No genius is required to install.The spare parts of this pump aren’t readily accessible.
Suitable for shallow and deep wells
It doesn’t require any power source or electricity to pump water on demand.

2) Direct Pump

This type of pump has a pumping rod and works according to the positive displacement principle. The pumping rod of the direct-acting pump allows the user to move it directly upward and downward to suck and draw the water. The only restriction of this hand pump is that it can only lift water up to 15m. Examples of direct-action pumps include the EMAS pump, and the canzee pump are examples of direct pumps.

direct hand pump, water hand pump

Advantages Disadvantages
It has an easy maintenance This pump can lift fluid up to 15m
It has low cost  

3) Diaphragm Hand Water Pump

The diaphragm pump is also a type of positive displacement pump. This pump uses a diaphragm to pump the fluid.

These pumps have relatively low pumping speed due to the missing pulling rod. In addition, they have corrosion resistance components. The main disadvantage of a diaphragm pump is that it requires a certain length of the tube and a high-quality rubber membrane. The rubber membrane will eventually leak and will be needed to replace. Due to this reason, this pump becomes expansive, and membrane replacement takes a long time.

When the diaphragm wears out, diaphragm pumps that operate in poor rural areas are often thrown away. Furthermore, these pumps are relatively inefficient.

Diaphragm manual pump

Advantages Disadvantages
It has corrosion-resistant parts A diaphragm pump is relatively inefficient
It has a relatively low pumping speed The membrane replacement takes a long time and also expensive.
No need of electricity or any other power source These pumps have a high cost

4) Progressive Hand Water Pump

These pumps play an essential role in a large number of industries. If you are pumping food and viscous chemicals, sewage, petroleum products, beverages, or other fluids, you will inevitably come across situations where this particular industrial pump will be gifted. It has a spiral-shaped impeller that inserts into a double helical stator. As the impeller starts moving, the generated vacuum fills with water and is finally pumped out. The rope and washer pump is an example of the progressive cavity hand water pump.

Progressive cavity pumps

It has reverse flow and rotationIt can’t operate in dry condition
Long service lifeIt can pump a little distance of water.  
It has high efficiencyIf the speed of the viscous liquid entering the pump
is not fast enough, it will affect the volumetric efficiency
of the pump.
Flow in proportion to the speedThe slippage ratio is high due to the impeller/stator fits and decreases the pump efficiency.
High suction capability
It provides a low-pulsation and continuous flow
Provides Precise flow rate

5) Suction and lift Manual Pump

Sucking and lifting are important aspects of the pumping fluid. Suction is a perpendicular distance between the pump center and the fluid to be lifted; lift is the perpendicular distance between the delivery place and the pump. The suction depth of the hand water pump is regulated with the help of the atmospheric pressure, and the working depth is under 7m. The lifting of the pump depends on the pump and the operator’s ability to lift the weight in the supply line. Therefore, the same operator and pump can attain higher lift with smaller diameter tubes than larger diameter tubes.

Advantages of Suction and Lift Pump: –

  • There is no need of electricity
  • These pumps have high reliability
  • These pumps can lift a large amount of water with smaller tubes.

6) Force Pumps

A force pump has a solid piston that uses to draw and force the fluid (such as water) through a valve to a reasonably high position or under significant pressure.

Force Pumps

A forced pump uses when it is essential to pump water to a height (approx. 7m) where the lift or suction pump can work effectively or to increase the pressure so that the water can leave the nozzle with a strong force. These pumps use in fire hose applications.

These pumps were designed to eject deeper mines. When the piston of the force manual pump moves downward, the water drains from the side valve to a height that varies according to the force exerted on the piston. Once the water is pumped into the bottom valve and trapped there, the water will exit the outlet when the piston pushes down again on the next stroke.

Force pumps can pump abrasives, slurries,
and many other fluids with excellent control.
These pumps only control lesser flow rates.
It has a wide pressure range.This pump has a high operating cost
It can manage the force without moving the flow.It has a high maintenance cost
It provides pulsating flow.

7) Siphon

The simplest syphon (or siphon) is a bent pipe. The one side of this manual water pump places into the water so that it can flow, while the other side places into the water tank or reservoir to suck the water inside the pump. The height of the receiving water tank should be less than the height of the supplying vessel. Thus, the water always flows from the high head to the lower head area. Following this principle, a simple pump with a rubber or plastic bulb and flap valves on both ends use to pour the fuel tank or water tank into the lower head tank. When the bulb is full, the liquid flows comfortably from the upper tank to the lower tank.

siphon pumps


  • It can work at a height that exceeds the hydraulic pressure of the fluid
  • Can work in a vacuum

8) Chain Pump

A chain pump is a famous water hand pump with different pulleys that arrange on an endless chain. The one end of this chain dips in the water, and it moves through a pipe that is slightly thicker than the diameter of the disc. When the chain enters into the pipe, the water traps between the discs lift to the top and drains from the top.

These pumps are old-fashioned manual pumping techniques that are easy to perform.

chain hand water pump, handpump

A chain hand pump is a robust pumpThis pump is a slow-moving device
It has easy maintenanceChain pumps generate high noise and vibration
Chain drives can transport large loads over long
and short distances.
It requires frequent maintenance and lubrication.
It saves money and thisIt has less load capacity than gear drives. 
An individual can efficiently operate it

Components of Hand Pump

A hand water pump consists of different components.

hand pump components

The major components of the hand pump are given below:

  1. Handle
  2. Piston
  3. Connecting rod
  4. Piston valve
  5. Footer valve
  6. Riser pipe
  7. Water outlet
  8. Piston seal
  9. Tail pipe
  10. Upper cap
1) Riser Pipe

The main riser pipe is a perpendicular pipe that pumps water from the water tank to the pump head. It has a diameter of about 1½ to 2½ inches and may be made of steel pipe sections bolted together or PVC pipe sections that are generally sealed together to prevent leaks.

For closed-top pump cylinders, the diameter of the main riser is lower than the diameter of the pump cylinder. While in the case of open-top pump cylinders, the diameter of this riser is equal to the diameter of the pump cylinder.

2) Piston rod or Connecting rod        

The piston rod is an essential component of the water hand pump that connects the piston and handle. As the human starts to move the handle upward and downward, the piston rod gets the movement of the handle and transfers this movement to the pump piston. In this way, the piston starts to move upward and downward according to the motion of the handle. The piston rod is made of a robust steel rod having 0.5in diameter.

3) Upper Cap

This component of the pump uses to seal the interior of the pump cylinder and also limits the movement restrictions of the piston assembly. It is located on the closed-top pump cylinder. In contrast, an open-top pump cylinder has no upper cap.

4) Cylinder Barrel

The cylinder barrel forms the body of the pump cylinder. The piston seal pushes up against the inner wall of the cylinder barrel to produce the seal. This seal uses to create a pressure differential between the bottom and top of the cylinder during the operation of the pump.

5) Handle

A handle is an external part of the manual pump. An individual draws water from the depth by applying force on the handle. It is directly connected with the pump piston through a connecting rod. When the handle moves upward, then the piston also moves upward and vice versa. Thus, when the handle moves upward, it sucks water from the ground, and it draws water during downward movement.

6) Piston

A piston is another important component of the pump that plays a major role in water delivery. It gets power by the pump through a connecting rod. It moves upward and downward according to the handle movement. As the piston moves upward, it generates a vacuum inside the pump cylinder, and water starts entering into the cylinder. When the piston moves downward, it draws water out of the pump.

7) Piston Valve

The piston valve is attached to the piston assembly. It is a one-way valve that allows the water to move in one direction. The piston valve permits water to move up into the top cylinder. This valve closes during the upward movement of the piston and forces force the water into the main riser pipe.

8) Piston Seal

An oiled rubber or leather seal uses to seal the piston assembly against the internal wall of the pump cylinder. This seal uses to define the boundaries between the lower and upper cylinders. When any component of the piston assembly moves, there is a constant pressure differential across the piston seals. This difference in pressure causes the water to flow through the cylinder bottom and drain into the riser pipe from the top.

9) Foot Valve

The foot valve is positioned in the bottom cap. This valve also acts as a check valve because it also permits the water to flow in only one direction. It allows the water to flow into the lower cylinder during the upward movement of the piston and retained the water there during the downward movement.

10) Tail Pipe

The tail pipe is called an extension of the pump cylinder, and the end pipe can be added when the aquifer’s water level changes or becomes lower than the pump cylinder. It effectively extends the working depth of the pump by adding a small length of the main riser material to a lower water level.

Applications of Hand Pump

The hand water pump has the following major applications:

  • These pumps widely use in rural areas because, in the rural areas, maximum people use groundwater for drinking.
  • They also use for shear-sensitive fruits and vegetables
  • The manual pump also uses for agriculture applications
  • It uses to transfer sludge and slurry
  • For oil pumping (lubricating and non-lubricating)
  • For varnish and paints
  • Hand pump also use for lotions, creams and cosmetics applications
  • Adhesives
  • These pumps also use to pump water from the wells, aeration, and pond filtering.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Manual Hand Pump

The advantages and disadvantages of the hand pumps are given below:

Advantages of Hand Pump

  • The hand pump has a low cost
  • It has a simple design
  • There is no need of electricity or any other power source
  • These are manually operated pumps

Disadvantages of Hand Pump

  • These pumps have a complicated maintenance

FAQ Section

What is hand water pump?

A hand water pump is a device that uses manual human power to suck the water from the depth of the earth and pump them on the earth’s surface. A well pump is an example of a hand water pump.

How deep will a hand pump work?

A hand pump can operate up to 325 feet static water level. If you are pumping in the uphill or pressurized plumbing systems, this limit may affect.

How high can a hand pump lift water?

A hand pump can lift water up to 100 meters.

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