Weeks ago, I put an old 55 gallon plastic drum under the rain spout. I did not have time to make a proper rain barrel out of it. Of course, it rained and the drum is now full and heavy and nearly impossible to move. So how am I going to get the water out of it to use it on the flowers? Easy, I will pump the water out using an easy to make, hand-powered water pump.
- 3/4 inch PVC pipe. How much pipe depends on your needs. I need enough for at least one side of the pump to reach the bottom of a 55 gallon drum.
- Wood dowel rod. This rod has to fit inside the PVC pipe with some wiggle room.
- An old rubber sandal or any other source of rubber.
- A T PVC join
- Two check valves. This is the heart of the pump. You can buy these at most hardware stores for about $7 each. I think they are pricey but I looked into making my own and I thought it would save me time to just buy them. Maybe sometime in the future I will revisit making my own check valves.
- Optionally, you can get PVC primer and PVC cement to glue the whole thing together once you are happy with the arrangement. My pump is not glued so it falls apart after about 20 or so pump but it’s very easy to reassemble.
- Tools: a drill, a saw to cut the PVC pipe, and a knife or scissors to cut the rubber gasket for the piston (dowel rod).
Making this pump takes as long as it takes you to cut small PVC pipe segments with a pipe saw and to cut the rubber gasket out of the old sandal.
By far the most elaborate part of this project is cutting out the gasket out of an old sandal or any other source of rubber. I traced the circle using the end of the PVC pipe. Once I attached it to the dowel rod I found out it was too big to fit inside the pump handle so I trimmed it with scissors. You want it to go into the PVC handle nice and snug. The objective is to create a vacuum inside the PVC pipe handle.
You notice I attached the rubber gasket to the dowel rod using a standard wood screw. I imagine this piston won’t last forever but I’m betting it will last to the end of the season. Meanwhile, I will keep an eye out for something more durable.
Next, you need to cut a couple of short PVC pipe sections; maybe 3 or 4 inches long. They will attach to the T joint and once in place, they will connect to the check valves. By the way, the T joint has to be 3/4 inch inside, meaning that the 3/4 inch PVC pipe has to fit inside the T. In my case, it fits nice and tight. The whole thing will look like this:
A word about the check valves. The go one way. They are marked with arrows telling you which direction the water will flow. Obviously, you need to align them to ensure the water comes in one end and out the other.
Here is a picture of the check valves before assembly:
I attached long sections of PVC pipes to the open end of each valve but what I will do in near future is find an PVC fitting that will allow me to connect a water hose connector. I intend to run a hose to the garden and pump the water all the way directly from the barrel.
To operate the pump, you submerge the intake end of the pump into the water and pump the piston in and out of the handle (not all the way out). This creates the vacuum that will suck the water. The check valves will do the rest for you. Here is a video of the kind of flow you can expect from this 3/4” pump: