How to Build Your Own Hurricane Irene Hand Sump Pump


Instructions to Construct a Manual Auxiliary PVC Pipe Sump Pump

UPDATE: 8/28 9:00AM EASTERN: The power went out last night at 2am and didn’t come back on until 8:15am. The pump worked well, but I completely underestimated the volume of water entering my basement. I could not pump fast enough, so we retreated, and Hurricane Irene gave us an 18-inch indoor swimming pool in our basement.

I made a hand pump to avoid basement flooding, just in case the power goes out and the sump pump stops working. Pictures below. I use the following Materials:

  • 1 @ Wood 3/4″ wood board suitable to secure the pump and stand on
  • 10 feet 1 1/4″ PVC Pipe
  • 5 feet 1″ PVC Pipe
  • 1 foot 3/4″ PVC Pipe
  • 1 @ 1 1/4″ PVC T-Connector
  • 1 @ 1″ PVC T-Connector
  • 6 feet hose, ~1 1/4″ outside diameter
  • 1-4 @ 1 1/4″ PVC Elbow Connectors
  • 2 @ 1 1/4″ Straight Connectors
  • 2 @ 1 1/4″ Check Valves
  • 2 feet metal straps
  • 4 screws
  • 1 @ 1 1/4″ to 1″ male/female straight PVC adapter
  • 1 @ 1″ to 3/4″ male/female straight PVC adapter
  • 1 @ 3/4″ Female/female PVC threaded adapter
  • 1 @ metal threaded garden hose adapter
  • 1 @ PVC cap with 1″ outside diameter OR large dowel (to fit snugly inside 1″ PVC)
  • 2 @ #18 O-Rings (1 3/36″ O.D)
  • 1 Table saw
  • 1 PVC Cutting Tool
  • PVC Primer
  • PVC Glue

Instructions

The hand pump works by sucking water through one check valve, into a hand-driven piston, then out another check valve, through a garden hose. I created three different connectors for the intake: A hose (most verisitile, but most expsensive), a straight-down connector for my sump, and a rectangular intake connector for

I wish I had time to give detailed instructions. I don’t. Here are some pointers:

  • Cut the piston to about waist height.
  • Make sure to tighten the compression rings VERY tight on the check valves. They are the first to blow.
  • You can plug the 3/4″ piston with a dowel, or any random piece of PVC that will fit over the top. I simply glued mine on.
  • The pump will work without the O-Rings, but it will leak slightly each time you pump. But in an emergency situation, who cares?
  • Be careful to not go too deep when cutting the channels for the O-Rings. I used a table saw, and had to cut about 70% into the PVC.
  • Make the piston shorter than the shaft, or at least make sure to place the O-Rings higher up the piston. Otherwise, when you push down on the piston, the O-rings will get stuck under the bottom of the shaft, where it enters the T.
  • I tested it by emptying a pool and pushing water up 8 feet through a garden hose. It works.
  • There is no need to glue the intake pipe or hose.
  • Pump was inspired by a design created by a 6-year-old boy.
  • Total cost, not including tools was around $50. The hose cost $23, and was the most expensive part.
Entire Pump with all attachments

Entire Pump with all attachments

I just wanted to demonstrate that you can attach multiple intakes to the pump. In this case, I have a hose, a straight-down intake, and a rectangular intake that will stay at ground level, and go over a barrier.

I just wanted to demonstrate that you can attach multiple intakes to the pump. In this case, I have a hose, a straight-down intake, and a rectangular intake that will stay at ground level, and go over a barrier.

A wider view of the hose and straight PVC intake pipes.  You don't have to glue these on.

A wider view of the hose and straight PVC intake pipes. You don't have to glue these on.

I used 3/4", 1" and 1 1/4" PVC pipe for this project.

I used 3/4", 1" and 1 1/4" PVC pipe for this project.

Don't forget to glue the PVC pipe together. I used metal straps to secure it to the wood.  I used #18 O-Rings.

Don't forget to glue the PVC pipe together. I used metal straps to secure it to the wood. I used #18 O-Rings.

I used #18 O-rings. I had to carefully cut channels into the piston, through about 70% of the PVC to get the O-Rings to fit. Be careful when you cut the channels using a table saw.  Sorry the image is turned.

I used #18 O-rings. I had to carefully cut channels into the piston, through about 70% of the PVC to get the O-Rings to fit. Be careful when you cut the channels using a table saw. Sorry the image is turned.

You can use a saw, but these little tools are really handy. They're about $12 at Home Depot.

You can use a saw, but these little tools are really handy. They're about $12 at Home Depot.

The 1" Piston fits inside the 1 1/4" pipe.  It's a pretty snug fit. It will work without O-rings, but will leak.  Then again, if you're in an emergency, who cares if there's a little spray? I'm sorry this one is turned, too.

The 1" Piston fits inside the 1 1/4" pipe. It's a pretty snug fit. It will work without O-rings, but will leak. Then again, if you're in an emergency, who cares if there's a little spray? I'm sorry this one is turned, too.

This is one of the most important details. You can use anything convenient to cap the end of the 1" diameter PVC interior piston.  A large dowel would work, too.  I just happened to find a miscellaneous piece of round PVC that fit nicely.  I used a table saw to cut channels for the O-Rings.  It's a very snug fit.

This is one of the most important details. You can use anything convenient to cap the end of the 1" diameter PVC interior piston. A large dowel would work, too. I just happened to find a miscelaneous piece of round PVC that fit nicely. I used a table saw to cut channels for the O-Rings. It's a very snug fit.

I just used a simple 1" T connector to make the piston handle.

I just used a simple 1" T connector to make the piston handle.

You can see the piston and the shaft side-by-side. The piston is inserted into the shaft. With the O-Rings, it's a snug fit, so you have to make sure to cut the O-ring channels deep enough; but not too deep.
Make sure that the check valves are pointed the same direction-- away from the intae and toward the garden hose adaptor.  I found that the check valve compression rings were the weakest part of the pump, and tended to blow out first.  Make sure you TIGHTEN ALL COMPRESSION RINGS very tightly to avoid blowing them out.

Make sure that the check valves are pointed the same direction-- away from the intae and toward the garden hose adaptor. I found that the check valve compression rings were the weakest part of the pump, and tended to blow out first. Make sure you TIGHTEN ALL COMPRESSION RINGS very tightly to avoid blowing them out.

The T connector connects two 6-inch pieces of 1 1/4" PVC with the check valves. I secured it with two metal straps.  As the piston is lifted, water flows through the intake check valve. As the piston is lowered, the water flows out the outtake check valve.

The T connector connects two 6-inch pieces of 1 1/4" PVC with the check valves. I secured it with two metal straps. As the piston is lifted, water flows through the intake check valve. As the piston is lowered, the water flows out the outtake check valve.

The outtake check valve is connected to a 1 1/4" PVC pipe, which is adapted down to a 3/4" PVC pipe. Then I added an extra adapter with a female garden hose connector.

The outtake check valve is connected to a 1 1/4" PVC pipe, which is adapted down to a 3/4" PVC pipe. Then I added an extra adapter with a female garden hose connector.

Detail of PVC

Detail of Garden Hose Connector

  1. #1 by George on April 23, 2012 - 6:47 pm

    Thank you for posting that, Junk yard wars aka Scrapheap wars did a number of episodes involving improvised pumps. If you are looking for improvements they might be interesting to you. Good luck with your future projects.

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