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Buying The Right Water Pump For Your Needs Can Be A Tough Choice

Aug 17, 2007
The trend prevailing at present is to do-it-yourself, and one of the many tasks that needs to be done is the purchase/replacement of the water pump. So it is important to know the pertinent facts about them to enable you make a sound decision.

Firstly the price, which can range from $60 to $500 or more, depending on the quality and the features available. The capacity of the pump, ranging from 1/6 HP to 1/2 HP, too plays a big part in its pricing. As per the thumb rule, the weakest is the cheapest. The next decision you need to make is to choose between a pedestal and submersible pump. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. A submersible pump is out of sight (underwater) and therefore silent. So it is a big advantage if the basement area is used as a living room. Being away from the living quarters, it is safer if you have small children around.

Pedestal pumps while costing less, have a longer life since the submersible pump lies in water permanently and is therefore prone to developing faults. Pedestals have a life span of around 25 to 30 years while submersibles can serve for as long as 5 to 15 years only. Operating conditions vary so much that manufacturers offer only a year long limited warranty. Considering repairs, pedestals are far easier and cheaper to maintain than submersibles.

Moving to the switching apparatus, they come in different types. Automatic switches are available in mercury, floats and diaphragms. While there are other less popular types, be sure to choose one of these. Automatic switches score over manual ones in that they do not require a person to be present to start or end their operations. This prevents the catastrophe of flooding or finding the taps dry. Even if the water source dries up, a manual pump running on "dry" will burn itself, while an automatic one will switch off once the water level recedes below a certain point.

Another important factor is the pump's capacity to move water. This is actually more important than the HP and is measured in GPM - gallons per minute or GPH - gallons per hour. This is mainly dependent on the vertical "lift" measured from the bottom of the tank (where the pump rests) and the highest point of discharge. As the distance of "lift" increases, the capacity of the pump reduces accordingly. Evaluate the pump's ability to pass small solids like twigs and leaves through without clogging.

The physical make up of the pump also has an effect on the price. Parts that will not corrode or wear out fast are ideal, but they will add to the price. These include stainless steel, alloy, cast bronze and epoxy-coated cast iron housings which are preferred. Do remember to avoid sheet metal. Polypropylene and other complex plastics are used in all grades of pumps.

Consider the length of electric cord required at the time of purchase. These are normally available in multiples of 5 (up to 25 feet) but ask the store to fix a new cord if your requirements exceed this length. Extension cords should not be used with pumps.

If your budget permits, you can also buy pumps, which work on fuels other than electricity. These are useful in emergencies and natural disasters like floods and storms. This will be a back up pump and will kick into action only when the main pump is overloaded or not functioning.

The decision to have a back up or not really depends on your situation and circumstances. Whether you need it or not is influenced by many factors - the electric supply to your area, the frequency of flooding and storms, etc. if you have a well appointed home with luxury furnishings you might want to have a back up since then it will give you more than merely keeping your home water free, it will give you the peace of mind that is far more priceless.
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