Types Of Well Pumps | Build a Stash

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Key Takeaways

  • Well pumps are essential devices used to extract water from underground sources.
  • The common types of well pumps include submersible, jet, and centrifugal pumps.
  • The type of well pump needed depends on the depth, volume, and power source.
  • Proper maintenance of well pumps is crucial to ensure they last for years.

Well pumps are very important for extracting underground water. They provide a source of clean water for homes, businesses, and agricultural needs.

The most common types of well pumps include centrifugal, submersible, jet, and hand pumps. The type of pump best for your well depends on the depth of the well, how much water you need to pump, and how the pump will be powdered.

As someone who has lived in a home that depended on well water, I understand how important it is to choose the right pump. Choosing the wrong type can lead to no water or buying bottled water for showers. In this article, I will look at how well pumps work, the types of pumps available, and choose the best pump for your needs. I also look at what each pump is best for and how to size a well pump to fit your needs.

Table of contents


What Is A Well Pump?

A well pump draws water from underground wells and delivers it to the surface for use in homes, businesses, and farms.

Well pumps come in different types based on the operation method and the well's depth. Some of the common types of well pumps include submersible, jet, centrifugal, and hand pumps.

Each well pump type has advantages and disadvantages and is suitable for different well depths and pumping requirements.

How Does A Well Pump Work?

To better understand how a well pump works, it is helpful to understand the components of a typical well system.

First, the well is a hole drilled or dug into the ground, typically several hundred feet deep, that accesses a water source. The water source may be an underground aquifer or a natural spring.

The well casing is a protective tube that lines the well and prevents dirt, debris, and other contaminants from entering the water source.

The well pump is usually located inside the well casing and is responsible for lifting the water from the well and pushing it through the piping system.

Several types of well pumps include submersible, jet, centrifugal, and hand pumps. Each type of pump has its unique method of extracting water from the well.

The pump is submerged in water at the bottom of the well in a submersible pump system. The pump motor is sealed in a waterproof casing and is powered by electricity. When the pump is turned on, it creates a vacuum that draws water into it and then pushes it up through the piping system to the surface.

In a jet pump system, the pump is above ground and uses suction to pull water from the well. The pump creates a vacuum by drawing air out of the piping system, which allows water to flow into the pump from the well. Once the water reaches the pump, it is pressurized and forced up through the piping system.

As the name suggests, Centrifugal pumps use a motor to spin a fan or impeller that pushes water through the piping system. The motor spins the impeller at high speed, creating a centrifugal force that propels the water through the system.

Hand pumps are the simplest type of well pump and are operated manually by a hand-cranked lever. Turning the lever creates a vacuum that draws water from the well into a holding tank. From there, the pump can deliver the water to the point of use.

Regardless of the type of pump used, the result is the same: water is lifted from the well and delivered to the point of use through a piping system. Therefore, the pump is an essential component of a well system and ensures that clean, fresh water is readily available for domestic, commercial, and agricultural use.

Types Of Well Pumps

When choosing a well pump for your home, various options are available. Each type of pump has unique features and benefits, making it important to consider which one best suits your needs.

Centrifugal Pumps

Centrifugal pumps are simple well pumps that use the kinetic energy of a motor to transport water from one end of the pump to the other. These pumps are smaller and less expensive than other well pumps, making them ideal for shallow wells no deeper than 25 feet.

A centrifugal well pump does not have drive seals, eliminating corrosion risk and costly repairs. In addition, they are easy to access and maintain, and replacement parts are readily available.

However, the small size of a centrifugal pump limits its power to suck up water. Therefore, they may not be suitable for households with high water demand and work best in shallow wells. If your well is deeper than 25 feet, a centrifugal pump may not be the most efficient choice.


  • Low-maintenance
  • Inexpensive
  • Easy to access and maintain


  • Only work in shallow wells
  • It might not be best for high-water needs

Submersible Pumps

A submersible well pump is a great choice for homeowners. They can work at various depths, making them ideal for wells that reach hundreds of feet. These pumps work by being submerged in the well water. Then they use a motor to push water through the pump and up to the surface level.

The engines on these pumps tend to stay cool due to being underwater. This helps them to last up to 20 years or more compared to other pumps, which might only last around five years.

However, being consistently underwater can damage the pump over time. The seal around the motor compartment can corrode, which lets water into the motor. Once the water reaches the motor, it will not function.

Submersible pumps are typically the pricier well pumps, ranging from $200 to $1,200. However, their long lifespan and low maintenance needs make the cost worth it for many homeowners.


  • Energy-efficient pump
  • Works well for multiple depths
  • Long life span


  • Can corrode
  • Expensive compared to other types

Jet Pumps

Jet pumps come in two types: shallow well pumps and deep well pumps. Shallow well jet pumps only work for wells at about 25 feet in depth. Deep well pumps have more horsepower and can work efficiently in wells around 100 feet.

Jet pumps can be offset from the well, making them easy to access and maintain when necessary. They are also ideal for irrigation, gardening, and watering your home's plumbing system.

However, jet pumps are susceptible to sand damage, especially in sandy soil areas. In addition, the pump's efficiency decreases with increased well depth, as the motor has to work harder to draw water up.

Jet pumps typically cost less than other types making them a cost-effective option.


  • Inexpensive
  • Option to install offset from the well site
  • Good for irrigation and gardening


  • Efficiency decreases the lower it is installed
  • Can be damaged by sand

Hand Pumps

Hand pumps are manual pumps that require physical effort to draw water from the well and transport it to an above-ground reservoir. These pumps are ideal for off-the-grid installations and can function regardless of weather conditions or utility availability.

Hand pumps are the least expensive of all well pump types, ranging from $50 to $500. They are also easy to install and maintain, with minimal parts that can be easily replaced if damaged.

However, using hand pumps can be physically tiring and may not be suitable for households requiring a large volume of water. In addition, the amount of water you can pump at a time depends on the strength and stamina of the person operating the pump.


  • Inexpensive
  • Easy to install and maintain
  • Works without power


  • Inconvenient
  • Requires physical effort to operate
  • Not be suitable for households with high water demand

How To Choose The Best Size Well Pump

Choosing the right well pump size is very important as it provides a reliable water supply for your home. A pump that is too small won’t provide enough water flow, while a pump that is too large can lead to wasted energy, reduced performance, and even no water.

Pump Size and Speed

The size of your pump is determined by its flow rate, which is measured in gallons per minute (GPM). For example, an average three or four-bedroom home requires 8 to 12 GPM of water flow. When calculating the required flow rate, add one GPM for your home’s water fixtures, including dishwashers, washing machines, refrigerators, faucets, and showers.

It’s important not to buy an oversized pump as it can decrease performance and energy inefficiencies. Instead, if you’re replacing your pump, choose one with the same horsepower as your current pump.

However, you may need a higher horsepower rating if you plan to add new family members or appliances. Pumps that transport water over long distances will also require more horsepower.

Pump Type and Depth

When choosing a well pump, one of the most crucial factors to consider is the depth of your well. The type of pump you need will depend on how deep your well is. Jet pumps are ideal for shallow wells up to 25 feet deep, while submersible pumps are designed for deeper wells.

You will need a deep jet pump if your well is between 25 and 110 feet deep. For wells deeper than 110 feet, a four-inch submersible pump will be required.

Jet pumps are installed above ground to draw water up from the well using suction. They are typically used for wells up to 25 feet deep and are a good option for homeowners who need a simple, inexpensive pump. Jet pumps come in two varieties: shallow well and deep well.

Shallow well jet pumps can draw water from a depth of up to 25 feet and are ideal for small, shallow wells. They are installed above ground and use an impeller to create suction that pulls water from the well. A shallow well jet pump is a great choice for homeowners who need a basic pump that is easy to install and maintain.

On the other hand, deep well jet pumps are designed for wells between 25 and 110 feet deep. They work the same way as shallow well jet pumps, but they have two pipes: one that draws water up from the well and another that pushes it back down to create the necessary pressure.

A deep well jet pump is more complex than a shallow well jet pump but can handle deeper wells and provide greater water flow rates.

A submersible pump is best if your well is deeper than 110 feet. Submersible pumps are installed down in the well and are designed to push water up to the surface. They are more efficient than jet pumps and can handle greater water flow rates.

A submersible pump uses impellers that push the water up to the surface. Submersible pumps are also available in different sizes and horsepower ratings, so you can find one that meets your needs.

Power Type

In addition to traditional electric-powered pumps, there are also less conventional types of well pumps. Manual well pumps and air-powered well pumps are available.

Air-powered pumps can pump very dirty water, making them a good option to pump silt out of the well before installing a submersible or jet pump. Submersible and jet pumps can also be solar-powered, making them a good option for remote locations away from the main power source.