How do water pumps work? Well water and Sprinkler system explained

A water pump is a device that uses energy to cause water to flow. Water pumps are most commonly found in residential and commercial settings. They are used to pump water from one place to another, often using a source of energy like electricity or gas to do so.  


 In a house, they can often be found to pump groundwater or rainwater from a pit. They can also be used to add pressure to city water. Some septic systems also use a water pump to move the dirty water to the drain field. Pumps are therefore quite common in houses. They are quite cheap to buy and easy to install. 

History of Water pumps

Water pumps are what make our world go round, and they have been around for a while. The invention of water pumps is usually credited to Archimedes, who first noticed that the suction from a bucket would raise water from the bottom of a well. This insight was used to create pumps that used an auger and manual power to move water.

This required a lot of work and sometimes donkeys were used to automate this further. This still limited the applications as the pumps required a lot of maintenance. However, it was not until 1859 that an American physicist named William George Higinbotham created the first electric water pump. This really revolutionized plumbing. It took several decades before electricity and pumps became commonplace though.  

Parts of a Pump: how do water pumps work

There are three main parts of any pump: rotor, casing, and volute. The rotor attaches to the motor and rotates inside the casing, causing liquid to be drawn in and moved up into the volute. As this happens, air is moved away from the face of these rotating blades and into an area behind them. When we use our hands to twist about hair in a bathtub or sink basin, we’re twisting against gravity and generating movement in the water. The same principle applies with pumps; they work by converting electrical energy into kinetic energy that moves water.

If the rotor is blocked, you can sometimes fix it. Unplug the pump when you work on it! Electricity can be dangerous, always read the manual. Also wear protective equipment. If needed, call a professional. A rotor can sometimes get stuck if the pump didn’t work for a while. If you can turn it manually, it might get loose again. This already indicates that pumps shouldn’t become inactive for too long as they might break when this happens. 

A pool pump that pumps water in a solar array to heat it up. Image by PlumbingInstantFix. All rights reserved.

When you get a pump, you have to consider how powerful it is. Some pumps are able to transport the water over a big distance whereas others can’t. More powerful pumps use more electricity so you have to find the right one for your needs. If you have a lot of faucets, you will need a more powerful pump then when you only have a few. 

Types of water pumps

Over the years pumps have been refined and nowadays we find incredibly powerful pumps. They have even replaced water towers in a lot of places as they are so reliable and great at adding pressure to water and transporting it. Even the highest apartments are able to use water because of the powerful pumps that we have nowadays. Let’s take a look at how they work. 

The most common types of pumps are centrifugal and positive displacement pumps. The difference between these two types of water pumps is how they move the liquid. A centrifugal pump relies on centrifugal force to create that movement, while a positive displacement pump uses pistons to push the liquid from one side of the pump up against enough pressure to force it through a small opening on the other side.

Centrifugal pumps work by spinning an impeller at high speed in a sealed chamber. The spinning forces the liquid into the center of the chamber, where it is then pumped out through a nozzle or discharge pipe. We have axial flow and radial flow. This is based on where the rotor is placed

 –Positive displacement pumps use pistons to push the liquid from one side of the pump up against enough pressure to force it through a small opening on the other side. We have piston pumps, diaphragm, and piston pumps in this category. Each of these works in a different way to create pressure.

Things to consider when buying a water pump

Some pumps break when they have to pump mud instead of water. This can overheat the engine and make it break. Some pumps have alarms to indicate that something is going wrong. Make sure that you only pump clean water if your pump is only able to handle this. Another potential issue is that there is no water to pump. The pump should turn off when this happens. Advanced sensors are needed for this and not every pump has this. 

In the past pumps used to stand in garages and sheds. They make quite a lot of noise and take up some space. For this reason, newer pumps are often submerged. This brings some other challenges as you have to be careful when you combine water and electricity. Some pumps can get submerged deeper than others so be sure to check the instructions. You can often find comparison tables to see what each pump is able to do. This allows you to find the right one for your application.

 When you get a pump you also have to see what is included. Often you will need a filter and some valves. If they are already included with the pump, you can save a lot of money. Each of these pieces is quite expensive to get. 

 In some instances, the pump has a tank. This allows the pump to work more efficiently as it doesn’t have to turn on every time that someone needs some water. Often we just need a small stream of water. If the pump has to turn on every time this happens, it can be quite expensive and the pump will break faster. 

When you get a pump for your sprinkler system, you should take into consideration how much water your garden needs.

The amount of sprinklers a pump can run depends on the size of the pump, the source of the water, the size of your sprinkler system, and the type of the sprinklers. You have to look at the gallons per minute that are needed.

You have to look at the specifications of the sprinklers. This will give you an indication of how much water they use per minute. Once you know this, you can find the appropriate pump for your needs. 

A good rule of thumb is to only run as many sprinklers as your pump can handle. 

The pump has to be able to deal with pressure loss if your garden is uneven.

Most pumps can handle anywhere from 2 to 6 sprinklers.

To conclude, we can state that while pumps have evolved a lot, they still rely on simple principles. Some people even make their own pump with a 3D printer. Adding the electronics is often the most challenging step. In this post, we have discussed how pumps work and what you have to think about when you get one.