Pumping water out of 55gallon drum

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Pumping water out of 55gallon drum

Postby alt12 » Tue Aug 09, 2011 1:37 pm

Does anyone have electric pump set-up for pumping water out of 55gallon drums for drinking. We have a dozen 55 gallon drums and have been using the time-tested "water pitcher method" to manually remove water from the drums to fill our drinking containers. Has worked fine in my opinon but there is interest in the camp in getting automated pump for this. The legitimate 55gallon water pumps (the kind that screw in to to the opening the drum top) are several hundred dollars.
I was considering just getting a submersible pump that runs off 120V but am wondering what other people do and whether these kinds of submersible water pumps are safe for drinking water. People are using them for dirty water, irrigation, water fountains, etc. I haven't seen anyone using for potable water.

Any thoughts here? What do other use for their 55gallon drums aside from a manual pump?
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Re: Pumping water out of 55gallon drum

Postby FIGJAM » Tue Aug 09, 2011 1:44 pm

I turned my 55gal. drum into a giant garden sprayer for this purpose and I bumped the thread for you.

You can also get a 12 volt RV water pump. (my way is cheaper if you have a small 12 volt compressor.)
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Re: Pumping water out of 55gallon drum

Postby Dr Helix » Tue Aug 09, 2011 2:12 pm

alt12 wrote:Does anyone have electric pump set-up for pumping water out of 55gallon drums for drinking. We have a dozen 55 gallon drums and have been using the time-tested "water pitcher method" to manually remove water from the drums to fill our drinking containers. Has worked fine in my opinon but there is interest in the camp in getting automated pump for this. The legitimate 55gallon water pumps (the kind that screw in to to the opening the drum top) are several hundred dollars.
I was considering just getting a submersible pump that runs off 120V but am wondering what other people do and whether these kinds of submersible water pumps are safe for drinking water. People are using them for dirty water, irrigation, water fountains, etc. I haven't seen anyone using for potable water.

Any thoughts here? What do other use for their 55gallon drums aside from a manual pump?



Go to the pet store and buy a fish tank water pump. It's a tad slow but for what you're doing it should be fine.
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Re: Pumping water out of 55gallon drum

Postby DustHand » Tue Aug 09, 2011 3:04 pm

Most of these look like manual, but the rotary pumps are pretty easy to use.

http://www.grainger.com/Grainger/wwg/search.shtml?op=search&N=23104&in_dim_search=1
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Re: Pumping water out of 55gallon drum

Postby FIGJAM » Tue Aug 09, 2011 3:57 pm

Or a clear hose and just siphon your water.

You can get fansy and get one of these.

https://www.usaemergencysupply.com/emergency_supplies/water_barrel_siphon_pump.htm
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Re: Pumping water out of 55gallon drum

Postby crstophr » Tue Aug 09, 2011 4:15 pm

Just did this myself. With some PVC, vinyl tubing, and an RV water pump.

I created a dip tube with 2" PVC topped by a ball valve, 90 deg L, and a garden hose male threads on the end. Glued together with PVC cement. Make sure you cut some small notches on the bottom of the dip tube. You don't want it being flat against the bottom of the barrel or the water won't flow well.

I next made a vent tube, also with a valve, but put in 2 Ls so the end points back down towards the barrel (so dust doesn't settle on the vent opening). I capped this end and drilled a few small holes to allow air in. It's important for air to get in as the water goes out.

I drilled holes in both of the barrel caps for these tubes. One of the caps was threaded for a hose and I made use of this to secure the vent side. The dip side just pokes through to the bottom of the barrel.

I picked up a shurflo 2088 RV water pump ($60). I bought 2 10' pieces of 1/2" vinyl reinforced hose (1/2" is the size of the pump inlet and outlet). The pump came with fittings that insert into the hoses and connect to the pump. I supplied hose clamps. For the ends I put a brass female garden hose fitting on one side and a male garden hose fitting on the other. The female fitting connects to the dip tube on the barrel. The male fitting on the other end connects to any garden hose.

The reinforced vinyl hose is important as a normal garden hose is likely to collapse under the suction created.

When connected to 12v (battery, etc) the pump pulls water in from the barrel and pushes it out through a connected garden hose. You can of course connect any thing you like on the output side. Our camp uses this setup to push water to our kitchen area, and the drain runoff goes straight into the evap setup. RV pumps will keep and hold a set pressure. So when you close the faucet it pumps for a couple of seconds and then shuts off until the faucet is opened again. These pumps are made to do exactly this: deliver water on demand and try to keep a set pressure

Two big things to remember. This feels a LOT like your sink at home and it's easy for folks to forget they need to conserve and just let the water run. We had to police this a lot the first couple of days. Second thing is that this pump will empty that 55 gal drum in about 15-20 minutes. If you leave it powered on and it springs a leak or someone leaves the faucet on while you're away you'll be out of water in a hurry.

Total cost about $100 but I wanted to do it right and bought nice fittings and hose wherever I could. You could do it for much less if you scrounge around.

Get a coleman propane instant hot water heater (or scrounge an old RV HW Heater) and now you've got hot and cold running water for the whole camp.

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Re: Pumping water out of 55gallon drum

Postby Mr.Coffee » Tue Aug 09, 2011 4:22 pm

FIGJAM's pressurization technique is pretty slick if you ask me. You can charge your barrels with an air compressor or even a bicycle pump. Hell, if you wanted to, you could put your water on "tap", just like a keg of beer. constant pressure and the bottled pressure source might keep it fresher, who knows?

You can get cheap bilge pumps from wally world and the like (cheapest I found was 250 gph and under $20, but I seriously doubt they're food grade (which is the price you're paying for all of those electric pumps).

A simple emergency shake-siphon would do well, and there are many other simple pump and siphoning methods available for low-cost. Do you need an electric pump? if not a cheaper manual pump would do well. hell, you could even repurpose an old-fashioned pump-handle well pump (which would also be bad ass). IIRC northern and harbor freight used to sell them.
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Re: Pumping water out of 55gallon drum

Postby FIGJAM » Tue Aug 09, 2011 4:24 pm

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Re: Pumping water out of 55gallon drum

Postby Mr.Coffee » Tue Aug 09, 2011 4:25 pm

the post so good, I accidentally made it twice! sorry folks!
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