Since we need electricity for the water supply in our homes, if there was a power outage, we would have no way of transporting water. Therefore, it is important to make sure you are adequately prepared in case of a storm, hurricane, or any other disaster. Additionally, excess water due to floods, melting snow, or rain will damage your basement if you are unable to drain it. A very effective way to prepare is by constructing a water pump in your backyard. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to do so.

How to Build a PVC Hand Pump

A PVC hand pump is simple to build but very useful. You may have the parts available in your home; if not, you can purchase them online, or from a hardware store. The pump consists of two parts, the pump, and the check valves.

The Pump

 Suction is created with two pieces of PVC pipe. Join them together by inserting one inside the other.

Check Valves

The check valves are responsible for the water flow, you can position them in any direction. Attaching a hose or other pipe is simplified with a ¾” NPT thread.

Putting the Pump Together

A helpful word of advice before you get started is to put the pump together without gluing it to make sure it works properly. Once you are satisfied, you can take it apart and rebuild it using glue.

In the photos, you will notice that I didn’t use any thread tape or PVC cement. However, I suggest that you use them both.

The first step is to cover the construction of the check valves because this is the most important part of the entire system.

You will need several tools to build your water pump, they are as follows:


  • Tape measure
  • Petroleum jelly
  • Sandpaper
  • Files and handsaw
  • PVC cement
  • A hand drill or drill press

Check Valve Parts

  • 4 – ¾” slip on to ¾” MNPT PVC fittings
  • 2 – pieces of ¾” PVC pipe cut to 2 ½”
  • 2 – washers or O-rings that will fit inside the fittings
  • 2 – acrylic or rubber balls about ¾” in diameter (they should fit in the pipe with just enough room for water to get around it, but not enough room for the ball to fall through the fitting or past the washer).
  • 2 – Brad nails or other stiff thin metal

How to Build the Check Valve

#Step 1: Make sure the washer or O-ring fits inside a fitting.

#Step 2: Check that the ball forms a good seal by nesting it with the washer. The O-ring provides extra protection, and the ball prevents the backflow of water through the fitting.

#Step 3: Measure the width of the fitting and put the O-ring and ball into the fitting.


#Step 4: Measure the distance between the top of the ball and the end of the fitting. Subtract the measurements in steps 3 and 4.

#Step 5: Drill a small hole in the pipe using the measurement from the answer in step 4, plus an eighth of an inch.

#Step 6: Push a brad nail through the hole and use pliers to snip the end.

#Step 7: Put together one end of the check valve by inserting the ball into the pipe, and the washer into the fitting. Make sure the check valve is working by blowing through the pipe, you shouldn’t feel any air released.

#Step 8: Blow air through the fitting, you should feel it come through the pipe.

#Step 9: Join the pipe and the fitting together. Highlight the direction of the water flow by drawing an arrow onto the fitting.

Pump Body Parts

  • 1 – 24” piece of 1¼” SCH40 PVC Pipe
  • 1 – 26” piece of 1” SCH40 PVC Pipe
  • 2 – 4” pieces of 1” SCH40 PVC Pipe
  • 1 – 1¼” PVC slip-on coupling
  • 1 – 1¼” PVC slip-on cap
  • 1 – 1¼” to ¾” PVC FNPT fitting (This fitting was not available in my local hardware store so I used a 1 ¼” to 1” FNPT and a 1” MNPT to ¾” FNPT fittings to do the same job)
  • 1 – ¾” FNPT x ¾” FNPT x ¾” FNPT PVC Tee
  • 1 – ¾” NPTPVC coupling
  • 1 – 1” PVC Plug
  • 1 – 1” PVC slip-on tee
  • 2 – 1” PVC slip-on caps
  • 2 – Washers that fit on 1” pipe tightly

How to Build the Pump Body

#Step 1: Smooth out the 1” pipe by sanding it down, for the O-ring grooves, layout two lines. The measurements for the spacing should be around ¾” to 1”.

#Step 2: Use a pen to line the position of the O-rings, cut along these lines, and file them down. You can simplify the process by building a jig using a table saw. There should be enough space in the grooves so that the O-rings make a strong seal for the pipes at the same time as making movement easy.

#Step 3: Place the O-rings onto the pipes, lubricate the 1” PVC with petroleum jelly and check that it fits onto the pipe. If so, position the 1” plug into the O-rings end closet.

#Step 4: Create a tee handle by Installing the 1” slip-on tee onto the end of the 1” pipe and slide the two 4” pieces of the pipe into the open ends of the tee. Use the 1” slip-on caps to cap the ends of the line.

#Step 5: Join the 1 ¼” slip-on coupling to one end of the pipe as well we the 1 ¼” to ¾” FNPT fitting.

#Step 6: Attach the 3/4 “ NPT coupling into the pump body with the ¾” FNPT x ¾” FNPT X ¾” FNPT tee using a screwdriver.

#Step 7: Drill a hole using a 1 3/8” bit in the 1 ¼” slip on cap, it should be big enough so that the 1” pipe can slip through easily.

#Step 8: Oil the O-rings with petroleum jelly and slide the 1” pipe into the pump body.

#Step 9: Connect the check valves according to the direction you want the water to flow.

#Step 10: Connect the piping or hosing to the ends of the check valves that have been threaded.

#Step 11: The pump is now ready to use.

Final Thought

Now that you have a complete guide on how to build a water pump in your backyard, take action now and put one together because you never know when disaster may strike.

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