Picture of How To Make A PVC Water / Air / Vacuum Pump!
In this project you'll learn how to make a customizable PVC hand pump that will create vacuum suction, pump water, or compress air. 

A pre-requisite to making the pump will be 2 homemade check valves.  You can learn how to make these cheap PVC check valves here!

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Step 1: Watch the Video!

WARNING: Power tools, like a table saw, pose risks of serious injury.  Adequate training and experience are required before operating.  The results and claims of this pump are based solely on my personal experiences with the one demonstrated in the video.  Individual results may vary.  The pump is a simple design and not made, or claimed, to be used in any heavy duty operations, or relatively high pressures.  Use of this content is at your own risk.

Step 2: What You'll Need

Picture of What You'll Need
Whether you're using vacuum power, moving water, or compressing air, chances are you're using some type of a pump.

I thought it might be good to build a simple pump, mainly for learning purposes, and I wanted to do it with low cost materials.

I've wanted to build a PVC water pump for awhile, but the check valves were around $10.00 each.  That seemed a little steep for a PVC build, so I made my own, which you can see in a different project. 

I was inspired on the pump piston and chamber by a picture I saw on a google image search by someone who used the 1-1/4" and 1" sizes of tubes, and he mentioned he cut the grooves for the O-rings on a table saw.  That was a new idea to me and gave me the inspiration to put this together.

The materials I used are outlined in detail in the picture.
jmoniuszko2 months ago

Curious why you reduced from a 1-1/4" to 3/4"? Don't you lose pressure through a reduction?

TEMPEST121 year ago
Does anyone have an Idea on what depth this would be able to draw water from, or how high it would be able to push the water?
In theory, unlimited depth, it depends on your physical strength and how strong the materials are so they would not explode. Lets say your well is 30 meters deep. You will be lifting 15 Kilograms (15 liters) of water per cycle to get only 1 liter in the bucket. But thanks to leverages you can reduce effort. If you use a 1 meter long lever and place the fulcrum at 20 cm from the piston you will be lifting only 3 Kilograms per cycle to get 1 liter in the bucket. (Pardon my English but hope this helps)
acheide MAbduser7 months ago

The greatest depth water can be drawn from "suction lift" is 25 feet at sea level. This link - www.onestopfire.com explains this well.

antioch1 year ago
What are the three things in the first 3 pics of Step 2?
First one seems to be a vacuum cleaner, but the 2nd one with the water in it and the third one (a compressor, maybe?) are beyond me to figure out.

The first two are both vacuum cleaners, I believe. Some cleaners use a tub of water as the "filter media". The dirty air is drawn through the water where all of the gunk, dust, etc. gets trapped. "Wet dust can't fly" according to the rainbow company. The air bubble passes through the water mostly clean and then can exit the chamber, sometimes through a HEPA filter to get everything else out. It works really well, but changing that nasty water isn't too pleasant. The third looks like a compressor. This pump can 'suck' like a vacuum and "blow' like a compressor. The King is Awesome.

I don't know what a #219 o-ring is in dimensions, the hardware store I went to, it was in inches, help

I was looking for the same info and found this. This looks like a very thorough chart.

jamob1 year ago
PVC isn't safe for drinking water is it?

yes it is safe as long as it is clean, the pvc used in this project are auctually plumbing pipes used in most homes.

jamob, I think it is, I have seen pvc pipe that says drinking water on it
Like with stainless steel, there are different grades with PVC. Some are safe for food or drinking water. Some are not so safe. And some leave an unpleasant taste.
marcinose1 year ago
This looks great. What is the maximum PSI that can be attained?
Cormaxzyz1 year ago
I had the same basic idea! (link)
Whoops, meant jamob, sorry
Jambob, I think it is, I have seen pvc pipe that says drinking water on it,
poofrabbit1 year ago
Hey congratulations on being a finalist in the weekend projects contest!
osunderdog1 year ago
After collecting the parts, I put this together in about an hour. Digging the trenches for the o - rings took some time. I used a Demel since I don't have a table saw.

The cap under the pump handle is an important safety component. Without it you might pinch your palm hard enough to raise a blood blister during those first few enthusiastic moments when you realize that it's working as designed. :p

I couldn't find the o-rings specified but I was able find a 10 pack of #17 o-rings at a big home improvement store that would do the job.

I can't find 1" balls anywhere... I'm thinking that I'll use medicine bottles or lids to make the check valves. If I get it to work I'll post a few pictures.

Wonderful Instructable. Great Idea.
Cesar071 year ago
great instructable!

Just an FYI, petroleum jelly will cause Orings to swell and degrade.....it is much better to use a Silicone based grease for lubricating orings.
I was wondering about that too. Thanks for pointing it out.
bluetang1 year ago
Awesome!! very good project thank you
Jayefuu1 year ago
I love that you take the time to publish these on Instructables as well as Youtube. I like watching the video for the general idea, then the Instructables instructions for getting more detail. Thanks!
Alderin1 year ago
Great pump! I love the one-way valves you made. Especially the rubber-ball version, very creative use of a toy, elegant and simple design. Bravo!
Vacume cleaners do not actualy use a vacume. They use high speed motors to creat suction by way of high air flow
trouble011 year ago
marhar1 year ago
Sweet! I like the method for making the piston rings. And about half-way through, I was thinking, hmm, this sure seems like a good use for his one-way valves!
billbillt1 year ago
floppyjoe1 year ago
Like your work, very professional, just the kind of stuff I like to mess about with.
Gelfling61 year ago
This just added some insight to a couple of ideas I've had (a all-PVC potato cannon, and a back-pack steam-punk style super-soaker based on fire service indian pumps).

An alternative idea for the check valves, a disk of plastic between pipe and joints, with a piece of inner-tube screwed to the center.
comebackin1 year ago
I love all your projects. If someone doesn't have access to a table saw, maybe a manual pipe cutter would work for cutting the grooves for the O-rings.
4equal1 year ago
awesome project hope i can find all the pieces i need
rimar20001 year ago
Very interesting design, this is an useful contraption.
Samuel kos1 year ago
That is awesome but I would use flexible hose instead of the rigid PVC for extension so you have more options
Nicapizza1 year ago
Cool! Do you know what the max psi rating would be?
sgfidlin1 year ago
That is awesome!