Simple Pump is simply better in the cold than any other hand pump. See how the Simple Pump has design features that protect your water and your well water pump from freezing.
People in every state use the Simple Pump hand pumps and motor-operated pumps in the winter, even without a pump house. Simple Pumps hand pumps are operated trouble-free in Alaska, in the Colorado Rockies at 9000 feet, and in the coldest parts of the Midwest.
“I installed the pump this Fall at 11,000 feet and it is now working during the coldest part of the year!” ~Colorado
Your Simple Pump will be freeze-proof in one of two ways, depending on your well, with our pitless adaptor or pumping above ground with a weep hole.
If you have a well with a submersible pump on a pitless (running your pipes and wiring underground), or if you are installing a Simple Pump into a new well, the Simple Pump pitless adaptor allows you to connect directly to an underground line. In this case, your water will run below the freezing level.
With a Bison, Baker, and other pump manufacturers, this is not an option. In fact, there is no other hand pump that offers a pitless option.
For simplicity and lower cost, most people choose to have their backup pump run water above ground. In this circumstance, your Simple Pump won’t freeze thanks to a small, built-in “weep hole”. This 1/16 inch hole, drilled in the top drop pipe, allows the water in the pump-head to drain out to below the frost line. The weep hole is exactly the right size to drain water fast enough that it won’t freeze.
If your frost line is lower than 4 feet, we will happily create a custom weep hole for you at no extra cost.
Additionally, if you want to pump into your home’s pressure tank, Simple Pump’s one-way check valve can let air in behind the valve, allowing water to drain out of the pump head in freezing weather.
Whether you have a pitless adaptor or are pumping above ground, you can further protect against freezing by leaving the handle pointing up after use. By doing this the stainless steel pump rod is kept ice-free inside the pump head.
Now that you know your options with the Simple Pump, compare our anti-freeze protection with our closest competitor — the Bison.
First, Bison has no pitless option to allow you to run your water underground from your hand pump to your home. So your choice to do this is immediately removed.
But perhaps you don’t want to put your hand pump on a pitless. For pumping above ground, the Simple Pump has other advantages. Just two of these are:
For the above-ground system, you will need a weep hole, as you do with the Simple Pump. But if you buy a Bison Pump, you’re going to have to drill your own weep-hole before you install it.
From Bison’s website…” Prior to installing the last piece of pipe and rod, drill a 1/8″ weep hole in the pipe just below where the frost line is for your area. … * This does not apply for inline hand pumps where freezing may occur.”
So Bison inline pumps can’t be freeze-proofed and YOU have to do the work if you get one of their other pumps. Aside from the tricky job of having to drill your own weep hole on the curved pipe, there’s another huge disadvantage with the Bison “do-it-yourself” freeze-proofing — reduced efficiency.
Simple Pump’s much smaller weep hole equals considerably greater pumping efficiency.
Simple Pump’s weep hole is 1/16 inch. Bison Pumps recommends you drill a 1/8 inch hole. That’s FOUR TIMES the area of the Simple Pump weep hole.
The size difference between the two holes means a significant difference in the amount of pressure you need to exert on the pump handle when you are pumping water! The amount of pressure loss due to the large weep hole in the Bison means you would certainly notice a difference in pumping water from your well.
Aside from Simple Pump’s ability to handle freezing weather, check out the other advantages of a Simple Pump water pump system.
People generally work with the assumption that statistically speaking, the future looks like the past. It can apply to any prediction about the future. This concept is called stationarity.
Hydrologists are the experts on water supply risk. They have the unenviable job of planning for the future of our water supply. Their forecasts play a major role in the decision-making about everything from dams to agricultural investments.
Stationarity says that the average annual rainfall for the next 50 years, and how much it varies from year to year, will hold to the patterns of the last 50 years. Planning is much easier when this assumption is valid. If stationarity is a valid assumption, then, if there is enough data for the last 50 years, the size of dams needed, to take one example, can be predicted with a high degree of confidence.
Hydrologists have known since they first started using stationarity as an assumption in their models (in the 1950s) that human activity ensured that the future would be different from the past. However, in their models, they could account for measurable factors, like changes in runoff due to increased development.
But now, the changes are becoming more drastic… more unpredictable. Prominent hydrologists say that changes in our weather are rendering the idea of stationarity invalid, in ways that cannot be accurately adjusted in their models. So a completely different approach to forecasting water needs must be found.
Stationarity has been a bedrock assumption in planning models, in everything from building codes to home insurance. Making matters worse is something that has always been a problem with predicting the future from the past — we have data for only a few past decades.
Huge floods up and down much of the Mississippi are happening far more frequently than models assuming stationarity predicted. The levies, canals, and gates built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers were all designed based on such models. But conditions have gone way past what was predicted.
On this issue, we go with smart money. Investor Vinod Kholsa and Google have invested millions into a new breed of the insurance company, Weatherbill, They push the edges of software technology to address the increasing need to ensure farmers against crop loss, because of more erratic weather.
In other words, TRADITIONAL RISK ASSESSMENT (i.e., underwriting) NO LONGER WORKS. Only with new technology can insurance companies responsibly insure crops against bad weather. This is millions of dollars of investment taking as a given the fact that our old models will fail us, and new ones created.
Heightened concern about the future of our water supplies is NOT the thinking of any lunatic fringe; it’s just a sensible response to what is ACTUALLY HAPPENING. Since the one thing we know is that we DON’T know what is going to happen, we need to plan accordingly.
AND IF WE CAN’T RELIABLY PREDICT WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN, THE BEST THING FOR YOU TO DO IS TO TAKE CARE OF YOUR OWN WATER SUPPLY.
Short answer, YES.
Authorities (the people who run the grid and US intelligence agencies) used to talk about the POSSIBILITY… that hackers were EXPLORING intrusions into the grid and that there could be danger… SOMEDAY. And that was the tone of our last post on this topic.
But that’s not how they talk any longer.
UPDATE: Now they say that other countries are IN the grid and could cause disruption AT ANY TIME.
The main countries of concern are Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea. Non-governmental terrorist groups are, of course, also a concern. Russia has already attacked Ukraine in this way, shutting down part of its grid. Other attacks in the US have been against government agencies, businesses, and individuals. Different types of attacks can include shutting down computerized systems, misinformation, and stealing government or commercial secrets. Motives can be political or financial or personal.
Symantec, a major company in the field, has published its 24th Internet Security Threat Report. They describe thousands of websites compromised per month, many tens of millions of people’s data stolen, ransomware attacks skyrocketing. And don’t ever think you are too small to be attacked.
So what does all this mean to you?
Much of this is happening beyond levels that you and I can touch… where the action needs to come from government, the military, and huge corporations. But even there, perhaps we can have influence… we can encourage them to act.
But even without a disastrous attack happening, we periodically talk to people who have been without power for weeks… in a few cases as much as two months. What would that mean to you? Such power outages are not one in a million possibilities! Then how much worse could it be of a deliberate attack was launched?
We can, at least, look after our families as much as possible. What does that mean? Perhaps, at the very least, ensuring backup food and water, to get through a possibly extended power outage.
View our hand pumps that can help you protect your well water.
A typical submersible pumps a large volume of water really quickly.
This requires many solar panels and batteries.
The Simple Pump is designed to pump over time — requiring far fewer panels and batteries.
Our pumps are very cost-effective, in part because our precision manufacturing makes them extraordinarily reliable.
That reliability makes remote and often unattended pumping applications possible.
Precision manufacturing, and the materials used, also make our pumps narrow yet strong. The narrow profile cuts the required casing diameter to only two inches.
Drilling costs can be cut by as much as two-thirds.
Hauling the pump to the wellbore is easy. All the parts required to pump from 200 feet weigh only about 130 lbs.
This is MUCH less than seemingly comparable pumps.
The pump is also very easy to install. In the words of one of our customers who installed our pump in a remote location:
“Having never installed a water pump, I was looking for something that was not going to take a rocket scientist to be able to understand the directions. We were able to finish in less than an hour without any problems.”
The image above shows Cryptosporidium, one of many possible contaminants of well water.
This is a step-by-step procedure for disinfecting your water well and plumbing systems using chlorine bleach (sodium hypochlorite). The information comes from a Fact Sheet by MN Dept. of Health.
Make sure the well pump isn't contaminating your well before adding it back after your disinfection process.
The Simple Pump is made with stainless steel and is Safe Water Drinking Act compliant.
Be sure to read this post fully before starting. You can also get a licensed well contractor or pump installer to disinfect your water well and system. This is recommended if you are not comfortable with this procedure, for complex water systems, severe contamination problems, or if have a Simple Pump alone, and no submersible.
For DIY, you may have a port you can add the bleach through. If so, that will make the job much easier.
Or if you have no port, you may have a regular well cap, a well seal, or a pitless well cap. If you have a pitless, it may be a type that is easily worked on, or one that a homeowner should not touch. If you DON’T have a port AND are uncertain about opening your well, you should seek local professional advice. We recommend you open your well yourself ONLY IF you already know how to and are comfortable doing that.
EXTREME CAUTION is advised when disinfecting a well, as you often will be working with electricity and water. Electricity can kill you. If you are not acquainted with working with electricity, seek professional advice.
Turn off electrical power to the pump by turning off the circuit breaker or unscrewing the fuse. If the breaker or fuse box has a “lockout” hasp to prevent someone from accidentally turning on the water pump circuit breaker, use it. Power should not be turned back on until STEP 6 or after the chlorine solution has been placed in the well.
Your safety precautions should include:
Severe eye damage may result from contact with bleach or chlorine solution. Always follow the manufacturer’s use and safety directions.
Do not leave bleach bottles lying around – ingestion of bleach is the most common cause of poisoning of children in the U.S.
Underground well pits pose an extreme hazard, as they frequently contain a build-up of toxic gases or simply lack enough oxygen to sustain life. Access is limited, making quick escape difficult.
The following procedure is for a well that has a submersible pump with either a removable well cap or a well seal with a threaded plug in it.
See STEP 4 to determine whether you have a well cap or a well seal. If the well has a sanitary seal, this procedure can only be attempted if a removable threaded plug in the sanitary seal allows access into the well.
If your well has a type of pump other than a submersible pump, is located in a well pit, is a flowing well, or has a sanitary seal without a threaded plug, you should have your well disinfected by a licensed well contractor or licensed pump installer.
► Bypass all other water system components, such as the dishwasher, washing machine, water softeners, water filters, and other water treatment or water-using devices. These may be damaged by chlorine. Since they may harbor organisms, it will be necessary to separately disinfect these other devices.
► Turn off and drain the water heater. Use caution to avoid scalds or burns. Follow procedures as described by the manufacturer or plumber.
The table below indicates the amount of laundry bleach (6.0 percent sodium hypochlorite or 5.7 percent available chlorine) that should be used for well disinfection.
|Depth of||Well in||Feet|
|Diameter of Well||0-50||50-100||100-200|
|1-2 in.||1/8 C.||1/4 C||1/2 C|
|3-4 in.||1/2 C||1 C||2 C|
|5-6 in||1 C||2 C||1 Quart|
► For wells greater than 100 feet deep or with well casing diameters greater than 6 inches, mix the bleach with 2 gallons of water.
► For wells greater than 200 feet deep or with well casing diameters greater than 6 inches, increase the amount of bleach proportionately. After this solution is poured into the well, it will provide a chlorine concentration of at least 50 parts per million.
► Sodium hypochlorite is the disinfectant found in laundry bleach and is the recommended product for well disinfection. Since bleach loses its disinfecting capacity over time it is important that a fresh container be used. Do not use laundry bleach that contains any fragrance or other additive.This table indicates the amount of laundry bleach (6.0 percent sodium hypochlorite or 5.7 percent available chlorine) that should be used for well disinfection.
► Place a large clean bucket near the well. Add 1 gallon of water and the amount of bleach indicated in the table and mix thoroughly.
► For wells greater than 100 feet deep or with well casing diameters greater than 6 inches, mix the bleach with 2 gallons of water.
► For wells greater than 200 feet deep or with well casing diameters greater than 6 inches, increase the amount of bleach proportionately.
► After this solution is poured into the well, it will provide a chlorine concentration of at least 50 parts per million.
► In situations where an initial disinfection has not worked, where there is considerable iron or other solids in the well, or where there is a significant nuisance bacteria problem, a more concentrated chlorine solution may be used.
► Multiply the quantities of chlorine listed in the table above by four and mix with 4 gallons of water (for example, a 4-inch diameter well that is 51-100 feet deep would need 4 cups of bleach mixed with 4 gallons of water).
► This will provide a chlorine concentration of at least 200 parts per million in the well and water system.
► Too strong a chlorine solution will reduce the effectiveness of disinfection. If the chlorine concentration greatly exceeds 200 parts per million, it can actually make the water too alkaline and reduce the effectiveness of the disinfection process.
► If your well has not been disinfected for many years, it may have considerable scale built up. Disinfecting with a strong chlorine solution can dislodge this scale and plug or damage your pump, and/or cause problems elsewhere in the plumbing system.
►You may wish to begin with a weaker solution of chlorine. If the water runs red or brown, pump it out on the ground surface without recirculating it back into the well as described in STEP 5.
► Once the color gets lighter, mix a new chlorine solution batch as described in STEP 2 and begin the process again.
► Before you proceed, double check that the power is turned off at the breaker box.
► If your well has a cap or seal with a plugged port, you can remove the plug and put it on a clean surface. Pour the chlorine solution through the hole. Using a funnel with a hose is best. Do not get bleach on the well cap or any wiring.
If there is no plug in the cap/seal, you should have the well disinfected by a licensed well contractor or licensed pump installer… unless, as stated above, you know EXACTLY how to open the well and are comfortable doing so.
► Pour the mixture into the well and avoid spilling on any wire connections. A funnel should be used for pouring the chlorine solution into small openings.
► Recirculating the chlorinated water mixes the water column thoroughly and distributes the chlorine. It helps to wash down the inside sidewalls of the well casing, pump wires, and drop pipe.
► Turn on the power to the pump.
► Connect a clean garden hose to a nearby yard hydrant or an outside faucet.
► Run the water out of the hose in an area away from the well for approximately 10 minutes until the water runs clear.
► You may notice that the water coming from the garden hose turns red, yellow, or brown. This is due to the chlorinated water precipitating iron from the water.
► The chlorinated water may also dislodge scale or rust from the sides of the well casing. Scale, iron, manganese, or other precipitated minerals may form when the chlorine is added to the system. These solids can cause clogging of faucet aerators, valves, water solenoids, and equipment using filters.
► Run the water out on the ground until the water runs clear. Additional chlorine solution may need to be added to the well.
► When the water coming from the garden hose is relatively clear, turn the water off, place the garden hose into the top of the well casing and run water into the well.
► After the chlorine smell is first detected from the garden hose, recirculate the water back into the well for about two hours.
► You can use chlorine test papers, such as those commonly used to check the chlorine in swimming pools, to provide a visual indication that chlorine is present.
► Turn off the power to the pump.
► Remove the garden hose from the well casing and replace the well cap or threaded plug in the well seal.
► Do not run discolored water through the household plumbing, and do not run it into a septic system.
► Since a strong chlorine solution may harm vegetation, dispose of the chlorinated water away from sensitive plants.
► Do not discharge water into a lake or stream as this may harm aquatic life.
► Turn on the power to the pump.
► Run chlorinated water through the entire plumbing system by running water to each fixture* one at a time until you smell bleach (or use chlorine test papers available at pool supply businesses) and then close the fixture.
► Do this for each fixture, including:
► Faucet aerators may need to be removed if clogging occurs from precipitated iron or loosened scale.
► Leave the chlorinated water in the system a minimum of two hours and preferably at least six hours or overnight.
►Run a garden hose from an outside faucet or yard hydrant to flush the chlorine out of the system. It can take 30 minutes to 24 hours or more to flush all of the chlorine from the well.
►Once the chlorine is gone from the well, open up each fixture one at a time until the chlorine smell is no longer present. This will purge the remaining chlorine from the water system. It should take just a few minutes to flush out the chlorine from the cold water lines. The hot water faucets will have to be run longer.
► In some cases, it may be quicker to drain the water heater(s) again. The small amount of chlorinated water flushed from the water pipes can be run into a septic tank.
► Chlorine can cause eye damage and skin irritation. In addition to not using the water for consumptive purposes, all potential water users need to be warned that a potentially dangerous concentration of chlorine is in the water system.
► Do not shower/bathe with water containing high levels of chlorine. You may wish to place a pail or bag over each faucet as a reminder.
► Do not run the chlorinated water into your septic system as this can kill many of the beneficial bacteria in the system. Also, the amount of water required to flush the well may hydraulically overload and damage the septic system.
► Since a strong chlorine solution may harm vegetation, dispose of the chlorinated water away from sensitive plants. Do not discharge water into a lake or stream as this may harm aquatic life.
► Return bypass valves to “on” or “service” position after following the manufacturer’s directions to disinfect these devices.
► Refill the water heater if applicable.
► Start the water heater.
► Make sure the chlorine has been removed from the water system. It is recommended that a sample be collected a couple days after the well is disinfected.
► Do not use the water for drinking, cooking, or food preparation until it tests free of coliform bacteria.
► It is a good idea to double check that the water is safe. After receiving the results of a satisfactory sample analysis, take another water sample approximately 30 days after the first sample and have the water retested.
► If coliform bacteria are detected again, re-disinfect the well using the same procedure. If the well and water system have not been disinfected for many years, they may need to be disinfected more than once.
► If multiple disinfections are unsuccessful, and coliform bacteria persist, contact a licensed well contractor or pump installer who can utilize special techniques and equipment to disinfect the well. The well may have to be physically cleaned or treated with other chemicals.
► The homeowner, well contractor, or pump installer should also inspect the well for any damage. Well casings can be cracked or well caps loosened if struck by vehicles or by garden or farming equipment.
► It is essential that any plumbing or well defects that could allow surface water or other contaminants to enter the well be corrected.
► If the well cannot be successfully disinfected, the source of the contamination should be determined if possible. If the source cannot be corrected or removed, the well may need to be sealed and a new well drilled.
► Water softeners, water treatment equipment, and water-using devices, such as dishwashers and washing machines should be disinfected according to the information provided by the manufacturer or contractor who installed it. If this information is not available, see the blog post on disinfecting water system components.
► If the disinfection information is unavailable, the following steps can be used, as recommended by the Water Quality Association, a not-for-profit international trade organization representing the household, commercial, industrial, and small community water treatment industry.
► Keep the unit on “bypass” until chlorine is flushed out of the system. To thoroughly disinfect the softener after all the chlorine is flushed from the system, add one-half cup bleach to the softener’s brine tank and run the unit through a regeneration cycle immediately. For a water softener that contains carbon, follow the directions below.
► For carbon filters and other cartridge water filters, remove and discard the old filter cartridge. Wash the sump and head with laundry detergent and bleach and rinse. Insert a new cartridge filter.
► For whole-house carbon tank filters or a water softener that contains carbon, empty the entire media bed. Thoroughly clean the empty unit inside and out with a laundry bleach and water solution. Re-bed the unit using new carbon or other media/carbon mix.
► Turn off the water supply to the RO unit and open the RO faucet to relieve pressure and drain the RO storage tank.
► Remove and discard the pre- and post-filters and remove the RO membrane element. Clean and disinfect the filter sumps, the filter heads, and the RO membrane housing and end caps.
► Fill the first pre-filter sump with water to within about 2 inches from the top and add 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) of unscented laundry bleach. Carefully reassemble this first pre-filter with the chlorine/water mixture but without its filter cartridge element in place.
► Reassemble all the remaining housings without their membrane element and filter cartridge elements in place.
► Open the water supply to the RO. Open the RO faucet and allow water to run until you can begin to smell the chlorine bleach. (If no chlorine bleach smell can be obtained, go back to bullet point three and increase the amount of laundry bleach added until a residual can be maintained throughout the system.)
► Close the RO faucet and allow the storage tank to fill and then remain full for 25-30 minutes.
► Open the RO faucet again and leave it open until the entire chlorine bleach smell is gone. Let the accumulated water in the RO storage tank drain completely.
► Turn off the water supply to the RO. Close the RO faucet after all the pressure has been relieved and the water flow stops.
► Install all new pre- and post-filter elements, using careful aseptic techniques so as to not recontaminate the RO system.
► Reinstall the RO membrane element in its housing. Fill the membrane element housing with water and 1 milliliter (20 drops) of laundry bleach. Reassemble this membrane element, chlorinated water, and housing unit.
High levels of chlorine over an extended period of time can degrade polyamide thin film composite (TFC) RO membranes, although significant degradations should not occur in these specified few minutes of chlorine contact time.
► Immediately reopen the water supply to the RO system and reopen the RO faucet. Let water drip from the RO faucet until the chlorine bleach smell has dissipated.
► Finally, close the RO faucet, let the storage tank completely refill, and discard the first full tank of water following the completion of this procedure.
A simplified video presentation of a well disinfection by Scott Hunt of Practical Preppers is available HERE.
Here are several tips for finding out how safe your well water is.
As you likely know, water quality varies widely throughout the nation. Some sources of water are very low grade – even dangerously so. Some couldn’t be purer.
In general, it is recommended that well owners have their water tested annually… or more frequently if you notice a change in your water, if conditions nearby have changed (e.g. flooding or new human activity), or if you have anyone pregnant, or young children or elderly in your home.
The Maximum Contaminant Level Goal (MCLG) – This is the level of a contaminant in drinking water below which there is no known or expected risk to health. MCLGs allow for a margin of safety and are non-enforceable public health goals. For some contaminants, the desirable level is literally zero… not even 1 part in a billion is good enough. For others, various levels are fine.
The Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) – This is the highest level of a contaminant that is legally allowed in drinking water. MCLs are set as close to MCLGs as feasible using the best available treatment technology and taking cost into consideration. This can mean that there are contaminants in the water that WILL cause harm, but it is just physically or financially impossible to take that amount all the way down to the ideal MCLG. MCLs are enforceable standards.
In addition, there are many chemicals and microbes that may be present in drinking water that are not under any current regulations.
Since there are many possible contaminants and since water can be “legal” but still contain harmful chemicals, purification is something you may want to take care of yourself.
A purification system can be “whole house” or just for your drinking water. A typical system might be:
You can see this multi-component approach is very effective.
And if a particular chemical is present in high amounts, there are filters that are specific to a particular contaminant, e.g. for arsenic or iron.
What is the best purification system can vary a lot, depending on the circumstances. Although you can buy water purifiers online, we’d tend to recommend consulting a professional after having your water tested… an expert who can sell you THE RIGHT SYSTEM to specifically address YOUR particular needs and the condition of YOUR water.
Another part of your water equation is your water pump. Make sure your water pump is Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) compliant. Some older water pumps may be adding contaminants to your water supply.
Simple Pump water pumps are Safe Drinking Water Act Compliant. Get a quote today to make sure your water is safe to drink!
Living rurally, it’s not a matter of IF the power goes out. For most people, it’s a matter of WHEN and FOR HOW LONG.
We have had customers tell us about getting through the aftermath of ice storms, snowstorms, tornados, hurricanes, floods, and forest fires with their Simple Pump.
And there are many outages caused by random failures or overloads of aging equipment.
EMPs from solar flares are not a theoretical danger. They cause outages from time to time with some being quite extensive.
And, of course, there are more serious possible reasons to think about in the future — political, economic, and climactic circumstances that could seriously interfere with our lives and wellbeing.
Buying a hand pump is like insurance. Except instead of having to pay again every year, it’s a one-time payment. Insurance for the well-being of your family.
So you are researching and selecting your hand pump for your well. At least you know your product type (hand pump). The next step is to make sure that you are getting a quality hand pump for an affordable price from a respected company that offers a decent warranty and good customer service.
When considering the cost of the hand pump, take into account the total investment, which is related to the quality and longevity of the pump. If you buy a cheap pump and it fails after a year or cannot withstand the elements of your environment, you’re forced to buy again and/or repair it.
The quality of water pumps can vary greatly from a plastic pump that may last one or two uses to a quality stainless steel water pump. The components used in the hand pump also relate to the total cost of the pump. Make sure you check out the pump materials to make sure the pump is Safe Drinking Water Act compliant.
Consider that quality parts are more expensive, but last longer and actually reduce the total cost of the water pump over the life of your well.
Use Simple Pump's price estimator to see how much a deep well stainless steel hand pump will cost.
Many places sell hand pumps for your well. Places like Amazon and Home Depot are probably near the top of your search results because those companies sell most things for homeowners. That doesn't mean that Amazon and Home Depot are the best options when buying a quality hand pump for your well.
Amazon and Home Depot have a similar selection of domestic and import products manufactured from China, Taiwan, and other countries worldwide. Be careful when purchasing one of these pumps because most of these companies were started in the last couple of years, don't have a good customer service option available when you need it, and don't offer a good warranty.
On the other hand, the Simple Pump Co., LLC has been in business for over 20 years, offers customer support from real people living in the United States, and has a Lifetime warranty on their pumps.
Well, we are sorry to say, the danger to the grid is far too real. And it’s not only the grid, but also other vital infrastructure providers such as nuclear power plants, defense agencies and companies, and banks.
The current threat is called “Sharpshooter”. McAfee posted their findings on the possibility of the power grid being hacked.
You can also read about this on CNBC, ABC, ZDNet and others. Fox has many reports about various hacks over the years, although not this particular one.
So far, no actual damage has been done. As with many previous hacks on the US grid, it appears this operation is reconnaissance and spying… exploring possible access routes, planting malware, and, it is feared, getting ready for possible future operations.
The hacking route in this case is through Word documents that appear to be job recruitments proposals, that people open.
*** Whether at work or at home, don’t ever open an attachment if you are not expecting it.
Check with the sender. And don’t open documents from unknown sources at all. Lastly, don’t think you are immune… no-one is too small to be attacked.
Attacks that can harm the grid are a very real possibility.
What could you do if a hacking attack brought the grid down?
One thing you can do if you have a water well is to have a backup pump or an off-grid solar-powered motorized water pump.
The short answer is Yes, they are real. Nuclear bombs can be used for an EMP attack.
Before we think further about that, here a few brief questions:
Anyone who thinks the history of massive conflicts is over should read this Wikipedia page to understand the numbers of people killed in modern conflicts. See “Major Operations” further down the page:
But war has also changed.
The enemy may not be a particular country. And there may be no particular battlefield, with clear lines defining territory. “Fighting” can be spread out in small spots over huge areas and even different continents.
And technology has advanced enormously in the last few decades.
An EMP attack could be used tactically in a relatively small area or be high enough above the ground to affect hundreds of miles. The effects have been observed repeatedly in the days of atmospheric nuclear bomb testing. The photo shows the Starfish Prime test at 250 miles altitude.
EMP attacks would be carried out at such high altitudes that there is no actual blast harm. The destruction would be caused by the disruption of electronic systems. This would cause severe damage to the grid, communications, hospitals, food delivery, operations of government agencies, aid, business… basically every aspect of modern life.
Such an attack could be carried out relatively easily, and in a way that we might not even know who was responsible. Unlike ICBM (Inter-continental ballistic missile) attacks, EMP bombs do not need to be accurate and they do not require a re-entry capability with heat shield and shock absorbers.
China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea have all written about the possibility of using EMP attacks. It is thought that China and Russia (at least) have specialized bombs referred to as Super-EMP bombs. North Korea may also have them. And in case anyone thinks Russia is no longer a threat, on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2019, Russian state TV boasted about the US locations that would be targeted in the event of a nuclear strike. They boasted that their “coming soon” hypersonic missile could hit such targets within five minutes of a launch from hidden subs.
It seems to be that EMP attacks are an actual potential danger and have been widely discussed. See the latest EMP commission report, “Nuclear EMP Attack Scenarios and Combined-Arms Cyber Warfare”. This is the 13th and final report of the commission. It is dated July 2017. The amended report was cleared for open publication by the DoD Office of Prepublication and Security Review on July 27, 2018.
The first essential, after oxygen, is water. If you have a well, the Simple Pump hand-operated pump can give you water from far further down and with dramatically less effort than any other hand pump.
And if you have one of our motors, and a bad enough EMP knocks out the control circuitry, it takes only about fifteen minutes to convert back to hand operation! No other pump has this capability.
We all hope such a huge disaster never happens. But besides such extreme possibilities, every year routinely brings grid breakdowns from snow, ice, wind, fire, and floods. It seems to be just common sense to make sure – as best we can – that we’ll always have access to our water.
This article uses information from a Fact Sheet provided by the Minnesota Department of Health.
Contaminated drinking water may contain harmful bacteria, viruses, or other microorganisms that can make you sick. Disinfection is one process of killing or inactivating microorganisms to make water safe for drinking. Disinfection can also eliminate nuisance bacteria that can cause unpleasant tastes and odors.
A well or water system may become contaminated with harmful bacteria and other organisms when the well or plumbing is open to the environment during construction, repair, or routine maintenance. A well may also become contaminated if the well casing is deteriorated or damaged, or if the well is flooded. Contamination problems can also be caused by improper plumbing connections between water treatment devices and wastewater piping, between the potable water plumbing and heating/cooling systems, or other cross-connections.
And there can be a problem with the water source itself.
Whatever the cause, the water should be checked again after the well is disinfected.
Typically, a well should be tested once a year for coliform bacteria and other possible contaminants, or whenever there are changes in the water’s taste, odor, or appearance. Many organisms that can be in your well water are not actually harmful, but a few are. Their presence indicates that surface contamination has found its way into the well, and disease organisms may also be present. The presence of E. coli or fecal coliform represents a more serious health risk and any water use should be strictly limited to non-potable uses (not used for drinking, cooking, or human contact).
For additional information, see our complete guide to shocking your well.
Needless to say as a resident of NYC with access to city water, I have no absolute need of a water well. But considering the well was there, its seemed wasteful not to make use of it. Not to mention that it could prove useful in a disaster scenario.
In 2010 I purchased a small ranch home in Staten Island with a drilled well on the property. The well was used to supply irrigation water to seven homes on the block, during a period of drought during the 1960s and 1970s. At the time the well was drilled, the well was accessible by truck. Since then, home construction closed off the wellhead from the street, making maintenance and pump replacement problematic.
This is all that remained of a once high-yielding well.
According to the previous owner, the pump had not worked in years and at this point, there was no functioning electricity at the wellhead. To make matters even more complicated, there are no well drillers or well service companies located on Staten Island. Those from neighboring New Jersey were unwilling to travel to Staten Island, particularly after learning that the wellhead was not accessible via truck.
For five years, on and off, I searched tirelessly for an experienced well driller who would help me to pull the pump, which I knew would be no easy task considering that the pipe and pump would be too heavy for a portable well-pulling machine. I called literally dozens of drillers, most of whom didn’t bother to return my call, until (just this year) I stumbled upon Mike Gunther, owner of Gunther Well and Pump in Freehold, New Jersey. Mike has been drilling wells and installing pumps for the past 54 years and was willing to give it try. As suspected, the pump and pipe assembly was too heavy for his portable well puller but helped along with a couple of hydraulic jacks and two guys assisting the machine topside with large pipe wrenches, we managed to clear the well.
The only well company willing to help me remove the old well casing was Gunther Well and Pump in Freehold, New Jersey. Thanks, Mike!
I was extremely reluctant to install another submersible pump, not only because there is currently no electricity at the wellhead, but because of the inherent difficulties getting it serviced in the future. I was looking for a product that I could self install and service, as long as I am able, without the assistance of a professional.
I completed my installation in just about two hours, and I’ve never installed a well pump before.
My well measured out at 226 feet deep with a 52-foot static water level. After relentlessly researching every deep well hand pump currently on the market, I decided on the Simple Pump for the following reasons:
With NO PRACTICAL EXPERIENCE, I installed ten lengths of pipe and my Simple Pump in just under two hours. That included having to remove and reinstall two sections after realizing I had forgotten to install the sucker rod guide, which was totally my fault.
I anticipated installing a pressure tank, and hand pumping for my outside water needs. I have modest outside water requirements. An electric submersible pump would be overkill and invite unnecessary expense and maintenance requirements.
If my requirements should change, such as if I decided to install a sprinkler system or a swimming pool, I can easily add a motorized and/or solar option to pump larger quantities of water WITHOUT having to remove or replace the pump I just installed.
All electric submersible pumps or, hand pump cylinders will at some point have to be pulled for seal replacement or other maintenance. Simple Pump estimates somewhere between three and ten years based on water quality and usage. My water seems to be of exceptional quality, so naturally I am hoping for a ten year maintenance interval. However the salient point is that whenever necessary, any able bodied man or woman can pull a Simple Pump, perform the required maintenance, and reinstall the pump with little, if any, assistance.
After hand pumping the well for a while, and finding that I needed more water than I had anticipated for my outside needs, I decided to purchase the linear bearing link drive which I paired with my own 24V solar cell, batteries, storage tank, transfer motor and well sounder from Eno Scientific.
The reasons above were enough for me to select a Simple Pump, but my interaction with Simple Pump staff sealed the deal. It is rare these days, even considering the multiple modes of communication available, to find someone as responsive. They were extremely friendly, helpful, courteous, knowledgeable, and above all patient with my numerous questions.
The bottom line is that Simple Pump is an outstanding product with excellent customer support. Shipping is fast and reasonably priced, and installation is a breeze.
I completed my installation in just about two hours, and I’ve never installed a well pump before.
In fact, I live in NYC so I never even used a well pump before installing my Simple Pump. Simple Pump provided an extraordinary level of support both on the phone and via email which has been especially important considering I didn’t know anything about wells before I started.
Their superior customer service and brilliantly designed pump makes Simple Pump the logical choice for anyone looking to exercise their riparian rights…even in NYC!
If you’re looking for a deep well hand pump, I honestly can’t imagine why you would look further. Thank You, Simple Pump for a great product stellar customer service!
Look after your water and be an informed consumer of professional services.
Their ten email lessons are organized by topic.
1. THE SCIENCE OF GROUNDWATER
Knowing the geology of your well provides you with an understanding of possible sources of contamination, as well as how much water your well might be able to pump. It puts the science behind why some wells might run out of water while others have plenty. It also explains why some wells are more vulnerable to contamination than others.
2. GROUNDWATER AND WELL CONTAMINATION
Now that we have an idea of how water is stored in the ground and how geology affects its movement and availability, we are going to look at how it moves to your well and what can happen as it does. In particular, we’ll discuss how water level, flow, and water quality can be affected when pumping a well. You’ll also learn how contaminants can move with groundwater, or be affected by groundwater flow and pumping. This lesson will give you the background to understand how pumping your well can influence groundwater flow. It will also give you a better idea of the value of source water protection.
3. WELL CONSTRUCTION AND RELATED ISSUES
When considering well contamination problems and risks, it’s important to know what kind of well you have and how it was constructed. Knowing how water gets into your well and from what source will help you understand what you need to do to protect your groundwater source and well from outside influences.
4. YOUR WATER WELL SERVICES
In order to understand common problems and maintenance practices related to your well and water system, you need to know the parts that make up your water system, what each part does, and how they work together to provide your water. Once we understand the components and process, we will have a better chance of being able to solve problems that arise, as well as understand why we should perform regular maintenance to protect our well and water system.
5. OPERATIONS, MAINTENANCE AND BEST PRACTICES
Now that we understand how your well works, we can move on to how to best care for your well system, including what maintenance we need to perform and what best practices we can employ to keep your drinking water safe to drink and to keep your well system working properly. We’ll also cover a few common operational issues you might encounter with your well system.
6. EMERGENCY SITUATIONS AND PROBLEM SOLVING
Performing proper maintenance on your home water system will ensure that fewer problems arise, and help you deal with unexpected situations as they occur. Sometimes you cannot prevent bad things from happening, but being prepared may minimize the damage and harm. Once you understand the components and processes involved in your system, you’ll be more able to solve problems as they come up. You’ll also get a better understanding of why regular maintenance is an important part of protecting your well and water system.
7. GETTING HELP AND FINDING LOCAL ANSWERS
The focus of these lessons is to provide the resources you need to learn more about your well and water system, with the goal of helping you become a more informed and capable well owner. Since this class reaches the entire US and its territories, there may be issues specific to your area that we won’t be able to discuss in detail or even cover at all. In this lesson, we hope to share local resources and options that may be available to you. We also hope to show you strategies for finding this information in your area.
8. GROUNDWATER QUALITY AND SOURCE WATER PROTECTION
When you understand how your well and groundwater can be influenced by surface infiltration, naturally occurring contaminants, and even water availability, you have clues to the problems your well might face. Some of these problems include drinking water quality and having enough water for supply. You’ll also have a better understanding of the risks you might have if you use a well that is in a more vulnerable situation.
9. SAMPLING AND INTERPRETING RESULTS
Collecting a water sample is one of the simplest things you can do to ensure your water is safe to drink. It’s a critical part of your overall well management strategy and provides you with some confidence that you are properly maintaining your water system.
10. WATER TREATMENT SOLUTIONS
If you have a contaminant in your well water, or a constituent that causes some aesthetic problem, there are options available to treat your water. There are literally thousands of treatment devices out there. Understanding the type of device you need, as well as knowing how different treatment devices work, will help you eliminate bad choices and protect you from expensive–and possibly unneeded–treatment. Adding treatment is a decision to make after seeking advice from a health or groundwater professional.
You can enroll in these lessons with the following link: http://privatewellclass.org/enroll
The lessons are delivered to your email address. Ten lessons will arrive by email, one lesson per week.
You can also access upcoming and past webinars on this page: http://privatewellclass.org/calendar
SUB-ZERO FIVE MONTH-LONG WINTER — NO PROBLEM
All the local tradesmen laughed at me when I said I wanted to use a hand-operated well pump in Canada. My static water level sat at 110 feet below the surface. Apparently, I was an idiot!
AT SIMPLE PUMP CO. WE OFTEN GET STORIES FROM HAPPY CUSTOMERS. THIS ONE IS FROM JOHN IN SOUTHERN ONTARIO.
The Haliburton Highlands on the Great Canadian Shield is not for the faint of heart! You only have two directions — up the rocks or down the rocks.
My off grid log cabin sits 200 feet straight up from our lake. In 2008 I drilled my well. The drilling report was predictable … we drilled through 1 foot of topsoil and 339 feet of solid Canadian granite!
All the local tradesmen laughed at me when I said I wanted to use a hand pump. Static water level sat at 110 feet below the surface. Apparently, I was an idiot!
After much research, I found the Simple Pump but I was uncertain, so I called Gary. I told him all the trades were laughing at me with such a ridiculous aspiration as to use a hand pump. Gary laughed too … told me his story about his grandfather’s well and said that he would pay for the return shipping if it didn’t work!
I trusted Gary and ordered. Best decision of my LIFE!
Not only does the Simple Pump hand pump work perfectly in my deep well (and manages a painful, freezing -30 degree F and 5-month long winter with four feet of snow), it is powerful enough to pressurize a bladder tank which gives me off-grid running water in the house!!!
From a Simple Pump customer in Colorado
As solar power for a well is not an option here, and generators will eventually run out of propane/gas (and attract others to my residence), I was happy to find Simple Pump.
I live on the grid but wanted to be able to live without electric power if necessary. I’m a prepper, on a limited basis. I can keep warm with wood, hunt animals for food & protect my property/loved ones. But, until installing a Simple Pump, I had no way of getting access to my well water without electricity.
With current concerns regarding the proven lack of protection of the Internet and thus our power grid, the concerns regarding N. Korea (or others) wishing to harm the U.S. via EMP, or natural disasters like the storm in Puerto Rico, I felt being able to access my well water was an important part of being prepared.
I hope I never have to use it but, as I have a very good well, I will be happy to have such preparation. As will friends who live in my area but who have not thought so far ahead. As solar power for a well is not an option here, and generators will eventually run out of propane/gas (and attract others to my residence), I was happy to find Simple Pump.
I had a well company install the pump for me for a modest fee within a couple of hours. It was the 2nd one they had installed in our area. I find it easy to use. Even my grandchildren can handle the pump.
The Simple Pump is THE world’s most reliable, versatile and easy to use hand water pump.
Get a Quote to find out how easy it will be for you to be prepared for any power outage.
(This article was written in 2011. You may find some details that have changed over time. The basic idea still remains the same… the grid is a mess.)
Those concerned with preparedness don’t want to live off-grid but fear that they may have to. They see a compelling business case for investing in power outage contingencies because a significant risk of outages is considered a given.
Many in preparedness not only think the grid has become unreliable, but they also say that it’s getting less and less reliable.
Recently we asked ourselves: Does this have a solid basis in fact? The answer, examined from any angle, by any authority in the field: Yes.
But before delving into all the problems, it is important to know the specific questions we set out to answer.
Has the bulk power system in the U.S. and Canada been failing more often and for longer periods?
If so, is it likely to get worse?
These questions address solely outages caused for reasons under the control of the companies that collectively run the bulk power systems. Examples include failures due to human error, component failure, and inadequate system resources and “smartness” to prevent a small outage from cascading into a big one.
Thus, this summary leaves out a substantial proportion of outages — those caused by external events that could not be controlled, like hurricanes.
Because of how reliability data is collected, excluding acts of God skews our conclusions toward understating the problem. Take the example of a heavy rain storm with high but not extraordinary (50 mph) winds. Most of the outages from such storms are due to tree branches falling on power lines.
Many of such failures are avoidable, according to the California Public Utilities Commission. They took Pacific Gas and Electric to task a few years ago, compelling PG&E to hire more personnel to trim trees that posed an obviously high risk to power lines.
Nonetheless, failures from natural disasters — preventable or not — are not included here in our definition of “outage”.
No matter what source we consulted, we found remarkable agreement. The electrical grid serving the U.S. and Canada has been getting less and less reliable. The root cause of the failures, greater stress on the system, make it easy to say that we will see more and more outages like the one in early September 2011, in Arizona, Southern California, and Mexico, that left 5 million people without power.
How can we say this? Because the points of greatest stress are well known. One article written three years ago proved prescient. After noting that excessive congestion is a major source of failures, the article noted that one of the two areas in the U.S. “…with excessive congestion in Southern California. Changes to the grid structure are needed to relieve stress in this area…”
An article published in 2011 in IEEE Spectrum (See footnote 1) said:
The U.S. electrical grid has been plagued by ever more and ever worse blackouts over the past 15 years. In an average year, outages total 92 minutes per year in the Midwest and 214 minutes in the Northeast. Japan, by contrast, averages only 4 minutes of interrupted service each year.
The study excludes interruptions caused by extraordinary events such as fires or extreme weather. When those impacts are included, the trend is even worse.
For the past 15 years, utilities have invested less money than required to keep it at the same capacity, age and state of repair.
The Report Card for America’s Infrastructure http://www.infrastructurereportcard.org/fact-sheet/energy), prepared by the American Society of Civi Engineers, says:
The U.S. power transmission system is in urgent need of modernization. Growth in electricity demand and investment in new power plants has not been matched by investment in new transmission facilities. Maintenance expenditures have decreased 1% per year since 1992. Existing transmission facilities were not designed for the current level of demand, resulting in an increased number of “bottlenecks,” which increase costs to consumers and elevate the risk of blackouts.
The Simple Pump hand pump can be economically justified in a number of different ways, for use in a variety of applications, in some of the poorest countries, to some of the most affluent.
For example, the Simple Pump is the lowest-cost and highest-reliability approach to the delivery of water to the poorest rural populations in the world, most notably in Africa and Haiti. On the other hand, its reliability and narrow yet strong profile enable it to fit alongside submersible pumps in most wells. More and more well owners in the U.S. and Canada are installing it to ensure continued access to water in the case of power failures.
It is this last trend the prompted us to ask: Is this application in “rich” nations really as compelling as other Simple Pump applications? Yes, unfortunately. There are a number of additional factors that will likely drag down reliability for at least the next decade.
The preponderance of factors driving reduced reliability stem from the deregulation of the grid that started in the late 1970s. Explaining just a bit about that deregulation makes it much easier to understand the forces at work now.
The bulk power industry was partially deregulated in the wave that deregulated the U.S. airline, telecommunications, banking, health care, and natural gas industries.
New Federal law forced utilities to purchase electricity from any qualified producer. To qualify, the power generator had to use alternative technologies like wind or solar, or meet an efficiency standard so lax that natural gas qualified. The intention was as with other industries: Cut prices for the little guy by enabling competition amongst providers.
This was a huge change from the status quo — which is covered next.
One article noted that our current grid dates from the time before man walked on the moon, and years before cell phones were invented.
In those days, electric utilities generated power for and were regulated within, local areas. Each utility handled everything in the supply chain of electricity production and distribution. Each utility’s transmission system was set up to do just that — serve their local customers. Transmission lines tied systems together only to cover problems arising during emergencies.
Utilities were regulated as monopolies, and, by in large, invested to achieve a quality standard, passing the required costs to customers, with regulators’ approval. The critical difference between that regulated time and every period since was that, just like all other costs of local utilities, the upkeep costs for transmission lines were funded. Obviously necessary for operation, they were kept in good repair.
As important, the lines were not routinely stressed by power pulled through a local utility’s grid to serve remote customers. The wear imposed by power flow was mostly incurred, and paid for, within each utility’s local area.
In the years after 1980, there was a move toward free-market capitalism. The purpose of a utility, under the new model, was to make money for its stockholders. Growth was an important objective. In some states, utilities were forced to divest their assets, with the idea that the smaller pieces would encourage competition.
Electricity became a commodity like any other commodity, with widespread trading in electricity contracts, futures, and power plants were bought and sold. The new buyers were not necessarily in the utility business — some were hedge funds.
While deregulation enabled competition amongst power producers, there was not enough thinking about the transmission system — the grid. With the emphasis on buying from the cheapest supplier with little regard to what wear and tear transmission from that provider would impose, many utilities “generated” power by buying out of state.
But additional power flowing over lines causes premature wear. What deregulation did for the bulk power industry was, in some cases, to make power generation cheaper. But it ignored the cost of transport. It is as if they mandated competitive pricing for a commodity that could be provided from anywhere in the U.S., but gave away use of the Interstate highway system. No one had to pay what it was worth for transport.
At one point, the marketing of electrical energy became a huge source of revenue, apart from the actual generation of the revenue. Derivatives were created based upon future energy and capacity delivery.
If this sounds familiar, you probably remember Enron; in 2001 it became the poster child for deregulation-related excess. The result was some pullback on deregulation at the state level. However, the hallmarks of deregulation that raise havoc with the grid are still in place. There is still widespread trading of electricity across long distances and the use of derivatives and other financial instruments.
Today, U.S. states that are some of the largest consumers of electricity are importing over 25% of all their power! These over-25%-importers include California, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Maryland, New Jersey, and Virginia.
What we have now boggles the mind. We have a system that was designed in the 1960s as an array of nearly atomic, fully-integrated, and self-sufficient utilities, with little thought given to cross-region transmission, now supporting the interstate delivery of a good chunk of all electricity consumed. Most of all, no one entity owns the grid, or even its planning and management, so businesses playing within this setup avoid outlays if at all possible — replacing components only when they fail, rather than replacing near the anticipated end of life.
First, some background: On average, equipment in the bulk power industry has a useful life of 40 years. Companies therefore are allowed each year to write off as an expense 1/40 of what it originally cost to buy the equipment. Starting in 1995, the industry-wide total of that write-off of historical costs (depreciation and amortization) has exceeded utility construction expenditures.
In other words, for the past 15 years, utilities have invested less in the grid than required to replace existing equipment at the prices paid up to 40 years ago. The bulk power business has harvested more than they have planted. The result is an increasingly stressed grid. Indeed, some experts say that grid operators should be praised for keeping the lights on while managing a system with diminished shock absorbers.
Rather than merely replacing equipment with the same technology, one way to work around the problem could be to invest in R&D. For example, existing computer technology could be adapted to build a “smart grid”. Things look even bleaker there. The IEEE Spectrum article says it best:
R&D spending for the electric power sector dropped 74 percent, from a high in 1993 of US $741 million to $193 million in 2000. R&D represented a meager 0.3 percent of revenue in the six-year period from 1995 to 2000, before declining even further to 0.17 percent from 2001 to 2006. Even the hotel industry put more into R&D.
By comparison, the computer industry invests almost 13% of revenue; pharmaceuticals invest over 10%.
There are a number of consequences beyond those already discussed — declining investment and overuse between utilities. Some of these include:
After deregulation, to maximize profits by selling electrical power from the plant that can produce it most cheaply, there is much more cycling on and off of power plants and the structures involved in transmission. As a result, metal is heated and cooled far more frequently, accelerating deterioration.
According to NERC (North American Electric Reliability Corporation,
Nearly 30 states over 4 provinces have Renewable Portfolio Standards in place in one form or another. Wind and solar are added to the grid, with the expectation that the grid will accommodate them.
There are a number of unplanned additions to the grid. States are mandating increased generation from renewables — but many of the abundant renewable resources are far away from load centers. So, as more alternative generation sources come online, just to keep the grid performing at the same level, additional lines must be built to bring wind, solar, and geothermal energies to market. But that investment is not planned.
Note that, without including the true cost of getting alternative power to the ultimate customer, prior to the decision to mandate the use of the new technologies, the size of the implicit subsidy is obscured.
“Merchant” (investor-owned) natural gas power plants are also added to the grid, sometimes without adequate consideration as to whether sufficient grid capacity exists to accommodate the additional production.
Since the industry is more fragmented, if any transmission lines are added, the cost must somehow be allocated back to the many participants who will benefit. Ultimately, the cost must be paid by a consumer. Depending on the area involved, and therefore the state public utility commission with jurisdiction, these consumer rates may in fact be capped, so it may be difficult to recover the additional cost.
Deregulation not only makes managing the grid much more complex. It also makes utilities wary of investing in new plants. As long as electricity can be bought and sold, utilities defer starting up major projects.
The “aging workforce” and its impending impact on reliability has been a recurring theme in NERC’s recent Long-Term Reliability Assessments. (See Footnote 2.) Quoting NERC, a corporation now solely responsible for creating and enforcing reliability standards in the U.S. and Canada:
In 2007, NERC reported that, according to a recent Hay Group study, about 40 percent of senior electrical engineers and shift supervisors in the electricity industry will be eligible to retire in 2009. This loss of expertise, exacerbated by the lack of new recruits entering the field, is one of the more severe challenges facing reliability today.
A 2007 study by NERC confirmed industry concern on the issue, ranking the aging workforce as both highly likely to occur and of having a severe impact on the reliability of the bulk power system. It’s no wonder; KEMA says that one in three U.S. workers was age 50 or older in 2010. Meanwhile, the demand for workers is increasing. A 25 percent increase in demand for industry workers is anticipated by 2015.
Exacerbating the problem of a declining workforce is a simultaneous decline in the number of potential recruits from colleges and universities, as well as vocational schools. During the past two decades, reduced demand for industry workers has led to the decline and closure of many electric power engineering programs at colleges and universities.
According to NERC,
…projected increases in peak demands continue to exceed projected committed resources beyond the first few years of the ten-year planning horizon.
Natural gas has become the fuel of choice for a new-build generation as gas-fired plants are typically easy to construct, require little lead time, emit less CO2, and are generally cheaper to construct than their coal and oil counterparts. Certain states have placed a moratorium on building new coal plants, citing environmental and emissions concerns as justification. These trends are expected to continue over the next several years, further increasing the number of new-build natural gas plants in areas with already high dependence.
19% of the U.S. electric industry’s generation is powered by natural gas — and is expected to rise to 22% in ten years. But Canadian imports recently peaked.
This supply gap is expected to be filled by new supplies of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) from overseas, which will require siting and construction of LNG terminals throughout North America. However, this terminal infrastructure is facing delays in most locations where it has been proposed.
The issue of freeloading use of the grid by energy producers now has the full attention of the Federal Energy Regulator Commission. In late July 2011, it issued a new federal rule requiring grid expansion be paid for only by those who benefit from it, and guaranteeing that costs align with benefits as the country seeks to upgrade and expand its power-transmission infrastructure.
However, the same day as the new rule was announced, a number of “stakeholders” asked the U.S. Senate to oppose it. Clearly this will take a long time to sort out.
And, in a perverse turn of events, the grid may be less reliable because of the very technology that has been implemented to make the grid “smarter” and more efficient. The design point for the earliest smart grid devices — ease of use and interoperability — makes it far too easy for anyone to maliciously hack the grid. In fact, there has been at least one hacking attempt coordinated from China, according to the Wall Street Journal (“Electricity Grid in U.S. Penetrated by Spies, April 8, 2009).
Deregulation of a number of industries has shown that price competition ultimately helps the consumer. But power transmission is a unique problem, because of the very nature of electricity.
Power flows throughout transmission networks along paths of least impedance, regardless of contractual obligations or political boundaries. Bulk power distribution decisions made by regulators in one location can conceivably have some impact on everyone in Canada and the U.S. Deregulating power generation only works if the power providers pay the real cost of supplying, including transmission.
Finally, in 2007, the FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) acquired the authority (delegated to the NERC, the North America Electric Reliability Corporation) to fine operators who don’t hold to standards. (However, it is instructive to note that, even today, some reliability standards have not been completely defined by NERC.)
So, part of the problem is solved, because one entity (NERC) has responsibility for defining and regulating reliability. However, after-the-fact enforcement, without the power to compel who will pay for grid projects, is insufficient. The Public Utility Commissions in 50 U.S. States, also exert considerable control over who pays for what, even though it has been obvious for some time that costs can be shifted from state to state. An MIT study comments:
Electric power industry policy is a hodgepodge, rooted in the federalism of 50 state laboratories. There is no coherent national vision and policy.
To take the best example, also from that MIT study:
Allocation of grid expansion project costs is often the most contentious issue a proposed high voltage transmission project encounters. Difficulties increase geometrically in proportion to the number of states involved.
The grid needs to be managed with one steady hand. Grid management and planning must include funding (and therefore chargeback) decisions, particularly when the average high-voltage transmission line takes 14 years to gain approval.
As it stands currently, FERC and its appointed agent, NERC, face the daunting challenge of herding 50 regulatory agencies. NERC does not have the authority to mandate cost allocation of grid-related costs back to any power, distribution or transmission company in U.S. and Canada. And granting it the authority to do that is not on the horizon. Until that happens, the sheer complexity of the political situation will mitigate against an effective solution.
Many experts think that applying technology to manage the grid is the clearest way out. The “smart grid” could significantly reduce the amount of power that needs to be generated to get the same amount of power to consumers. Granular and accurate control of the grid would also make big rolling outages far less likely — but only if all the technology is designed to communicate in one unified control scheme.
One of the biggest benefits touted for smart grid is increased ability for grid operators to add variable renewables, especially wind, to their systems. Experts (including NERC) agree that the transmission capacity to support the currently-mandated renewables buildout over the next decade is just not there, so the Smart Grid could play a major role in making renewable buildout possible.
Robin Lunt of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) said state regulators have been hoping smart grids would help achieve renewable portfolio standards and clean power to meet EPA standards. (http://energy.aol.com/2011/09/19/gridweek-analysis-smart-grid-losing-to-epa/?icid=related1).
Yet, the pending spate of EPA rules tightening sulfur, nitrogen, mercury and particulate emissions, with deadlines hitting coal plants in the next four years, will force investment dollars into abatement projects and away from longer-term efforts like the smart grid.
“The EPA bubbles to the top,” said Jon Hawkins of Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM). “We have to invest hundreds of millions at our coal plant. That elbows out smart grid funding.”
The obvious answer is to get EPA, Energy and technology companies together so the right decisions get made. You would have to be very hopeful to expect that this will happen quickly.
It is heartening to see that the fundamental problems that must be addressed are recognized by the regulators at the U.S. and Canada federal levels. It is even better to say that direct action has been taken, and will continue to be, in the right direction. However, the sheer complexity of the political change that must take place in order to have a chance at getting this right is daunting.
Fixing enough jurisdictional problems to start implementing a long-term plan will not happen next week or next year. This reminds us that it is always good to hope for the best while planning for the worst. And in this case, any model for predicting the worst case should assume continued declines in reliability for the next few years.
1. “U.S. Electrical Grid Gets Less Reliable”, by S. Massoud Amin / January 2011. IEEE Spectrum is the flagship publication of the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers), explores the development, applications and implications of new technologies. (http://spectrum.ieee.org/energy/policy/us-electrical-grid-gets-less-reliable)
2. As of June 18, 2007, the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) granted NERC the legal authority to enforce reliability standards with all users, owners, and operators of the bulk power system in the United States, and made compliance with those standards mandatory and enforceable. Reliability standards are also mandatory and enforceable in Ontario and New Brunswick, and NERC is seeking to achieve comparable results in the other Canadian provinces. NERC will seek recognition in Mexico once the necessary legislation is adopted.
NERC is a non-government organization that has a statutory responsibility to regulate bulk power system users, owners, and operators through the adoption and enforcement of standards for fair, ethical, and efficient practices.
The Simple Pump hand pump can provide the water to get you through your disaster. You need to prepare your water well before the disaster.
Natural disasters can wreak havoc on a family’s way of life. Having systems in place can mean the difference between defeat or triumph after a natural disaster hits. Since electricity is a prime casualty of most disasters, having a backup hand pump can save you time, money, and heartache, as many Simple Pump customers have found.
In the U.S. 2017 was the costliest year on record for natural disasters, totaling at least $306 billion. The cost to individuals will never be known, but includes more than just money.
The year started off with torrential rainfall in California, marking the wettest winter in a century. Parched after years of drought, the rainfall officially brought the dry spell to an end as floods inundated hundreds of homes and landslides buried roads. Flooding across Missouri and Arkansas in the spring also claimed 20 lives and carried a $1.7 billion price tag.
Floods can take out roads and power lines, not to mention a home’s plumbing systems. A Simple Pump customer in Montana described how his pump paid for itself after a flood ruined their house water systems. His family would have been forced to move to a hotel for a week until the water was restored.
The Simple Pump worked well and we were able to pump water for drinking and staying clean until we were able to get pressure tank, hot water tank, and piping back in the basement. It saved us lots of money because we would have had to go to a motel for at least a week without our pump….We kept the motor home full of water for showers and dishes with just 100 pumps.
Extreme rainfall events are trending upward, and nine of the top 10 years for extreme one-day precipitation events have happened since 1990. And all this moisture-laden air helped drive the powerful hurricanes that made landfall in the United States.
“To say this hurricane season has been historic is an understatement,” FEMA Administrator Brock Long told Congress in October.
One Simple Pump hand pump customer in Texas said, “Now living outside of Houston Texas I’ve seen friends and family suffer through three major hurricanes since 2005. No access to water? No thank you.”
The southern states have always seen hurricanes. And many have taken out the power for days, even weeks on end. Anyone who lives in a hurricane-prone area knows how costly in time and money it is when the power goes out, even for a short time. A Simple Pump can quickly pay for itself in such situations.
Storms, hurricanes, floods, drought, heat waves — all of these have the potential to take out the power for short or long periods. The most immediate danger of loss of power is the loss of access to water. Natural disasters are inevitable. With a Simple Pump, scrambling for water isn’t.
Puerto Rico isn’t the only location in the U.S. where the prospect of a long-term blackout due to massive infrastructure damage is a possibility. But the lack of power there is a stark reminder that life without water is very difficult indeed.
Even short of a major catastrophe that would wipe out the grid, having the Simple Pump on hand makes solid sense. As one Simple Pump customer in Ohio told us, “On June 29, 2012, a violent storm passed through most of the state and, in our immediate area, some people were without electricity for up to 11 days.” Fuel was nearly impossible to get, but thanks to their Simple Pump, this family weathered the storm and the power-outage without major hardship.
What’s YOUR plan?
If your property is in an area where you are dependent on well water and you turn on the faucet in your home, but no water comes out, then your first question is undoubtedly how to turn it back on. There could be several reasons for the failure but most of the time it is due to the sudden failure of your submersible well pump. Prepare for these occurrences with a backup water pump.
If your submersible well pump stops working, there could be one of several reasons.
A submersible well pump’s average lifespan is dependent on the quality of the submersible, but the average submersible pump can be estimated to last between 7 and 15 years. The older your submersible pump gets, the bigger the need for a backup well pump gets for keeping the water flowing to your home.
If your submersible well pump is not starting, here are five troubleshooting steps to try:
In some cases, replacing a fuse or resetting a breaker could do the trick. On the other hand, if your well pump circuit breaker keeps getting tripped, then your well pump could be failing. In addition, a short in the motor or wiring can also cause fuses or breakers to trip or blow completely. Better safe than sorry, so if you encounter any electrical problem, you should call a qualified technician to take care of it since any electrical issue could be dangerous.
Your well water pump is responsible for moving water to your water pressure tank, where there’s an air bladder (or diaphragm), inside. It will become compressed when the water is pumped into your tank. This compression (i.e. pressure in the tank), moves the water through the pipes in your home. This design ensures that your pump doesn’t need to start running every time someone turns on a faucet inside your home, which could easily lead to your well pump’s premature failure.
A brief inspection of your pressure tank can tell you if something is wrong, so look for:
Obviously, all of the above issues could require professional repairs, however, if you had the presence of mind to think ahead and have a backup water pump, then your lack of water problem is covered in the meantime.
It’s a very humbling feeling when you lose power in your house. You search for candles or flashlights. Depending on the season, you look for blankets or open windows to try to heat up or cool down your house. One of the other top priorities for people that have a water well for their water source is to think about their water supply. For most people, their submersible pump runs on electricity. The same electricity that is now not available. So how will they pump their water? They can hook up a generator or they can pump the water manually.
One viable option to keep your well water flowing even during a power outage is to have a backup power supply installed. One of the most used backup power sources is a generator. So, what size generator would you need for running your well pump on backup power? If you have a one horsepower submersible well pump; you would need a three to four KW generator for starting up your well pump although 1only one KW is needed for powering your well pump while it is running.
There is a pretty simple calculation for finding out your water pump’s power consumption. Typical water pumps require wattage that can be varying at between 250 and 1,100 watts. So, if you take the wattage of your water pump and multiply that number by the number of hours per day it’s usually running, and you will get the actual amount of kilowatt-hours that your pump uses.
Simple Pump provides a solar power motor-operated water pump that is another option for powering your water pump in case you lose power to your house.
In many rural areas, one of the biggest challenges, when the power goes out, is access to your water. Living outside of your municipal water systems’ reach means wells with submersible water pumps for pumping your water into a pressure tank. The problems that arise are pretty basic. When there’s no power, then there’s no water. That’s why it’s so important to have a hand pump installed next to your submersible pump just in case your submersible pump should just stop working for some reason.
If your well isn’t too deep, then a hand pump can be instantly utilized as a back-up option for pumping water to your home. But, of course, you have to have one installed to be ready for that.
A water well hand pump is your best option during a power outage or other event that causes water pump failure. They’re becoming increasingly popular for not only off-grid living but also for homeowners who may be connected to the grid but are also striving for greater resilience. If this sounds familiar, then what you want is easy water access even during a power outage.
“Hoping for the best but preparing for the worst.”
This is every homeowners’ mantra, especially if their home is on well water, not municipal water. If you are one of the many savvy homeowners who like being ready for anything, then you need to explore the options for ensuring that you’ll have the ability to pump water no matter what might happen. A hand pump is fairly easy to install right alongside the existing water system, or a backup power supply could be installed to keep your existing pumps running.
Having a backup hand-operated water well pump gives you the self-reliance and the water independence that everybody is striving for by providing an uninterrupted flow of water for your animals and garden as well as for cooking, drinking, and even for a relaxing hot bath or shower.
Most hand pumps are in one of these two categories:
The Simple Pump Hand Operated deep well pump utilizes a piston rod lift system.
Hopefully, this information will help you to keep your water well doing what it’s supposed to be doing. Proper preparation prior to a pump failure caused by a loss of power or some other problem will be worth every penny that you spend on it. With the weird weather that the entire world has been contending with lately, from floods to fires, hurricanes to earthquakes and tornadoes, the weather doesn’t seem to be on our side.
Outsmart those annoying (and often costly) extended power outages that can be caused by inclement weather and keep your well water flowing for you, your animals, and your family.
A version of this article was first published on the Redfin Blog on November 23, 2020 by Julia Weaver.
Updated on December 1st, 2020
If you’re moving out of the bustling city to a more peaceful and quiet countryside home, chances are you’re buying a home that has a well water system. Most homes in cities access their water via traditional municipal sewer systems. However, millions of homes in rural areas across the US housing market rely on well water to keep faucets flowing – over 15 million, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. While using well water may be new for you, there are many upsides to a well water system, including:
If you’re buying a home with well water, it’s ultimately up to you to maintain it. So it’s important to have a thorough understanding of how the well water system works and the preventative care necessary to keep your well and your water at an ideal level of quality. Some homeowners don’t know that their water well systems require service and routine maintenance until it’s too late. Add these five tasks to your home maintenance to ensure your water stays safe and usable.
The quality of well water is always changing. While the government doesn’t require annual testing, it’s important to have your well water tested annually to protect those in your household.
The very nature of well water makes it far more susceptible to contamination. It’s important to make sure your well water is safe to drink and use in cooking, cleaning, and bathing. The testing process looks for things like bacteria, nitrates, iron, water hardness, manganese, and sulfides. If levels are too high or too low, depending on the substance in question, maintenance can be essential to prevent potential health hazards. If you do notice a change in the color, taste, or smell of your water, make sure to get it tested immediately – even if it hasn’t been a year since the last test. And, if you live in an area affected by flooding, you should have your water tested after every major flood in addition to an annual inspection.
The good news is testing water is both easy and affordable. DIY kits are available at most hardware stores. These products allow homeowners to take a water sample and send it to a third-party lab to be analyzed. Once analyzed, the testing company will provide results and, if necessary, guidance on next steps.
Or, you can choose to hire a professional. They’ll collect samples from the well, send them to a lab, and provide you with reports on water quality. This can give peace of mind in knowing your water was tested in a state-certified lab. You’ll also have the opportunity to review the results with an expert who will provide next steps.
In addition to testing the quality of the water, you’ll also want the well itself professionally inspected once a year if you’re buying a home with a well. Your well water system plays a key role in keeping water clean and usable. If it’s not operating up to standard, it’s easy for problems to arise.
A professional can determine whether your well and your well pump are working properly and diagnose any problems if present. They’ll look for damage or irregularities – such as signs of cracking or settling – which could allow contaminants into your water. An inspector can assess the damage and help you make the necessary adjustments to keep your well working as it should.
Ignoring issues with your well can result in costly problems down the road, like full system replacements. An annual inspection is relatively affordable and can guarantee peace of mind while helping you save on repair costs.
Water hardness refers to the mineral levels in the water. Hard water has high mineral content, while soft water has low mineral content. Due to the nature of a well, well water tends to be hard. Drinking or using hard water in day-to-day cleaning isn’t dangerous. However, there are still side effects to watch out for, such as:
Most homes with well water likely require a water softener to avoid the challenges of hard water. This equipment uses salt to neutralize the impact of heavy mineral content. However, maintaining a water softener can require regular replacement of a brine tank. Be sure to check salt levels regularly and replace the tank whenever necessary.
If your new home has hard water, you’ve probably noticed the rusty orange stains in your porcelain sink, tubs, toilets, and residue on your laundry and dishes. This is from the high iron content Hard water stains are caused by the high iron content found in well water. And although iron is typically not a safety concern, hard water stains can be a challenge to remove if not addressed immediately.
For those who do not have a water softener, it’s best to prevent hard water stains at the source. After each use, wipe down the surfaces of your tub and shower. Regularly clean sinks and toilets to prevent buildup. If hard water is damaging your clothing, let laundry sit in a vinegar solution prior to washing. Place a cup of vinegar in your dishwasher prior to starting a cycle to avoid hard water stains on your clean dishes. Vinegar and baking soda can work wonders on existing hard water stains, as can numerous hard water-specific cleaning products.
Consider incorporating a water softening system into your home to significantly reduce stains, and perhaps eliminate them altogether.
Most of the time, wells don’t result in dangerous drinking water, unless bacteria is present, but water can smell or taste different.
A filtration system can eliminate minor impurities, including hydrogen sulfide – a harmless substance with no flavor but can smell like rotten eggs. However, if filtration isn’t keeping water clear and odor-free, there may be larger issues involved with your water well system that a professional will need to address.
If you’re buying a home with well water, be sure to do some research about the water in your area and any regulations for the area where you’re buying.
Homeowners that rely on well water for daily use need to be prepared for power outages. The following discussion showcases how important the need is for well owners to prepare your well pump for a power outage to make sure you have access to your water when you need it.
If your answer is yes, you might want to rethink your answer.
Between 2016 and 2020, there was a big shift in the whole preparedness industry. Many people seem to take on the idea, “I don’t need to do anything. The government will take care of everything”, or “They just need to upgrade the grid. Then everything will be fine.”
Under the Dept. of Homeland Security, The President’s National Infrastructure Advisory Council released a report in December 2018 titled: Surviving a Catastrophic Power Outage: How to Strengthen the Capabilities of the Nation.
The report describes a MASSIVE effort by government and industry together.
But it makes clear that effort CANNOT PREVENT massive and catastrophic power outages affecting maybe TENS OF MILLIONS of people. Their planning addresses circumstances going beyond anything seen to date and is all about
ONE INTRODUCTORY PARAGRAPH DESCRIBES POTENTIAL CAUSES
“Unlike severe weather disasters, a catastrophic power outage may occur with little or no notice and result from myriad types of scenarios: for example,
An event of this severity may also be an act of war, requiring a simultaneous military response that further draws upon limited resources.”
So clearly, the hope of some people that, “The government will upgrade the grid and everything will be fine” falls far short of dealing with such circumstances.
To make it clear once again — this report contains NOTHING ABOUT PREVENTION. Disasters like these cannot be prevented.
THEN TWO SHORT PARAGRAPHS DESCRIBE THE SEVERITY OF POSSIBLE EFFECTS
“For the purpose of this study, the NIAC focused not on the cause, but rather on the consequences of an event, which are best categorized as severe, widespread, and long-lasting. The type of event contemplated will include not only an extended loss of power, but also a cascading loss of other critical services—drinking water and wastewater systems, communications, financial services, transportation, fuel, healthcare, and others—which may slow recovery and impede re-energizing the grid.
Most importantly, the scale of the event—stretching across states and regions, affecting tens of millions of people—would exceed and exhaust mutual aid resources and capabilities. The ability to share public and private resources across businesses and jurisdictions underpins our nation’s emergency response plans and strategies today.”
A number of natural, astronomical, or geopolitical causes could cause gigantic, long-term power outages. Potential damage could be catastrophic. This is absolutely something we ALL need to think about… government, business, and individuals.
We cannot just sit back and think the government will just fly in and take care of everything. It is clearly OUR responsibility to do as much as possible to take care of the health and safety of our families.
Clearly — readiness, preparedness, and self-reliance matter as much as they ever did — or even more.
Securing your water source should be one of the top priorities when thinking about being prepared for power outages.
See how the Simple Pump hand pump can help you create a secure, off-grid, water source with our hand pumps and solar-powered water pumps.