How To Make A PVC Pump!

When you’re using vacuum power, moving water,
or compressing air, chances are it’s being done with some type of a pump. We’ll need
one for future projects, so in this video we’re building a PVC hand pump, from scratch,
that will do all three. To start this project, you’ll need these PVC
parts from your local hardware store. The 1″ pipe will become the plunger piston, and
we can start working on that first. You can see this 1″ pipe is a very close fit when
pushed inside the larger tube. There’s just a slight gap between the two, but in just
a minute they’ll be perfectly air tight. I chose to use a few pieces of two by four to
hold this piece in place over the blade of a table saw. Let’s measure out 2 marks from
the end of the pipe, at 1″, and another at 2″. You can see here that I’ve adjusted the
blade so that when it’s cutting into the pipe, it shouldn’t cut any deeper than halfway through
the plastic. At this point we can get the blade spinning, and hold the pipe in place
with one hand, while using the other hand to carefully rotate the tubing. This should
result in a little groove all the way around the pipe.Now let’s repeat that at the 2″ mark
as well, and now we should have 2 clean, and uniform grooves like these. The grooves are
cut so that we can seat 2 rubber o-rings in place, and when they’re fitted snug, they
should be just slightly higher than the surface of the tube. While we’re here, let’s seal
this tube with a little PVC glue and a 1″ plug. Now the plug might be tight, so just give
it a few taps with a rubber mallet to encourage it all the way in. Now let’s clean up the
piston by wiping away the excess glue, and use a bit of sand paper to smooth down the
sides of the pipe. I’m using 220 grit sandpaper, and you can see it cleans everything up nicely
and gives the piston a smooth finish. Now this piece of pipe only needs to be 26″ long,
so we can cut two 4-1/2″ pieces from the top to create some handles that we’ll use later
on. I painted all the fittings and adaptors black, while the tubing got painted blue,
except for the piston of course. Now let’s go ahead and cement it together. First we’ll
need to glue the coupling to the bottom reducer bushing, then glue the bigger tube into that,
making sure it pushes all the way to the bottom. We can go ahead and cement the handle together,
but don’t attach it yet, just set it to the side. We need to insert the piston first,
so use plenty of lubricating jelly around the o-rings and the pieces should connect
together with just a push and a twist. Finally, we can cement the cap on the top, and the
hydraulic piston is complete. Now, if you’re wondering how the top cap was made, I just
took a regular slip cap and drilled a hole in the center with a 1-3/8″ Forstner bit.
The #320 O-Ring fit nicely inside that, and I used a little more lubricating jelly around
the ring Now you can see the piston sticks out just a couple of inches,
and this is the place where we’re gonna attach our handle. When it’s glued on tight,
it should have just the smallest gap of clearance when the piston bottoms out. Well now we have
a piston. Let’s turn it into a pump. To do that, we’ll be using two of these one-way
check valves that were made in a previous project. The threaded bushing at the bottom
of the piston is designed to accept a 3/4″ nipple, and the threaded Tee fitting screws
onto that. If you try this yourself, make sure to use something like thread tape to
ensure the connections end up water tight. Our two check valves can connect in-line with
the bottom of the Tee, and because they’re threaded, we’ll have the convenient option
of switching, or replacing them any time we want. At this point, you should have a completely
operational water pump, ready to test out. It’s very important that the valves point
the right direction so that when the piston is pulled up, water flows in, and when it’s
pushed down, it flows out the opposite side. Alright, let’s see what this thing can
do. If we place something like a balloon over the outflow valve and begin to pump, you can
see the balloon blows up on every downward stroke. If you try adding additional pipes
to the valves, you’ll be able to leverage the pump with your feet. I tried putting balloons
on each valve so you can see how every cycle sucks air from the red balloon, and pumps
it into the yellow. When all the air gets used up, the balloon gets sucked inside. Now this
opens up the option to using the system as a vacuum pump, and we can get a rough idea
on how strong it is by blocking the valves from both directions. This time when the piston
is pulled back, it creates a strong vacuum in the chamber, which you can clearly see
when we let go. For more variety, I tried converting this into a vertical pump, and
was able to pump 3 gallons of water in about a minute. Each cycle seems to pump just a
little over 2 cups of water, and I found that by leveraging the pump with my feet, I could
double the flow rate, and move over 5 gallons a minute. Some additional features are that
the handle can rotate a full 360º, and perhaps my favorite is how easily it comes apart for
servicing. If you need to get inside the pump, just give the handle a sharp tug and the whole
plunger comes right out. This gives you easy access to clean it, or add more lubrication
if you need it. Well now you know how to make a simple PVC hand pump that can be used for
compressing air, pumping water, or creating a vacuum. If you liked this project, perhaps
you’ll like some of my others. Check them out at

85 thoughts on “How To Make A PVC Pump!

  1. Would a pedal pump not be easier to use? I mean, you used the feet to hold the pump in place, so why not have the pump's piston connected to a wheel, so that you can use bicycle pedals to power it, one foot powering the compression and one the decompression. Furthermore, you could get it a step further and use the wind to power the water draining.

  2. I'm wondering how much water a 4" version of this could pump.

    And how much physical strength that would take to do efficiently.

  3. Has anyone had success building this pump? We could not get o-rings and inner pipe to go inside outer pipe? It was not even close, and the cut we made for o-rings was pretty deep. Not sure where went wrong. Used schedule "40" PVC pipe.

  4. 1st u need to invest in all the expensive machines for cutting and modify the pipes to build 1 hand pipe. I just buy 1 from eBay.. 🤗

  5. I NEED TO MAKE THIS, i was looking for a hand pump to pump water in my house when the power goes out, this is excellent, i can pressurize the tank and allow it to keep the house full, and this looks so easy to make and use, i have never found any other pump so far that equals the ease and pure simpleness of your design, thank you

  6. Awesome. now I know how to make pumps for when I need to make a party game for my niece's birthday party. I'm going old school and making a version of Balloon Burst from Mario party.

  7. I'm planning on using this for a homemade water gun, using 2 liter soda bottles as water tanks on a backpack. I wouldn't mind if did it before me.


  9. THAT'S GREAT! I will run out and buy a table saw and a drill press so I can make a bicycle pump!
    And what mechanism do you have to keep from pulling the piston out when you're pumping?

  10. So I was thinking of using this for a diy laundry shoot at the top of my basement steps leading to the laundry area. Any ideas on how I should go about it?

  11. I made a similar version to this but not changed the design to move volume with no pressure. It pumps 5gal/<1min! The main outer body is 2" pipe with 1" fittings and adapters on the bottom. Instead of a ball valve, I made a rubber circular flapper valve by cutting a (C) shape in a 1" circle of tire tube rubber. Then I cut a 1" plastic washer and sanwiched it all in the end of the threaded adapter so that the rubber flaps open and closed inside covering the hole. It works great, even with muddy water!

  12. Bro I have apvc air pump please give me a way to change it as water pump please help me out the new subscriber….

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