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If you’ve ever had to deal with a flooded basement, you’ll understand the utility of a water pump. You stick the handheld device into a pool of water, start it up (or start pumping), and its suction tube sucks up water, and moves shoots it out through a second one.
Think of it like a vacuum, but instead of holding dirt and dust in a bag, you’ll put the second hose on your lawn, or in a large container like a garbage can. Also, don’t worry, the electric pumps are designed to be waterproof, so you can use them in a room that’s already full of water. While primarily used to prevent water damage from floods, a water pump can also be used to remove water from an overfull pool, overflowing toilet, or stalled washing machine.
It’s a piece of equipment you hope you never have to use, but is indispensable when you need it. If you’re looking for your first — and most likely only — water pump, we’ve collected four portable options that suit every type of situation.
What You Need to Know Before Buying a Water Pump
There are many factors to think about when choosing the right water pump for you; below are the most important ones, which we considered while we were researching this list.
Power Source: Water pumps can be powered by physically pushing and pulling on the top of a pump, automatically via a battery, or plugging it into an outlet. The last two make water pumping a lot faster and easier, but you have to make sure you’ve recently changed the pump’s batteries, or are near a wall socket.
Size and Portability: All of the water pumps on this list are handheld, and easy to take from one place to another. The pumps powered by hand or battery resemble the ones you’d use to fill air in a bike’s tires; the pumps that need to be plugged in look short and stout, like a motor you’d use to fill an air mattress.
1. King Innovation 48036 King Siphon Pump
King Innovation’s manual water pump is durable, dependable, and easy to clean. The 39-inch pump weighs two pounds, and comes with a couple of pieces: the pump, which looks like a long tube with a manual pump on top, and a discharge hose, which lets you direct the water you’re pumping out.
Four pumps will move one gallon of water through the discharge hose; if you figure each pump takes five seconds, you can move three gallons of water per minute. That’s enough to handle a small flood, or a broken washing machine with water that won’t drain. It’s not the right choice for dealing with active leaks, though.
The pump is made out of a steel shaft covered in polymer, so it’s built to handle repeated use without showing any signs of wear. It comes in three sizes: 24 inches, 36 inches, and 72 inches; I’ve recommended the medium-sized one here because it’s a good balance of portability and efficiency.
This is the only manual water pump in our guide, and that’s both a good and bad thing. On one hand, you’ll never need to worry about it running out of power — this is critically important if you’re dealing with a flooded room and power outage. But, it means you will have to put effort into each pump, which may get tiring after a little while. If you’re working on a larger job, that may not work for you.
Pros: This pump doesn’t need electric power to work, and can move one gallon of water with four pumps.
Cons: Because it works manually, this pump does require physical labor to work.
2. TERA PUMP Portable Power Water/Fuel Transfer Battery Pump
TERA PUMP’s portable water pump strikes a nice balance between the manual and electrical choices in our guide. Physically, it resembles the King Innovation’s physical pump: It’s shaped like a long tube, and comes with a discharge nozzle that has a clip on it for hands-free use. But, the pump is 21.1 inches long and under three quarters of a pound, which makes it the lightest choice in our guide.
This pump runs on a pair of AA batteries (not included), and can move up to 2.4 gallons of water per minute. An auto-stop valve at the top of its discharge nozzle will automatically stop the suction tube from moving water to prevent it from overflowing. It’ll also start buzzing to let you know this feature has been activated.
As I mentioned earlier, the nozzle also has a built-in clip, so you can attach it to the side of a bucket or other container to direct water without having to hold the hose.
TERA PUMP says this pump can be used for water, gas, diesel, kerosene, light oils, and any other non-corrosive liquids, but says you should not use it with water you plan to drink. It can’t move as much water as other powered water pumps, but the auto stop, clip-on nozzle, and its light weight make it well-worth considering.
Pros: This pump is ultra-portable and can be used hands-free.
Cons: It doesn’t move as much water as other powered water pumps.
3. Superior Pump 91330 1/3 HP Submersible Utility Pump
If you regularly deal with basement flooding, or need to move a lot of water very quickly, Superior Pump’s 91330 is the best choice. It differs from the other water pumps we recommend in a few ways. Most importantly, it needs to be plugged into a wall outlet at all times to work. That can be an inconvenience, but the pump comes with a 10-foot power cable, so if you’ve got an outlet in the same room as your flood, this shouldn’t be an issue; you can also connect it to an extension cord.
This pump’s suction tube is built into its base, and has a 1/8 inch intake screen over it to prevent debris from getting in. When it’s on, water gets pushed through a hole at the top. This pump doesn’t come with a discharge nozzle, but you can use a standard garden hose, or get one yourself.
Superior Pump says this unit can move up to 2,400 gallons of water per hour, which is far more than the other options in our guide. Because of its thermoplastic shell, double-sealed motor, and shaft seal, this pump can continue to work while completely submerged under water.
This is a heavy duty piece of machinery, and at 7.8 pounds it’s the heaviest pump on this list. But if you need to displace a lot of water really quickly, it’s the clear choice.
Pros: This pump can move up to 2,400 gallons of water per hour.
Cons: You do need to keep this pump connected to an outlet at all times to work, and it doesn’t come with a nozzle.