6 Types of Submersible Pumps – A Guide

Submersible pumps are one of the most effective and efficient types of pumps. They’re popular for use when drawing water from deep wells, but they also have other applications.

These pumps are unique in that they work completely submerged under water. While typically more expensive and complex than other types of pumps, like shallow well pumps, submersible pumps are often worth the investment.

As there are several types of submersible pumps, let’s take a look at what they are and their best applications. Here’s a look at the top 6 types of submersible pumps on the market.

What Are Submersible Pumps?

Types of submersible pumps to use

Submersible pumps are centrifugal pumps which come with a sealed motor, close-coupled to the pump body. They’re designed to be completely submerged in fluid in order to function. They never need to be primed manually like above-ground pumps do.

These pumps are very powerful and work to forcefully push fluid towards the surface rather than depending on suction to pull it up. They are used for many applications, some of which include sewage pumping, general industrial pumping and drainage.

Submersible pumps come with a water-cooled jacket for their motors and their internal components are sealed tight inside and well protected. They are made from durable materials and are built to last from 8 to 10 years, depending on the usage. For a home with moderate water usage, a submersible pump can last for up to 15 years.

1- Submersible Bladder Pumps

Main Use: Fluid sampling applications

A submersible bladder pump is a pneumatic device which generates and utilizes compressed air in order to function correctly. These pumps are mainly used for fluid sampling applications and typically have low-flow rates as well as an unobtrusive design which makes them ideal for collecting samples with very low turbidity. Their design also makes it possible to reduce the potential for sample contamination.

This is why these pumps are perfect for to analyze groundwater which requires representative and reproducible sampling data to get accurate results. They are also accepted by the EPA for low-flow sampling. Apart from compressed air, these pumps are also operated by air compressors or compressed nitrogen tanks.

Bladder pumps are available in a wide range of sizes, models and materials. The housing of the pump encloses a flexible bladder which is made of polyethylene or PTFE and just below the bladder is a screen for filtering out any material that could interfere with its check valves.

Pump bladders are usually made of inert materials like flexible Teflon. They are non-porous and their design ensures that the gas which is injected doesn’t come into contact with the sample. The sample is also kept away from the pump’s moving parts which removes any risk of inadvertent contamination from lubricants and fluids like oil or grease.

2- Submersible Grinder Pumps

Main Use: Pumping and grinding sewage

Grinder pumps are wastewater conveyance devices that are specially designed with cutting blades. The purpose of these cutting blades is to grind raw sewage into a slurry before pumping it to the septic tank or the central sewer system. These pumps have the ability to pass tough solids up to 2 inches in diameter and some can even manage solids that are slightly bigger than that.

The most common use for grinder pumps is pumping sewage from a residence to a pressure city sewer main. Another sewage pump keeps the city sewer main under pressure. To pump liquids into that main, the grinder pump needs to be able to overcome that pressure, which is exactly what they do. Although they pump low volumes of sewage (at 30 GPM or less), they have the ability to push it over long distances (even thousands of feet), making them more efficient. They can also handle up to 130 feet of head pressures.

These pumps require at least a minimum of 20-30 feet of head pressure to operate correctly. If used in a low head pressure situation, the motor will quickly burn out. This happens since motors spin faster in the absence of the required head pressure, causing them to pull more amperage which then makes them run hotter. Eventually, this causes the pump to fail much faster than it should.

3- Submersible Well Pumps

Main Use: Extracting water from wells

Submersible well pumps are used to extract water from a water well, replacing the use of a bucket and pulley system. They are powerful pumps, designed to push up water from depths up to 400 feet.

There are two types of submersible well pumps that are used to deliver potable water. These are shallow-well and deep-well submersible pumps.

The pumps consist of a long cylinder of 2 to 4 feet in length, with a diameter of 3 to 5 inches and inside this cylinder is a hermetically sealed motor that’s close-coupled to the body of the pump. The motor is sealed to eliminate the risk of water getting inside which can cause short circuits. When the pump begins to work, the impeller starts to spin. This action then draw the water into the pump. Then, the water is forced through the body of the pump, up to the surface and into the water storage tank.

These pumps come in many different sizes, depending on the yield of the well and your household needs.  They are also very convenient to use since they require very little to no maintenance and never have to be primed as long as they’re submerged in the water.

4- Submersible Borehole Pumps

Main Use: Extracting liquids from boreholes

The Borehole Pump is a type of submersible pump that used specifically for extracting water or another type of liquid from boreholes.

A borehole is a narrow shaft that’s drilled vertically into the ground for many purposes including the extraction of petroleum, water or other types of natural gas from far below the ground. The hole is made with the use of a drilling rig that creates the borehole according to specific dimensions so that the borehole pump can closely fit through it with almost no gaps on the sides.

Since these pumps come into direct contact with minerals found in the soil, they’re made of materials which are corrosion-resistant. They have two components: the part that houses the pumping mechanism and makes contact the fluid that’s to be extracted (the foot part) and the part that serves as a weight-bearing portion and outlet for the fluid (the head part).

Since boreholes are round and very narrow, not many types of pumps will fit inside them. The best options are submersible turbine pumps which contain a suction screen that blocks soil components and sand from being drawn through the pump.

Borehole pumps are used for many purposes including irrigation, construction, mining, municipal water supply and industrial purposes as well.

5- Submersible Fountain Pumps

Main Use: Supplying water to aesthetic devices

These submersible pumps are designed to supply water flow not only to fountains but also to other devices used for aesthetic purposes and aeration in commercial, residential and industrial applications.

They stay submerged in the reservoir, drawing water into the housing where an impeller pushes the water out through the outflow fitting of the pump. A vinyl hose carries the water from the pump to the fountain piece, where it emerges again and the water keeps on circulating in this way.

Fountain pumps can be configured for use indoors or even outdoors. They come in different sizes depending on the size of the pond or pool they are used for as well as the application, whether it may be decorative or functional. They are virtually maintenance free and very silent, only emitting a soft humming sound.

These pumps can be left to operate around the clock safely as long as they are kept under water since they’re not designed to work in air. Most models come with a flow control mechanism that regulates the outflow of water and by adjusting the flow rate, you can easily achieve different effects while eliminating unwanted splashing and mess.

Some fountain pumps are solar powered and have the ability to work in conjunction with a well pump in order to create special landscape or garden features like waterfalls.  They are also less expensive than above-ground ones and much easier to install.

6- Submersible Utility Pumps

Main Use: Wide range of applications

The submersible utility pump is a highly versatile, multipurpose pump which can be used for a wide range of applications. Some of the typical uses for this pump include removing standing water off construction sites and basement floors, water beds and for draining aquariums.

The utility pump is very easy to use since all you have to do is to drop it in the deepest part of the water that needs to be pumped out and turn it on. However, it’s important to remember to keep an eye on it the entire time or it could run dry and burn out unless it has a float switch. A float switch automatically turns the pump on when it detects deep water and turns it off when it detects low water levels which is a great feature since it keeps your pump safe.  

This is an electric pump that has the ability to handle larger applications since it can stay submerged under water for long periods of time. It’s available in automatic and manual configurations and it isn’t difficult to find one for almost any virtual application. As is common with submersible pumps, this pump doesn’t require any real installation and needs very low maintenance.

The Bottom Line

There are a wide range of submersible pumps, each suited to a different application. The type of pump you choose will depend on your specific requirements. To learn more about submersible pumps, read our related articles:

Best Submersible Well Pumps and Buying Guide

How to Choose a Shallow Well Pump

Types of Pumps

Clean Water Gear
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