Types of Well Pumps – A Complete Guide

When looking for the right water pump for your well, it’s important to consider your options carefully.

Getting the wrong pump could lead to problems in the long run and result in losing money over the pump itself as well as installation and maintenance.

It’s important to know that while there are several types of well pumps, not every pump will suit your well. Pumps are made to match different types of wells, so the pump that matches your well will depend on the specific situation.

If you’re on the search for a water pump for your well, here’s a list of the most commonly used pumps for residential ground wells, including their features as well as the pros and cons of each type.

Jet Pumps (ejector pumps)

jet pump

Wayne SWS100 Cast Iron Shallow Well Pump. Check price here.


  • Siphon-like function that creates a vacuum
  • Uses atmospheric pressure
  • Comes with an electric motor
  • Jet assembly
  • Includes impeller

Jet pumps are made to be placed outside of the well in a separate well housing or inside your home. They use suction to draw up water from the well, with most of the hard being done by atmospheric pressure.

Jet pumps come in two versions: deep well and shallow well jet pumps.

Shallow well jet pumps are used for wells that are less than 25 feet deep. When the jet pump is in operation, it’s powered by an electric motor which drives an impeller or a centrifugal pump. The impeller moves water that comes from the well (also called drive water) and through a narrow orifice. This orifice is mounted inside the housing and in front of the impeller itself. As it passes through this opening, the speed of the water increases, creating a partial vacuum that sucks additional water from the well. The new water that’s pumped from the well, mixes with the drive water to discharge into your plumbing system at a very high pressure. 

Deep well jet pumps work the same way as shallow well jet pumps do. However, they are far more powerful since they have two pipes within the borehole of the well whereas shallow well jet pumps have only one. While one of these pipes is used for suction purposes, the other one returns the water to operate its jet units which are installed in the borehole below the water level. The pump forces water down the primary pipe and then back up through the secondary pipe. These have the ability to do lift water from a depth of 100 feet.

Jet pumps are useful when removing excess water from ponds, ditches or during periods of very heavy rainfall when there is water flooding. They are also very helpful during emergencies and natural disasters since they can be used for providing a constant supply of water that can be boiled or purified before drinking.

Pros and Cons of Shallow Well Jet Pumps


  • Easy to install
  • Lightweight, making it perfect for emergencies and natural disasters
  • Made of material that’s resistant to corrosion, rusting, wear and tear
  • Not mechanically complex
  • Don’t require a lot of maintenance
  • Fits just right with small-diameter wells
  • These pumps are very budget-friendly


  • Usually inefficient as the level of the lift increases.
  • The pump’s mechanical seal can wear out and leak if it keeps pulling up water containing sand.
  • The shallow well jet pump can lose its prime if it’s operated without water in the casing. If there is any air or gas inside it, it can lose its prime. To prevent this from happening, you need to install a check valve or a foot valve on the suction prime of the pump.

Submersible Well Pumps

Submersible well pump

Hallmark Industries Deep Well Submersible Pump. Check Price Here.


  • Cylindrical in shape
  • Can be connected to various types of pipes, wires, flexible hoses depending on the job and the liquid  being pumped.
  • Hermetically sealed casing
  • Can pump from a depth of 400 feet or even more

Submersible well pumps are crafted so that they can operate under the Earth’s surface. These can work with wells ranging from 25 ft to 400 ft in depth. This type of pump doesn’t work unless it’s submerged completely in water. Unlike above ground pumping systems which use suction to draw up water from the ground, the submersible pump is designed to push water to the surface.

These pumps are available in various sizes. There are two types that are used to deliver clean, drinking water: shallow-well and deep-well.

A typical submersible pump consists of a 2-4-foot-long cylinder, 3-5 inches in diameter. Inside the tube is a motor that’s close-coupled to the body of the pump which means that both the motor and pump shaft are rigidly connected in a pump casing.

 The motor of the pump is hermetically sealed to prevent water from getting into it and causing a short circuit.  When the pump is switched on, the impeller starts to spin, drawing water into the pump which is then pushed through the body of the pump and up to the surface. The unit has a cable which is connected to the motor and a pipe which sends the water up to the surface and into the storage tank.

These pumps are generally used in underground tanks where the water needs to be pumped up to the surface.  

Pros and Cons of Submersible Well Pumps


  • Less mechanical issues and failures
  • It is self-primed – saves time and won’t burn out
  • Makes pressure 30% faster when compared to a jet pump
  • Can last up to 25 years before needing to be replaced
  • Not subject to cavitation (the formation of cavities or bubbles in liquid that are developed in areas with relatively low pressure around the impeller)
  • Efficient – Since the pump is submerged in water all the time, there is no need to prime it manually
  • Uses less energy than other pumps
  • Quiet operations


  • Difficult to access in case of maintenance or replacement
  • If by any chance the pump begins to leak, you won’t be able to detect it and components will corrode without showing any signs of it
  • More expensive than other pumps

Well Hand Pumps

well hand pump
wikipedia hand pump

By Manco Capac – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,


  • Manually operated
  • System includes a cylinder with check valve, piston and a handle on the surface to be pulled up and down
  • Reliable backup for submersible pumps

Hand pumps, sometimes called lift pumps, are operated manually and pump water from a cylinder, located below the static water level of the well. This cylinder contains a check valve and a piston. There’s a handle located at the surface which is mechanically connected to the piston through a set of rods. When the handle is lifted up and down, the piston pumps water through pipes to the head of the pump at the surface.

Hand pumps are usually used as a reliable backup for submersible pumps for many wells throughout the US as well as other economically developed nations. The design of the pump is also used as a primary water source for homes as well as villages in developing nations.

Pros and Cons of Hand Pumps


  • These pumps have very few moving parts and are highly reliable
  • Lift pumps have the capacity to pump water from static water levels that are several hundred feet below the surface since the piston is located deep inside the well.
  • They do not require electricity from the grid. Hand-operated lift pumps provide water for your household when the power goes out so water is always available.


  • This pump isn’t practical when there is a high demand for water for long periods of time. Since it’s manually operated, it requires a person to work physically in order to supply water which is ideal for emergency situations or when the demand for water is low.

Suction Pumps


  • Use atmospheric pressure like jet pumps
  • System includes a check valve in the pipe, piston and vertical cylinder
  • Both cylinder and pump have valves to control flow of fluid

Suction pumps are quite similar to jet pumps since the pumping action occurs at the surface instead of inside the well.

These pumps look very much like hand-operated lift pumps since they come with a handle that’s lifted up and down in order to pump water. However, unlike lift pumps which have the piston inside the cylinder, these pumps have it located just below the handle.

The piston creates a vacuum which sucks the water from the well to the head of the pump. Suction pumps are only used for very shallow wells less than 29 feet at sea level.

Pros and Cons of Suction Pumps


  • Like hand pumps, suction pumps have few moving parts and can be very reliable
  • They are competitively priced
  • They don’t require electricity to operate


  • Most suction pumps available on the market perform poorly because of their construction and materials. Some models aren’t built to last more than 2 years at the most. Therefore, you need to take special care when choosing one.
  • Since this pump works by creating a vacuum, it’s limited to pumping from depths of 29 feet or less. The general depth is 20-22 feet (at sea level).

Summing Up…

By understanding the different types of well pumps out there, choosing the correct device your private well becomes easier to do. From all the models listed above, the most popular, efficient and long-lasting are submersible pumps. Shallow well pumps are also commonly used. However, manual types of well pumps are not very common and are frequently used in developing regions.

Assess your particular situation and what exactly you require the pump to do. If you are still unsure, contact a professional to help you make your purchase.

Read more about well pumps:

Best Submersible Pumps – A Complete Guide

Best Shallow Well Pumps

Clean Water Gear
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