Priming a Pump Yourself (How to Use One) – WaterFiltersAdvisor

The demand for water pumps is increasing. More people are realizing the different household, outdoor, and recreational uses for them. Still, many owners do not know how to use water pump properly. Additionally, many do not have any inkling on how to properly prime their pumps.

Some prefer to experiment rather than read the instructional manual. This often leads to unexpected and expensive repair expenses.

If you’re among those who need more information on how to use and prime a water pump, here’s an article for you. Here we look at their uses. We at Water Filters Advisor will also lead you through a step-by-step guide on how to prime one properly.

Why Own a Water Pump

water pump maintenance

The use of water pumps has become an unavoidable necessity in many aspects of our everyday life. They come in different types and designs. Your choice of use depends on the purpose and type of industry, namely:

  • Agriculture
  • Manufacturing
  • Construction, and others

Nowadays, most households have them for purposes such as:

  • Regulating water supply
  • Draining
  • Sewerage, and
  • Other outdoor or recreational purposes.

Different Types of Water Pumps

Commercial pumps are broadly classified by what makes them run. They’re either gas-powered or electric-powered. Some classify centrifugal water pumps as a third type. However, it essentially falls between gas-powered or electric-powered.


This type uses either gasoline or diesel to run the machine inside it. The fuel creates kinetic energy, which is necessary to pump water.
There is a downside to fuel-powered pumps. Users should expect carbon monoxide emissions from the motor. Thus, it can be unsuitable for home use.

However, it is excellent for the following situations:

  • Agricultural irrigation
  • Industrial fluid supply and transport
  • Construction projects, and
  • Other outdoor uses

In these situations, emission problems wouldn’t be much of a concern. It also has more pumping power. It is not restrained by wires and power outlets. That’s why it best suits outdoor purposes.


This type requires reliable access to an electrical outlet. Thus, it is best for indoor, and other common household uses.

Note that a gas-powered pump needs a regular oil change. Additionally, there are other necessary motor maintenance requirements. In contrast, the electric-powered pump is simpler and easier to maintain.

Centrifugal Pumps

centrifugal pumps guide

This type is one of the most commonly used types of pumps. It uses either a gas-powered or electric-powered motor that runs its actual pump. The pump consists of an impeller. The impeller is usually disc-shaped with blade-like vanes. And it is encased in a volute casing.

The volute casing has a water inlet right in the center. This also goes straight into the center of the impeller. The volute casing is a specially shaped pipe where the flow is facilitated. That’s why the outlet looks like a protruding short pipe on the side of the casing.

The flow of water in the volute casing relies on the kinetic energy produced by the impeller inside as it is rotated by the motor. The rotating impeller produces pressure in the middle. This pressure suctions water into the inlet and straight into the center of the impeller. This is where the centrifugal force is created by its rotation. It then directs the movement of the water, discharging it towards the outlet.

Most centrifugal pumps need you to prime them. This means the impeller must be full of water first for it to function right. And the impeller needs to be fully submerged the whole time it is running so that it can continue pumping water.

The worst-case scenario for this pump is when cavitation occurs. Cavitation happens when air bubbles enter the pump due to a drop in water pressure flow. These air bubbles form an air cavity that will hinder the flow and stop the pumping of water. In some cases, this causes major damage to the impeller.

The centrifugal pump has a variety of household and outdoor uses as well. As mentioned, the usage depends on whether the pump is gas-powered or electric-powered.

Functions of Pumps

Let’s take a look at some of the pumps people commonly use in their households.

Jet Pump

A jet pump is essentially a centrifugal pump. This type uses a jet ejector which boosts its suctioning power. It is either electric-powered or gas-powered. The electric-powered type suits most household purposes. The gas-powered type suits outdoor use like irrigation or water pressure boosting purposes.

A jet pump is typically for mounting above ground. It lifts water below the ground through a suction pipe. There is a usual 20-foot depth suctioning power limit among centrifugal pumps. But with the jet ejector, the limit increases to a greater extent.

There are two types of jet pumps you can choose from. Most of their models usually require priming before use.

  • Shallow jet pumps. These can draw water below ground over a depth of 25-28 feet.
  • Deep-well jet pumps. These can draw water from over 160 feet below ground.

The suction power depends on the type of jet ejector installed in the pump. For the shallow jet pump, the jet ejector is inside. This ejector is between the center of the unit impeller and the inlet. For the deep well jet pump, the jet ejector is in the well, submerged in the water.

Submersible Pump

A submersible pump is another version of an electric-powered centrifugal pump. It is cylindrical. Instead of only one impeller, it uses multiple impellers. The number is usually four.

These impellers are all placed side by side. Further, these lay parallel to each other. And they connect by a long shaft that runs through the center of each impeller.

In between these impellers are stationary diffusers. The diffusers direct the flow of water as it passes on to the next impeller. At the bottom of the cylindrical casing, the bottom end of the long shaft connects to a motor. This motor runs the rotation of the shaft and the impellers.

The inlet in this pump is a perforated part in the middle, between the motor and the impellers. In the outlet at the top end, above the impellers, is a check valve. It regulates the pressure of the water discharge.

How it Functions

The whole pump assembly has to be submerged in water when in use. If its use is for a well or to draw water below ground, you install it vertically. Note that the outlet is at the top end that connects to a pipe. This pipe goes up to the ground.

If the use is for draining a pool, you can submerge it horizontally. In this case, its outlet connects to a hose. That hose extends to where the water being drained exits to.

Like any centrifugal pump, a submersible pump draws water through the pressure which the rotation of the impellers produces. Water is suctioned into the inlet and straight into the first impeller.

The impeller creates a centrifugal force. This force throws the water into the diffuser, which directs its flow into the next impeller. This repetitive cycle through the series of impellers multiplies the pressure. Hence, it allows for faster water flow.


Submersible pumps are very reliable. These have several advantages over other types of pumps, namely:

  • Not prone to cavitation issues
  • No need for priming
  • Lesser maintenance requirements, particularly when compared to gas-Powered pumps
  • Water flow is stronger and faster
  • Very durable and can last for 25 years with proper use and care

Sump Pump

A sump pump is another form of a submersible pump. It is also electric-powered and typically uses the centrifugal pump system. Its primary use is to drain water from basements that are prone to flooding. These include areas that lay below the water table.


For draining purposes, the sump pump position is inside a small tank called a sump pit. This sump pit traps the water that is collecting into the basement of a house. This way it prevents water from spreading in the area.
A discharge pipe connects to the outlet of the unit. This discharge pipe protrudes through a hole in the lid that is going to cover the whole pit.

On top of this pit, the cover is a check valve. This valve allows water to flow in one direction only. This feature prevents backflow. This check valve is installed on the protruding discharge pipe. From this check valve, a series of pipes are then attached going up to ground level. The pipes lead outside where the drained water exits.

Installation and Function

Users position the whole assembly of the sump pump in a hole in the ground of the lowest section of the basement. The place would be where water, usually from rain, accumulates. The hole must have the right sizing to accommodate the sump pit. The base of the hole can make use of gravel or cement. That way, the sump pit can sit perfectly stable in the hole.

The operation of the sump pump inside the pit relies on a float switch mechanism. It may also be a pressure sensor. The float switch or pressure sensor activates and deactivates the operation.

As the floodwater accumulates inside the pit, it lifts the float to a designated level. The float or sensor then turns the pump on. Then the pump begins draining all the water that’s inside the pit.

As described in centrifugal pumps, water is suctioned into the inlet. It is then discharged by centrifugal force to the outlet. Water then goes through the pipe that leads outside of the house where the drained water exits.

Sewage Pump

The sewage pump is another form of an electric-powered centrifugal pump. Its difference from the other centrifugal pumps is that it has a larger inlet and outlet. The measure is often 2 inches in diameter at a minimum.

A sewage pump also has a larger space in its volute casing. This feature prevents unnecessary clogging. It further allows the continuous flow of sewage fluids and solid materials.

Regular sewage pumps can be manual. You can switch them on or off directly.

They can also be automatic. You can activate or deactivate the operation through a float switch mechanism.

Some are dual-mode. You can switch between manual or automatic operation anytime.

A sewage pump is typically submerged in a sewage basin. Users place it strategically where it can efficiently pump wastewater and sewage out into a septic tank or straight into the sewerage system.

The suction and discharge system is similar to ordinary centrifugal pumps. The difference is in its design. A distinct feature enables the sewage pump to move even non-fluid sewage materials.

Hand Well Pump System

Hand water pumps have been around for quite a while. People have been using them long before inventors created gas and electric-powered types.

Today, many remote areas all over the globe still use hand pumps. It is still the go-to system for water supply in places where access to electricity is a problem.

A hand water pump uses a mechanical device. However, it relies mainly on manual power for it to work.


This pump consists of the following parts:

  • Lever. This functions as a handle when operating the pump device.
  • Cylinder. This houses the whole mechanism. It’s where the lever is mounted.
  • Water outlet. It’s on the upper part of the cylinder.
  • Piston rod. This vertically drops into the inside of the cylinder as the upper end connects to the tip of the lever.
  • The reciprocating piston inside the cylinder. This attaches to the lowered end of the piston rod, with a retention and outlet valve.
  • Second retention valve. You find this at the base inside the cylinder which serves as a suction inlet.
  • Pipe. This connects to the base of the cylinder (below the retention and inlet valve). Its bottom end is submerged in water below ground.

How it Works

This hand water pump draws water from below ground. It does so by repeatedly moving the lever downwards and upwards. Some have springs that allow the lever to rise back up in place again.

Each time the lever is pushed downwards, the piston is pulled upwards. This forces the retention and outlet valve to close. At the same time, the retention and inlet valve at the base of the cylinder opens.

This mechanical motion creates a vacuum between the two retention valves. (These valves are inside the cylinder.) In turn, that forces water from below ground to be drawn up into the inlet valve and fill the vacuum in the cylinder.

Once the lever is pulled upwards, the downward thrust of the piston rod inside the cylinder closes the inlet valve at the base of the cylinder while the outlet valve above connected to the piston rod opens. This allows the water retained between the valves to freely flow. Water flows into the outlet valve and out towards the outlet spout.

The repetition of this movement keeps drawing water from below ground through the pipe. Then upwards into the cylinder and out towards the outlet spout.

Many would readily choose gas or electric-powered pump over this type. However, the upside is savings on fuel or electricity plus the exercise you can get from operating it. With those perks, you may want to keep one as a secondary pump.

Operating a Water Pump

The instructions given here are typically for non-submersible portable pumps that people use for either draining or transferring water from one place to another.

This is not an installation guide for water pumps that you must place permanently in a designated spot where its purpose is to supply water to a house or a building.

The steps described here generally apply to most pump uses. And they even apply to those that are permanently installed.

Place Close to the Water Level

Place water pumps in the best possible area. That will be nearest to the surface of the water it is going to pump out. This way, it can function efficiently and be most effective.

Look for a solid flat surface where it can be stable. The location should also have enough room for you to move around it during operation.

Make sure the wires (for electric-powered pumps) or water-sensitive engine parts (for gas-powered ones) are safe from water splatter. Water splatters can damage the circuitry or the engine.

Check if the distance you plan to move the water is within the range capability of the water pump you are using. For longer ranges, use specific pumps that pump water at greater distances.

Suction Hose

Some water pumps do not come with a suction hose (or pipe). In this case, users must purchase one separately. You will also need to buy a hose clamp or a pipe connector. Other supplies include Teflon and pipe glue.

The hose needs to be just the right length. It must extend from where your pump will stay to where it will draw water from. Your hose must also have the right fit. It should match the hose coupler of your pump.

You may need a pump to pump water from a pool or open tank. In this case, buy a strainer. It protects your pump from any debris that can either damage or cause clogging in your pump.

Here are the steps in detail:

  1. Ready all the parts.
  2. Next, apply Teflon and pipe glue on the thread of the hose coupler.
  3. After that, screw it into the inlet nozzle.
  4. Next, take the hose and slide one end into the hose coupler on the inlet nozzle. Secure it tightly with the hose clamp.
  5. Make sure all connections are tight and won’t leak. This will prevent cavitation.
  6. Lastly, take the other end of the hose and connect the strainer to it. This is the part of the hose that will be deep in water.

Discharge Hose

Sometimes the discharge hose doesn’t come with your pump purchase either. In this case, you need to buy one along with a hose clamp. You also need Teflon and pipe glue. Buy a hose coupler if your pump purchase pack doesn’t have one.

Check that you have the right sizes for your outlet nozzle. The inlet nozzle in some pumps is slightly bigger than the outlet nozzle. If you have this type of pump, you will need a smaller size hose coupler and discharge hose. This hose should be long enough to cover the distance from your pump up to where the water will be discharged.

Here are the steps in detail:

  1. Ready all the parts.
  2. Next, apply Teflon and pipe glue again on the thread of your other hose coupler.
  3. Then screw it into the outlet nozzle.
  4. Take the discharge hose and slide one end into the hose coupler on the outlet nozzle.
  5. Secure it tight with a hose clamp.
  6. Make sure all connections are tight and won’t leak. This avoids cavitation.
  7. Lastly, take the other end of this hose and place it where you will be discharging the water.


Most water pumps need priming before use. If you skip that step, you can do serious damage to the seals and the impeller.

Portable water pumps that require priming typically have a priming nozzle on top of the unit. Simply remove the plug from the priming nozzle. Then fill the pump chamber with water until it is full. Once full, water will spill out of the outlet flange.

Lastly, put the priming nozzle plug back. Do this last step before you turn on the motor of your electric-powered pump. For gas-powered units, do it before you start the engine.


For electric-powered pumps, plug their power cord onto an electrical outlet extension. Then turn on the electricity after you’ve finished priming the pump.

For gas-powered pumps, check the engine’s oil and fuel level first. Remember to do this before you prime the pump.

After you’ve primed the pump, turn the fuel switch to œOn. Next, turn the choke lever to œClosed (or œOpen if the engine is warm). After that, move the throttle lever to just a little over half of the œLow Speed side.

Next, turn the engine switch on. Then start the engine. Pull the unit starter handle with a bit of a jerking motion. Do this until you hear the engine run. Next, gently release the starter handle. Let it reel back into its place.

As soon as the engine begins warming up, gradually turn the choke lever to œOpen. Then move the throttle lever to œHigh Speed. Once the water is flowing through the outlet hose, you can regulate the discharge flow through the throttle lever.

Note that œHigh Speed can increase and maximize the discharge flow. On the other hand, œLow Speed reduces and minimizes it.


Turn an electric-powered water pump off by turning the electrical source off. Then unplug it from the electrical outlet.

To turn a gas-powered water pump off, move the throttle lever to œSlow Speed. Then turn the engine switch off. Lastly, turn the fuel switch to œOff. If you need to stop the pump right away, you can immediately turn the engine switch off.

Do some maintenance. Just before you store away your pump, clean it up first. Flush the pump chamber with clean water through the priming nozzle. Place the nozzle plug back in place once you’ve completed the cleanup.

Priming a Water Pump – Step-By-Step Guide

How to Prime a Jet Pump

Priming is the process of filling the pump chamber with water. This rids the pump and the intake pipe of any air that can interrupt the pressure it needs to create suction.

Once excess air is removed, maximum pressure is produced by the centrifugal force of the rotating impeller. Also, suction efficiency is maximized.

Priming is also key in the continuous flow of water in the pumping system. Sometimes pressure in the pump drops and water flow significantly weakens while in operation. However, priming helps restore it to maximum strength.

As mentioned earlier, running the pump dry is not advisable. You can seriously damage the pump seals and the impeller if you don’t prime the pump first.

To help you avoid unnecessary repairs, below is a step-by-step guide to priming a water pump. These instructions generally apply to most pumps.

Other pumps that connect to water tanks require a different procedure. Be sure to seek professional advice first or do some research before you begin priming.

If you prefer watching instructions over reading them, you can check this video guide out.

Step 1: Turn Off the Power

Safety first is always a good rule to start with. Before tinkering with any equipment you have, check that the motor or the engine is not running. Otherwise, that can cause you bodily harm. It may also break your unit.

For an electric-powered pump, make sure any electrical power to the pump is unplugged or switched off.

For a gas-powered pump, make sure the engine switch assumes an œOff position.

Step 2: Check For Damages

Check the whole pump assembly thoroughly. Inspect belts, pulleys, belts, pipes, hoses, clamps, and couplers. Make sure there are no loose fittings or connections that can interfere with the priming. Also, check for damages. Thorough inspections help prevent serious problems during operation.

Step 3: Look For a Priming Nozzle

The priming nozzle in a gas-powered pump is right next to the outlet flange. This is where the discharge hose is connected. This usually has a plug you can manually open.

Some electric-powered pumps have no built-in priming nozzles. In this case, the installed fittings (where the discharge pipe or hose connects) on your pump’s outlet should have another nozzle that will serve as priming access to the pump chamber. This is an aftermarket nozzle installation. And it is usually fitted with a ball valve or a priming screw cap for easy access.

Step 4: Connect Hose to Water Source

Connect a hose to a separate source of water. Ready it for use to flush the pump system and let the water fill the pump chamber.

Step 5: Open Priming Nozzle

Leave the priming nozzle open. Do this by either removing the plug or cap. Sometimes you have to open the valve.

If your pump has relief valves, open them. This keeps the water pressure at safe levels. Constantly watch the pressure gauge during priming and operation.

Step 6: Place the Hose in the Priming Nozzle

Place the hose end into the priming nozzle. Turn on the water source for the hose. Make sure that the water flows into the pump chamber and through the nozzle.

Step 7: Wait for the Water to Fill the Pump Chamber

Make sure to fill the pump chamber with water before you remove the hose from the priming nozzle. As you fill the chamber, you will hear air rushing out of the pump system.

Once the chamber of a gas-powered pump is full, water will spill out of the outlet flange. For the electric-powered pump, water will spill out of the discharge hose or pipe when it is full. The pressure gauge on your tank will also indicate if the chamber is already full of water.

Step 8: Turn Off the Water Flow

Once the pump chamber is full, turn off the water source for the hose. Next, remove the hose from the priming nozzle. Lastly, close the nozzle. Make sure you secure it tightly.

Step 9: Turn On

Start the engine (if gas-powered) or switch on the motor (or plug it into an electrical outlet) for your pump. Make sure the pressure is stable before you close the relief valves.

Step 10: Wait for the Pump to Finish its Cycle

You may be priming a pump that’s connected to a water tank. In this case, the priming cycle is complete once the pump switches off automatically. This happens through an automatic pressure switch or float switch.

If the pump switches on when the water in the tank is in use, then your whole pump system is ready for use.

Step 11: Repeat Process

It’s common not to get it right the first time. Hence, you may have to do the process more than once. Sometimes, regular priming doesn’t remove air in the pump. In this case, you must use a priming pump device.