When are Diaphragm Pumps Used in a Rainwater Collection System?

Diaphragm PumpAlthough centrifugal pumps are the most common type of pump used in rainwater collection systems for both sump pumps and pressure pumps, diaphragm pumps could be used in some applications.

The diaphragm pump, or positive displacement pump, uses a flexible membrane that separates the pump housing into two separate chambers. The membrane is pushed or pulled by mechanical means to enlarge or collapse a chamber, forcing the fluid to discharge. Non return valves are used on both sides of the diaphragm to prevent back flow. Electrical, mechanical, or manual can be the power supply for a diaphragm pump. A hand pump is a piston type diaphragm pump and used throughout the world, where there is no source of a power supply.

Air, chemical, and liquid can be pumped with a diaphragm pump with high efficiency. However, because of the reciprocating mechanical action or “pulsating” that occurs, a diaphragm pump would not be suited where a “steady flow” is desired .  Diaphragm pumps are very efficient in suction lift and, in some cases, could effectively be used to transfer water from a sump well below the the desired cistern location.

A more common use for a diaphragm pump in a rainwater collection system is a small air compressor used to keep large amounts of stored water from going anaerobic or with chemical treatment such as chlorine, if required.

Ken Blair
A rainwater collection systems designer and consultant, Ken has designed and installed residential and commercial systems, primarily in the northwest United States for more than 10 years and, in 2014, began consulting and managing builds in other states. Ken is an accredited ARCSA Professional Designer / Installer and Life Member, the Northwest Regional ARCSA representative and advisor to its education committee and is available to speak about Rainwater Collection Systems design and builds.

Ken is a United States Navy veteran, having served on active duty during the Vietnam War era.

A career entrepreneur, Ken created a new business focus with a commercial dive company in Hawaii in the mid 1980′s to respond to and clean up oil spills, oil spill equipment training, service and maintenance for the oil co-op service industry. Ken is passionate about having a positive impact on the environment and is also a founding director of BANK-ON-RAIN (2011-2014), whose mission is to create grassroots solutions for rainwater collection for consumption and agriculture in developing areas of the planet.