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This weekend I ended up with some water in my basement, and vacuuming all that crap up and hauling it up the stairs got me thinking about drill-powered water pumps I’ve seen — you know, simple impeller pumps turned by a corded or cordless drill featuring common 3/4″ garden hose and fittings. They seem like they’d work for a variety of water-moving tasks around the house, like emptying a stopped up sink, cleaning a fish tank, or evacuating my shop vac.

But I can’t help but think: are they powerful enough for real tasks?

Has anyone had any experience with these? Are they useless junk or a valuable asset to your toolbox? Does brand matter, or are they all made in the same Chinese factory?  Let us know in comments.

Drill Pumps [Google Products]


16 Responses to Hot or Not? Drill Powered Pumps

  1. TourPro says:

    This is interesting. Last time I had to do a little pump out of my window wells (serious rain), I used my wife’s kayak bilge pump. This look like a much more civilized method.

  2. cpw says:

    I just bought one of these from Harbor Freight for the glorious price of $4. The gph flow is attractive, and it’s a heck of a lot cheaper than a DC or AC pump for emergency situations.

    But I haven’t tried it yet…I’ll try to remember to give it a go tonight and report back on performance.

  3. JamesBrauer66 says:

    NOT . . . I repeat . . . NOT

    I tried one to drain my garden pond, with the aforementioned low buck variety and it failed to self-prime, and failed to move any reasonable volume of water. Being in Texas at the time the yard was pretty well completely flat. I had to fill a garden hose up with water, pinch off the ends, drop one end pond, and drop the other end down a sewer man hole. Made a nice siphon.

    A nice, though more expensive, alternative to these is the 12v RV water pump. These will do a good job of self priming and have a good duty cycle and good flow. And they work cordless if you have an extra car battery (or car) around. The drawback is they clog really easy.

  4. Ray says:

    My 2 cents but my luck with these have been bad. The pumps themselves are not that good, and most drills are not meant to run locked on for extended periods. Not to mention you generally have 2 choices either stand in the wet and hold the electric drill the whole time you are pumping or balance it on sometinng and hope it does not drop into the wet.

    In my opinion a small relatively inexpensive ($30 to $50) fractional HP submersible pump should be part of your homeowner emergency kit, next to the flashlight an first aid kit. It is amazing how many times you use one once you have it.

  5. JK says:


    I’ve got a cheap HF Submersible pump, and I use it to drain my ~300 gallon hot tub at least once a month, plus I’ve loaned it out to my buddies for various basement issues. Still workin great, it was under $40 I know.

  6. modernman says:

    completely worthless

  7. If you’re draining a hot tub or anything where you can get a siphon going – you can’t beat a 6-10 ft hunk of the cable housing they use to protect outside electrical wiring (the same stuff that runs between your circuit breaker and your spa – the stiff sides keep it from collapsing. A trick I learned from our spa installer.

    Throw the whole thing into the spa, slap your hand over one end, wrestle it over the side until the outside end is lower than the inside and stand back.

    I can drain 80% of my 700 gallon spa in like 5 minutes. Because the pressure is so low, but the volume so high, it’s really amazing – like you’re on the back side of a black hole or something, just a 4″ around solid tube of falling out of the spa.

  8. PutnamEco says:

    Not, another vote for small submersible or stand alone pumps. Fountain, hydroponics or aquarium supply houses are a good source for small pumps, Honda or Gould for larger pumps.
    Can’t beat a small pump rated for continues duty, fountain pumps run for years. You can pick up some small fountain pumps that are designed for tabletop fountains for under $10.

  9. Absolutely not. I bought one of these thinking it would drain the spa faster; I actually think just the hose by itself had a higher flow rate than the drill pump. I did keep trying for a while, leaving the drill locked on — finally after one run, the pump seized when it cooled down. Good riddance.

    When we had torrential rains a few years back and the yard was flooding in inconvenient places (by the back stoop), I ended up using a small plug-in pond pump to move some of the water across the yard, and it worked much better than the drill pump ever did.

  10. Don't wanna get zapped says:

    Assuming a cordless drill would run out of juice too quickly for most applications (assuming the thing even works), most people would use this with a corded one. So, you’d better hope you don’t drop it, especially if you’re standing in a wet basement while trying to drain it! Dropping it in the hot tub wouldn’t be any fun either, and if you don’t get electrocuted you’re now out the cost of a drill. It’s just a little too much like using a hairdryer while sitting in a bathtub for my taste.

    That was a great tip about the electrical cable housing siphon… Thanks! (I’ve also been frustrated by collapsing garden hoses while siphoning out a hot tub.)

  11. F451 says:

    These rate in the throwaway category, but are great for one or two-time usage.

    Hot when direly needed.

    Not for continuous use.

  12. Bren R. says:

    I bought one of the cheap ones from Princess Auto (I’m in Canada) to empty the back yard of standing water after the spring thaw… I usually dig a sump pit and use the neighbour’s small sump pump, but I thought I’d try one of these instead… hooked it up to the 50s era all-metal, non-variable speed, non-reversing drill I inherited from my grandfather – but it revved too high, so I swapped it out for my B&D variable speed. The flow rate was awful, and the spindle was just enough out of round to permanently damage the B&D chuck.

  13. NL Morris says:

    Well, I guess there are cheap ones and cheaper ones, I don’t know. I bought one a few years ago and have gotten a lot of use out of it. The trick is to get it primed and going.

    I use it to pump out ditches full of water when I’m laying sprinkler line. I had two old washing machine hoses that I connect to it as in/out flow hoses. Once I get it primed and if I use a good drill it works great.

    I had no luck at all with a lower power cordless drill, but hooked up a corded Milwaukee, and at high speed it got going nicely.

    I wouldn’t use it for anything larger, but for 5 or 10 gallons it beats bailing out a narrow ditch by hand.

  14. John says:

    Sorry to be late to the party on this one — F451 hit the nail on the head. We ended up with maybe 100 gallons of water pooling in our backyard, so we shelled out less than $10 for the last one Lowe’s had in stock. A few hours of experimentation later, and I’m thrilled with it! Even if it never works again, it paid for itself. It can’t pull worth a darn, but it pushed through a 50 foot hose like a champ and didn’t even choke on the leaves and muck it sucked up. If I had known how poorly it primed, I could have done the job with my cordless Makita. As it was, the battery died before the pump even primed… it just can’t suck through a 25-foot hose! The old Black & Decker corded drill worked great.

    I’m going to buy another once the waters recede. I really think every homeowner should have one of these just in case. On the other hand, we’re also going to look for one of the fractional HP submersibles if we can’t get the drainage issue resolved this week.

  15. Jim Huntsman says:

    I have tried several of the drill pumps,12 volt and 110 volt. None had any kind of suction lift more than 3 feet. I paid a little under $200 for a drill pump that puts out an honest 6-8 gallons per minute. I put a pressure gauge on the discharge and was shocked when it blew the hose off at 60 psi. Pump is made in Germany and goes by the name of Zuwa

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