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We have an old hand pump that has been in place for about 50 years. It has been working great until one day I had to prime it 5 times and pump and pump and pump. It finally began to work but now it pumps really hard. What's wrong?
A hand pump is a pretty simple device. You have a handle attached to a lift rod, on the end of the lift rod is a plunger with a check valve. On older pumps the check valve is little more than a leather flap. At the bottom of the pump pipe you have another check valve. When you lift the rod water is drawn in through the bottom check valve, then when you lower the rod the bottom check-valve closes and the captured water forces the plunger check valve to open. As you lift the rod the next time you also lift the water above the plunger and recharge the pipe below the plunger. Because you had to prime the pump it indicates that the plunger check valve or the gasket ring around the plunger has started to deteriorate or dry out.
It mad be the plunger gasket has deteriorated enough that part has come loose and is wedged between the plunger and the side wall. or the bottom check valve is blocked or partially blocked and preventing water from flowing in.
Either case would require pulling the pump and servicing the parts.