One of the most frequent questions we get from shoppers is "are rotary pumps safe for water storage?" Unfortunately, the answer is that it depends on how you use it. How is that for vague? There are no simple answers. Here is why.
Water barrel rotary pumps are a great way to pump water from a 55-gallon water barrel really fast. Some pumps can move 8 to 12 gallons per minute. But there is some misunderstanding with regards to rotary pumps that every preparedness minded person should clear up before they purchase a pump. Here are a few things to keep in mind.
Rotary pumps for 55-gallon water barrels can move a lot of water. To use a rotary pump safely with a water barrel, you must understand how the pump works. Rotary pumps have a handle attached to a shaft that is connected to a sealed rotor. When the shaft spins, the rotor creates pressure, sucking water from the intake tube and forcing it out of the dispensing tube. Stop turning the shaft and the water stops flowing. This design is great for moving water, but there is a problem. Rotary pumps do not evacuate the water in the rotor when you are done. That means that a small amount of water remains in the rotor until you use the pump again. That's really not a problem if you use the pump often. But if you don't use it often, that water can get musty and eventually mold could possibly begin to grow inside the rotor.
Many people who store water for emergencies don't really care much about this problem because they treat their water with chlorine or stabilized oxygen, which does a great job of stopping any mold growth. But the risk is always there, small as it may be.
There are a few ways to solve this problem. One is to remove the pump and turn it upside down, draining as much of the water out as possible while turning the crank. The other is to run highly chlorinated water through it and leave that water in the pump. This is a choice that you need to make.
Rotary pumps also have a small amount of fiberglass used in them. Fiberglass is not something that you want to drink for obvious reasons. Most preppers we work with do not consider this a problem because best practice dictates that during a disaster, all water from every source should be run through a Big Berkey or other water filter to remove even the possibility of water problems. But as the buyer of a pump, you must keep this in mind and remind people using the pump of this issue.
If you follow proper precautions and understand how the pump works, then yes, they can be safe. If you do not take the time to understand your equipment and take the proper precautions, then rotary water pumps are just like any other device, they can be dangerous if not used properly.