How to make a trash pump…cheap!

seasense800Trash Pumps

My video (bottom of this page) shows my home-built trash pump and how I used it to drain a small pond in my driveway.

Trash pumps are water pumps that pump out dirty water. Sometimes that water has leaves, rocks and other debris in it. If you spend $1000 you can get one that will actually pump out that debris with the water.

My little trash pump works in dirty water because it is inside a bucket, so only water flows into it. There is no need to actually pump out debris.

The pump is a bilge pump…the kind used to pump water out of a boat after it rains. Boats often have leaves and other stuff floating around in the water so these pumps are perfect for making a trash pump. It can be completely submerged. If you ever want to clean it, the pump comes off and you can clean it and the base separately.

Construction is simple. I took a 5 gallon pail (you can use any sort of bucket you have on hand) and drilled a bunch of 1/2" holes on the side by the bottom of the bucket.

I drilled a 1" hole in the side of the bucket (large enough to fit the garden hose through).

Then I placed the pump into the bucket and marked the holes in the "legs" of the pump. Then I took the pump out and drilled holes in the bottom of the bucket. If you are using bolts make the holes a bit larger than the bolt shaft. If you are using screws make the holes a bit smaller than the screw shaft.

Although I had most of the pieces I needed laying around, I'll list them on the right and give links to sources.

For a drain hose I grabbed a piece of 3/4 vinyl tubing I had laying around and attached a female garden hose hose connector. I slide the vinyl tubing through the 1" hole in the bucket and slide that over the discharge outlet tube on the bilge pump. If you have a funky old garden hose around, you could cut that off and use that for your discharge hose.

I grabbed about 12 feet of speaker wire and connected that to the pump's wires (the length is up to you). This is very low amperage so I didn't need heavy wire. You could use thermostat wire, if you have some of that. Even 22 gauge wire would work (from the description, it looks like the 800 pump comes with 30 guage wire). I let the wire go up over the lip of the bucket and attached the splice there to keep it dry.

I attached a couple electrical clips to the end of the wires. You can get these at any local hardware store. If you wanted, you could bare some wire and just wrap it around a couple metal bulldog clips (the kind you hold papers together with) and wrap some electrical tape around the handles.

To complete the pump, I put a few rocks (3 or 4" diameter) in the bottom of the bucket to weigh it down.

How can you tell which wire is positive and which is negative?

The wires on the bilge pump are marked positive and negative, so when you add the extra wire, you can simply follow along the wire and mark one negative and one positive at the battery end.

I always forget to do that, so I put the pump in some water. Then I hook up the wires to the battery and see if it is pumping out water. If it isn't, I have them backwards. I switch them on the battery posts and then water flows. I always think I'll mark the wires, but it's been a few years and I haven't yet. Sigh.

pumpinbucketThe parts you'll need

A bilge pump
They are rated in gallons per hour or GPH. I used an800 GPH SeaSense brand pump which has a 3/4" outlet.
You could get an 1100 GPH pump which would pump water out faster. The 1100 GPH pump uses 1-1/8" hose which is rather uncommon. Links are on the right.

I don't really believe the GPH they claim, but mine has held up and pumps water out steadily. It does the job for me.

Here is some GE 18 gauge speaker wire. You can cut the wire off an old extension cord or use almost any wire you have around.

Battery clip
Amazon has some for $4 with free shipping if you're odering other stuff at the same time. Any local hardware store carries them, too. Some clips have screws to attach the wires, and some have crimps you squash to hold the wire. You could get creative and wrap the wires around small chip clips or use bulldog clips or just wrap the wire around the battery post. The main thing is the wire needs to be in firm contact with the battery post.

I used a old 5-gallon bucket I had already. You can buy one at a hardware store for a few dollars. You can use any sort of bucket, even a plastic mop bucket or trash can. If you're desperate, a gallon milk jug might do.

Electrical tape
This is just to tape up the splices in the wires. Stretch the tape and then wrap it around the splice. Afterwards it will try to shrink back to it's normal length and grip the splice tighter. That makes it more waterproof.
Obviously it would be better to solder the splices and use liquid electrical tape, but I wasn't that inspired. The leads are pre-tinned to make soldering easier.
There are waterproof splices you can order here.

The pump come with "Stainless Steel Shaft & Mounting Hardware".

Female garden hose connector
Nelson makes a female garden hose connector that fits either a 5/8" or 3/4" hose.

Drain hose
I used a short piece of 3/4" clear vinyl tubing. It fit right over the outlet discharge port/tube. If all you have is a 5/8" hose, you could split the end about 2", put it over the outlet and tape the heck out of it. Stretch the tape as you wrap and it will shrink back tightly afterwards. There is basically no pressure on the outlet hose so it's no big deal.

Another Youtube video of mine you might like:

How to make your own boat hull cleaner

Easy and inexpensive!

Instead of paying $10 or $20 a bottle for hull cleaner, make your own for $1!

800 GPH (gallons per hour)
Has a 3/4" outlet

The 50010420 pump has to be turned on and off by you. This is what I have.

The 50010425 pump has a float switch to turn it on and off automatically.

1,100 GPH (gallons per hour)

This pump has a 1-1/8" outlet. Not a common size hose!