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How to Choose the Right Drum Pump


While a variety of industrial plants include liquid management, this is no easy task. Simply holding a hefty amount of a liquid, (i.e., anything above 50 pounds) can be a burden for drums and barrels. Although these containers are strong and spacious enough to store vast amounts of fluids, using or extracting fluids from the barrels is a nearly impossible job. Even a small 55-gallon drum weighs over 450 pounds. Something that heavy cannot be tipped easily to remove the liquid it stores. A drum pump is the solution to this problem.

What Is a Drum Pump?

A drum pump is an instrument placed on the upper opening of a drum or barrel, used to remove and transfer the liquid inside. This eliminates the need to pivot or tip a weighty drum to remove the liquid. There are two major types of drum pumps, and their sub types are available in different tube lengths, materials and models.

How Does a Drum Pump Work?

  • A drum pump works by fitting into the top opening of a drum by way of its narrow tube, which houses a vertical shaft. The drum pump also consists of a small motor attached to the shaft, which runs on an AC or DC electric motor.
  • The motor turns on the drum pump via a switch. When the drum pump is actuated, its pumping mechanism comes from the base of the tube, which sucks out the content. The base of the tube relies on either a small centrifugal pump impeller or a rotor.
  • Some drum pumps can be actuated by hand, using a crank. Manual turning can also be done through a piston pump. Drum pumps can be used on an interchangeable basis, though some are more hard-wired into a drum or barrel.

Industries that Use Drum Pumps

Since there are many types of liquids that need to be processed, transferred, transported and handled, drum pumps are not limited to hydro-based industries. In fact, since chemicals, oils and other liquids are heavier and denser than water, these industries are even more reliant on the use of this tool.

For instance, the pharmaceutical industry has grown to a domestic value of $770 billion thanks to drum pumps. These are a few other common industries and spaces that utilize drum pumps:

  • Chemical plants.
  • Manufacturing plants.
  • Food processing plants.
  • Processing plants.
  • Automotive shops.
  • Cleaning jobs.

Types of Drum Pumps

There are two major types of drum pumps: hand-operated drum pumps and electric-operated drum pumps. These types differ in their makeup, use and models.

Hand-Operated Drum Pumps

Hand-operated drum pumps, as their name suggests, are powered by hand, instead of a motor. They are ideal for remote pumping applications and in instances where there’s little to no power available. Here are some more characteristics of this instrument:

  • Available in stainless steel, aluminum, plastic, polyacetal, polyphenylene sulfide, PVC, etc.
  • Inlet size ranges from ½”- 1-½”
  • Offer easy, leak-free, spark-free pumping.
  • Have different lever shapes and lever lengths.

Electric-Operated Drum Pumps

Electric-operated drum pumps run on electricity to power the pumping. They resemble the hand pump but use electric power. They are great to use for tasks that involve a higher volume transfer. Here are some more characteristics of this instrument:

  • Available in battery and electric-powered models.
  • Built with different voltages.
  • Generally thicker and heavier devices.
  • Have different lever shapes and lever lengths.
  • Good for use with large quantities of drum drainage.

Hand-Operated Drum Pumps Electric Operated Drum Pumps

Fluid Types

Oils, diesel, gasoline, anti-freeze, kerosene, soap solutions

Additives, dyes, chemicals that need blending, exhaust fluid

Volume Types



Use Intervals

Intermittent drainage of drums

Regular drainage of drums

Working Mechanisms

Must be twisted at the nozzle

Can be plugged in or run on a battery

Hand-Operated vs. Electric-Operated Drum Pumps

What to Look for When Selecting a Drum Pump

  1. Determine how the pump is going to be used to choose the right pump series, motor type, accessories and major pump type.
  2. Check the compatibility of your application with the drum pump’s head and flow, chemical type, fluid, viscosity, size and motor.
  3. Make sure the outer tube material is chemically resistant to the fluid in your drum.
  4. Select an explosion proof or air drive motor if the liquid you are pumping is flammable or combustible.
  5. See if you need any accessories for your project. Drum pump accessories include static protection kits, drum adaptors and flow meters.

Benefits of Using a Drum Pump

Drum pumps are both a practical and useful option for emptying out and transferring the liquids in drums. In addition, the foremost benefit is the vast subtleties both hand-operated and electric operated-drum pumps have. No two are alike, whether it is in the length of the tube, voltage or the wetting material. This allows you to truly customize your fluid handling operation. It also allows the drum pump to match your industry and environment to the utmost degree.

Other benefits of drum pumps include portability, the ability to be hard-piped into the system and that they are available in metallurgic and non-metallic materials to minimize corrosion when the pump is in use with corrosive liquids.




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The information contained in this article is intended for general information purposes only and is based on information available as of the initial date of publication. No representation is made that the information or references are complete or remain current. This article is not a substitute for review of current applicable government regulations, industry standards, or other standards specific to your business and/or activities and should not be construed as legal advice or opinion. Readers with specific questions should refer to the applicable standards or consult with an attorney.