I have an infrequently used, small cabin that needs a pumping system installed. Currently, there is no pressure tank or pump installed. There was one many years ago but that's long gone. The water supply is from an artesian well. The water from this well is piped into 2 large holding tanks in the basement.

My question is: what would be the best setup to get this water into the house?

I was looking at the flotec pump/tank system, but Im not sure if thats the best way to do this.

In terms of water demand, its pretty low. 1 toilet and 2 sinks.

  • A jet pump is going to have the issue where you either need to have a hole in the bottom of the tank for it to draw from (this increases the risk of the tanks leaking), or you will have to prime the pump to get it going. A submersible pump in the tank will be much more reliable and much quieter, but is more expensive. Do you have a budget in mind? What kind of flow rates do you need (not much, by the sounds of it)? Is there any treatment system installed?
    – gregmac
    May 30, 2012 at 22:32
  • 1
    Are you set on using the tanks -- why not have the supply directly from the well? Water in tanks has a much greater potential of being contaminated. Typically cisterns or tanks are only used in residential applications when the well cannot produce enough water to meet demand so it runs dry during normal use -- kind of like using a battery with a solar panel, so you can still have power during the night, or still run a dryer and stove at the same time even if it's really cloudy out. Of course, this is probably more expensive, but it does increase the potential resale value.
    – gregmac
    May 30, 2012 at 22:38
  • @gregmac - The reason I have the holding tanks is exactly as you say, the well does not produce fast enough to keep up so the water is stored. I understand the contamination concern but the water is only used to flush toilets and wash dishes. As for a budget, Im open to spending what I need to get it working correctly. The submersible sounds interesting...how does that work?
    – Alex
    May 31, 2012 at 10:01

3 Answers 3


To set this up with a submersible pump, you need to have:

  • Submersible pump: at bottom of cistern. You'll want to clean any sediment from the tank before installing, as if the intake is directly on the bottom then it will suck it up and could possibly clog the pump or your plumbing fixtures.
  • Control box: needed only if you have a 3-wire pump; 2-wire pumps don't need this.
  • Normally open float switch: located at bottom of tank, set so that when it's down, it shuts off, and wired in series with the power to the control box so it prevents the pump from turning on when the tank is empty.
  • Pressure tank system: Pressure tank, pressure switch, gauge, and sed valve (not shown). This is just the typical setup to use with a pump
  • Shut-off valve to the house: again, just typical part to make servicing easier

enter image description here

Optionally, you can install a second normally closed float switch (set to turn on when facing down) at a slightly higher level than the other one, and wired to an indicator light in the bathroom or wherever. This will alert you when the tank is almost empty.

  • are there special submersible pumps for this type of thing or any kind will do fine?? Thanks this is great info.
    – Alex
    May 31, 2012 at 20:42
  • Technically yes. Each pump is rated for certain flow rates depending on the amount of total head (total head = static head + friction from length of pipe; static head = the vertical distance from the top of the water level to point of use), and you can get this info via the performance curves for that pump (should be provided by mfg). That said, in your case, the total head is going to be so small that almost any small pump will work. Do be careful of over-sizing though, if you throw in a big deep-well pump that can do 20 GPM, it's going to turn on and off so quickly it'll be hard on the pump.
    – gregmac
    May 31, 2012 at 21:22

I have been using an RV 12v (3 Gpm) pump for 3 years in our cabin. They cost less than $100 and have built in pressure switches. I use a transformer to get the 12v power off of our 120v solar system. I could have purchased the 120v unit with the same rating but the combination allows me to use either in the future. These pumps also self prime and run dry without damage.


How many people use the cabin? Are any of them keen on "roughing it"?

When I was a kid, we used a a hand pump in my grandparents camp.

(source: drumpumps.com)

You had to remember to bring a gallon of water with you to prime the pump or you had to take a bucket down to the lake. We thought it was a blast.

  • Alex already says the water is being brought into holding tanks from the well. If they wanted to rough it, I don't think he would have asked the question.
    – BMitch
    May 30, 2012 at 14:33
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    Don't think the OP wants to manually pump water while he's taking a shower, or flushing a toilet.
    – Tester101
    May 30, 2012 at 17:52

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