Tips for Choosing the Right Pump

When you are buying a drum, bottle or pail pump, you should know that there are three different categories that you can choose from. They are safety pumps, power pumps and manual pumps. You will want to think about the chemicals that you will be working with, the thickness of the liquids being pumped, the size of the container that you will be working with, and whether there are any harsh chemicals involved in the process. You will also need to think about the volume of liquid to be pumped over time, and whether there are any special regulations to worry about (E.g. if you need a food grade pump for the job).

Here are six things that you should pay close attention to when selecting a new barrel pump:

Chemical Compatibility

Make sure that the pump you buy can handle the chemicals it will be pumping. The Material Data Safety Sheet will give you an idea of what the pump is made of and what it can be safely used to pump.


The centipoise is a measure of the viscosity of the liquid, and you should consider whether the pump can handle a liquid of a given thickness.


How much liquid do you need pumping per minute or per stroke? Hand pumps are rated per stroke, but their total output will depend on the stamina and strength of the operator. Power pumps are rated in gallons per minute, but even then the viscosity of the liquid will affect it. The published ‘up to’ rate is a best case guideline, and you should buy a pump that is rated a bit higher than the output that you expect to need.

Food Grade

If you will be working with a regulated substance or with foods/drinks, then you will need a pump that is sanitary and that is made from food grade materials. There are power pumps and manual pumps that can be made to meet this specification.


It’s useful to know the size of the container that you plan to be pumping from (and to) as well as the type of liquid that you will be working with. Pumps can work with everything from one-gallon bottles up to 275-gallon containers, but you may need different tube lengths to work with different sizes. In general, you could use a 55-gallon pump with a drum that is as small as 15 gallons, but the top of the pump could end up sitting well above such a small container. That should not really be an issue for the day to day operation of the pump, but if you know that you will only be working with a small container then it makes sense to buy a pump that is made for that specific container size in the first place.

Power or Manual

Manual pumps are operated by the user, while a power pump can run without intervention since it is air or electric powered. The utilities (or lack thereof) in your facility will determine what you use.

Remember that drums which need to hold hazardous materials must meet the UN/DOT 49 CFR 173.3 (c) requirements. There are a lot of different choices of container, lining and fitting out there that can do this. If you’re not sure what you need, then be sure to talk to a customer service agent for some advice tailored to your business needs specifically, so you get a safe, efficient and suitable pump.