What is a Siphon Pump?

Lori Kilchermann

A siphon pump is a tool used to draw liquids out of a barrel or a bucket. Many times adhesives and other liquid-based products are shipped in large containers. In order to use these products, they must be sucked or poured out of the container. Most of the containers are either too heavy or it is not feasible to transport the container to the work place; in this instance, the siphon pump is called upon to draw the material out of the larger container and transfer it into smaller containers.


Most siphon pump designs are based on suction and gravity. The siphon pump is placed into the material which is to be pumped. Like a giant syringe, the siphon pump handle is pulled out to create a sucking vacuum. The liquid is sucked into the siphon pump and travels out of the spout where gravity takes over and the fluid continues to drain into the new container. When the desired amount of fluid has been transferred, lifting the siphon pump out of the liquid will halt the flow of fluids and stop the transfer.

Some pumps use a pumping motion to activate the flow of liquids through the pump. By pumping the handle in and out, the fluid is coaxed into the pump and out of the spigot. Much like the old hand-operated water wells, once the fluid begins to flow, the pumping action can cease. Lifting the handle and holding it in an upright position will break the vacuum and stop the flow of the liquid.

There are some pump designs which utilize a power tool to initiate the pumping process. By placing the pump into the chuck of a power drill and attaching a garden hose to both the entrance and exit sides of the pump, a user need only place the entrance hose into the container and squeeze the drill's trigger. The pump will spin into action and the fluid will begin to flow out of the exit hose and into a container of the user's choice. To stop the pumping, the user need only release the trigger on the drill motor.

While the power-driven pump is perhaps the easiest to use, it is not recommended for any type of combustible liquids. The fumes might come into contact with the electrical motor of the drill and explode or cause a fire. For all combustibles, a hand-operated siphon pump is highly advised. Most pumps are easily disassembled for cleaning once the material transfer is complete.

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