Siphoning is a job that most of us will encounter sooner or later, and one that many folks deal with on a regular basis. When attempting it for the first time, most don’t know where to begin or even really what it is. There are actually several ways to go about it, and improper technique can lead to a mouth full of water, or liquid that does not move. Whether you are emptying a pool, cleaning a tank, removing water from a hole, working on a toilet, or trying to get a longer transfer going, a proper siphon will be the fastest and most effective way to finish the job. You probably already have all of the supplies you need to complete the task in a standard way, and if not, they can be found easily at your local home improvement store. Below we will list the three traditional ways to siphon water, and after that we will explain a much easier way that you may be interested in. The easy way does require a specialized tool, but based upon the time, effort and annoyance it saves you, the cost is relatively small.
What Is A Siphon?
The term itself actually stems from an Ancient Greek word for pipe or tube. It can generically refer to any number of devices that allow water to flow through, but in most cases it is used to describe an upside down, u-shaped hose that causes water to flow uphill without a pump. In order for it to work correctly, pressure needs to be different on the opposite ends. Under normal conditions, water flows from high to low, but when the lower end of a tube is pressurized, the liquid can flow from low to high. In this way, increased pressure pushes water upwards to the low pressure zone at the top of the arch, and then it falls down the other side as gravity sucks it down and out. The power of gravity will continue to pull water up and over once the process is started, and as long as the tube stays full. For good results, the container to be emptied should be higher up than the location you want liquid to drain into. Want to know more? Check out the wikipedia page.
3 Traditional Ways To Siphon Water:
1. Use a Garden Hose and Faucet
This method is commonly used when working with a high volume of liquid stored in a larger container. The wide diameter of the hose is an advantage in a case like this, but may pose a problem for smaller applications. Hooking up to a faucet while in place, or pre-filling can be a bit faster than submerging, but based upon the exact technique you choose, it may be more than you want to tackle. There are two slightly different ways you can go about it, and both may require a trip to the store. For the first variation, you will use a single hose and two clamps, and for the other one, you will use two hoses and a special adapter. When taking water out of an above ground pool, either one of these methods would work quite well.
- Select your location, and be sure that the water being drained is higher up than the area you want it to move to. You can drain half a pool into your yard pretty easily, but if you want it completely empty, you will find it much more difficult. This is due to the elevation, and can be resolved if the hose goes down into a sewer or something that is lower than the ground.
- Clamp the male end of the hose shut to prevent water flow. Attaching certain nozzles with an off setting may also acomplish this same task, but with something you already have.
- Hook the non-clamped, female end to a faucet nearby and turn on to fill.
- Once full, turn the water off, disconnect the hose, and clamp the end of the hose so that it remains full and the water does not exit. If you are a clamp-less household, elevating the end and covering it securely with your hand may work if you move fast enough, but keeping the hose full is key. The liquid inside will provide the pressure situation necessary to start the siphon.
- Take either end and submerge into the container you want to empty. You may want to secure it in place at the bottom, but make sure not to block the flow in the process.
- Place the other end in the area you want to send the liquid.
- Remove the clamp from the underwater side first, and make sure it does not float up.
- Remove the clamp at the other end and water should start flowing immediately. The pressure along with gravity should keep it moving.
- Watch the source end of the hose if not secured at the base. As the level lowers, it will become more important that it remains submerged.
- Once the pressure is gone, or water reaches a certain level, the flow will terminate.
If you have two hoses and a shut off valve to connect them, this method can be easier than the one above. It does not require you to transport a full hose, so there is less room for error. If you feel like the one hose way will lead to frustration, a small purchase can make it a more fool-proof operation.
- Select locations in the same way as above.
- Insert and submerge one end into your full container and secure it in place if possible. Make sure not to cut off flow if anchoring in place.
- Place the other end of your garden hose in the location you want the water to flow into.
- Screw on your shut off valve and make sure it is open.
- Attach your other hose to the unused end of the valve and then hook up the other side of the second hose to a faucet.
- Turn on the faucet and allow the hose to fill.
- Once the first hose is full, shut the valve to contain the water and then disconnect the second hose. Make sure to turn the faucet off first.
- To begin moving water, simply open the valve to start the flow.
- As the water level lowers, make sure the source end of the hose stays submerged.
2. Submerge a Tube
If you don’t want to mess around with dragging a full hose across your yard, or purchasing special parts for the job, then you can try the submersion method which basically means that you fill the hose or tube in the location you wish to empty. Although this works for larger containers, it may not be the easiest way to go. For smaller amounts, or easier to access locations, it can be quite effective. Because you don’t have to hook up to a faucet, you can use a garden hose or any other type of flexible tubing.
- To begin, take your plastic tube and put the whole thing under the water in the container you want empty.
- You will see air bubbles begin to surface as water enters and air moves out. Once the air is gone, the tube should be full, but give it a shake to ensure prior to moving on to the next step. If not full, you will have problems.
- Once filled, take one end and cover it with your hand or thumb to hold pressure and keep the water inside. Make sure it is completely covered to prevent problems.
- Take the covered end out of the water and move it to another container or location that is lower than the one being emptied. Make sure it stays covered until you have it in the ideal location. Using a clamp can make this easier.
- Check to ensure the opposite end is not floating up and then release your thumb or clamp to start the flow of water. Liquid will travel up, over and out to the lower container.
3. Use Your Mouth
This method can be fun, but for anyone that does not want to find out the taste of the liquid you are moving, it may not be the best choice. As with the other methods, you will be filling the tube to create needed pressure, but this time you will use your mouth to suck it full. If done correctly, you should not get any water down your throat, but that is a risk for any first-timer out there. If you visualize the upside down u shape, you basically want to suck until the water reaches the top of the bend. As it flows over the bend, the siphon should be complete, and the water should keep flowing on it’s own. If you pay attention, and time it correctly, this technique works as well as any. Good visibility can really decrease risk and improve results when using this method so the hose from your backyard may not be the best option when choosing supplies.
- To begin, place a bucket or some other container in a position that is lower than the water you wish to transfer.
- Place one end of your tube under the water, and take the other end over to your empty container.
- Begin sucking on the dry end of the tube and make sure you remain lower than the end in the water.
- Clear tube works best for this method because stopping suction at the right time is pretty important.
- Watch the liquid and stop sucking as it gets to the top and right before it begins to drop down. If emptying a bucket, you basically stop sucking as the water reaches the top rim.
- Quickly place the end you were sucking into the bucket and let the water flow.
- Ensure that the end submerged stays that way and the flow will continue until the liquid is gone.
The Easy Way To Siphon Water
If you think all of those methods above require too much work or skill, then continue reading for a much easier way. The Slide N Pump is a clever tool that makes this job super easy, and it also eliminates almost any possibility of error or trouble. You will need to pay money for the tool, but you will then have a fast and simple way to siphon water or any other liquid. It also works great as a regular pump, but in just seconds, it will fill a hose and provide the pressure necessary to initiate a steady stream of liquid without all the hassle. Attach any regular garden hose to give you the length you need, and a simple pump action will fill the hose with the water you want to get rid of. Once full, simply disconnect the pump and watch the water flow. It is less messy, less time consuming and much faster than any of the three ways listed above, and because it is also a regular pump, you can use it to suck up any remaining water after the flow inevitably stops. The pump action also allows you to eliminate water when you can not syphon due to conditions, and with every six back and forth movements, you will transfer one gallon of water.
- Attach a garden hose to the bottom end, or both ends of the tool.
- Submerge the hose into the water and ensure that it remains underwater.
- Pump back and forth to fill the hose.
- Select a location for drainage that is lower that the area to be drained.
- Once the hose is full and the positioning is correct, the water will continue to flow.
- After the siphon is initiated, unscrew the tool and watch as the liquid keep moving.
- Once the flow terminates, remove any remaining liquid by re-attaching the hose and using it like a pump. Place the hose into the water and pump back and forth. A second hose on the exit end can help if this step becomes necessary in order to send it farther away.
The Slide N Pump is one of the best ways to tackle this job. Not only will you get things drained faster and easier, you will also have the ability to pump when conditions are not optimal, or when there is water left over. All siphoning methods are prone to leaving liquid behind, and this is one of the only methods that includes an easy way to deal with it. If you don’t want to be drying left over puddles with a towel, or pulling your hair out because you can’t get the flow started, then this fool-proof tool is the answer. Anyone can use it because it requires no skill, practice or strength to operate. You may be able to save money by using stuff around your house and working to master a traditional technique, but you could also realize that your time is valuable, and messing around is for kids. This handy tool will allow you to finish this job with ease, but you can also use it to bail a boat, empty a fish tank, clear a flooded ditch, fix a toilet and so much more. If you will only use it occasionally or for small jobs, there is also a mini size available that costs a bit less.