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How to Identify the Best Pumps

The vacuum pump is the heart of the portable sanitation industry. In fact, it made portability possible by making it convenient, easy to manage and cost-effective. The best pumps deliver ever-steady service that is a model of reliable performance. They’re rugged for years and even decades of regular use.

But there may be times when you want or need to replace a pump, upgrade your equipment, or build your inventory. You should become familiar with pump models, performance, and features that deliver power, efficiency, and dependability. For example, when you’re buying a new pumper truck or slide-in unit, some manufacturers will let you choose the pump options and sizes.

What is the best pump for your business? The key is to recognize that you don’t necessarily need the most expensive, most powerful vacuum pump. You need the pump that best meets your needs.

Our experts offer a few common-sense recommendations to put the power in your pump purchases.

Stay with the Brand That Works for You

Buy your pumps from the same manufacturer. Maintenance and repair are easier when you consistently work with the same brand. Choose a manufacturer that supports its pumps with solid after-sales service. Do any of your current vendors sell parts for certain brands? Are any supported locally?

Size the Pump Accordingly to the Size of Your Tank

Don’t buy more or less than you need. offers guidelines for pump/tank combinations (CFM is cubic feet per minute):

CFM (pump size)          Gallons (tank size)

20-40                                    80-200

50-90                                    150-500

100-120                               400-800

130-150                               700-1,200

160-200                               1,000-1,800

210-240                               1,700-2,500

250-280                               2,400-3,000

290-340                               3,100-3,600

350-400                               3,500-4,200

Look for Valuable Features

Choose features that protect your pump and make it easier to maintain, such as:

  • Pressure relief valve — A pressure/vacuum relief valve (also called a breather valve) is a protection device. Its main purpose is to protect the pump from rupturing or imploding.
  • Secondary scrubbers — Your vacuum pump can be damaged and even destroyed if liquid gets into it. The secondary scrubber has two functions to prevent this dangerous situation. It’s a moisture trap and a secondary shut-off trap that removes liquids still in the air stream after passing through the primary shut-off trap. It keeps liquids from entering the pump.
  • Filter exhaust system — Removes oil mist and odor from valve exhaust that is produced while pumping.
  • Automatic lubrication
  • Access points for easy maintenance
  • See-through oil tank for easy oil level monitoring
  • Warranty

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High Quality is Easy to Find

There are many top-quality vacuum pumps on the market today. These brands have well-established, and well-deserved, reputations for high quality. Major manufacturers and distributors include:

If you have questions, you can always contact the manufacturers directly. They can give you specific pump recommendations.

Compare Costs

Prices for new pumps range in the thousands of dollars. Compare the costs of models that fit your tank and offer the features you want. Used vacuum pumps can provide dependable service at an economical price.

Stay Up to Date

For the latest information, websites such as PRO Monthly and Pumper Magazine devote entire sections to pump reviews. Check the supplier directory provided by Portable Sanitation Association International (PSAI). The JohnTalk Classifieds, Craigslist, and Facebook pages dedicated to portable sanitation are excellent sources for used vacuum pumps. The WWETT Show is a great place to glean information on pumps. All the major manufacturers are on display there, and they can walk you through what sets their pumps apart from the rest.


Looking to Take Your Portable Restroom Business to the NEXT LEVELDownload our FREE Guide: “Your Guide to Operating A Portable Restroom Business.”

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