Cast iron, hand-operated water pumps offer the advantages of being low-cost pumps that do not require electricity for operation. They prevent children or small animals from falling into a well and improve hygiene.
Open wells pose a danger to small children playing in the area. Adding a wellhead and pump prevents the potential for disaster. Keeping small animals from falling into the opening also protects water quality.
In the United States, most wells use electric pumps as of 2015. However, in parks or along hiking trails, electricity is not always available. A cast iron pump uses human power to pump the water and makes water accessible to those living with no connection to the electrical grid. Units are available for wells of different depths. In regions where electricity is available, but where power outages are common, the hand pump provides water that may not always be available.
Cast iron pumps also have some disadvantages. They require a significant amount of effort to collect water and require carrying water from the well to the point of use. If the water in the well is corrosive, it causes the cast iron to rust, which affects the flavor and color of the water. The rust-colored water stains clothing washed in it and affects the color and flavor of food. The corrosion also increases the wear on pump parts, requiring frequent replacement.