How to pump gas – Bob Vila

how to drain gas


While pumping gas is usually associated with nefarious activities, there are many clear reasons to learn this skill. Knowing how to pump gasoline can help you get back on the road if you find yourself stranded away from a gas station. It’s also useful for winterizing (or summering) lawn mowers, snow blowers, and other gas-powered equipment by cleaning out the gas tank. You can even drain your car’s gas to fill an empty lawn mower’s gas tank, or vice versa in a pinch.

Ahead, learn how to safely drain gasoline from a gas tank with a simple and affordable tool.

Tools and materials


Before learning how to drain gasoline, it is important to remember that it is illegal to drain gasoline from someone else’s car without permission. This guide is solely intended to help DIYers siphon gasoline from their own vehicles and equipment.

Never attempt to evacuate gas without the proper tool. While there are ways to pump gas without using a pump, these methods involve blowing in or sucking on the siphon hose to create suction, which is very dangerous. Mouth siphoning can cause you to inhale gas fumes or even swallow gasoline, which can cause dizziness, headaches, throat irritation, and vomiting. The siphon pump is by far the safest way to pump gas and the only method that will be discussed below.

RELATED: Lawn Mower Repair and Maintenance: The Do’s and Don’ts for All Homeowners

STEP 1: Buy a siphon pump.

how to drain gas


To evacuate gas from a gas tank, you’ll need a gas evacuation kit, which is a simple device you can buy at any auto parts store for about $10. The fuel siphon pump creates the suction needed to start the drain process using a light bulb or plunger mechanism operated by hand or a small electric motor.

STEP 2: Install tank and hose.

Place the gas canister on the ground next to the equipment gas tank. Positioning is critical, as gravity is used to transfer gas from one container to another. With siphon pumps, one end sucks in liquid and the other pushes it out. Place the suction end into the gas tank and the other end into the gas bottle. Be sure to place the hose in the equipment’s gas tank so that it is submerged in gasoline.

STEP 3: Start pumping gas.

how to drain gas


Squeeze the pump mechanism several times to create the suction needed to move the gas from the gas tank through the hose. Keep in mind that the mechanisms on the siphons differ depending on the design of the pump. You may need to squeeze a rubber bulb or manipulate a piston to start the process. Gas should begin to flow after a few clicks. The vacuum created inside the pump, combined with gravity, will move the gas through the line without the need to continue pumping throughout the siphoning process.

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STEP 4: Control your pump.

Watch the pump as the gas exits the cylinder into the gas cylinder. When the container is full, raise the pipe or container above the level of the gas tank to stop the drain process. Raising the line above the level of the tank will cause backflow, causing any gas left in the line to flow back into the gas tank. After the gas comes out of the line, remove it from the gas tank and close the tank.

STEP 5: Clean the pump.

If you are pumping gasoline on the road, store the siphon pump temporarily and safely in the car. Once you return to civilization, clean the pump before storing it. To clean the pump, run a solution of water and dishwashing detergent through the lines, then flush with fresh water. Allow the pump to dry completely before storing it so that no water remains in the piping when it is time to use it again.

how to drain gas


Final Thoughts

Knowing how to drain gas is a useful skill to get rid of stale gas, in case you run out of gas and find yourself in a quandary, or when you need to borrow gas for an empty mower or snow blower tank. Remember that draining gasoline from someone else’s car without the permission of the owner is illegal. While there are ways to evacuate gas without using a pump, these methods are dangerous and should never be attempted.

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