Milwaukee M18 Transfer Pump – Add A Hose, The Water Flows

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milwaukee m18 transfer pump

When the old water heater bites the dust, Job One is to drain that sucker and get it out of there. Sometimes you get lucky, and there’s a floor drain five feet away. In the real world, though, there may be no drain, or it may be too tough to get at. This means the old tank needs to be pumped out into a utility sink, or to the great outdoors. Wherever you end up draining it to, the task will go a whole lot faster with a good transfer pump. The folks in Red sent us a shiny new Milwaukee M18 Transfer Pump to evaluate; let’s see if it’s something to get pumped about.

milwaukee m18 transfer pump
The Milwaukee M18 Transfer Pump, bare-tool version.

Right off the bat, having a cordless unit like the Milwaukee M18 Transfer Pump is a big time-saver. I’ve been in my share of sketchy basements, and it’s frequently hard to locate an outlet. Assuming you do, you then have to deal with an extension cord, both before and after use. And the mix of water and electricity has never been all that appealing to me…With the Milwaukee, set it down, hook up the hoses, and turn it on.

milwaukee m18 transfer pump
A helpful directional arrow shows which way the river flows.

The Milwaukee M18 Transfer Pump is small, roughly 6” x 6” x 13”. This small footprint is great – it doesn’t take up a ton of space in your truck, or while sitting on the shelf waiting for its next mission. Milwaukee packed a lot of power into that small package, though; with a 3/4” hose attached, Milwaukee claims the pump can relocate 480 gallons of water an hour.

milwaukee m18 transfer pump
All shiny and new and dry…for the moment.

Getting that water in motion is easy, because the Milwaukee M18 Transfer Pump is self-priming. Drop in the hose, turn on the pump, and a few seconds later the water exits stage left. And if your mind happens to be floating downstream somewhere when the job is finished, onboard Redlink technology senses when the pump is running dry, and automatically shuts it off. Here’s a list of features and specs from Milwaukee:

• Industry’s first cordless transfer pump with the fastest setup in the marketplace
• Self-priming pump – connect and go!
• Pumps up to 480 gallons per hour
• 3/4” Brass inlet and outlet fittings
• Dimensions L: 13.2”, H: 6”, W: 5.75”
• Weight 7.9 lbs.
• Produces 18′ lift, 75′ head height
• Viewing window helps identify blockages
• Tool warranty: 5 years
• MSRP: $179 (bare); $279 (kit)

The Milwaukee M18 Transfer Pump Makes A Splash

We received the bare tool version of the Milwaukee M18 Transfer Pump. The pump is also available in a kit, which includes an XC battery and M18 / M12 multi-voltage charger. When you slide the pump out of the box, it’s ready to get to work. Just pop in a battery, attach your hoses, and get pumping. The pump can use any M18 battery; the battery compartment is protected by a splash-proof lid, and is large enough even for the big boss High Demand 9.0 Ah battery.

milwaukee m18 transfer pump
The battery compartment has a hinged cover to keep the agua out…
milwaukee m18 transfer pump
And any M18 battery will fit, even the big High Demand unit.
milwaukee m18 transfer pump
The lid keeps the battery snug and dry.

To give the pump its first tryout, I ignored the manual’s “Indoor use only” warning, and headed for the great outdoors. I had a stack of trusses awaiting some walls to set them on, partially covered by a blue tarp, with some pockets of water sitting here and there. There were some leaves and other debris in the water, and since the manual says the pump is only to be used with clean water, I scooped the debris out. The biggest chunks, anyhow. I screwed on a couple of short pieces of 5/8” garden hose, stuck one into one of the puddles, and hit the switch.

milwaukee m18 transfer pump
The truss stack had some mini built-in pools…
milwaukee m18 transfer pump
I did a thorough debris removal…
milwaukee m18 transfer pump
And connected the hoses.

When you first fire it up, the Milwaukee M18 Transfer Pump makes a bit of a high-pitched ruckus. As soon as it gets itself primed, which only takes a few seconds, it settles down a bit. It started sucking the water out of the puddle, and spewing it out the discharge hose, but seemed pretty sporadic, not a good steady stream.

milwaukee m18 transfer pump
When the intake hose isn’t tight, sputtering ensues…

The hoses I used were not the greatest, and the washers were way past their expiration date. I took the hoses back off, reversed the washers, and re-installed them. I cranked down the inlet side good and tight, thinking it might have been sucking air, and fired it back up. What a difference – the Milwaukee M18 Transfer Pump started spewing out a solid, heavy stream of water this time. The discharge hose was still not tight, due to a crappy washer, but having the inlet snugged up really improved the performance.

Milwaukee addresses this in the manual that comes with the Milwaukee M18 Transfer Pump. The pump needs a good, airtight connection to siphon water properly. They recommend wrapping teflon tape around the threads; I would add to that “Make sure your hose washer isn’t a worn-out POS.”

I emptied several of the pocket puddles, until suddenly the pump made an unhappy noise, and the water quit coming out the discharge hose. Turns out I may have missed a leaf or two… looking through the clear glass window by the impeller confirmed this. Luckily, the cover, held in by four screws, was easy to remove. I popped it off, cleared the leafy blockage, put the cover back on, and then ran some clear water through it, to flush out the remaining crud. Good as new!

milwaukee m18 transfer pump
You get a clear view of the impeller, and anything keeping it company…
milwaukee m18 transfer pump
The impeller is easy to access for cleaning or replacement.

My other trial was to see how quickly the pump could empty a five-gallon bucket. I filled one, with CLEAN water, and stuck the intake hose in. Since I didn’t have a decent hose for the outlet, I just let ‘er fly free. The Milwaukee M18 Transfer Pump spewed out a strong, steady stream, and emptied the bucket in just under a minute.

milwaukee m18 transfer pump
Time to drain the bucket. And get another hose.

I was using a standard 5/8” garden hose; using a hose with an interior diameter of 3/4” would likely speed up the process by a fair bit. You can buy it by the foot at most home centers; I’m planning to get about 30’ of it, and a couple of hose clamps, for when I want that water to MOVE.

milwaukee m18 transfer pump
The 5 gallon bucket was drained in just under a minute.

Who’s Ready To Get Pumped?

The Milwaukee M18 transfer pump is aimed at pros, like plumbers, maintenance crews and HVAC techs. It would be a VERY handy tool to have on the truck, helping get the job done quickly, so you can get on to the next. I think there’s a good market for this tool for homeowners, too; having one of these around the house or farm could be hugely useful.

milwaukee m18 transfer pump
Pros are likely to love the Milwaukee M18 Transfer Pump. Photo: Milwaukee Tool

When we bought our old farmhouse, the previous owners had rain barrels hooked up to some of the gutters. They were set on a stand a few feet off the ground, and could be used to water the gardens or whatever, by using gravity feed. We often wished for a bit more oomph in moving the water; in the future, the Milwaukee M18 Transfer Pump will provide that oomph. Other planned uses are to get the water off the swimming pool cover in the spring (after clearing the leaves), and to empty out our grandsons’ kiddie pool. Along with occasional truss tarp drainage.

How else could the Milwaukee M18 Transfer Pump make itself useful? Pumping water into or out of a cistern, filling or emptying aquariums (don’t get any fishies in it though), pumping water out of a boat, emptying landscape ponds, emptying a dead washing machine…use your imagination!

The Milwaukee M18 Transfer Pump has a solid, rugged feel to it. It should hold up for many years of water transfers, assuming you don’t feed it leaves too often. If it does get a bit too much abuse, the impeller is easy to replace. The pump is covered by a 90-day return policy, so you can try it out for your next water relocation project, and Milwaukee also backs it with a five-year warranty.

milwaukee m18 transfer pump

The bare tool sells for around $179 at Home Depot:

Buy Now - via Home Depot

And the kit is about $279:

Buy Now - via Home Depot

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About Phil

Phil’s path to the pinnacle of success as HomeFixated’s Senior Writer was long and twisted. At various stages of his life, he worked as a framing carpenter, attended motorcycle mechanics school, served as an Army MP, did a hot and itchy stint installing insulation in Phoenix, owned and operated a small contracting firm doing residential renovations, and worked as an employee of a major airline (Motto: We’re not happy ‘til YOU’RE not happy). He is currently semi-retired, but continues to take on little projects, such as the total renovation of an old farmhouse. Yes, he is a slow learner. Future projects include a teardown restoration of his 1965 BMW motorcycle, and designing and building a kick-ass playhouse for his grandsons. Phil loves spending time outdoors, hanging out with family and friends, cool tools, and a cold IPA when beer o'clock rolls around.

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