Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Well buckets for drilled wells.

When you say "well bucket" people automatically think of a thing like a wishing well, a little round stone well with a cover over it, and a wooden bucket on a pulley.  That's not what I'm talking about here.

Hey, I needed a picture of a wishing well, and I just happened to have this one........

If you don't have a drilled well, this won't be of any use to you. If you do, it's something you might want to add to your long term planning.

People who live in dwellings that are on city/county water and sewage are up the creek in a long term power outage. The pumps that drive the sewage system and water system are probably backed up by diesel generators, but fuel for those generators is generally stored in amounts sufficient for less than a week.  Diesel deteriorates in the storage tank over time if not properly supplemented, so corporations don't want to buy a lot of it.  Just what they think they might need until power is restored. If the outage is long term, goodbye electricity.

Once the power goes out, you can haul water to your place in a bucket, if you have a bucket and if there's a water source available.  If you live around people, I can guarantee you that your neighbors, or some of your neighbors, are going to foul the water source at the first opportunity. I can't explain why people do this, but I've been in places in the world where people use the creek or the lake as a "potty" and that's that. It will happen anywhere when people can't flush the toilet, and don't think past the next thirty seconds. So, you'd better have a really good water purification system, and you have to have water within hauling distance.

However, if you have a drilled well, you aren't in that position.  Drilled wells have a PVC or aluminum "casing" that goes down the drilled hole.  The submersible pump (which is what most people use today) is attached to a heavy , black flexible pipe that looks like a garden hose on steroids. The submersible pump and the hose are lowered down the well shaft, inside the casing. The controls for the well are in a little "pump house" and the pressure tank and gauges, filters ,etc are usually inside the main house. Layouts vary. You can design it however you want but these are the main components.

When the power goes out, or your generator runs out of fuel, how do you get the water out of your well?

With a drilled well bucket.  Here's what one looks like.

This one is from Lehman's.  It's essentially a metal tube with a valve on the bottom and a pulley attachment ring on the top.  You pull the big black hose and the submersible pump attached to it out of your well casing. This is hard work and will take about three men if you have a well that goes down a ways, like mine does. Then you rig a frame and a pulley over the casing. I keep a store of four X four posts in the barn to use for this, as well as the necessary hardware. Lehman's sells everything you need or you can get it at a farmers depot type store.

well pulley

simple frame

Obviously, you need enough rope to lower the well bucket all the way down to the water.  Don't forget to secure the end of the rope to both the well bucket and the frame so that you don't lose the bucket down the casing.

You can make as elaborate a pulley system as you want, but here's the basic principle.

Here's a well bucket a fellow made himself.  Most of them are made by the person who needs them out of PVC and a few parts from a hardware store.  If you want directions on how to make your own, here's a link.

How to build your own drilled well bucket.

The advantages of this are obvious.  When all else fails, you still have clean, pure water and you can pull it up without too much effort.  But you can't wait til TSHTF before you get your act together on this. You need either a complete well bucket, with all the ancillary bits and pieces, or you need all the components to build one. Most of us have PVC around but I doubt too many have the right kind of pulleys, the right kind of rope, fixtures, fittings, valves, etc all nicely stored up.

It's a good investment. Lehman's are hand made by the Amish and pre-tested.  If you are more do it yourself inclined, no problem there either.


  1. Hey Harry,


    My situation is rather 'unique'

    In my area the water table is probably about six or seven feet right now. Yeah' the water is bit salty but can be filtered and boiled and it would be fine.

    I figured if I needed water. I could get 20 feet of pvc pipe with a shut off valve and a shovel and I could get started that way on a small shallow well.

    That's one thing about Texas. We are a state where water is scarce. Rivers and natural lakes are few. Most water sources are man made.
    In a collapse it would be back to hand dug and hand drilled wells, the 19th Century all over again.

    1. Are you sure it wouldn't be too brackish? If it isn't, and you can get potable water from six feet down, you are in good shape. Here , I had to drill 178 feet down to get water.

  2. Good advice. There's no other reasonable way to manually get water out of a drilled well when the electric pump fails. My well is shallow, but has always overflowed and water can be caught in a regular bucket.

    Now that I'm spending time here in dad's park I'm completely reliant on the water and power systems provided. Feels weird. Okay, I do have my camping gear including water jugs and a small inverter. However there's only so much stuff that can stuffed in a small car.

    1. When you displaced from your place to your dad's, you got into a more challenging environment in the event of a shut down of some kind. But you are still probably well above the neighbors there in terms of handling it because you have the right experience and mind set. One reason I don't like to go too far from home is all my equipment and supplies are right here.

  3. We've just invested in a 12 volt solar pump which we'll run directly off a solar panel - t'will help us if, and when, we need to pump water from our rain water tanks.

    1. Solar is iffy here because I don't get a lot of sunshine in the meadow at the best of times, and my well is in the woods where there is no sunshine at all in the summer. The tree canopy is too thick. I have a generator and lots of fuel, but it's definitely a finite resource. When the last gallon of diesel is gone, no more power. This gives me a backup, where I don't have to go down to the stream. I don't want to be hauling water from the stream or the spring because they are both down slope of the buildings and that would be hard. Especially in winter when there's snow and ice. Where you are, you get plenty of sunlight and a solar powered pump would be ideal. Wish I could do that.

  4. I've had this link ( http://waterbuckpump.com/the-ultimate-hand-water-pump/ ) to permanent handpump arrangement sitting in my bookmark folder. It looks very interesting and the amount of water displaced per stroke seems pretty practical.

    1. I'll take a look at it. Water after the generator runs dry is always a concern with me.

  5. Very naughty well picture Harry! ;-)

    1. I thought that would catch the eye of the Ladies. ;-)

  6. Thanks for teaching me something.

    I had no idea that "Drilled Well Buckets" even existed, and assumed that once the power was gone, you were SOL.

    I know there are times when you can use a pump up topside to suction the water out, but IIRC, that's limited to about 30'.


    1. Yeah, if I could use an old style water pump with a handle I'd be ecstatic but my well goes down 178 feet and as you correctly point out that is way too deep for a pump with a handle. So for me the only way I can see to get water out of the well is to set up a drilled well bucket.

  7. The trouble I see with the drilled well bucket is that you'd be hard pressed to get it down the 8 inch casing with the PVC line, wire and pump in the way. So you'd have to haul the pump and pipe out before you could sent your "bucket" down. And believe me without the right rig that is not an easy job. Been there and done that on dad's 170 foot drilled well and a couple of others. If push came to shove I'd be inclined to rig up plastic tank on the roof and an alternate source of electrons, be it solar, wind or even a pedal bike rigged to a dynamo to fill the tank every couple of days. And then you'd still have water on demand in the house.

    1. This is a poor man's answer to the problem. You have to pull the submerged pump and the flexible hose out of the casing. The casing can't have anything else in it. My well is 178 feet down. I've pulled the pump twice. Both times it took me and two burley well company guys to clear the casing. Using muscle power alone I don't think less than three men could do it, although of course the shallower the well the less dead weight you have to lift.

  8. Hey Harry,


    check this out


    unless this news story is a hoax (I found it on drudge) we (U.S.) trained the head of Isis back in Chechnea (that was smart)

    We have a really bad habit of training people and they turn on us. Anyhow Abu (whats his name) the head of Isis was influenced by Whabibism from Saudi Arabia (another 'that was smart moment) When the Saudi's built a mosque in Abu's hometown and he grew a radical hair in his tail end and ran off to Syria.

    bad coffee fueled 'tin foiled hat prophecy time' (do not try this at home)

    I don't blame the Russians running amok after the Chechens started their little rebellion. We should have stayed out of that mess, but any chance we (our government gets) to screw with the Russians we jump on it without first studying the long term effects and fallout of our actions.

    Now I formulated another strategy.

    the bag guys in our government made secret deal with Isis. Isis gets to do whatever they want. We put up a token fight, a few strikes here and there. Nothing to substantial and no boots on the ground.
    Isis agrees not pull a 9/11 large attack on the U.S. In return they also get to form the caliphate they want and cheap Saudi natural gas pipelines are ran through Syria through turkey and into Southern Europe eliminating Russia's monopoly on Natural Gas to Southern Europe. The big corporations, especially manufactuers in Germany profit heavily from this.
    Next, The largest migration possibly in human history allows millions fleeing the caliphate to move to Europe and everywhere else since birthrates have been declining in developed countries for a great many years. Cheap bottom feeder labor is needed at the bottom of the pyramid scheme to keep the pinnacle at the top of the scheme in wealth for another several generations.

    This is all about money in the end.

    Mainstream economists are taught to believe that 'growth' is the only way to maintain a western economy.
    I personally subscribe to the opposite economic theory that the smaller the family. The more wealth and higher standard of living can be maintained (and sustained) example, shoes. ' Husband, wife and two kids. Husband in theory makes enough money that the kids can have a few extra pairs of shoes. Husband does not have four kids and is forced to provide 'hand me down shoe's' to his four kids, but he can buy new shoes for two kids thereby purchasing two more pair of shoes because his overall budget has more flexibility with two kids rather than four kids.

    This allows the shoe retailer to sell more shoes, hire more employee's and it 'trickles down' to other people in turn (its called 'supply side economic theory)

    Now I don't know what the theory that allows for birthrates to decline and the consumerism to increase is called, but we somehow are so focused driven on the long held belief that the only way to maintain our economy is to increase human population and thereby increase consumerism that it will eventually destroy us because there will be too many ants in the anthill and not enough resources in the end.

    That's a self defeating economic prophecy.

    I know I think too much, Bad habit. The future does not look good and the only way to see through the murky haze is to first know the motivations of those in charge. Wars are started for economic reasons. Money, land, there has to some kind of tangible reward. Many times religion is used to cover up money as the real motivator.
    Throughout history war has been all about taking something from someone else.

    that motivator is universal and can always be counted on.

    follow the money......

    1. Interesting theories.

      I'm not sure there's anybody in our government who could plan his way out of a theater fire, let alone cook up some vast conspiracy, but whatever the cause a lot of what you describe is certainly happening around the world.

    2. he has two things right though. we created isis, and we are protecting them. we being osama-been-fronting, our prez and shillary the saudi money taker. as to chechnya, bush backed them until 9/11 when he needed russia to look the other way on iraqistan whereby he promptly threw them to the wolves. that's what the boston bombing was about. the chechens didn't run amok, the russians did. just like we're doing to the kurds now. no wonder everybody hates us.

  9. We have a well but we also have a gravity feed spring which runs up to about ten feet from the house. That time we lost power for eight days due to the derecho we just ran a hose from the spring into the bathroom. However if it was winter that would not work so well because the house would freeze up. So then we would be hauling buckets but at least it isn't too far.... Our well is much further. Under normal conditions we just use the spring for watering animals and the garden.

    1. I have a little spring too, and there's the creek. The thing about the well is that the water is pure. I'm not sure about the spring, but I guess I should get a test kit from Home Depot and find out about that. As for the creek, the only thing upstream of me would be animals pooping in the water, there are no people in that part of the national forest.

      Dani has a nice set up in South Africa. She has a solar powered pump on her well. But I don't get enough sunlight here in winter for that to work for me.

      Your spring is a great backup, and people here pay a big premium for land with a creek or spring on it these days for that very reason.

  10. Thank you for posting this useful info about drilled wells and buckets. Many homeowners do not know much about their water wells, including depth, casing size, pitless adapters, etc.

    The fella with the "homemade" bucket in the photo above is my husband, Darren, of Well WaterBoy Products. We've been building and selling well buckets to all 50 states, Canada and even England since 2011. Our buckets are made to last for years of everyday use, not just for temporary use as are Lehman's. WaterBoy Well Buckets also are operated with a release lever at the top to simply empty the water from the bottom, rather than pouring the water from the top into a container . Our buckets also are made in 4 sizes to accommodate casing sizes from 3" and up. We also build lifting equipment, like the tripod pictured and a windlass hoist.

    Yes, homeowners can build a simple bucket or purchase a galvanized tin bucket, but for reliable, long-term use, a good quality bucket is the way to go.

    Thanks again for posting this blog. Access to clean water is so very important.

    To learn how to determine the bucket size needed, here's more info: http://waterbuckpump.com/2013/10/03/measure-your-well/