This is about sharing stuff I am passionate about, like self-sufficiency, preparedness, and of course family and food.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

How to build a well bucket

A friend of mine posted this question on face book today. "What if something like Katrina or Sandy happened at your community... if you had to live without electricity, water, sewer, fuel, heat for weeks to months. How would you fare if that happened to you today?" That's a good question!
How long can you live without water? A person can survive only three to five days without it.

If you had to live without electricity and have a well, even if you have a diesel generator as backup power, you will still need the fuel to keep it running. What happens when you run out? If you have a well bucket on hand, you will be prepared for the most extreme circumstances, and be able to survive. If you don't have a well, you should have at least three days worth of drinking water stored up for everyone in your household, including pets and know the location of your nearest water source.

A well bucket is inexpensive and easy to make. To assemble a well bucket you will need a piece of pipe, sealed at the lower end with a valve built into the bottom, this will let the bucket fill when it hits the water and close as it's hauled up. Before you use a well bucket it is very important that all parts and pieces are clean and sanitary, you don't want to risk contaminating the well you are relying on.
I decided to assemble for our own well two different buckets, for different scenarios. The first bucket is 1-1/4" in diameter, meant to snake down the well without removing the pump and pipe. This size may or may not work depending on how your well is set up. The second bucket is 3" in diameter for longer term use, but you will have to pull the pump and pipe out. If you live in the country, chances are a neighbor has had to pull a well or two and can offer help if you need it. Most wells are four inches in diameter, but before building a bucket you should check to make sure your bucket will comfortably fit.
The small bucket is made of five parts; one length of 1-1/4"x 60" pvc pipe, one pvc coupling, one 1-1/4"x1/2" pvc reducing bushing, a large marble, and rope to lower and raise the bucket, make sure all your knots are secure and tight. The pipe is the bucket. The coupling, marble, and bushing together make the bottom valve. If the pipe has a bell-end you won't need the coupling, make sure you glue all the parts together. This bucket will hold about 1/2 gallon of water, enough to get drinks.

Click to enlarge


Click to enlarge

The large bucket is made of five parts; one length of 3"x52" pvc or abs pipe, one 3" pvc or abs coupling, one 3"x 1-1/2" pvc or abs reducing bushing, a golf ball, and rope to lower and raise the bucket, again make sure all your knots are secure and tight. The pipe is the bucket just like the small one. The coupling, golf ball, and bushing together make the bottom valve. Once again if the pipe has a bell end you won't need the coupling, and again make sure you glue all the parts together. This bucket will hold 2-1/2 gallons of water. The large bucket is heavy when full. If you will be using it for an extended period of time you will probably want to make a pulley system of some kind to raise and lower the bucket, maybe even a hand crank of some kind. Your well may be hundreds of feet in depth, but the actual static water level may be anywhere from close to the top, or close to the bottom. I keep plenty of rope just in case.

Click to enlarge

When purchasing the bushings be aware that some are concave or rounded on the inside and some are not. For this type of valve to work properly it needs to be concave. You can also build a valve using a toilet float or a simple rubber flapper setup as shown in the photo's below, check the web for more designs.You can also purchase well buckets online, sells a nice Amish made galvanized bucket. Well buckets are also known as baler buckets, torpedo buckets, and bullet buckets.


  1. Great post! One question... what is the safest way to pull the pipe without dropping it accidently into the well? We have watched it done once and it looks risky.

  2. In our case the well pump was hanging on pvc pipe. We were able to bend the pipe as we were pulling it out, so the pipe went out the front of the pump house in one long piece. If it's galvanized pipe it would be a whole different ball game. I friend that helped me pull the pump had pulled a well with rigid pipe. They used a engine lifter to pull the pipe little by little and used two 2x4 bolted together with wing nuts clamped over the pipe at the well head to hold it securely while they got a new grip to lift again. Hope this helped.

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  4. Thanks for the useful tips. How so you keep the ball/ mare from floating up? Thanks