Learn about Ram Pumps

Some Basic Info:

The Hydraulic Ram Pump is a means of moving water uphill without electricity.  Watch this video to understand what the Ram Pump is and how to install it as well as get it running: 1. Water Source Do you have the flow required to run the Pump? The Ram Pump will need a continuous flow of water to operate.  Determining the flow rate will help determine the size pump that you need. Measure your gallons per minute by placing a 5 gallon bucket in the water and collect all the water while timing how long it takes to fill the bucket and divide the gallons of water by the time in seconds and then multiply by 60 seconds to get GPM.  Example: 5 gallons filled in 6 seconds :   5/6=.833   :   .833*60= 50 gallons per minute.     The Flow rate for a ram pump needs to be enough to supply a continuous flow to the pump.  Each pump size below will have the needed flow rate listed. Check out this video to help you with measuring flow rate:   2. Feet of head (fall of water into the pump) There is a ratio that determines the results of the pump and that is 1′ of head will give you 7′ of lift.  So if you have one or more feet of  drop in your water source than you are ready for a ram pump. Without this feet of head you will not be able to use the ram pump. Watch this video showing a simple way to find the feet of head: 3.  Delivery height required How high do you need to pump water? check the feet of head that you have falling into the pump from the source. The ram pump will have a 1:7 ratio of feet of head to lift. So if your required lift is 50′ and you have 4′ of head you will not be able to reach the desired height. because  7*4= 28′ .  You would need approximately 7.5 feet of head for a 50′ lift because 7*7.5= 52.5′. I have tested a 1-1/4" ram pump up to 70' of lift running off 12' of head. Check that out here:  4. Ram Pumps There are several styles of ram pump but they all work on the same principle. You can purchase PreBuilt pumps from Land to House here: Ram Pumps. These pumps are assembled and ready to attach to a drive pipe. Select the size that you need that is appropriate for your water flow and pumping needs. This figure should help you understand the components of the Ram Pump setup: ram components1 5. How do ram pumps fair in the cold? Because the water inside the ram pump is always moving they are very resistant to freezing. Just make sure that you have the delivery pipe open and not closed off. If you close off the pipe then the water inside will freeze. Check out this short update on a ram in cold weather: 6. Can a Ram Pump work underwater?  Several people have asked the question and I have the answer. You can watch this video and see for yourself: The pump will work underwater and does add a little more feet of head to the pump as the pump goes under. Now I have no way of testing a pump deeper then what I have in this video but I assume that there is a point where the water pressing down on the pump will stop it from working. 7. Is there a way to increase the pumping height of a Ram Pump? Yes there sure is!  Every time the pump runs through its cycle water is pressed into the pressure tank and then out the delivery pipe. Now the water that is in the delivery pipe is always pressing down on the pump. So if you place a one way check valve in the delivery pipe to prevent so much water from pressing down on the pump you can increase the potential of the system. What does all that mean? Well watch this video and find out:  8. What if the feet of head is over several hundred feet? If you need to run your drive pipe over a distance of more than 100' you will need to install a stand pipe. This is important because if you have a drive pipe that is to long your pump will work slow and lose potential. So use a pipe that is larger than your drive pipe to span the long distance and then use a pipe that will stand up tall and match the original source. From the stand pipe you then have your drive pipe. Watch this video and it will all make since. Do remember to buy a ram pump from my store. I would love to sell you one. 🙂 Click here.

96 Responses to Learn about Ram Pumps

  1. TL Stanbro April 8, 2014 at 11:04 pm #

    Sir,
    These are great videos, I under the Ram Pump, but my problem I live by a Lake. How could I get water up hill other than useing electric pumps???

    Thanks

    Alaska

    • Seth Johnson
      Seth Johnson April 8, 2014 at 11:55 pm #

      Thank you!

      Well if your lake has a place that is below the water line you can use the syphoning process to bring water out of the lake and then run a Ram Pump. If this is not possible then I am not sure how you would pump without using a pump that requires fuel or electricity.

      I have seen ponds and lakes that have a spillway that drops into a spill pond much below the original water line.

  2. staelens kurt June 12, 2014 at 11:15 am #

    hey

    im from belgium where it often rains

    i’m building my own ram pump myself and whit the video’s off any kind i found on the internet
    about ram pumps
    i see that when you don’t seem to have a creek or pond it’s not practical to use a ram pump
    because of the fact that the spill water out of you ram pump will flood your garden
    so i was thinking is it posible to recover your spill water by puting your ram pump on top of your rain collector and suply your ram pump by a kind of vacum tank on top of your ram pump suply and suck the water out of your rain collector whit that tank ( you can say the siphon princible )
    i want to try this because i want to pump my rain collector empty with out flooding my garden witch is 100 m long,and with out electricity .could this work
    waiting for an answer
    greetings kurt

    • Seth Johnson
      Seth Johnson June 12, 2014 at 5:34 pm #

      Hello

      You are right in saying that running a ram pump without a creek or pond is not practical. There is a lot of waste water. Around 1/6 is pumped.

      Using the siphon effect will work but you have to have the pump below the water level for the feet of head.

      For your application I am invisioning a rain collection tank set at just below the gutters and a second below that one. You can fill the top one with rain and use the second one as the ram pump overflow catch basen. That would give you a few feet of head for the pump to operate and save your water.

      As for using a vacuum pump. the pump needs to have water flowing in both directions in a pressure wave.

      Hope this helps some.

      • staelens kurt June 13, 2014 at 1:56 am #

        in the first place thank you for the fast reply
        if i got you message right than it seems to me that
        putting the ram pump in the water(under water level,like I saw in one of your video’s ) of my rain collector could give me the feet of head and also the recovery off the spill water at the same time

        filling my pump is than a posibilaty by the siphon effect
        whit no water lost and no energy use

        do you think that in this way of working i should use a bell siphon to fill my ram pump or better the vacuum pump

        greetings kurt

        • Seth Johnson
          Seth Johnson June 13, 2014 at 11:40 pm #

          You are welcome! I Enjoy learning about ram pumps from others such as yourself.

          When you place a ram pump underwater it will work but the water must come from a source outside of that body of water. When you look at the video I made you see that the source of the water is a location above the pond. There is a second pond about 3 feet above the one that I used to submerge the pump. This is what supplied the siphon effect to the pump. There is no water movement in a single body of water that would get the pump working.

          This is why I was thinking that using two rain collectors would work. A top collector that catches the rain and another below the top one that would catch the loss from the ram pump. This would allow you to save the lost water and run the pump with a good bit of head.

          Now about the Bell Siphon. The Ram Pump works on a repetitious pressure wave that comes from the source to the pump and then is shot from the pump back to the source. If you use a Bell Siphon the pressure pushing down from the siphon will not allow the pressure wave to come back to the source. A non bell siphon is alright though. It allows the wave to act as it needs to.

          I hope these thoughts get you thinking 🙂 With all this said I would like you to go out there and test your ideas!!! I would love to be proven wrong (As I am often)

    • Jake June 24, 2015 at 7:41 am #

      Hi there.

      First congratulations for some pretty nice tutorials for water ram pump over there. ;)!

      I studied ram pumps for few days now but I still have one question for you, I’m sure you still have a lot more knowladge about this, than me :).

      I designed a 2″ ram pump which can lift water up to 150m in the tank, where herd of cows can drink.
      I read that it is not uncommon for an operating ram to require occasional restarts.
      The problem is that this is not acceptable for me and I need a really constant pump, because the location of the pump will be like 2 hours walk in the hill, so I am not able to check every day if the cows have water to drink.

      So my question is if there is a chance to modify a “classical” ram pump so it can be lets say “self started” if something go wrong.

      I know there is no way it can “self re-start” if somethings brake or if let’s say fish gets stuck in the valve, but is there any solution if the valve gets clogged and can not be opened because of any other reason?

      I hope you understand my question :).

      Thanks, Jake.

      • Seth Johnson
        Seth Johnson June 24, 2015 at 10:21 pm #

        Hello and thank you. I have enjoyed getting to work with these pumps!

        My longest test of a ram pump was over three months of non stop pumping. I have found them to be very reliable. The only reason that my pump test was stopped is because my neighbor thought I was wasting water.

        Once the pump has stopped on its own I have not found a way to get the pump to self start again. If you can keep a screen on the inlet and make sure that no air enters the pump you should be able to keep the pump running 24/7.

        There are actually pumps in the UK that have been working for over 100 years and never stopped. I do understand what you mean about the cows. You might be able to reduce the flow of water into the delivery pipe to make sure that back pressure is kept in the pressure tank all the time.

        I hope this helps

        • Jake June 25, 2015 at 11:37 am #

          Thanks for your fast reply :).

          I don’t really understand the thing with back pressure. How can a back pressure affect on the swing check valve, if there is a spring check valve in between?

          Engineer775 on youtube is also talking about back pressure on 26:05 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_VTEpTq4cOI and again I do not understand how is a back pressure affecting on a swing check valve.

          • Seth Johnson
            Seth Johnson June 25, 2015 at 10:46 pm #

            I watched his video a couple weeks ago. He is very knowledgeable when it comes to ram pumps.

            When the Ram Pump “rams”, two things happen. the pressure wave is sent back up the drive pipe and also into the second valve. The pressure is reduced on the first valve and it drops open. The back pressure on the delivery line keeps the pressure tank pressurized. If the tank is not kept pressurized the system stops. It is hard to understand but it all has to do with the way the pressure wave returning to the pump from the drive pipe interacts with the second valve. If there is no back pressure in the tank than the wave from the drive pipe will smash into the first valve and close it and then smash into the second valve and go into it. The water rushes out the delivery pipe and the pressure wave is reduced to the point that the first valve never opens again. But if there is back pressure the second valve does not open until the first valve closes and the pressure in the tank is maintained.

  3. Lee October 28, 2014 at 9:58 am #

    How about installing a ram pump inside of a pressureized manhole it is 6 ‘ in dia and 10′ deep with springs flowing into it i have to pump it out now for my pond and it puts out about 50 gallons a min when i pump the man hole down to bottom.The manhole is about 300’ away from my pond,but its the same elevation as my pond when the springs stops running hope this makes sense to you.thanks Lee

    • Seth Johnson
      Seth Johnson October 29, 2014 at 12:09 am #

      Hello Lee. That flow rate is more than enough to get a pump running. The feet of head of 6′ will give you the potential of over 40 feet of lift. You will likely have to use the second ball valve on the pump to throttle the water back some in order to maintain back pressure. The 300′ distance is not an issue. When you say “pressurized” what do you mean?

  4. Austin March 22, 2015 at 7:34 pm #

    Hi I was reading about your ideas for the waste water collection. I have been researching ways to recycle this water back to the source when I came across someone saying something about a ram pump without a waste valve. do you know anything about this?

    • Seth Johnson
      Seth Johnson March 22, 2015 at 9:05 pm #

      Interesting! I have not heard of a pump that does not use a waste valve. How does that work?

  5. Myriam April 20, 2015 at 9:33 pm #

    Hi. First of all, I’d like to thank you for your curiosity, will to experiment, and kindness to share. I have to admit I’m not the most handy person on the planet and your videos make all the ram pumping thing clearer.

    Now, I have a question. Let’s say I’d like to pump water out of a 3 feet deep pond to 3 feet above ground (6 to 7 feet total). Now, there’s no stream. Is there a possibility to create a fall for the water? Let’s say, I’d put an empty barrel that is higher than the level of water in the pond (thus not flooded, and let’s say that I make a hole in it at 2′ and that I hook up the drive pipe to the hole… would that create sufficient head pressure to a) get the ram pumpin’; b) pump 6 feet high?

    I know it might seem like a silly question, and it must not work, for it should already be documented if it did, but I think you’re the only one I’d understand the explanation of why it doesn’t work.

    Thank you,

    Myriam

    • Seth Johnson
      Seth Johnson April 20, 2015 at 10:22 pm #

      Hello and thank you for watching my videos! Its nice to hear that my stuff is clear enough to fallow. I worry about that sometimes.

      I am a little confused in your question.

      I am thinking that you are asking is it possible to float the drive pipe in the pond and let the pump rest on the pond bottom? The problem with this is there is no change in the water flow. All parts of the pond are affected by gravity the same so the pipe in the pond will not have moving water in it.

      Now you can use syphoning to get water out of the pond into the ram pump as long as you have a drop below the pond water level. (outside the pond). With 1′ of head you can pump water around 7′ but if you can get 2′ of head then you will be much better off. The first video here shows syphoning from a pond. http://www.landtohouse.com/yummy-mud-ram-pump/

      If I am missing your idea totally I am sorry haha. I am way better at talking to the camera than email so bear with me. Please let me know how close I am to your thoughts.

      • Jared October 20, 2015 at 11:19 pm #

        Seth,
        This is a great article, very informative. Thank you for that. I have a thought that I’m sure is ridiculous but cant quite wrap my head around it. It kind of piggy backs on Myriam’s thought. I have a pond that’s at sea level and nowhere on my property is lower than it. If I used a 55 gallon drum lets say, and weighted it down so the top sat a few inches above the surface. Have the head pipe just a few inches from the surface of the water entering the drum (which is dry) feeding the pump at the bottom of the drum which might be 3′ of head. There’s a problem with the exhaust, as it would fill up the drum, but could I choke it down a little and have it piped out the top of the drum back into the pond or will this counter everything. It’s only going 40 feet with a rise of about 15-20ft. Do you think some form of this will work? Thanks in advance.

        • Seth Johnson
          Seth Johnson October 21, 2015 at 7:22 am #

          Hello

          This question comes up a lot actually. I appreciate the creativity. 🙂 so yes this works but there are some serious issues to consider. The feet of head starts at 3 feet but actually more like 2.5 because the pump is 6″ tall give or take a little. When you start the pump you get it going and the waste water starts filling the drum. As it fills the feet of head is decrease so you can get your 20′ lift but only for 2 or 3 min. Then you have a pump that is under water in a tank with 160 pounds or more of water and the pump can’t pump to the height now.

          Now if you have some sort of solar pump in the drum that can pump the water out and won’t burn up if it pumps dry that might work. Just to keep the waste water out.

  6. Myriam April 21, 2015 at 11:20 am #

    Thank you for your quick reply (which is very clear).

    I’m afraid that I’m not clear. Since an image is worth a thousand words, I’ll send you a drawing to your email.

    Thank you again,

    m.

  7. Jake July 1, 2015 at 3:28 pm #

    I can not reply on my comment, so I will write one more.

    First thanks for all your explanations, you really are great! 🙂

    I have one more question for you :).

    I made a ram with 2″ drive pipe and now I don’t know which is better for me a 3/4″ or a 1/2″ output.
    I know that the best ratio is 2:1, but 1″ for me is not an option :).

    The volume of water at the end of delivery pipe is not so important for me, what is more important for me is if I can achieve a greater vertical lift with constant feet of head from water source with different output, in my case 3/4″ or 1/2″.
    Or is maybe vertical lift in both cases the same?

    As I said I have to pump water up to 150m and I would like to build as short drive line as possible.

    I hope you understand my question :).

    • Seth Johnson
      Seth Johnson July 1, 2015 at 3:53 pm #

      I am happy to help!

      So I have tested your question and I have an answer for you. The reduction of delivery pipe is just for saving money on pipe. The atmosphiric pressure on the water in the pipe is the same for a 3/4″ pipe as it is in a 1/2″ pipe. An example of this would be this: If you have a pipe connected to the bottom of a 5 gallon bucket the water in that bucket will overflow at some point. Now if you have the pipe connected to the bottom of a 5000 gallon cattle tank the water will still be pushed over the tank but it will take a long long time.

      So you can use any size deliver pipe size and still have the same water output. Now if you use a very small pipe then the water will have pressure behind it and it will still try to keep up the same output.

      I would go smaller/cheaper and be sure to install a check valve in the delivery pipe to keep the pressure off the pump.

  8. Jake July 2, 2015 at 1:36 pm #

    Thank you so much, you really are a great help! 🙂

    One more question for you if I can :).

    What do you suggest me to install a snifter valve before the check valve or to install a inner bike tube in the pressure chamber?

    • Seth Johnson
      Seth Johnson July 2, 2015 at 6:21 pm #

      I like the bike tube. Much less chance of messing up!

      • Jake July 3, 2015 at 3:54 am #

        Allright, I’ll try with bike tube than :).

        I think I got another problem. Do you think a HDPE pipe will be too week to resist the pressure which is needed to lift up to 150m?

        I would probably need to install iron pipes up to at least 80m in vertical lift and from then I could install HDPE pipe?

        • Seth Johnson
          Seth Johnson July 3, 2015 at 7:53 am #

          I figure you will be hitting 200psi. So you will need to use steel for the lower section for sure! You will likely need a modified spring valve to achieve that from a ram.

          • Jake July 3, 2015 at 8:58 am #

            Yes, I know. I will have to modify a valve.

            Well, thanks man. I really own you a beer right now! :).
            You really were a great help to me :).

            I will post a picture of my ram here, when I will finish the project :).

          • Seth Johnson
            Seth Johnson July 3, 2015 at 10:04 am #

            Awesome! Can’t wait to see your results.

  9. Eddie July 18, 2015 at 6:02 am #

    Hey there Seth, The question I have is I have a creek flowing behind the house but the drop from one end to the other end is really low like maybe a foot or two at the most. I’m trying to pump just enough water for the chickens and dog to have fresh water during the spring till fall months. I need to pump it to a height of 300 feet. what do you suggest. I was thinking about pumping to a barrel with one pump and using a 2 pump to carry it the rest of the distance. What do you think ? I’m in the foothills of NC in Cleveland County.

    • Seth Johnson
      Seth Johnson July 18, 2015 at 7:34 am #

      Hello

      I just want to make sure that I am on the same page with your setup.

      The 1 or 2 feet you mention, Is that over a distance of say 100 feet?

      The 300 feet, Is that vertical? Or is this horizontal distance?

      Typically you are going to get ~7 feet of lift per foot of head so you are looking at 14 feet max from your creek right now. If you were to use a second pump with that 14 feet of head from the barrel you could get about 100 feet of lift. My pumps are good for about that but much more and you are going to want to have a metal component pump. The pressure is just too high.

  10. Michael July 19, 2015 at 5:41 pm #

    Hi Seth
    I’m writing from Ireland and I’m finding your videos and ram pumps fascinating to watch and learn from.
    My main question is would you post to Ireland as I see that you only post to UK?

    My reason for interest in your Pumps is from next year on our farm we will not be allowed to let cattle access rivers around our farm to drink from. This is due to regulations and rules of a new scheme we are entering.

    At the moment I’ve been experimenting with a Pasture Pump which works very well pumping water out of the river through the power of the cow (have a look: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TqpdaW652Lw)

    While this is fine it requires a lot of work & intelligence from the animal for little water. I think the ram pump would allow me to fill a water tank that has a ball cock up from the river however the river beds are fairly level which be an issue for head??
    Also would the Ram Pump keep working when the ball cock in water tank stops the water flowing into water tank?
    Any reply or ideas would be much appreciated.
    regards
    Michael

    • Seth Johnson
      Seth Johnson July 19, 2015 at 11:46 pm #

      Thank you for watching my videos!

      I have not set up shipping to Ireland yet. This is mostly because the shipping is so high. To the UK is an additional $75 and it would be the same to Ireland. How are plumbing parts in your area? I hear that in some places it is difficult to find parts. I can look into getting my site ready for shipping to you.

      Here in my State we are facing the same issue with cattle and rivers. I had not seen the pump in the video. Here we have balls on tanks that the cows press down to get to water. The concept is close to the same. I can see that you are right about the little water flow and the animal has to know what to do to get the water.

      So to answer your question: Yes the pump will continue to work even though the delivery pipe has been shut off by the ball cock valve. Once the water level drops and the valve opens the water will start to flow again. The only reason the pump would stop in this setup is if the delivery hight is not high enough to keep the pressure when the valve opens. What I mean is when the valve opens there will be a sudden surge of water and that might lower the pressure in the tank enough to stop the swing valve from reopening if there is not enough back pressure on the delivery pipe.

      I hope this helps!

  11. Michael July 20, 2015 at 7:56 am #

    Hi Seth
    Thanks for speedy reply.

    Yes plumbing parts are not as accessible in Ireland as the US.
    The pasture pump I am experimenting with is best introduced to animals when they leave the housing/sheds at spring time, In the sheds they are used to using a push bowl to drink water and concept is generally the same but as I said maybe too much work for suckling cows.

    My plan is to test your Ram Pump (If you can ship it) out this summer and maybe look at building a couple more ourselves (try!) if we like the results.

    The water tanks on the river bank will always be full using the Ram Pump and I feel my only issue will be making sure I use a long enough pipe for the water coming into the Pump.

    The cost of the Pasture Pump that I bought from Germany was €254 delivered.
    And I estimate that your Pump will be approx €230 delivered with the possibility of a better end result for the farm and the possibility of maybe building our own after.

    Anyway Seth to finish I’d would appreciate if you could look into delivering one to me as I;d like to try it out this summer before end of August as I am back to work then. (teacher)
    Thanks
    Regards
    Michael

    • Seth Johnson
      Seth Johnson July 21, 2015 at 12:00 am #

      Today I want to the Post Office to ship three of my pumps and asked the clerk to find out the shipping to Ireland and YES it was the same as sending to the UK. I have set up my store to ship to you. (I have not shipped out side the USA and Canada so it will be nice to have a shipment to your country)

      Once you have used these pumps for a while you get used to them. I am still amazed at how well they work.

      When you get the pump feel free to ask questions for install and operation!

      • Michael July 21, 2015 at 7:49 am #

        Thanks Seth
        I have completed purchase
        Looking forward to its delivery and setting it up.
        Regards
        Michael

  12. fajar July 23, 2015 at 1:48 pm #

    Hi Seth,
    first thanks for your very good article,
    i want to ask, do you have calculation or analitical steps to predict the performance of the hydram?
    coz now i have a project about hydram, and need precise prediction of the hydram performance.
    thanks

    • Seth Johnson
      Seth Johnson July 23, 2015 at 6:19 pm #

      I am happy that you liked it. I am just getting into the numbers behind the ram pump. You can watch My first video with psi guage here
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I8WiJw0dgtc

      Almost all my tests have been consistent with the 1:7 ratio.

  13. fajar July 25, 2015 at 6:48 am #

    i really respect that you hace done so many experiment with hydram.
    so the 1:7 ratio u got from experiment, right?
    do you have any literature or another source about hydram that you learn from?
    but before thank you for the fast reply

    • Seth Johnson
      Seth Johnson July 25, 2015 at 9:21 pm #

      Yes that 1:7 is from my many tests. Sometimes I am able to get a little better than 1:7 but most of the time that is right on. I have a few more tests that I want to run on the pumps. Those videos should be out soon. Most of my learning has been on my own but some has been from watching youtube.

  14. Jake July 28, 2015 at 2:34 pm #

    As promised, here is a first photo of my ram pump.

    Thanks to you it’s slowly getting into shape :).

    Pic:
    http://shrani.si/f/1r/n0/3dKZMevL/20150725160411.jpg

    Regards, Jake.

    • Seth Johnson
      Seth Johnson July 28, 2015 at 11:05 pm #

      That looks very robust! Have you had the chance to take it out for a test yet?

  15. Jake July 29, 2015 at 9:38 am #

    Yes, I made it robust because I didn’t know what to expect. Everyone told me that 16 bars is a lot of pressure and that my pump won’t substain all that pressure and that I will hardly achieve 150m lift.

    Yes, I just tested it. It achieved 16 bars imediatelly, with just 10m of head from water source. I still need to make few modifications but I think it will work ok, and I think it should pump water 150m high :).

    • Seth Johnson
      Seth Johnson July 29, 2015 at 3:24 pm #

      16 bar is around 250psi. That is a lot of pressure indeed! Also 150m is amazing for a ram pump. I am happy to hear that you have gotten such results! The pumps that I sell on the site are really only made to handle pumping 60m. Once you have the pump finished and working you should upload a video!

  16. zulema August 6, 2015 at 4:37 pm #

    how much water ram pumps waste? approximately

    • Seth Johnson
      Seth Johnson August 6, 2015 at 5:32 pm #

      The waste depends on a few factors but will be between 60 and 90%.

  17. Justin September 24, 2015 at 11:15 am #

    Hey Seth,

    My partner and I live in Zambia on a river which has a pretty good flow but over a flat area of land. Thus, there is no head. Does this necessarily mean that the ram pump won’t work, or is it possible to use the pressure of the running water to create force in lieu of falling water? We are trying to lift the water about 15 feet vertically to a drum which sits about 150 feet from the river horizontally. Also, if a ram pump won’t work, could you recommend a design of pump which might? Thanks!

    • Seth Johnson
      Seth Johnson September 24, 2015 at 12:44 pm #

      I am sorry to say that you will not be able to use the RAM pump without feet of head. There are two pumps you might be able to use as long as your water is moving at a fair speed. The first one is called a “river pump” this pump basically has a propeller that spins a coil of tube that collects water and pumps it. The second pump is like a water wheel that gulps water as it spins. I have tested this a little bit as you can see in this video: https://youtu.be/ZuFxqolv-j0

  18. Mike C October 25, 2015 at 6:58 pm #

    Hi Seth, many thanks for this site and all you have put into it and I was very pleased to see you give your design plans away for free, very cool!

    I am looking to build a 1″ to 3/4″ pump. I might have 2 feet of head with a 25 foot long drive line and need to rase the water 12 feet and 40 feet from the source.

    My question is about the tank. I’m hesitant to put a bike tube in knowing that if it ever leaked I would have to cut the tank and glue on a new cap. Can you elaborate more on using the swimming pool noodle, like, what length would work. Could you use any closed cell foam?

    Thanks again,

    Mike C

    • Seth Johnson
      Seth Johnson October 25, 2015 at 8:13 pm #

      You are most welcome.

      When you say you are building a 1″ to 3/4″ pump you mean the drive pipe is 1″ and the delivery pipe is 3/4″? This is fine just wanted to make sure. You will be able to get water to 12′ with 2 feet of head although the flow rate might be a tad low.

      I have not tested the pool noodle before but I hear that it works well enough. I rather light the bike tube because its easy to buy the right size and it has a lot of give. The issue is that it can grow old as you hint toward. I need to get a couple noodles just for testing. As long as your foam is not going to degrade quickly I think you will be fine. Really I have found that as long as the tank is upright I have very little issue with water logging.

  19. Mike C October 26, 2015 at 5:06 pm #

    And speaking of the right size tube, what do you recommend. I know I have a spare 26×1.75 lying around.

    • Seth Johnson
      Seth Johnson October 27, 2015 at 8:33 am #

      That would work just fine for the 1″ tank but for a 3/4″ you will likely need to get a 12″ because its a tight fit. On the larger tank just fold the tube in half.

  20. Nicholas Piaskoski December 14, 2015 at 9:46 am #

    I am enjoying your site and discussion here.

    I too would really like to make use of water traveling down rain gutters. I haven’t quite got my head fully around the pressure aspects yet. It seems the biggest issue would be the need to start the pump during each rain event, unless enough pressure can be maintained in the delivery pipe to keep the pump primed in-between rain events, correct? Could one of the valves be adjusted where at x feet of head the pump stops operating but stays primed, and then when it rains and more water is added to the delivery pipe, the pump resumes operation again?

    Thanks! Nick

    • Seth Johnson
      Seth Johnson December 14, 2015 at 8:13 pm #

      Thank you for checking out my site. So using the ram pump directly from the gutters would not be very successful. The pump waste valve wastes a lot of water to make the pump work. It would be best to run the water from the gutters to a tank then use the water from the tank. You would have to restart the pump each time. That is something that a lot of people are worried about. It can be annoying but has to be done as far as I have learned. I have not found any info on how to make a self priming pump. That would be awesome if t could be done.

  21. Eric Kowalewski December 24, 2015 at 8:36 pm #

    Hi,

    I have a river behind my house. It’s sort of in a valley. There is now “fall” as you would say. It’s just a slow flowing river. Can I use a ram pump to pump water vertically about 12 feet?

    Thanks,
    Eric

    • Seth Johnson
      Seth Johnson December 25, 2015 at 6:34 am #

      Hello.

      The ram pump really has to have fall to get the pump going and keep it going. You would need 2 feet to get to that elevation. I am working on another design that will get water out of a river as you are needing. You can watch the videos on my site here: http://www.landtohouse.com/river-pump/

  22. Abby January 26, 2016 at 5:53 pm #

    Seth, you’re the bomb! I’m doing a project on hyrdrams for my landscape architecture class and your videos are by far the most helpful. Thank you!

    • Seth Johnson
      Seth Johnson January 26, 2016 at 6:00 pm #

      Thank you for watching. These pumps are quite amazing. If you have questions along the way, feel free to ask.

  23. Aman March 16, 2016 at 11:48 pm #

    Hi Seth..1 big question from me, is it possible to place our ramp pump equavelent with the water stream level ? Could get any similar result from any Utube. Is there any culcalation required or any test has been done. Appreaciate if you could share this information.

    • Seth Johnson
      Seth Johnson March 17, 2016 at 7:23 am #

      Hello. I believe as I read your comment you’re asking if a ram pump can be placed in flat fast-moving water. This does not work because fast-moving water is not the same as head pressure. It does not create the pressure wave required to operate the ram pump. So sadly no it won’t work on Flat Water.

  24. Ben Ryan April 18, 2016 at 4:08 pm #

    Hi Seth,
    I’ve built a pump almost exactly like the one pictured here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SRJxbk01Yio.
    In my version, the drive pipe is a run of 1″ bore steel with a head of 1.5m, my waste valve is a 1″ hinged clack valve, my delivery valve is a 3/4″ check valve and my delivery line is 1/2″ HDPE pipe lifting the water to a head of approx 6m above the pump. My air vessel is a sealed unit from a heating system, as in the video, with an integral diaphragm as if I’d used an inner tube in a more home-built version.

    I’ve succeeded in getting the pump to run for hours at a time, and had delivery flow rates of between 2 – 3 litres/minute, and been able to fill a 1000 ltr tank – all good. The trouble is that it keeps on stopping for no apparent reason! It seems to run better when the delivery line is shut off. I’m pretty sure there are no air locks in the delivery line and that the drive pipe has no air getting into it.

    I suspect that the issue may be to do with the sealed air vessel – do you have any tips on how these should be set up?

    I’ve also thought of installing a second check valve in the delivery line, but can’t convince myself that would really change anything…I’d greatly value the benefit of your experience!

    Ben

    • Seth Johnson
      Seth Johnson April 18, 2016 at 8:27 pm #

      Hello. Its helpful that you say the pump works better with the delivery pipe closed. It sounds like you have a low back pressure issue. The hight at which the pump can deliver water depends on the pressure in the tank. If you have to much head pressure and not enough back pressure on the delivery pipe to keep the pump going it will stop the pump. Two things to try: 1. Reduce the head pressure by 1/4 meter. Or 2. Increase the hight of the delivery pipe. I know it is nice to have the extra volume at the top but there is a point when it is to much and the tank loses pressure. Give one or both of those a try and we will go from there.

  25. Ben Ryan April 19, 2016 at 2:20 am #

    Many thanks, will try those ideas out. Apologies for the wild mix of imperial and metric units – I’m a Brit!

    • Seth Johnson
      Seth Johnson April 19, 2016 at 8:04 am #

      I have been doing pump customer service all over the world so I get a happy mix of units. Let me know how those ideas work for you.

      • Ben Ryan April 28, 2016 at 10:06 am #

        Hi Seth,
        Sorry it’s taken a while to get back to you – I’m not at the stream/field where the pump is that often. I tried raising the outlet somewhat and lettgin ghe water flow back to my tank under gravity and hey presto! it’s been running for longer than ever before. Huge thanks.
        I’m now trying to tune it for maximum pump rate, and considering a non-return valve in the delivery line to try to boost this (having seen your video showing that it can make for higher delivery head) – wondering whether it’s better to install one close to the pump or higher up the delivery line? Any thoughts? could cause all sorts of back–pressure waves!
        Ben

        • Seth Johnson
          Seth Johnson April 28, 2016 at 10:24 am #

          Nice! Well first I would say that if you are having an issue with the back pressure it would not be beneficial to have an inline valve. There is a fine line between lift volume and back pressure. If you were to decrees the lift some it would stop the pump so you have reached your max gpm flow rate. Typically the pump will reach 1gpm and that is as much as you can get at a time. Getting any more will reduce the back pressure. The inline valve is for pumping water to greater hights.

  26. Tim Quick April 27, 2016 at 10:46 am #

    Hey Seth, got a quick question for you. I am running the large pump (Inch and a 1/4). I have plenty of fall, tons of pressure, however, my pump will run for ten to thirty minutes, then stop. I installed a 35 gallon reservoir in the spring, and ran about 75ft. down hill to the pump. Is this a flow problem? Plenty of head, got a full pipe of water, tons of pressure, just don’t know what it could be. Any ideas? Thank you.
    Tim in Alabama

    • Seth Johnson
      Seth Johnson April 27, 2016 at 9:29 pm #

      Hello. So first I recommend turning off the delivery pipe ball valve and running the pump to see if it will continue to run. This isolation will help determine if there is an issue with back pressure. If the pump still stops with the delivery pipe closed then there is an issue with air in the drive pipe (Most of the time this is the issue.) If the pump works just fine with the delivery closed then you likely have an issue with back pressure. This can be due to a leak in the delivery pipe or an issue with the head to lift ratio. If you don’t have enough lift and too much head pressure the pump will stop. You can reduce the head pressure or increase the lift. One way to test this is open the delivery pipe ball valve ever so slightly and see if water comes out but keeps the pump going. Let me know if this helps any and we will go from there.

      • Tim Quick April 27, 2016 at 9:58 pm #

        Will do, you are awesome thank you!!

  27. Brian Eyer August 25, 2016 at 2:56 pm #

    Greetings Seth,

    First, thank you for all the great information – very helpful. I am trying to figure out a way to pump water from a spring at the bottom of my property up to my chicken coop and to my horse’s water trough so they have a constant flow of fresh water – A rise of about 20′ or so. Now my problem is I don’t have enough head space to reach the top. With that said, given the ration of 1:7 you quoted, and in theory, do you think it would be possible to use multiple pumps to reach any height you want to reach assuming at each step you can maintain enough GPH to support the next step? Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks

    • Seth Johnson
      Seth Johnson August 26, 2016 at 12:16 am #

      Hello. You are very welcome. In your setup you would need 3 feet of head pressure to get water up to that height and a little more would give you better flow. I have tested the theory of using multiple stages to get water up higher. First I have found that there is a lot of loss in doing this. A 1-1/4″ pump cannot supply enough water to keep a 1/2″ pump going until you bring the intake for the 1/2″ to a low point. It is better to let the 1-1/4″ pump as high as possible. NOW that being said you might get by with letting two 1-1/4″ pumps supply water to a 1/2″ pump. Can you extend the Drive pipe further and get more head pressure or use a supply line with stand pipe combination to get more pressure?

  28. Aidan Costello October 30, 2016 at 10:48 am #

    Hi Seth, I bought one of your 1.25″ ram pumps, very simple design, easy to work on. The problem I’m having is the cycle speed, which is way too fast, it loses its rhythm. I figure I’m running near 30′ of head over 80′ of drive pipe. I’m currently filling a tank about 80-90′ higher, but want to fill another tank that is another 100′ higher still (so almost 200′). I’ve found that the faster it runs, the less pressure I get (though less waste water). Any tips for showing down the flapper valve? Would putting an oversize valve there do it (say a 2.5″ valve on the 1.25″ pipe)? Also, to help increase lift volume, would putting the check valve on the output right after the pump also work, or does it need to be further up the line be effective?
    Thanks

    • Seth Johnson
      Seth Johnson October 30, 2016 at 9:14 pm #

      Hello. It sounds like you have air in the drive pipe. That often causes the pump to work erratically. 80′ of drive pipe is an ideal length so that should not be the issue. Now 30 feet of head is a lot! More than I have tested. That might start to cause issues. You are right the faster the pump works the less efficient it is. Increasing the size of the check valve is not likely to help. With that much pressure you might be able to add some weight to the valve with metal washers and a nut/bolt. I would add the inline valve up the line further than right at the pump.

      • Aidan Costello November 1, 2016 at 1:14 am #

        But theoretically wouldn’t I need about 30′ of head to lift up the almost 200′ to my top tank? (If I can get to that tank, then I can gravity feed my whole house, and remove my electric pressure pump). With my own experimentation, I think it would need a couple of pounds of weight on the valve to get it down to about once per second, . But I don’t think it is necessarily feasible to put that much weight on these valves, nor what impacts that hard will do to the system…
        I don’t think I’m getting air, as it has a settling tank that it draws from the almost bottom of.
        As a side note, with this setup, I have blown the plastic welded seams on a “T” and on the check valve (which says it is rated for 200psi i believe) and replaced with metal parts. Just for your own info. I’m hoping to find a water pressure gauge that I can install to get some actual numbers of what it is producing.
        Thanks

        • Seth Johnson
          Seth Johnson November 1, 2016 at 9:36 pm #

          Yes around 200′ is what you would need. From my research 180′ is typically the max height for the style pump I make. When you go above that you start to run into some issues. (as you are finding out) In my testing I have found that much more than 100′ lift the pump starts to have issues with the ram effect. The parts are rated for 200psi but I dont think that takes into account the ram effect. That is a lot of pounding on those parts. Then you add that much pressure behind that and you are bound to have some issues. The other style valve is more like a piston and it can accept more weight on top. It might be best to have a series of pumps to get water to your height. That way a single pump is not being pushed so hard to get water to the top. Do let me know what the pressure is when you get that gauge.

          • Matt December 19, 2016 at 9:33 pm #

            The type of valve you are talking about is called a “Foot Valve”. Its a piston type valve instead of a flapper type valve. It is a lot more tuneable and can handle more flow and pressure.

  29. Andre November 1, 2016 at 1:59 am #

    HI Seth

    I am playing with the idea of a Ram pump , but the amount of waste water I need to work out.

    let us say I have a 1M (3Ft) feed into the ram pump , and I want to pump up to 5/6M ( 15/18Ft), roughly how much % would bleed out of the waste valve ? how do I work this out?

    • Seth Johnson
      Seth Johnson November 1, 2016 at 11:30 am #

      Hello. The ratio of water pumped to water lost is dependent on the head pressure and lift of the system. If you have 3m and you are pumping to 6m you will have a loss of around 70-80%. I know this sounds crazy but the pump runs 24/7 without electricity/fuel so its not that bad.

  30. Matt December 19, 2016 at 9:26 pm #

    Seth,

    Regarding the check valve in the delivery pipe… Im thinking that the check valve does the exact same thing as reducing the diameter of the delivery pipe. You get a higher lift, but a reduced flow. For the delivery pipe to give a sustained flow the check valve has to remain open to some degree. Otherwise you would see a pulse. As it is staying at least partially open it is reducing the size of the water column thereby reducing the weight. This (I believe) is doing the same thing as reducing the diameter of the delivery pipe (Reducing the diameter of the water column and thereby reducing the weight). I could be totally wrong about that though. Im taking a wild guess to be honest. What do you think?

    • Seth Johnson
      Seth Johnson December 25, 2016 at 8:59 pm #

      I thought the same thing as you are in this situation. I ran a test to see if the size of the delivery pipe made a difference and I found out that the atmospheric pressure is the same on any size delivery pipe. For example: If you have a 1/2″ pipe hooked at the bottom of a 5gal bucket the output will be the same as if you have the same pipe connected at the bottom of a 2 million gal tank. Both with eventually overflow and have the same water output. So reducing the size of the delivery pipe does not matter. (unless you have it so small that friction starts to slow the water). The in-line valve does help as long as the water is being pumped high enough for the valve to close for a moment. If the delivery location is low enough then yes the valve does not make that much difference.

  31. Stefanos December 25, 2016 at 4:22 pm #

    Hi Set! Just to start by saying that you have done an amazing job conserning Ram Pumps! Very informative!
    What I would like to ask is :
    I have a big water reservoir,about 1000 litres,collecting water from a creek 300m away using free flow.the tank is at the maximum height I can get water with a free flow from the creek.
    I need to then lift that water to another tank about 40 meters away and about 10-12 meters head.
    The question is can I connect the ram pump straight to the 1st reservoir as the collected water will create the pressure I need to achieve that pumping?
    Or even in this case I need to connect it lower than the tank and if so,how much lower to achieve the pumping?
    Flow rate is of no importance,as I need to water the organic herbs from the upper reservoir once a week with free flow from the upper reservoir.
    Thank you very much in advance!!!
    P.S. I would greatly appreciate if you could reply on my email!
    Thank you so much!!

    • Seth Johnson
      Seth Johnson December 25, 2016 at 9:09 pm #

      I have sent you a message to your email. Short answer is Yes you can use the hydrostatic pressure of the tank as the pressure to run the pump. You will need the tank to be 2 meters tall to reach 12 meters.

  32. Anthony January 15, 2017 at 1:56 pm #

    Hey Seth,

    I am thinking about building a small ram pump but I have a few questions I need answered before I decide whether or not it’s worth building.

    Ok, what I’m thinking of doing is attaching a tap timer to a water tank, then attaching a ram pump to the tap timer in order to pump water above the water tank to irrigate plants in a retaining wall just above the water tank. The idea of incorporating a tap timer is to limit the amount of water needed to irrigate the plants contained within the retaining wall – I don’t want to be watering them 24/7.

    Will this even work? I’m assuming it will work the first time, but once the tap timer stops the flow of water entering the ram – obviously it will stop working – but when it releases water again will it have the pressure to pump if the pressure valve is still open? The point of using a tap timer is so that I don’t need to be around for the system to work, so I don’t want to be having to close and re-open the pressure valve every time the timer starts.

    Also, if I’m connecting directly into a water tank do I need a drive pipe? I haven’t worked out the gallons/minute of flow the tap has but I’m assuming it’s pretty good as the pressure contained within the water tank itself pushes the water out quite rapidly. I’ve estimated that the ram will sit roughly 1′ below the tap of the water tank and that I only need to pump about 6′ above ram to get to the top of the retaining wall. If the flow from the source is good and I’m only attempting to pump a short distance will this work without a drive pipe?

    Another thing, is it possible to elbow into the waster valve and connect this up to irrigation piping if it is further downhill and below the ram? Or does there need to be constant air flowing back into the waste value to force the water back into the pressure chamber? It just seems like a waste of water and I wanted to utilise this wastage if possible.

    If you could help me out with this information that would be awesome!

    Cheers

    • Seth Johnson
      Seth Johnson January 16, 2017 at 10:59 am #

      Hello. I have used a timer in a ram pump setup but it was with the ram in the creek with a constant flow of water. From my experience when the pump loses water it has to be re primmed because the pressure in the pressure tank is lowered (the water continues to flow out of the delivery pipe for a moment after the pump stops). Now there is a way that might work. (untested) If you had a timer that would stop the flow of the delivery pipe just before the timer on the drive pipe that would keep both pressure in the pressure tank and water in the drive pipe. I dont know if this would work but it seems like a good thing to test. I will put that on my list. One issue is that the pump might stop closed and that would keep it from re starting.

      You will still need a drive pipe. The length of the drive pipe is what creates the pressure wave or “ram” effect. without the drive pipe you will just close the check valve and it wont reopen. If it does it will work so fast that very little pressure will be generated.

      The waste valve needs to be as low as possible and also needs to be unobstructed to operate. Now some people will place a catchment basin under the valve to catch the water and use it downhill with gravity.

  33. Doug March 29, 2017 at 11:00 pm #

    Hi Seth

    I am new to this. Is it possible to pump water from a river up to a homestead that is 900 feet away from the river?if so what size pump would I need. Thank you

    • Seth Johnson
      Seth Johnson March 30, 2017 at 7:20 am #

      Hello. The main thing you will need to pump water uphill is head pressure. If you take the elevation of the intake and the elevation of the pump location what is the difference? You can use this website to get this info: https://www.freemaptools.com/elevation-finder.htm
      The 900 feet is no big deal. the issue is how high you want to pump water to? Each pump has the same ratio of pump 1:7 the difference is the amount of water they will pump.

  34. Geo111 May 3, 2017 at 3:30 am #

    Hi Seth,

    I have just built myself a 1.1/4 ram pump following your guides, Thank you they were very informative. I have a small amount of drive head probably 2 feet (which I can make to 3 if I run the pump under water) but only need to lift 10 foot or so at the maximum point, it then drops down into a pond so the actual final lift is closer to 7 foot does this make a difference?

    so far I can only pump about 5 foot or so, so…I have 2 questions:

    I have used a flexible rubber end cap on the end of my pressure valve. will this affect performance?

    My main drive pipe is 50mm poly pipe (2 inches OD) 21meters length in total which comes into a one-meter length of 1.1/4 steel pipe, will this setup affect performance?

    Any help would be appreciated.

    Many thanks

    • Seth Johnson
      Seth Johnson May 3, 2017 at 2:10 pm #

      You should be able to get water to 12 or 14 feet with 2 feet of head pressure. If your rubber valve is flexible it will reduce the efficiency of the pump. This might be way the water is only getting to 5 feet and not the full 7. The ram pump creates a pressure wave that surges from the pump to the water source and back to the pump. Because the wave goes in both directions it is important to keep the drive pipe the same size as the waste valve. So in your case it would be best to have a 1-1/4″ pipe for the full length. Placing the pump underwater will not add any head pressure. I have learned that the added head pressure is negated by the hydrostatic pressure. I hope this helps.

      • Geo111 May 4, 2017 at 2:55 am #

        Thanks Seth,

        I will make some changes and get back to you.

        Cheers

  35. Tim Fisher May 23, 2017 at 9:58 am #

    Is there a table or formula that can be used to estimate the GPM output of a ram pump? I am looking to understand how much output I can get with 12 feet of head on the drive pipe and 80 feet of head on the delivery pipe.

    • Seth Johnson
      Seth Johnson May 23, 2017 at 10:18 am #

      I am sure there is a table someplace but I dont have it. There are so many things that can affect the output of a ram pump. 12 feet of head pressure will typically get water to 84 or 90 feet lift. If there are some inefficiencies the output will be less. Your volume of water at 80 feet will only be a thin trickle of water. If you can get 13 feet of head pressure you will have a better stream of water. Do note that at 12 feet of head pressure you will have a pump that wears out the waste valve quickly.

  36. Dusty June 15, 2017 at 3:59 pm #

    Hi,
    I’m trying to come up with a more energy efficient way of cycling water from my 227 gallon IBC fish tanks to save some overhead money. Would one of your ram pumps work if it were plumbed into the bottom drain outled of the IBC tank to pump into my gravity fed filter (concept is similar to a aquaponics system)? I tend to my tanks twice per day and have a catch basin for water lost but I’m just wondering if this is even practical before I put time and money into the idea. Thanks in advance
    Dusty.

    • Seth Johnson
      Seth Johnson June 23, 2017 at 1:02 am #

      Hello. The ram pump does not work well in a closed system such as aquaponics. The loss of a ram pump can be around 80 – 90%. So your 227 gal tank would be empty fast. Say you are using a 1″ ram pump that needs 6gpm to operate. You would have no water left in your tank within 40min. The ram works very well in a creek but it is just too lossy in a closed system. You might be able to look into a solar pump that would not have any loss of water.

  37. Rolyckx July 16, 2017 at 4:55 am #

    Hi all,

    I am having a farm in Angola and need to supply water from a river up to 250m distance with a head of about say 40m (estimated). The river is running rather fast with a good output and slope ; about 1:3 at the possible pump installation point.

    You say that the head ratio is 1:7 so I need about 6m diff of level between the pump level and the intake pipe entry. This will probably require a long intake pipe (about 20m) given the slope of the river. Is there a length limit for that intake pipe?

    On the other hand, in view to have as much water as I want can I increase the size of the ram pump, ie. 3″. There is maybe another possibility which is to put 2 or 3 pumps on an inlet collector and an outlet collector? I have never seen this application, do you know about? This at least would have the advantage of having at least 1 pump working when the other has a problem.

    • Seth Johnson
      Seth Johnson July 19, 2017 at 10:15 pm #

      Hello. 6m of head pressure is a lot of pressure for a ram pump. The pump will work with this amount of head pressure but the waste valve will wear down very fast due to the great pressure. The drive pipe has a limit of 30m BUT you can install a stand pipe with supply line and then the line becomes unlimited as long as the stand pipe is within 30m from the pump. You can increase the size of the ram pump but that is very expensive and the waste valve will have the same issue but be more expensive to replace. You can only use 1 ram pump per drive pipe. Now you can share ram pumps with delivery pipe.

  38. KAMURAN KARAKOÇ August 10, 2017 at 5:09 am #

    KAMURAN KARAKOÇ

    https://youtu.be/ynnO2UaFVoQ
    Congratulations, watch our video, 40 m. Height is 400 m. We use it for distance, but it does not work for a long time Why? I’m waiting for help.

    • Seth Johnson
      Seth Johnson August 10, 2017 at 9:24 pm #

      I have watched your video. Very nice. There are a few things that commonly stop a ram pump. Air getting into the drive pipe is the most common reason. Next I would say that your head pressure is high and the delivery hight is low. This would cause the pump to lose pressure in the pressure tank and stop the pump. Other reasons would be a leak in the pressure tank or leak in the delivery line.

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