Build Ram Pump

The Hydraulic Ram Pump is an electricity and fuel free means of moving water uphill. As long as you have a water source, such as a lake, pond, stream, or storage container and you have a drop in elevation from that water source, you can move water uphill.

Hydraulic ram pump build

These Ram Pumps are for sale prebuilt here at Land To House
Just check this link: Buy a Ram Pump


If you would like to build the pump yourself then check out this: Free  E-Book

Once you have downloaded the Free Book watch this video to help you in your build:

136 thoughts on “Build Ram Pump

  1. Seth, After watching your videos I built my first Ram. Question- How do you figure out what size of delivery line is best? I used 1 1/4 pieces to build the Ram. It has 1 1/4 ” PVC inlet and to test it I hooked up my garden hose for delivery. Works great at 40′ head and didn’t slow the flow. I need to purchase a black flex water line to figure out how much farther I can go. (or waste $ on another hose.) I am going to purchase a 500′ roll but didn’t know if it matters what size. I was thinking 5/8″ but will it be better to go smaller, maybe 3/8?
    My goal is to go as far as possible. My home is 1/2 mile from the spring flow and there is approx. 100-150′ of elevation.

    • Seth Johnson

      Thank you for the comment! Happy to hear that you have built your own pump. You have 40 feet of head? That’s awesome. The ratio is said to be 1:7 so you should be fine reaching 150′ but i have never worked with that much head. Generally you want to have half the drive pipe for delivery pipe. So 3/4″ to 1/2″ would be fine. I have tested running 450′ delivery pipe with no flow decrease in a garden house. But half a mile is a long way. I would use flex pipe or pvc. If you want to go a little smaller in delivery pipe you could but 3/8 is small. …. keep me updated. This is a big setup.

      • I have a similar problem… I have to pump water say like 500 to 700 metres away with 40 metres elevation or vertical height…what type of delivery pipe would be better? I recommend just enough to accommodate water flow because I think the weight of water in delivery pipe has considerable weight , when diameter of pipe increased the weight will increase even more…the water in delivery pipe has access to delivery valve and I think this valve will be under enormous pressure and possibly burst…say if you have 500 kilos of water in delivery pipe….
        I have also thought about the solution to this though I don’t know whether it works,The solution is putting one way valve in intervals of delivery pipe with valve closing downward arrangement.I haven’t tested whether it adds to the efficiency ……..

        • Seth Johnson

          My greatest distance test was over 160 meters and there was little to no reduction in flow. The 40 meter of elevation is the thing that will get you. TO reach that height you will need at least 6 meters of head pressure. The delivery pipe can be any material. Atmospheric pressure is what stops the water from flowing. For example if you have a ram pump connected to the bottom of a 1,000,000,000 gallon tank it will have the power to overflow that tank once it is full. This is to say that you can use a 1/2″ delivery pipe or a 12″ and its all the same. I like to use the black flex pipe because it is easy to move and turn but you can just as easily use pvc. I have an old video showing the one way check valve you speak of:

    • good day. please advice if how much is the amount of water coming out from the drive valve compared to the water going into the delivery valve. im in progress of installing a ram pump to bring water higher than our spring water source here in the philippines. thank you guys in advance for your response.

      • Seth Johnson

        The ram pump operates on a 1:7 ratio. For every 1 foot of head pressure that enters the pump you will have 7 feet of lift. The amount of water that enters the drive pipe is fairly consistent. For example the one-inch pump requires approximately 3 to 4 gallons per minute. The water coming out of the delivery pipe will depend upon the feet of head pressure and the vertical lift. If you have 7 feet of head pressure you can achieve approximately 49 feet of lift. As you increase in elevation the flow rate will decrease.

        • Hello Seth. I have made my ram pump here at home wih the following dimensions. Head of feet is 2feet, drive pipe 1 inch, swing valves 1 inch, delivery valve 1/2 inch, pressure tank 2 inches diameter and 5feet high. I tested it here at home and managed to have a lift of 14feet above the pump. I brought it to our farm where I will install it. Head of feet was 4mtrs, height of destination tank is 22.5mtrs above the pump. when I started the pump, the water coming out from the delivery pipe reached only up to around 15mtrs above the pump. when I go higher elevation, the water stops. I doubt the the size of my pressre tank is too small to lift all the way up. Im planning to change my pressure tank with a 4inch pvc pipe schedule 1000 in order to have a bigger volume of air. please kindly advise if my analysis is. correct. thank you so mu h for your reply.

          • Seth Johnson

            Your parameters seem to be good for getting water to the top. 4mts can get water to 22.5mts just fine.

            A pressure tank that is too small can cause issues. Your tank seems a little small. I would use the larger tank. At least 3″ pipe but 4″ would be better.

            Does your drive pipe have a lot of bounce when the pump is working? This could reduce the efficiency.

          • good day Seth. my drive pipe is 1 inch diameter and 15mtrs long with a head of 4mtrs. I did not see any bounce on the drive pipe during operation. I have now a 4 inch pvc pipe schedule 1000 which I will make new pressure tank with inner tube inside.. will a 2feet high pressure tank be enough? I also noticed that my drive pipe is connected to one of the side of T connections from the supply tank. I will rearrange the connection of drive pipe in order to get a straight flow from my tank and not from the side of T. pls advise any additional input. thank you so much.

          • Seth Johnson

            Yes a 2 foot tall rank will be good. Also the drive pipe needs to be as straight as you can get it. So you are right. Moving that part will help.

    • Seth Johnson

      Good observation. The Snifter allows air to slowly refill the tank over time if it was to ever get water logged. I have run my pump for 3 months non stop and found that there was NO water logging at all and no decrease in efficiency. Some people say that you benefit from it but I have found that if you add a pool noodle or innertube in the tank you are good to go. If you tip the pump over on its side then it will fill with water but the pump was not meant to operate that way. …. so you can add the snifter or not.

    • Seth Johnson

      All of the pumps that I sell now have the second check valve made from PVC. The first is still made from brass because its the best gravity opened valve.

  2. Love the site and find it very interesting. I am a photovoltaic technician who dabbles in micro-hydroelectric and am working toward getting my cabin off grid. “Anything free is worth working for instead of waiting for.” Best of luck!

    • Seth Johnson

      That is a good saying! Being off grid is a dream that I have as well. Well worth doing I feel. Thank you for checking out my site. I love working with all kinds of stuff like this and will be posting more and more as I go. Micro Hydro is in my future as well.

    • Seth Johnson

      I have not used a snifter valve in my model. I have found that as long as the pump is upright and there is an inner-tube in the tank, then everything is good. I have run the pump half a year non stop without any problems. Thank you for asking.

  3. Seth, You are truly one of the good people out there.

    Thank you for sharing all you do. My wife and I plan to build one ram pump and see how far up hill it will pump, if not far enough I will create one elevation as a water storage and use a second pump to continue to another elevation. we are poorboy farmers in Asia and enjoying life without much. Clean air, organic fruits, and veggies.

    Thanks again.

    • Seth Johnson

      Thank you! I have been working on the Ram Pump for some time now and I have to say that I dont know what I did before this pump. I use it all the time. I have watered my garden all summer and now I am using the pump to mix concrete.

      There have been a couple people that have emailed me that have achieved over 300 feet of lift with the pump! It all depends on the feet of head you have to work with.

      There is nothing wrong with the “poorboy” way of life! Many people here in the United States are moving to that way of life. (Although not enough people)

      If you have ram pump questions that arise in your build or operation please ask and I will see if I can help.

  4. HI GUY!

    • Seth Johnson

      Hello. My local ace hardware and lowes carry the check valves. Sometimes it is easier to find the 1″ size and 3/4″. The 1-1/4″ size is hard to find.

      • THANKS SETH!
        JERRY A


    • Seth Johnson

      I have used 4 different sizes in my builds. I sell the 1-1/4″ 1″ and 3/4″ and I have built a 1/2″ pump. You do need to keep both check valves the same size. What you might want to do is drop the output (delivery pipe) down a size. So if you are using a 3/4″ delivery pipe then you can reduce to a 1/2″ pipe. This will give you more potential because the volume of water is reduced and is lighter as it goes up. I like questions so not to worry.

  6. Hi Seth,

    After watching your videos I built my first pump! However, I couldn’t get it to work. Here’s what I have: My water supply provides 1.37 gallons per minute and I need to pump it up 200 feet. The fall is approx. 10 feet tall and 100 feet long. What are the specifics on on the drive pipe and the delivery pipe?

    • Seth Johnson

      Hello. Yes you can use a 1/2″ pipe on any size ram pump. Basically the pressure on the water inside the pipe is the same per area in any pipe. If you use a 30″ pipe with the 1 1/4 ram you will get the same water output.

  7. so which size pump should i buy if i have a fall of 10 feet and need to lift it 100 feet? i have about 1.5 gallons per minute only.

  8. Hi Seth! Love your site. I believe I have read and watched all content. You have the easiest to follow instructions I have found, but I do have a few questions. I am ready to build my first ram pump. I believe that a 1″ pump will work best for the flow rate (6.5-7 gpm) that I am guessing I have, it may be much higher but I am underestimating because I don’t really have a good location to check more accurately. Karst topography- so I have a year round creek that has extremely different flow rates in different areas due to losing streams slowing it down or making it disappear altogether in one 100′ stretch, then it jumps back up where the springs enter and can slow down again after that.
    1) You probably answered this above in the Oct 2014 post but I want to be certain. When building the 1″ pump, should I reduce down to 3/4″ or 1/2″ fittings after the 2nd tee at the pressure chamber?
    2) Any down side to having a 4″ pressure tank on a 1″ pump other than longer priming time? the 3″ fittings of any type seem hard for me to find. Can you suggest a length for a 4″ pressure tank? Any preference on the inner tube vs. pool noodle?
    3) The black flex pipe that you recommend for the drive pipe, is it the same as the 160 and 200 psi poly pipe carried at Home Depot? If not, could you give me more specifics? I’ve used this type pipe to install a large irrigation system but it was more rigid than what it appears you are using in some of your videos.
    4) My creek only has a few fairly straight runs, and in these areas the available head is the least. However, I have 2 springs that flow from caves into the creek. If I install the drive pipe a good distance up inside the caves I can gain considerable amounts of head, but doing so I will need to make more of a turn as I leave the cave and go into the creek. You have stated that the drive pipe needs to be “as straight as possible” but I’ve seen some good curves in your videos. Have you had to deal with a more crooked drive pipe, and if so, were you successful?
    You said you liked questions!

    • Seth Johnson

      Hello and thank you for watching and reading my stuff.

      I would go with the 1″ pump or even the 3/4″ pump at that GPM. It has been my experience that the 1″ pump will use roughly 6 gpm.

      1) The atmospheric pressure on the water in the delivery pipe is going to be the same for a 3/4″ pipe and a 1/2″ so you can use either. I typically like to reduce the drive pipe in half to get the delivery pipe size but you can use any size you like.

      2) There is no down side to a 4″ pressure tank. feel free to use that. You will not need one very tall at that size. Say 15 to 18″. I like the innertube over the noodle because the noodle takes up so much volume in the tank and does not supply the “give” that the innertube does.

      3) Yes that 160 psi is a nice buy for a drive pipe. The pipe that I use in my videos is over 20 years old. haha so it might not perform as the new stuff does.

      4) It is fine to have turns in the drive pipe it just reduces the efficiency some. Check out the video of the ram pump underwater and you will see some very big turns in the drive pipe but the pump still works. just fine.

      I do hope that this helps some in your build. I am editing the ram pump ebook on the site this weekend with several new tips learned from my experiences in the past year.

  9. Thank you for answering my questions and thank you for all the instructions and videos you have made available. I can’t wait to get started. One more question- What is the purpose of the pvc unions? Are they just for maintenance and debris removal? Do you need the additional length between parts for operation of the pump? I’m no plumber and I don’t have all my parts yet, so I’m just curious. Due to runoff after a heavy rain my creek swells considerably and can sometimes relocate good sized logs, branches, and gravel. I’d like to cut down on the pvc parts as much as possible. When I come across an economical way to construct the pressure chamber out of metal parts I’d like to do that as well. And I just think it would blend in more with the surroundings.
    Thank you for your help.

    • Seth Johnson

      You are very welcome.

      The unions are for cleaning and ease of removal. The pump will work just fine without them but they do come in handy at times. To save money you can omit them.

      If you have the ability to place the pump out of the creek some it can keep it safe from the water. I have had a pump break because of a flood. The pressure tank was jammed into a tree and the connection broke.

  10. hello seth i am in the coffee biz and on my farm i have a stream that is lower than the plants i also built a ram from your video so we went to try it and the pressure tank got a leak at the top although i could not find a primer for the fittings so i cleaned them with the pvc cleaner and then i glued them the pump was ready to take off but the pin hole leak on the cap stoped it what could i use to coat the plastic parts you should know what i need to do thanks again your videos are great keep up the good work blessings don galletti

    • Seth Johnson

      Hello Don. Thanks for watching my videos!

      The glue caps are the way to go since the threaded ones are nearly impossible to make 100% air tight.

      There are a couple things that you can use to make the leak stop. There are two types of tape that make a concrete like hardness when cured. I think its self sealing tape? Its very expensive though. To be honest you might be better off cutting the top of your tank and installing a new glue cap with a lot more glue.

        • Seth Johnson

          I think that was your best bet. No need to spend tons of money for some special tape when you can get a new glue cap MUCH cheaper. When you get that pump working on its own it is a real treat that you will remember. Keep up the Good work.

  11. Hello, I live near a lake and I want to install a ram pump. The problem is that the lake is already well below ground level and there is no drainage nearby, its just stagnant. So there’s no place where i could put the pump thats below the water level, so I would have no feet of head. However I was wondering if there is any conceivable way to actually install the pump inside the lake. The lake is large and deep so space is not a concern. The idea I had would be to put something like a steel drum into the lake that would displace the water around it, and it would be taller than the water level so no water could get in, it would stay dry and at air pressure. Then I could put the pump inside the drum and attach it to a siphon from the lake. Now that the pump is below the waterline i can get alot of feet of head. From here I believe I would be able to get the pump up and running. The only problem I see is the waste water. Unless you were constantly bailing out the drum it would eventually fill to the point where the pump couldnt work. Is there anyway you can imagine to get the waste water to go back into the lake? Is there a limit to how tall the waste pipe can be?

    • Seth Johnson


      I like your idea. The concept sounds good on paper but as you have mentioned the waste valve is the problem. Say you used a 55 gallon drum as the vacuum vessel sunk in the water. First it would be tough to get that large of a drum to submerge. Say you have a 1-1/4″ ram pump with 10 feet of head and a delivery hight of 50-70 feet. You will be pumping about 1/2″ gallon / min. and the waste valve will produce 6 to 7 GPM. So your drum will be full in around 10min. But you have to think about the pressure that is built up in the drum. As water fills the drum the air cant escape. I am not sure of any way to get this idea to work effectively.

  12. i am living in india , Ihave a under ground water tank about 6ft long 4 ft wide 5ft deep . I want to fill my over head tank up to 20 meters is there any water ram pump with you that can work in underground tank ? or what is the sizes of pump that can work under water . thanks in advace..

    • Seth Johnson


      The ram pump can operate underwater BUT the source of water must come from above the surface of the body of water. If there is no falling water the pump won’t work. You might need to consider a solar pump.

  13. Hi Seth
    I have a problem getting enough water volume through a 1 1/4 inch pvc drainage hose, its seem that my creek doesn’t have enough water movement or the water flow is too slow. I have a 100 feet of pipe and i built a stand pipe with it also and still no water flow to my pump. Ive checked the feed pipe for kinks or blockage and found none. So do i need to build a damn?

    • Seth Johnson


      First I need to ask how many feet of head you have in the creek?

      If you have enough drop then the issue is often a spot in the pipe that is higher than the rest and is holding air. To overcome this I often have to syphon water over that high spot. Its not normally necessary to build a dam. If you are within 100 feet for drive pipe you should not need a stand pipe.

  14. just curious and i want to ask something…if it is possible to make a bigger ram pump like 4″ inches drive pipe and 1 1/2 or 1 1/4 delivery pipe and is it possible to pump up to almost 50′ high?want to know more on this i’m interested in making one of my own

    • Seth Johnson

      Yes you can scale up the pump like that. It will be costly to do that but you can. Just make sure that the drive pipe and the first check valve are the same size and you should be good to go. I have pumped water 70+ vertical before. The style pump I make is good up until around 100′ then it starts to have trouble due to the light weight of the check valve.

      • thank you for your response im just learning and the water in the stream is flowing but as of the same level sometimes it goes high when the rain fall and cause long would be the drive pipe of this kind to pump to that 50′ high?

        • one more thing i would like to ask if i can use both the PVC check valves just to save the cost…maybe you wonder why i would like to use this big ram pump…the place that i will irrigate is a rice field and before i am using a water pump engine so it cost me a lot to buy the gas everytime its rice planting season…

          • Seth Johnson

            Gas can be very costly indeed! So the feet of head (drop) your system would need is about 8 feet. That will get you to 50’vertical. I recomend at least 30′ drive pipe but not more than 90′ long. I have not tested that size pump and i am sure the pressure wave will be very strong. You will have to use brass on the first valve. It has to be a swing valve. Or you can use a modified spring valve.

    • Seth Johnson

      Not necessarily. If you have that much feet of head in your creek then you can just extend the drive pipe out that distance. If it reaches past 90′ you can install a stand pipe. But a dam is not necessary.

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  17. Hi Good day
    I am living in arid area and looking forward to stabilize the need of water required for my corps. For this purpose i was looking around to get some solution which are energy efficient as well as cost. Came across with this concept but need to know more about it. Does this concept works with stand alone pond (which give spill over only in case there is a heavy rain and spill over works only may be few weeks in a year as we can not loose more water because we collect rain water only) If there is any possibility I can work out any solution which can work with these kinds of ponds it will be a great help for me and my people. We normally have 10000 sq. feet surface area with an average depth of 25-50 feet(depending on site to site some time even shallow water and less surface area) Please need some thing to figure this out. Any help from any one will be highly obliged and appreciated. You can also contact me on ””.
    Thanks and Regards

    • Seth Johnson

      Hello. It is very possible to pull water from a stand alone pond. There is an issue that you will have though. Because the pump works on its own it is always losing 60 to 90% of the water. So you will find that the ram pump is not a good choice for rain filled ponds. I would suggest a solar pump that will use all the water.

  18. Sir, I am a student from India. After watching your videos I built my first ram pump as college project. Question: What should be the pressure in pressure gauge at the dilivery side? Our pressure gauge shown 0.8 bar pressure. We have 1.5 m supply head and 5 m delivery head. Shoud have pressure at dilivery side more than atm pressure(1 bar)?

    • Seth Johnson

      Hello. Its nice to hear you are working with the ram pump! Question: when you gather your pressure data are you using a guage that stops the water flow! If the pipe is open the pressure will read 1bar. But if the guage is the final point on the pipe it will read the pressure. This video might give you some ideas on what I mean:

  19. Hello
    Is there any way o design a ram pump that uses back the wastewater probable input back to the souce for re-use.

    • Seth Johnson

      Sadly there is no way the ram pump can operate and return the waste water up hill. Now the water that comes out of the waste valve could be used to run another pump down the line.

  20. Thanks for your diy ram pump video. its clear and well explained. I am in the Philippines and never planned on farming but here I am…lol. I am helping very poor farmers and will build and install a ram pump. Most of the land is about 150 higher then the river or less so lets makes 150 elevation our max. The philippines is suffering through a pretty severe drought right now. The river has plenty of water and the drop is pretty darn good. I think if I have a pipe in the river 50 meters long the drop might be 15-20 feet or even more but lets stick with that. math is not my greatest subject so here are my questions.
    1- can 1-1/2 inch diameter pipe be the drive pipe?
    2- can the delivery pipe be 3/4 of an inch? [and meet 150 feel higher?
    3- in building the water ram, do I drop from 1-1/2 to 1/14 right there at the entrance of the ram pump?
    4 the river has plenty of flow but lots of huge boulders so a straight run is impossible however, it can be lets say, curvy but not straight but pretty close to straight in the last 20 meters
    5 elevation difference is 150 feet max and distance from river to farm is 300-400 feet max.

    Im not loaded with cash so I dont want to find out 1-1/2 was to small so any guidance is greatly appreciated.
    River flow is stupendous and continuous so I dont see liters per minute being a problem.

    Im hoping this can work. if it does then many farmers will want this and your water ram pump will help so many poor people access water not only for crops but for other needs such as laundry and household needs.

    • I just looked at your video again. If I can use 1-1/4 drive pipe it will save money and I guess 3/4 inch garden hose is ok but I might get the black roll of 3/4 pipe.

      In your video the garden hose had barely a trickle of water coming out and I heard you say you barely had the valve open. its begs the question…..with a head drop of about 15 feet…..and drive pipe side [tbd] what would be an average of gallons or liters per minutes into my farm tank? im hoping 3-5 liters per minute or more.

      lastly, it will be a real struggle to find the parts to get my pressure chamber from 1-1/4 to 3 inches. I might have to do some kind of custom fabrication so lets see what I can come up with. It takes 4 hours to get to a city big enough that might have these parts.

    • Seth Johnson

      Its nice to hear that you are building a ram pump! The Philippines is an ideal place for the ram pump.

      First I need to say that 150 foot of lift is about the max for a ram pump with swing valves. The weight of the valve limits the amount of force that can be generated by the flap.

      The math that you need to know is very simple. Basically it comes down to 1:7 ratio. one foot of head pressure results in seven feet lift. These valves are based on using flex pipe so if you use pvc or steel you will get some better results. So to get up to 150 feet you will need 22 feet of head pressure.
      1: You can use a 1-1/2″ drive pipe as long as the check valves are the same size.
      2: the delivery pipe can be any size. Because atmospheric pressure is the same on all delivery pipe sizes the output flow rate will be the same. (Unless you go very small with the delivery pipe.) So yes 3/4″ garden or flex hose is just fine.
      3: The drive pipe and the check valves need to be the same size to keep the pressure wave the same. so if you are going to build a 1-1/2″ pump the pipe needs to be the same. I like the 1-1/4″ pump because it is not as expensive to build.
      4: Fewer turns and twists are better for the optimal pressure wave. I often use the black flex pipe because it can make the turns but there is some loss in efficiency because of the turns.
      5: The horizontal pipe is of little concern. Some pumps have taken water several miles. The vertical lift will reach psi equilibrium with the pressure tank.

      Because the pump is working 24/7 most people find they dont need as large a pump as they first think.

      The valve was not open all the way because I did not have enough lift for the pressure being generated. There must be enough back pressure to keep the pump working. I should have reduced the head pressure to allow for better equilibrium.

      As for the pressure tank I know some that have used well water pressure tanks as the tank. That works well. As long as you have enough volume to get the pressure you need.

  21. Seth, thanks so much for your fast reply!

    3: The drive pipe and the check valves need to be the same size to keep the pressure wave the same. so if you are going to build a 1-1/2″ pump the pipe needs to be the same. I like the 1-1/4″ pump because it is not as expensive to build. [[[If I go with 1-1/2 drive pipe and change the check valves to 1.1/2 should all of that piping and tee and ball valve be 1-1/2? Does up sizing to 1-1/2 benefit me in any way?]]]
    If there is no benefit for me by up sizing to 1-1/2 [meaning more liters per minute or getting higher elevation then is 1-1/4 the best choice in drive pipe and ram pump?

    I heard or read somewhere here that the limit or max a drive pipe should be is something like 100 feet? So all my potential lies withing the elevation the river drops over 100 or so feet? I cant find that statement so can you advise on the max run for a drive pipe?

    Many thanks sir!

    • im very excited to build this and see the reaction on the faces of these poor farmers when I get water up much higher than they can even imagine!

    • Seth Johnson

      Yes All the components before the pressure tank need to be the same size. So in your case 1-1/2″ After the pressure tank you can reduce to any size you like. In my pumps I go from 1-1/4″ to 3/4″ after the pressure tank.

      All the pumps work on the same 1:7 ratio so you will get water up to the same hight with each size (the 1/2″ might not get water as high as larger pumps) The difference is the volume you get at the top. So say a 1″ pump gets you 1/2 gpm then a 1-1/4″ pump would get you 3/4 or 1 gpm. (These numbers are made up. Actual valves might differ.) I like to use smaller pumps because every aspect of the build is less expensive.

      Yes you have read right. The larger the pump the shorter the drive pipe has to be. A long drive pipe is not effective because the pressure wave is reduced and it takes a longer time to return to the pump and thus the efficiency is reduced. There is a way to gain the needed feet of head with longer distances using a supply line and stand pipe. I have a video on that here:

  22. First time building a ram pump. I enjoyed watching your video. Does the size of the pressure tank matter? I’m using 4inch pvc pipe it’s 4 foot long should I cut it down?


    • Seth Johnson

      Thanks for watching my videos! The tank size does matter but it is more important to have a larger tank than one that is too small. You will be just fine with that size tank. It might take a little longer to reach pressure in the tank to keep the pump going but once it has reached pressure it will work as it should.

  23. Hi I appreciated watching your video and reading through the comments, I live and work as a missionary in Burundi Africa and I am currently using a ram pump that I bought/brought from the US to pump water from our spring up 150 ft to our house. My drive pipe head is about 15ft.
    Because it is a 1″ ram with 1/2″ delivery and I’m pumping really high, I’m not getting too much volume (about 1 liter a minute). Anyways, I have tried to make my own 1″ ram pump to work along side the one that I bought but I am not getting near the lift that I got with the one that I bought from the US… (I only seem to be able to get water about 60ft up with my homemade one…) SO I have 2 quick questions:
    1. How important is the size of the pressure tank? currently I have a 2.5″ pvc pressure tank that is about 3 ft tall with a bicycle tire inside. In your opinion is that big enough to be able to get the water up the 150ft head? If that sounds like it’s not the problem…
    2. Should I think about adding weight to my check valve flap? Will that help me be able to pump the water higher? (I have a similar check valve to the one that you have in your video.)
    Thanks for your advice!

    • Seth Johnson

      Thank you for watching my videos! First I would like to say that getting water up to 150′ is about as high as the style pump I make can reach. This is due to the second question you ask. The weight of the check valve is the limiting factor. I have a few customers that have pumped water to 150 feet but there is a reduction of check valve life because of the high pressure. You can try adding the weight to the valve. I have seen people make a hole in the flap and install a screw with washers to add the weight. As for the pressure tank size. I use 3″ pipe 20″ tall for my 1″ pumps. I figure that the volume is close to the same on your 2.5 x 3′ pipe. You should be just fine with that volume. In my tests I have not pumped water above 70′ mostly because that is the hight of my tall hill.

      • Thanks for your answer, it’s nice to be able to narrow down the problem a little! I’ll try drilling the flap and adding some washers. We can only get really cheap quality plumbing parts out here in Africa so I think the flap is probably extra light already… Thanks again.

  24. I have a year round creek that runs through my property. I want to make use of it, but it doesn’t have any drop in elevation. Currently, it stays around 2′ deep and about 10′ across and flows at about 1’/sec. If I were to make a short dam wall and funneled the water into a catch, how high would I need to make it to get a decent pump action going? Would the fact that all the water would be coming through the bottleneck thus increasing the speed work in my favor without very much head?

    • Seth Johnson

      Sadly the ram pump does not work on flat water. You might want to place a garden hose in the creek to see if there is head pressure there that you cant see. Place one end in the water and hold the other end down stream. The water will level out and let you know how if there is drop. If you can get 1.5 feet of head you can run a ram pump. Now I am working on a river pump that would work in your situation (I am still in the early stages of the project though.)

  25. Very interesting reading. I live in a location where there is no easily accessible surface run off year round but seasonal moderatly heavy runoff that I divert into a French drain (in winter the ground is saturated).

    I was was wondering if there is a way of tapping into the French drain (locally a continuous unperforated pipe) and installing a ram pump. Then using the ram pump to divert water to a storage tank and returning the excess “waste” flow donwstream of the pump into the French drain down stream of the pump.

    Why? I am trying to avoid the excess water that would come from the ram pump donwstream valve from being deposited on the already saturated ground.

    This would all take place on a relatively steep slope, in the winter the French drain runs continuously, though at a low rate, owing to being near a spring line.

    Am I missing something? From what I have read the above should be possible?
    Grateful for any advice.

    Thank you

    • Seth Johnson

      As long as you have a constant flow of water and a few feet of head pressure the pump will work. If air enters into the drive pipe it will stop the pump. So you might need to capture the water in a small tank from the drain then use that new storage to run the pump.

    • Seth Johnson

      The drive pipe needs to be as ridged as you can get it. I often test my pumps with black flex pipe but pvc or steel will result in more efficiency. The black flex pipe is often less expensive and easy to maneuver around in a creek.

  26. Hi Seth.
    In Hindi language , meaning of Seth is wealthy…which suits you….As you are having a lots of knowledge….keep sharing it brother..i am from india…trying to build my own ram pump with your inspiration…need your help…..elevation hight is around 110 what should be the ideal drive pipe vertical hight…please revert….thanks buddy

    • Seth Johnson

      Thank you for the kind encouragement. I enjoy sharing what I learn with others.

      Is the 110 meters the vertical lift or horizontal distance? Typically the ram pump does not go above 70 meters. Even at this height the check valves wear out very quickly.

  27. I wonder if it is possible to lift water upto the height of 300 meters with this method. I would be grateful if somebody would be kind enough to explain. Thanks.

    • Seth Johnson

      The weight of the check valves limits the height that the ram pump can deliver. I have heard of people getting a ram pump to lift water to 70 meters but this will cause wear and tear on the parts. Now you can use a multi level system but it would not work together all the time. Bring water up with one pump to a storage tank and then use that tank to run another pump and so on until you are at the top. Just remember that the loss will be around 60% with each new level.

  28. Hi aide my pump with 1 inch size .but can’t get it to work. How long the drive pipe should be ? I’m only using 8 foot thinking to go with poli pipe 100 feet long to increase pressure is that good delivery Will be 3/4 poli pipe thanks sebastian

    • Seth Johnson

      You need to match the ram pump size to the drive pipe. So 1″ with 1″ drive pipe. It is recommended to have a drive pipe at least 15 feet long but I recommend that it be between 50 and 100 feet long for best results. Delivery pipe is fine as 3/4″ pipe.

  29. I have a 1.25 inch pvc waterline that I think is buried in such a manner that it has “uphill bumps” in it that might create partial air pockets, i.e. unfilled spots in the 1.25 pipe. The line is 180 long and buried about 3 feet deep. Thus, my fall is about 3 feet. (Digging this up would just about finish me off).

    I understand that I will need at least one stand pipe, but what would happen if I add more stand pipe, using the 3.2.1 rule.. Would extra stand pipes enhance the effect of the shock wave traveling back up the drive line, and offset the possibility that somewhere along this line the water has to go uphill–maybe 2 inches in three feet– before dropping back to a downhill flow?

    I only need to lift water up about 6 feet, and if I can get just a trickle to keep a sheep watering tank filling with water, things will work fine.

    Good work. Have had a number of occasions to work with East Tennessee State University over the years, living as I do in North Alabama. Always like that school.

    • Seth Johnson

      Those air pockets can be a real pain. If you feel that will be an issue you can install one stand pipe toward the end of the supply line close to the pump. There is no need to have more than one stand pipe. The pump will pull from the closest one. You can install the stand pipe as close as 20 feet. That might avoid the air pockets. Three feet will get water up to 21 feet so you might have to use a valve to reduce the flow.

      I enjoyed going to ETSU. IT is a fun school.

  30. I got a problem so I’ll be building a Ram pump for our project and found a way to return the water to the source got that one but will the source be needing an elevation from the pump to work?

  31. i Seth
    Wonderful resource!
    A ram pump makes so much sense for us in a small African country. What also appeals is that we don’t need an expensive delivery pipe to handle the kind pressure generatede by a petrol pumpm.
    We need to move water over 350 metres up a head of 35 metres. We have all the water we need, and can control the flow over a drop of up to 5 metres. we also don’t need a large volume of water, rather a small trickle constantly into the destination tank.
    Would we need to scale up the ram pump to cope with the extra pressure and load? Your suggestions are highly appreciated?

    • Seth Johnson

      Hello. I am happy to hear that you are looking into the ram pump! Your parameters are within the operation of the ram pump. Typically you will get a ratio of 1:7 input to output. This means that with 5 meters of head pressure you will get a small trickle of water at 35 meters. If you can gain a little more head pressure you will have better results at the top. Now I must say that when working with the ram pump over 3 meters of head pressure you will start to wear and tear on the valves quickly. That is a lot of pressure.

      • Thanks Seth!

        So, we plan to use either a 20 mm or 25 mm diametre irrigation pipe for delivery, which means the drive pipe has to be either 40 mm or 50 mm?
        Can one manipulate the head by, for instance, capture water in a 1 000 litre tank, and then run the delivery pipe from there to the pump? Wouldn’t this arrangement also boost head pressure?
        I can see the problem with hard-wearing valves, maybe have a spare or two in stock?

        • Seth Johnson

          Because atmospheric pressure is the same on any column of water it does not matter what size delivery pipe you use. BUT if you go too small you will have issues with friction loss. That is why most sources will tell you to go with half the size of the drive pipe. The ram pump is so low pressure that you can get by with less than half of the drive pipe for delivery.

          Yes you can use the ram pump from the bottom of a storage tank. This will give you hydrostatic pressure and head pressure. (In this case resulting in extra head pressure)

  32. Problem with water ram…

    Drive pipe 50mm/2″ . 12m length, drop total of 4m to pump.
    Outlet line 32mm, 160m length, head of 25m.

    Pressure tank is 4″ and 2.5m long.

    Water reaches about 21m head and 150m up the line.

    How do I get that last little bit?

    According to all the research I did my pump and setup should be more than sufficient…

    • Seth Johnson

      Hello. Yes 4m of head pressure should be able to lift water up to 25m just fine. I have not worked with a 2″ pump to know exactly how it works but all the pump sizes I make work with the same 1:7 ratio head to lift. I just assume the 2″ will work the same. Can you email me a picture of your pump?

      That pressure tank seems like a great size for a 2″ pump. The only thing that comes to mind right off is to add a 1 way valve in the delivery pipe about half way up.

  33. HI,

    I want to try this 1-1/4 ram pump,

    in your PDF i can see 2 swing check valve needed, i think in your demo 2nd check valve was spring check valve you used

    swing and spring check valve will it make any difference

    Thank you

    • Seth Johnson

      You will need to have at least 1 swing valve for the waste valve. The other valve can be swing or spring. Both work well but I like the spring because it is much easier to work with. Two swing valves can be a pain to align upright when the threads are tightened.

  34. Seth,
    At our remote cabin, I’ve been using a ram pump with a sniffer valve to replentish the air in the pressure chamber for several successful years. But, recently the air chamber has not been getting replenished with air from the sniffer valve (clean, adjusted, and locked in place), and I don’t know why. The result is without an air cushion the waste valve o-ring gets hammered to pieces, and it is tough on the penstock. The air chamber is a 1 inch diameter 32 inch long optically clear pvc pipe, so it is easy to see when air dissapears from the air chamber. Today it takes about two days to dissapear. That’s high maintenance! So, I’ve been thinking of scrapping the sniffer valve approach and fabricating a pressure chamber that isolates the air cushion from the water. Instead of making one, is it likely that I could buy a typical residential pressurized expansion tank and use it as a pressure chamber?

    Code requires me to have one in my home for other reasons, but here are the specs on it.
    a) Potable Water Expansion Tank
    b) Mfg. Flexcon Industries, Randolf, MA
    c) Model PH 5
    d) Size 2.1 gallons
    e) Precharge 40 psig (schrader valve on top and adjustable)
    f) Max working pressure 150 psig
    g) Water port 3/4 inch

    Our head from the lake to the ram pump is a nominal 20 feet +/- 2 feet depending on rainy conditions, and our water storage tank is about 70 feet above the ram pump itself.

    I welcome any coments.


    • Seth Johnson

      I do not have much experience with the snifter valve but I know they can be delicate if not the right size. As for the pressure tank being a metal expansion tank, I have a friend with one that has been working for 2 years non stop. I will send the link below. He likes the tank because the pressure bladder can be filled as needed. My only concern would be that you reach the max pressure of that tank. I do not remember the calculations of the ram pump at the moment but at 7 feet of head pressure I have reached 22psi. You should be fine but just wanted to make that statement.

      Here is my friends setup:

  35. Hey,

    Thanks for all the information – I have a couple more for you that I’m not sure you’ve answered. What about winter? Would the PVC pump work for very cold weather, where there would normally be ice? I know glowing water doesnt freeze, but would the pump be ok?

    Also, how do I measure how many feet of fall and rise? Can the collection pipe be very long to be able to get that amount of flow (we have a river next to us)? What about the lenght of the outflow pipe? Can that go up very incrementally over a long distance?

    Thanks for the information – we’re tired of carrying water

    • Seth Johnson

      Hello. I have tested the ram pump in 15 degree weather for two days. As long as the pump is working it is good. The delivery pipe was hanging in a tree and when the water froze up to the outlet the pump stopped from the end backwards because it froze. I would recommend removing the pump from the water in the winter. This will keep the parts from cracking due to ice.

      To measure the head pressure I often use google maps. But you can use a garden hose in the river. Place one end upriver and then hold the downriver end up in the air. The hight that the water stops coming out the hose is the head pressure above the water. It is a good idea to keep the drive pipe within 15 and 100 feet length. A stand pipe can be used to go further than 100 feet.

      The delivery pipe can be hundreds of feet long. Sometimes up to a mile.

  36. Hi Seth, I have an acre pond that has a wet weather spring that supplies it. I also have stream that runs year round and is about 30ft below the pond level and is about 60 feet away from the pond (the pond and steam do not touch each other). I want to build a pump that will keep just enough of a steady flow up to the pond to keep the water moving during the dry seasons.

    Do you have any info or tips that might help me?

    Thanks, Jon

    • Seth Johnson

      Hello. For a ram pump to get water to 30 yards of lift you will need around 4.6 yards of head pressure (14 feet). This will get water up to the pond. The 60 yards of horizontal distance is not an issue.

      What is the flow rate of your creek?

  37. I mean 30 yards and 60 yards not feet.

    Thank you in advance!

    By the way, thank you for taking your time to share your information with us. I’ve really enjoyed learning all you have shared with us

  38. Seth, Great site and info ! I tried to read almost all the replies and info on your site and the majority of the pump builders have rivers or streams. I have two artesian wells that pump out amazing spring water. They were installed probably 100 yrs ago. My plan is to run the water 900′ to my pond. There is significant pressure behind both wells. Unfortunately I dont know exactly how much. But they can both push water about 4′ high in a 1′ pipe ( if that helps). There isnt much elevation change so I imagined the wells would be able to push the water to my pond. I was wrong. I attached the two wells to a Y joint so there pressure is combined. They then run in a 1/2 irrigation pipe about 900′ with a slight elevation ( im guessing just over 4′). The land is extremely flat but the water will not get there. I put a small pump on the outlet side near the pond and it pulled the water out nonstop at about 5gpm. I will not use elec to transfer the water. Very against this. So my question with the ram pump is will it work with just the pressure from the wells ? If not I do have a few creeks that are about 5′ below the level of the land. I would still use the water from wells as the water quality is unmatched but I could gain some fall there if needed. Im guessing to get a real answer from you youd want to know how much water the wells are producing…but my question is how big of a diameter pump would you suggest. Secondly would you suggest two pumps one at each well or just one pump just after the Y joint. The wells are roughly 200′ apart from each other. Any help would be much appreciated. Thank You

    • Seth Johnson

      Very fun idea. From the info you have given I would try to let the well push the water up a 1″ pipe to 4 feet and then dump in a tank or bucket. Then you can run the ram pump from that 4 foot head pressure/hydrostatic pressure. If the pond is just above the 4 foot mark you might not be able to use the full 4 feet from the well. (4 feet gives a ram pump 28 feet of potential) You might want to use 2 feet of head pressure and get a nice flow rate at the pond. 900 feet should be no problem for the ram pump.

      If you have 5gpm on a single well then I would go with the 3/4″ ram pump. This pump needs around 3gpm to work 24/7.

      Check out this video showing a bucket intake. It might give you some ideas on how you could install an intake with the well.

  39. Hey Seth
    I’ve been studying your plans and site for awhile to figure out if this will work-
    Multiple drive pipes 3/4″ to several (5-9) pumps with interconnected delivery pipe of 3/4″.
    Looking at dam “1” on Creek “A” with a head of 6′ , waste water flowing into dam “B” for a head of 6′. While another Creek with the same setup until both creeks joining making another dam for a head of 7′. All drive pipes are under 100′. Most would be 50 – 70′ long. Elevation to pump can be up to 260′. Each dam having multiple pumps I could turn off at drive pipe valves and keep others running during low water flow conditions. All delivery pipes could be coupled together to go to storage tank, any overflow from tNk could be returned to the highest water source. What do you think?

    • Seth Johnson

      From my testing I have found that it is possible to connect delivery pipes together. I would install a one way valve on each delivery pipe to keep any added back pressure on other pumps. Your head pressure values seem ideal for using a ram pump. It has been my experience that the max hight of the diy rem pump style that I make is around 180 feet of lift. You might have an issue getting water up to 260 feet.

  40. I have just bought a property that has an irrigation canal running along it. I am wondering if I can use a ram pump to pump out of the ditch. The water will need to go up about 4 feet to bring it over the edge of the canal. The property is sloped downward so gravity might do the rest. If it works I could put in multiple pumps all along the edge of the property.

    Thanks for your thoughts on this.

    • Seth Johnson

      The ram pump will need head pressure (water fall from intake to pump) 1.5 feet should be all you would need to get the water out of the ditch. Now the ram pump needs back pressure on the pressure tank to keep it going. This means you are not able to run the delivery pipe downhill from the pump. But you can store the water in a tank and use that downhill. Do you know the head pressure in the ditch from the intake to pump location?

  41. Hi Seth,

    Thanks for the videos. Am doing a project of Ram pumps and would like to know the general calculations required in designing the Ram pump

  42. Seth we have found a old Ram pump which we think we have restored its cast Iron and Brass valves from USA possibly 1840s W&B ouolas midd CONN cast on it it has 1″ inlet 1/2″ out let unsure how much or how long a drive pipe we need canyou help Cheers Chris Boyle Wellington New Zealand

    • Seth Johnson

      That seems like a great find. Nice to hear you are restoring it. I have found that the drive pipe needs to be within 25 and 100 feet for a 1″ ram pump. Now that is for the newer model that I make. It should be just as effective in the older pump that you have.

  43. Seth, I am trying to figure out what size ram pump I need to get water from my spring to my pasture. I have to pump water up 8 feet over the course of 122 linier feet.
    My spring gives me 5 -10 gallons a minute most months of the year. I have a 2” pipe that falls 24” over 30 feet that will feed the pump.

    • Seth Johnson

      That is a great setup for a ram pump. Each size pump can lift water to that hight the limiting factor here is the gpm flow rate you have. I suggest you use either the 1/2″ pump or the 3/4″ pump. These will both work with 5gpm flow rate. 2 feet of head pressure will lift water to 14 feet so your 8 feet will be a great target for the pump. Now you will need to match the waste valve to drive pipe size. So lets say you are using the 3/4″ pump. You will need to place a vertical pipe at the end of the 2″ pipe and then reduce to the 3/4″ pipe to feed the pump. This is known as a stand pipe. (if you mismatch drive pipe and waste valve you have a large efficiency drop.)

  44. Seth,
    I have built a RAM pump to try to get Water up the hill for fire control initially while I clear and burn, and then for Greenhouse irrigation. Thank you for all the information you have posted, I hope you are still responding to comments.

    I have a 1″ Supply line but my pump is made from 3/4″ check valves. I have got water up to where I want it but the output is just a trickle. The supply pond barely keeps up with the supply to the pump. I have purchased all the pieces I need to upgrade the RAM pump to all 1″ before the pressure chamber, but not installed them yet. I’m afraid the supply of water will not keep up with a larger system.

    My question is, what is the best way to increase the volume at the top of the delivery pipe, now that I know I have enough pressure to get the water there? It is barely a trickle coming out of the pipe. If I get the container I was planning on filling up (Eventually two 250 gallon totes) will the trickle fill the whole system at the top to 25PSI if I seal the system? I have lots of pictures and took a video today to display the output, but I don’t see any way to post any of that here. Thanks ahead of time for advice!? -matt

    • Seth Johnson

      Hello. Nice to hear you are working with the ram pump. One thing that you can do right off is reduce the 1″ drive pipe to 3/4″. You want the pressure wave to be the same size in the pipe as the waste valve can supply. keeping the waste valve and drive pipe the same will increase the efficiency so you will have more water at the top and use slightly less water to run the pump.

      A 1″ pump needs around 6gpm to run. That is a lot of water over 24 hours. The 3/4″ pump needs closer to 3gpm to run. If you want to post some ram pump pictures you can go to my land to house facebook page. Leave a message there.

  45. I built a 1″ delivery pipe version of your ram pump. Thanks for showing all the instructions!

    I cannot, however, get it to work. The brass swing check valve won’t close.

    I have it connected to the garden hose, taped around with duct tape to limit any loss of water, and the water comes pouring out of the swing check valve, but the door never closes.

    Everything in front of the pressure chamber is 1″ … and then it reduces to 3/4″. All sealed up but … no swing check valve operation.

    Any suggestions?

    • Seth Johnson

      It is important to have the waste valve and drive pipe the same size. So with a 1″ pump you will need a 1″ drive pipe. Garden hose is not a good idea for drive pipe. Increasing the volume of water by increasing the drive pipe should fix your issue.

  46. Hi!
    Thanks for all the great videos and instructions on ram-pumps! Very enjoyable and helpful! I have recently installed a 1 1/4 inch pump with a 1 3/4 inch drivepipe 110 feet long. The fall is 8 feet. I have two questions which I would appreciate your opinion on:
    1) After looking at the video where you test different sizes for pressuretanks I wonder if the hydropresstank I use (24 litres) is too big? According to your video the correct size for my pumpsetup would be 4 litres (?). How is it affecting the efficiancy? How much airpressure should i prime the tank with?
    2) Is it worthwile trying to put weights on the swing check valve to lower the thumping frequenzy and increasing the pressure? I have noticed that if I hold the valve open with a stick for 1-2 more seconds it increases the pressure quite alot.
    Thanks in advance!
    Anders, Sweden

    • Seth Johnson

      Hello. Thank you for checking out my info on ram pumps!

      The pressure tank will actually only build pressure to match the potential of the head pressure. The size of the tank is only a buffer for times when you have the delivery closed and suddenly open it. In larger pumps like the 1-1/4″ a 4L is plenty but a larger tank will work too. it will just take longer to prime the first time. There is no need to prime the tank by any air pump. Just cycling the pump by hand will pressurize the tank.

      It is true that the waste valve weight is important in efficiency. There are a few factors that work together. Drive pipe length, head pressure, and waste valve weight. There is a “sweet spot” between these three that will give the best ram pressure. I have seen the math on this but have no idea what it is. adding weight would increase your output.

      • Thanks Seth!
        According to the video where you test different sizes of tanks it looks like the smaller tank resulted in a larger pressure. Or is the test done with the delivery closed?? Have a feeling there is something basic I have missed here…
        Any suggestions how to add weights on the valve?
        Thanks again!

        • Seth Johnson

          What I learned about pressure tank size is that a smaller tank can reach max pressure faster but does not have much volume to work with. A larger tank will take longer to reach the same pressure but has more volume and thus can take more sudden surge. So it really is best to have a tank that matches the pumps needs.

          I have no idea how to add weights to a standard swing valve. Perhaps drill a hole and then place a nut and bolt. Or just cement some washer on the flap. However its done you will need to make sure its water tight.

    • Seth Johnson

      Yes you can use the ram pump from a tank. Do keep in mind that the “loss” is great on the ram pump. for example the 1-1/4″ ram pump uses 8gpm to operate. If you were to use a 100 gal tank it would be empty in 12 min. From that tank you could expect no more than 10% of the water at the top.

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