Questions and answers with The Wolf Pack : How do I get to my well water after the electric goes out?

Question from Robbin W

I’ve seen where people can write in and get advice from the pack, that is what I need!! My husband works out of town a lot. He takes good care of things and keeps most everything in working order but I have this fear of him being gone when the SHTF or stuck out of town for awhile during a big storm event or any other numerous circumstances that might delay his return when I need him most. He’s very handy, can fix pretty much anything, I am not. I can hand off the correct tools and my mechanical skills end there. My concern is we have a deep well, no access to any other water.

If we lose electricity I do not know how to get that water. We have stored water but not enough for 2 small kids, 21 chickens, 4 rabbits, two dogs and a very large garden. I’ve seen tons of suggestions on line from white pvc type hand pumps to ones that are made from a rubber ball. I need advice on what works for the Wolf Pack or what they plan on depending on.

Ideally I would like to have my regular pump in place and the one I would use with no electricity already hooked up and waiting. We have even thought about hand drilling a shallow well for the livestock/garden and using the stored water for the family but even that will not last forever. Our only other water source was a sweet little stream that ran at the back of our lot but the beavers have moved in and will not leave (not even with multiple people being paid to “remove” them) and they have damned it up and the water is just nasty! Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!


  1. Hi Robbin

    I actually wrote an article for this site a while ago called Well Mining for Water. It might give you a few ideas:

  2. Donna in MN says:

    Without power, deep wells are too hard to pump manually. A solar powered pump I know from my former job, had 2 solar panels on the roof of the pump house and a large 400 gallon container inside for a deep 200 ft well. I was told the cost was 20k to set this up paid for by the gov’t for this campite. However you can build your own pump house and do it for yourself at a fraction of the cost. Just search on the internet for solar well water pumps.

    Also if you have wind, you can still find windmill kits that pump water like our pioneers did. While I was staying in New Mexico on a navaho reservation, I drew water for my bath from a trough powered by a windmill.

    We used to have beavers dam up culverts, so we cleared the brush, and trapped the beaver. Any water source inhabited by beaver/muskrat/rodents should be boiled or disinfected for drinking for animal and man because they commonly carry harmful diseases like the giardia parasite and fecal matter.

  3. Well you didn’t give the size of your well casing or the depth of your well . Deep is relative to where you live. 🙂 So leaving that part of the question alone here goes my answer.
    On the beavers destroy their dam. Over night they will build it back. It is an every day job to pull it back apart but if you keep at it for a few weeks ( the last 1 I did took almost a month ) they will leave. I know some people who use tannerite to blow the dams the first time . They use about 8 lbs in a sealed plastic jug . Shove it as deep in the dam as they can and still see it to shoot it.
    Next not knowing the part of the country you are in . If the government doesn’t think it owns the rain look at a water catchment system. While lots of people use the plastic barrels I like using NEW septic tanks as cisterns. Drop them in the with the lid just above ground level with the ground sloping away from the tank so you don’t get surface water in it. Then build a pump house on top of the lid. Now you have a large water source ,1000 gals or more , shallow enough to had pump if needed.

    • I know the well is over 200 ft deep. The size of the casing ??? No more than 2-3 inches in diameter I would think without measuring it. I’m in the Carolinas.

      Honestly I think we’ve exhausted every option on the Beavers and give up. We spent tons on professional trappers and explosive guys and then go out for weeks and weeks ripping apart what they build back in hours. Eventually we miss a day due to rain or other obligations and they beat us to the punch and go into turbo drive building it all back again. I think we eliminated one family at the beginning but another family just moves right in. I have a new understanding of the term “busy as a beaver” that’s for sure.

      • My husband laughed when he found out I said the size of the casing 🙂 It’s 6 inches. I like the catchment idea.

        • Charlie (NC) says:

          Even if your well is 200′ deep the water might not be that
          far down in the well. Water often rises in the well pipe
          depending on what sort of hydraulic forces are acting on
          the aquifer you are drawing from. What part of NC are you in? East, Central, West? What is the elevation above sea level at your place?

  4. if your location allows for it,,a windmill over your existing pump, I have such a setup and it works fine,,,a windmill will cost between $1800 to $2500 depending on depth of water which will determine the size of wheel required…..another option is solar setup to power your existing pump,,,cost $1500,,,,if your pump can be adapted to the solar powered setup, if not an additional $1000 again depending on depth of water,,,,,remember the depth of static water is not the bottom of the well,,,,,static water level is the depth of constant water level,,,,,regardless of how you bring the water out of the well you need a larger storage tank,,,1000 gallons minimal,,,the wind does not always blow and the sun does not always shine,,,,the storage tank if it is above ground will allow gravity flow water,,,,,

  5. Texanadian says:

    This is what I am planning on putting in my well. Connective pipe extra of course.

  6. Another option would be to find a substitute power source, short term is a generator, you need to know your pumps power requirements. you can also use solar and windmills to supply the electric also. The benefit of using one of these methods is that the power generated could be used for other things, like keeping a freezer or fridge cold. you do not have to have power running 24/7 for either, so you can switch back and forth.

    • Encourager says:

      I agree with the generator. But that, too, is not a long term solution as you need something to power the generator. We have a whole house generator which handles all our needs…but I do not overtax it when it is running and turn off/don’t use the oven, air conditioning, etc. We have a well that is about 245 feet deep. It needs 220. We power the generator with propane. Originally we had a 500 gallon propane tank just for the generator but about 15 years ago put in a propane boiler as backup heat (with an underfloor hot water system). All still with the same 500 gallon tank. Am planning on upgrading to a 1000 gallon tank as soon as I can afford it.

      • Encourager,
        Sounds like you need at least a 1000 gallon tank. Do you own the 500 or does it belong to the propane company? If it’s yours, you can easily add another 500 or 1000 and use them both. If it’s the company’s tank, getting your own gives you a lot more propane options, and probably a much better price. You might also think about switching your cooking to propane (it sounds like it’s now electric) which is more efficient and less expensive (after the cost of the new range of course).

        • Encourager says:

          OP, it belongs to the propane company. When my current stove dies, I am seriously thinking of switching to propane. I prefer gas cooking but am actually allergic to natural gas. The propane gas, even in the camper, has never bothered me. Then I could actually can on it!!

  7. I forgot to mention that since the beaver problem effects the community, what are they actually doing? are they trying to trap/kill/chase away the beavers or just tearing down their dams?

    • We have had professional trappers, professional explosives guys blow the damns, they have been hunted, we have torn down numerous damns by hand and the list goes on and on. They have been here since a logging crew logged our land before we purchased it and they left plenty of down trees for the beavers to use. So this has been over a ten year battle. Not getting in to any detail because of all the legal crap but we’ve exhausted every “southern good ol’boy” idea out there that I know of. Even considered getting an alligator:)

    • We are VERY rural, no community concerned with it but us:)

  8. SoCalPrepper says:

    Perfect timing on this question for me! Thanks everyone for your responses – we may consider buying some desert land out near Las Vegas (Pahrump, specifically) and I’d want that well to have redundant drawing sources with a big cistern. Love the new septic tank idea.

    • SCP
      Before your purchase your land in Nevada, make sure you have rights to water. I was reading the water rights for that state when I was working on an article for dowsing, from what I gathered all water belongs to the state unless it was grandfathered in many years ago. Thought I would give you a heads up.

      • Encourager says:

        Gosh, and you better not have any BLM land around you…they might find a tortoise on your land and you will lose it. What a mess the situation in Nevada is with the ranchers. I just hope it doesn’t turn into another Ruby Ridge.

        Could not believe FAA put a no fly zone over their ranch. I suppose that is to keep the media out?? But will the BLM honor that no fly zone and quit buzzing their home and herding their cattle with helicopters?? Nah…they are above the law, or so they think.

  9. Rod Zeigler says:

    A cheap, manually operated, “pump” can be made from a foot valve on a suitable length of PVC pipe. I would not use too big a size of PVC for ease of use. 3/4″ PVC of the correct length with a foot valve at the bottom, an elbow (or maybe even Tee) at the top with a short (2′-3′) piece of PVC in the other end of the elbow. (two if a Tee). Put a water hose connection on the end of the short PVC (only one end if a Tee) and connect the hose so that the water will go into your carrying vessel. You will want to drill a small hole (1/4″ or smaller) down from the top in the main vertical PVC. Drill this below the frost line so that the main vertical drains to this point. Not enough to cause you problems while “pumping” but will keep the upper parts from freezing. Put this PVC down your well casing and start pumping it up and down. Longer strokes for faster water delivery. While not the perfect solution, it does allow you to procure fresh well water with no reliance on technology. I mentioned the Tee connection to allow two people to pump at the same time, reducing fatigue, should you decide that would work better for you. Of course you have to pull the pump seal so you can get the PVC down the well casing, so having a tripod with a pulley system as well as something to hold the pipe you are pulling out (Large pipe wrench will work with some practice) is necessary.

  10. I wanted to be able to have a reliable source of potable water without resorting to a generator or solar type power system so I started looking. There are a lot of options on the market if your well depth is 100′ or less deep. As the depth of your water increases the number of manual pump choices decreases. Our well, drilled in 1983, is 314 feet deep with a static water level of 270 feet. The electric deep well pump sits at 290 feet within the 8 inch casing. I found a company “Simple Pump” that had a manual well pump that would work at our 270+ foot depth. The company is very good to work with. While they couldn’t guarantee the amount of water produced with each stroke of the pump handle they were sure that their pump would bring up some water from that depth. The simple pump can be installed right alongside your existing well pump pipe. I took a bit of a risk and had one of their systems installed. Our system cost about $2800 (installed) and works just fine. We get about a quart of water for every 10 pumps of the handle. Not a gusher but good clean water. They also have solar and 12 vdc pump systems available for wells that are relatively shallow (100′ or less if I remember correctly).
    The link to their website is:

    • Tom Arnold says:

      The price is a big part of why we went with the Simple Pump. It was much less than the Bison Pump and in our opinion is better quality. Servicing it is easy also – just a couple of seals.

  11. Tom Arnold says:


    What we’ve done is to replace the existing pump with a Simple Pump with the pitless adapter. This is a manual pump that works on deep wells and is US made steel.

    We added the 12V motor. We attached solar panels directly to it so that whenever there is sun the pump runs. Inside the house we installed a 1,000 gallon tank with a float switch and a 12V pump on the outlet which feeds the existing pressure tank then the house. The inside pump is powered by our existing solar.

    The way this works is that when the float switch registers that the tank has gone down 100 gallons it turns on the pump to refill the tank. The pump runs only when there is sun to power it AND the float switch is on. The large size of the tank gives us a buffer for cloudy days. With this setup we don’t have to have expensive batteries or a charge controller at the pump between it and the solar panels.

    If the motor or the panels break, all we have to do is reattach the handle to the pump and fill the tank manually. The Simple Pump is very efficient so this isn’t very hard.

    With the federal & state tax credits for solar this cost us under $3,000. Since the well pump is no longer on grid electric, it starts paying for itself right away and depending on your electricity price can pay itself off fairly quickly.

    The whole project is fairly simple to install with even just one handy person. Simple Pump provides good, clear instructions. Everything is straightforward. Connect the solar panels to the pump and basic plumbing to install the reserve tank. We completed it in a weekend.

    • Big Bear says:

      Good to see comments from another Simple Pump owner. How deep is your static water level? Your setup sounds ideal … wish I could use a dc pump and pressure motor.

      • Tom Arnold says:

        Our static is only 95′ and the well is 245′ (don’t ask me why they went so much deeper – it was that way when we bought it). We have the pump at 170′ – figured we might as well take advantage of the depth in case of a dry year.

        Like you, it doesn’t gush. Since we have the tank though it doesn’t really matter how fast or slow it pumps. We’ve never had a time where it hasn’t replaced the 100 gallons in the tank quickly.

        Why can’t you use the electric motor? They have 2 sizes of motors for the 2 different types of pumps. If you’re getting water manually the pump will work. Switching between electric and manual is easy and the part of the pump above ground can be lowered when on electric to make it “look pretty”. That actually was important for my wife – it is hidden by plants.

        • Big Bear says:

          For awhile right after our pump was installed I was talking with the companies owner and chief engineer about motorizing the pump. The problem is the load that a deep well would place on the motor. Since our system was installed, Simple Pump has come up with a stronger DC motor system but it’s still not strong enough to deliver water from the 288 depth our pump I set at. (I may have given an erroneous depth in my earlier comments.) Using the data below you can see that with my pump set @ 288′ the weight of water inside the PVC pipe is 86.4 pounds. Add the 23 pounds of sucker rod weight and the total weight be lifted is almost 110 pounds! A beefy DC motor coupled to a properly designed gearbox would pump water but I haven’t been able to find anything available at a less than staggering price. The Simple Pump handle design uses a 6:1 mechanical advantage which one would think would drop the pump handle down-pressure to a more manageable 18 pounds or so. Not true. I actually measured the down force required to pump and it was 32 -36 pounds which is more in keeping with the data sheet below. Since my dear wife will be doing most of the pumping (smiling to myself) I solved this problem by adding a counter weight to the end of the pump handle. I used a 15 pound weight that was originally designed as a telescope counter weight. Slid right on the handle and has a set screw to hold it in place. The measured down-force with the weight added to the end of the handle is now in the 15-18 pound range. If anyone is interested I’ll post information on the counter weight.

          While I was going through my emails to Simple Pump I found some data that you all may find interesting:

          1″ schedule 120 PVC drop pipe holds 1.5 lbs. of water for every 5 feet above the static level.
          100 feet of our sucker rod weighs 6 lbs.

          With these pieces of data in mind….the required down-force on the pump handle to lift water from:
          100 feet with 2 foot lever arm is 12lbs.
          100 feet with 3 foot lever arm is 6lbs.
          200 feet with 2 foot lever arm is 24 lbs.
          200 feet with 3 foot lever arm is 12lbs.
          300 feet with 2 foot lever arm is 36 lbs.
          300 feet with 3 foot lever arm is 18lbs.

  12. Nsaneprepper says:

    What if your well is 560 feet deep?!?!?!? Any options Pack????

    • Big Bear says:

      Really? Rain water catch system with a very, very, very large cistern.

      • Nsaneprepper says:

        Yes, it sucks and its technically only five GPM. Almost reason enough to sell and move. They say $10k to replace pump if needed and its now 17 years old…YIKES!!!!

        • Nsaneprepper
          I have a few questions for you. If you do not mind answering them.
          1) Did you have the well drilled or was it already established?
          2) Have you consulted a trained person in the field of dowsing?
          Not knowing what all the circumstances are on your well I will assist you. You might not need that $10k price tag. Let us see what you give me for the beginning information, an let me see what I can do for you.

    • Texanadian says:

      Good check valves in several locations in your water line. First prime might be tough but after that shouldn’t be too bad.

      • Big Bear says:

        Nasty things like pump connecting rod stretch due to the weight of the water being lifted can be a limiting factor. This stretch is real and for every bit of additional stretch you lose efficiency ……….. at some point the stretch is so much that the length of travel for the actual pump assembly rod barely moves. Stretch could be eliminated by switching to an aluminum rod instead of a fiberglass rod but then rod weight comes into play ……….. it’s a balancing act.

    • Survivor says:

      600 foot rope and pulley system. Get a 3 or 4″ well bucket depending on the liner size. You can attach a manual winch. A lot of work but it doesn’t need any kind of power other than muscle. If you have critters you can attach one of them to the rope and use their muscle.

    • Michael says:

      My well is 625′ deep. Can’t use rain water because we’re in the desert and don’t get but more than 3 inches per year. Heard of a system that uses a pump system similar to the oil wells and the motor is powered by solar. They are located in Fort Davis, Texas, I’m told. This is what I’m planning to do for my really deep well.

  13. Linda in NE says:

    It won’t help with the well if the power goes out, but why not just shoot the beavers and blow up the dam and the beaver nests? Keep that dam out of there and any surviving beavers will leave.

    • We have had professional trappers, professional explosives guys blow the damns, they have been hunted, we have torn down numerous damns by hand and the list goes on and on. They have been here since a logging crew logged our land before we purchased it and they left plenty of down trees for the beavers to use. So this has been over a ten year battle. The beavers have flooded most of the back lot so it’s all muddy and mucky which makes travel back there hard. Not getting in to any detail because of all the legal crap but we’ve exhausted every “southern good ol’boy” idea out there that I know of. Even considered getting an alligator:)

      • Encourager says:

        I got a chuckle RW on this post. I am gonna tease ya.

        I know you are upset with those critters, but they build a dam not a damn. I know that is what you call ’em, right?? ☺

  14. Hi All – great discussion here. We’re on a well at 425′ so the manual methods would never work though a windmill might. I agree that a generator would not work long term, but here’s what we did until a better solution can be had. I setup a Reliance Controls Transfer switch ( attached to a portable generator, which takes the circuit for the well and basically operates it long enough for me to get all my water sources filled up and then I shut it down. We’re talking minutes and frankly we can run it as long as we have fuel. With a full tank (4 gal), our generator will run about 8 hours on a 50-60% load. The well uses probably 25-30% – though I’d need to dbl-check this. The point is, if you have about 30 gallons of fuel stored away, you should be able to go months or longer getting water this way. The transfer switch is easy to install and has videos to assist.–oK3BXN5U Always have a backup generator (2 is 1); they’re cheap enough. Friends of mine have done a solar solution so I know that’s feasible on wells with less depth.

  15. I have a bucket & 35 feet of rope. Because our well casing is small, the “bucket” is 3″ pvc pipe, capped on the bottom with a rubber flap bolted in the middle that covers 5 drilled holes. the water comes in thru the holes, and when the level in the bucket is high enough, the pressure forces down the rubber. seals good enough for me to lift out about a gallon at a time.

    no reliance on electricals or electronics that may fail. I don’t have to “build” something every day. no fancy technology or complex mechanicals to go awry. Just a skinny bucket and rope.

  16. sheeple_no_more says:

    Maybe I am being simple about this but I had it happen a few times at our house and I ran a jumper from my generator to our well pump.
    The power was out for 3 days and I ran the generator in the morning and late in the day. It was enough to recharge our pressure tank and keep everything in the frig and freezer cold.
    Also, Marks “bucket” above it a good backup.

  17. Paylie Roberts says:

    Last year we had an extended power outage and I realized very quickly how much water we went through just with everyday living, and on cloudy short days, solar wasn’t enough for us.

    After much research and debate, we took the easy way out and bought a flojak. It was super easy to install, and we were able to install it with our current electric well. Next we’re going to purchase a large water storage container so we can pump the water into that, and use gravity to feed the house. But for the time being, we can at least get water up fairly easily using the flojak.

  18. SheepDog says:

    You mentioned your well was 200 feet deep, but if you mentioned your static water level I missed it. Many times you have to drill deep to hit water but then the water comes up and stays much higher in the well making getting water easier.

    Dropping a weighted string into your well will give you an idea how far down the water actually is. Just measure how much dry string comes out of the well and plan from there.


  19. Grandma Gracie says:

    I like the idea of using a new septic tank for water storage but, I have a question. Is it safe to drink water from those tanks? I know that when I store water I have to make sure the containers are made of “food safe” material. The same goes for using plastic buckets for water. I wouldn’t want use a tank that would contaminate the water with leached chemicals. Does anyone know the answer to this?

  20. Sounds like a lot of good idea’s. When I lived in Alaska I had a baler made from SS pipe which would go down my casing. It had a lope welded to the top for a snap to to secure it to my winch on my truck boom. There was a foot valve on the bottom. This worked Good. I also had a back up plan for a tripod with a pulley to use a rope in a pinch. This was for drinking water. Good Luck.

  21. Haven’t read all comments yet, but if you have beaver, you don’t live in the desert =P so a couple rain-collecting barrels and a berkey filter would make a nice back-up plan to any other solution, such as a solar-powered pump, gravity water from uphill (if possible), the destruction of the beavers dam or even a windmill water pump =)

  22. Santa Walt says:

    I have this pump with a solar powered motor on it. I also have the a handle to hand pump if the solar panel goes out. Works fine, but it will not pump fast enough to supply the whole house if you are running several things at once. I have a 30 gallon pressure tank, but even with that, you have to limit how much you use at one time. You would run out of water taking a long shower. I you just need five or ten gallons at a time, it is great. Stated simply, it is for emergency use. It could be used long time of necessary, but you would have to change the way you use water.

  23. Santa Walt says:

    Sorry, I forgot the link to the Simple Pump.

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