How to: DIY Well Bucket Using PVC Pipe – Kevin Hayden

Source: Alpha Rubicon (Public Side)

Water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink. More precisely, water in the newly drilled well – but none to mix mortar with.  The well drilling company hadn't put the pump, pipe or electrical cable down the hole yet, so I decided to make a well bucket out of PVC pipe and an old inner tube so I could get some water. This well bucket will work with any drilled well at least 4” in diameter. The capacity of the bucket depends on how long you make the main pipe.  I made this one a little over 3' in length, which gives me about 1.5 gallons every time I raise it out of the well.

Hayden's Note:

I used to be a member of Alpha Rubicon.  Then one fateful day, while living at my homestead and building my cabin, I used some colorful language towards a forum member regarding the wholesale slaughter and genocide occuring in the Middle East…specifically Afghanistan and Palestine.  In fact, I simply called him a bigot after he expressed his righteousness and included Webster's dictionary definition of the term.  I was immediately suspended and ultimately removed from the group.

The rest of Alpha Rubicon are great people.  I really had good times with them and learned a lot, so if you're into preparedness stuff, definitely check out their site and keep an eye out for open application times.  Its a worthy organization and the camp-outs, face-to-face meetings and information are superior to all other groups and forums I have seen. 

On another note: I did not write this article, obviously.  But I find myself in a similar situation with my “Homesteading with a Shipping Container” project over at  I have an 8″ well casing, 140 feet deep, and will be placing a manual well pump on it.  I debated a standard 3/4 HP electric pump, tied into a generator and cistern tank, but ultimately, I wanted self-sufficiency.  Thus, a manual pump (potentially a solar-powered attachment at a later date, but will be able to maintain the manual ability).  However, those pumps cost approximately $1,650 and I find myself with far too many other projects – including living day to day in the corporate rat race while working on the project 50 miles away. 

So, in the meantime, a PVC well bucket is the perfect fix when I need a few gallons of water to mix concrete with, filter a bit of drinking water or flush a toilet (until I get my waterlines finished, anyway).  As yet another side note: Paracord could work well for this, depending on how large you make the PVC bucket.

The heart of this gizmo is the valve at the bottom of the bucket and this is all you need to build one. I drilled holes in a 3” end cap and then cut a piece of inner tube rubber large enough to cover the holes but small enough so it would still be able to move freely once the cap was on the bucket pipe.

From the inside, the valve looks like this. Notice the rubber flapper is covering the holes in the cap but is still a good way from the edge.

Here's the outside view of the valve. I used a nut with a nylon insert so I wouldn't lose parts down the well.

I tested the valve by filling the sink with water and slowly forcing the end cap into the water. This flapper valve works by uncovering the holes slightly when water pressure from the bottom is applied. In practice, the weight of the finished well bucket is enough to open the valve.

When you lift up, the weight of the water inside the cap causes the rubber flap to close and seal off the holes. Here you can see as I lift the cap out of the sink that there's water staying inside the cap.

From here, it's simple; glue the end cap on the pipe and…

Tie a rope long enough to reach the water in your well to the bucket through holes in the bucket pipe. You don't want to lose this thing down the well so make sure your knots are good!

Lower the bucket into the well (Note that the other end of the rope is tied off to the well casing).  When it hits water, it will slowly sink, taking about 45 seconds to fill completely.  If you want it to fill faster, wait 15 seconds then raise and drop the bucket a couple of feet, causing it to submerge and fill over the top.

When you think the bucket is full, pull it up!

How about that, it works!

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