The rope pump, an economical, efficient and ecological way to extract water from wells

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The rope pump is an easy-to-build, inexpensive type of pump that can be operated manually with little effort.


How to draw water from a well.

Generally used for draw water from underground wells for domestic use, for irrigation of orchards and small crops or for watering livestock.

Pump to draw water from the well.

The manual rope pump basically consists of: a rope or rope joined at both ends to which several plastic pistons are attached, distributed at an approximate distance of one meter between each other; a semi-submerged PVC tube through which the pistons rise and a large pulley with a crank to operate the device.

The rotation of the crank pulls the rope so that the pistons move up the tube and thus drive the water to the surface. Of course, the water will not come out under pressure, but continuous water flow is achieved with minimal effort.

rope pump to draw water from a well

Like piston pumps, these can be powered by wind turbines, electric motors powered by photovoltaic solar panels.

You can also build a bicycle pump with pedals to aid in the water extraction process.

In summary, several features make the rope pump a appropriate technology for small producers and households using groundwater. Of these, it is possible to use inexpensive and corrosion-resistant materials; the design is simple; it is easy to build locally and can be used without much effort.

Finally, see how the rope pump works in the following animation:


What is a Rope Pump?

It is a rope with pistons or washers inserted at equal distance which rises inside a tube submerged in water intended to be pumped. Useful for domestic or livestock use, or for small-scale irrigation.

The description.

Rope pump allows water supply for livestock or small scale irrigation; Combined with a low pressure drip irrigation system, it allows the irrigation of fruit trees, small forests, windbreaks…

It is basically a string with pistons or pucks inserted at equal distances. This rope, driven by a pulley, goes up inside a plastic tube, the end of which is immersed in the water of the well or the borehole from which it is intended to be pumped. In this way, the water is introduced between the pistons of the rope and rises to the top, where a diversion pipe allows it to be evacuated into a storage tank. In its simplest construction, this pump raises water from a depth of about 40 m to the height of the bypass, which is about 1.2 m above the installation level of the pump. . Although it does not allow water to be pushed with pressure, with an additional pulley it can be lifted to pump it into a tank on a house.

This pump has great versatility in terms of who and how power is delivered to drive it. The simplest version is powered manually by turning a handle, but with a few modifications to its construction, it can be powered by animals, a motor, and wind power.


This pump considerably improves the conditions for extracting water at a reduced cost. Its simplicity, its efficiency in terms of effort/amount of water pumped and its ease of maintenance stand out. A very important aspect for the area is that it does not have freezing problems, because when the pump is not in use, the water flows and empties.

Traditionally, growers used hand-operated piston pumps with a bucket and washer to extract water. There are also a few mills.


In comparative terms, the main advantages of the rope pump refer to its possibility of local manufacture, its low cost, its very good performance and its simplicity of design, which allows maintenance to be carried out by the users themselves. In turn, thanks to its higher flow rates, this technology enables productive ventures (such as windbreaks, energy forests, drip irrigation, etc.) that are difficult to achieve with the main elements that it replaces, such as the bucket and the manual. piston pump.

Its construction in a workshop that has equipment for serial construction takes about 13 to 15 hours of work, while the two-wheeled one 6 m high takes about 25 hours. Both are installed within a few hours, depending on the condition of the well edge in which it is to be mounted. The time required for its daily use is variable and depends mainly on the pumping depth; For example, to pump 50,000 liters from a depth of 10 m, it takes 1 working day. In general, this technology is used by the same owners.

To apply this technology in a certain region, training should be considered to enable its local construction. Also because its design allows you to choose between different options depending on the materials and/or tools available in the area where you want to apply it. For its first installation, it requires training that can be done on site. A specialist is not required, as knowledge is easily transferred from user to user.

This pumping technology is very applicable to different types of producers, as its working principle is very intuitive and the working conditions can be easily adjusted to the person pumping.

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