Small PVC ram pump, the “Rampampita”.

Ram pumps can be built in multiple ways. There are industrial, made with materials and advanced technology, but can also be built with simple, reused materials and do not require the use of a workshop or specialized tools. To pump a minimum amount of water, we can use standard parts pvc those used in water supply installations. In Paliomylos we did the experiment to see if it would be possible to irrigate the future edible forest with a small hydraulic ram pump that brings water from the canal to a reservoir at the upper end of the plot about 10 vertical meters of the channel.

Paliomylos Rampampita.jpg

Keep reading if you want to know how we did it…


A ram pump consists in different parts. In our case, we will implement them using standard, low cost parts and does not require more tools than a pipe wrench to tighten.


So, we will locate:

  • Two ball cocks that should be put on the inlet and outlet of the pump to control it.
  • Two check valves. One will act as such and the other will be further modified to function as impulse valve.
  • An air tank. A PET beverage bottle will serve.
  • Couplings, elbows, T, and various adapters. The drive pipe was an inch, while the delivery one an inch.

The arrangement of the different parts may vary. There are configurations in which all parts are aligned, or forming a T, or H. We initially tried the aligned setup, but then switched to the one you can see in the photo. We found more interesting that was compact.

The internet is plenty of tutorials, videos and descriptions step by step how to mount it. We will have to adapt depending on what materials we manage to gather.

The only part that requires some intervention is the impulse valve. It is the heart of the pump. It is responsible for generating the hammer effect transforming the kinetic energy of water flowing through the drive pipe into pressure to impuls water through the outlet pipe. You can build one with a modified check valve. This requires removing the valve spring and place it on the opposite side. The valve will work backwards, instead of preventing water flow in opposite directions, it will allow, blocking when it reaches a certain speed. At that time the pulse occurs. The adaptation will be different depending on which valve you have.


Once installed, pumping water obtained was 2.3 liter per minute. Pumping height was approximately 10 meters through a half-inch pipe and about 30 meters long. The head between the drive tank and the pump was 2.7 meters. While it is not a lot of water, running non-stop, the system pumps nearly 5,000 liters per day. All this with minimal cost, without using motors and with a simple and inexpensive maintenance.


Video about the construction and operation of the rampampita.

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