Plan for Redundancy – Plan for Redundancy

Once you have lived the survivalist life – boots on the ground, so to speak —  you come to a bedrock realization that certain things were never made to be used long-term.  Unfortunately, many of the tools and devices we’ve become accustomed to using fall into this category.  Things like generators, electric well pumps, things that require propane gas, gasoline or diesel fuel are all on the road to becoming  your next big disappointment when you actually have lived this way for a while.

In everything aeronautical, every device is  completely redundant.  That is, there are two of everything.  Two fuel pumps, two distributors, two sets of spark plugs, etc., so that in mid-flight, if one fails the second takes over seamlessly.  When you live the survivalist lifestyle, it’s like being up in an airplane.  If something fails, you have to be prepared to have something to take over the job  – that you have primary systems and redundant fall-back systems.

Aside from certain machines’ inherent nature of being unreliable, no matter how much gas, diesel or propane you have stored, you’re bound to run out at some time.  So we offer the following suggestions based upon our seven years experience and hard-learned lessons.

“I’m okay –  I’ve got a well, I’ve got a generator and I’ve got a heavy duty pump.”  Well, of course, the weakest link in this chain is the generator itself, followed by the need for  gas.  In the last 7 years we’ve owned a dozen generators or more.  Admittedly, early on in this life we had a  lot of dependence on generators for building houses and such.  But that aside, even with  meticulous upkeep and maintenance, all generators have a finite amount of hours they will  live and when they go, they go hard, that is, usually  unrepairable.  We’re not saying you shouldn’t use a generator at all, but relying on it solely for getting water out of the ground is looking for disappointment.

What would you give for water if an EMP knocks out your generator, or your electric well pump quits, or  you run out of gas, or your generator just stops working?  It would make your well a really expensive hole in the ground and not of much use.  Even if  you could get a bucket down there, how many times could you pull a bucket filled with water (at 11 pounds per gallon) up a few hundred feet with a rope?

We found an excellent way to have a redundant (or even sole and reliable) system .  It’s called a Flojak deep well hand pump.  So simple it’s priceless.   Installation only takes a few hours, most of that time spent gluing PVC together.  With the PowerJak handle, it’s easy to pump water out of deep well situations and releases you from the reliance on generators if you’re off the grid, or from electricity if you are on the grid. No more dependence on gas, diesel or propane.  And you don’t have to give up your electric pump until you really have to, because the Flojak fits into the well alongside your current electric pump, ready to take over when needed.

We met up with an old mountain hermit last weekend, who lives a few miles from us.  No roads to get there, we took a nice brisk walk.  He told me a couple of years ago that he knew living this life I would lose weight and get washboard abs because being self-reliant usually means chopping  your own wood, pumping your own water, toting the wood back to the house and many other countless chores.  But the Flojak is so easy with the PowerJak handle, that I may gain some weight back!

Chain saws, like generators, I’ve owned plenty of.  Everything from McCullough to Stihl to Husqvarna, and being an old salt and having owned a few boats, most of them would make great anchors.  In keeping with the theme or redundancy, all machines that inevitably break down or need non-renewable resources (gas) need a redundancy plan as well.   Even if your chainsaw is still working and you still have gas, two-cycle oil, bar oil, a spare bar, a new chain, additional spark plug, etc., etc,, we found that a better way to go is a two-man saw.  No stopping every few minutes to tighten the chain, or add oil, or re-fuel.  And all we hear as we are cutting is the sound of birds, a gentle breeze through the trees and the rhythmic back and forth of wood being cut by hand.  And all we smell is the pleasant aroma of pine or juniper.

There is no shame in using the technology that sometimes brilliant people have created to make daily life just a bit easier.  But be prepared for the day when that technology is no longer usable and you still have to live on.



Dan and Sheila are the authors of Surviving Survivalism – How to Avoid Survivalism Culture Shock and hosts of the free podcast, Still Surviving with Dan and Sheila, both available at    For information about their survival community, or for other questions, they can be reached at .

10 thoughts on “Plan for Redundancy – Plan for Redundancy

  1. ” In everything aeronautical, every device is  completely redundant.” Get your point. Should be, but sadly, not until your airplane gets up towards the million dollar mark. Fuel tanks, radios, and magnetos are about the only redundant things in smaller planes.

    If you’d have bought diesel gennies, they’d probably still be running. Emp will not stop a diesell, only lack of fuel or oil.

    Flojack sounds useful.

  2. Last year I installed a much cheaper set up.

    Now my well isnt several hundred ft. deep so I got away with a shallow well pump,…its good for 100 to 150 lift head. They also make deep well pumps too.
    What it is is a Heavy duty “old fashion” style picture pump. You know,..the kind yer Grandmaw had on her sink back in the day…..yeah that old Red Cast iron hand pump. Pump comes tapped for 3/4 pvc pipe fittings.
    Install a elbow at the bottom of the pump and plumb a short section into another elbo to drop straight down thru your casing plate into the well… (this relocates the pump out of the way from the existing water pipe and fittings on top of the casing plate)……. I only needed 9 sticks of 3/4 pipe (90 ft.) to give me the proper depth bellow the water level (very important to drop 5 to 10 ft. below the water line)…….Now just remove the pin and kotter key holding on the handle and replace the short handle with a piece of metal pipe atleast 18 inches ….much easier to pump than that old short handle.
    11 pumps at full stroke will fill a 5gal. bucket full in about 3 minutes or less

    total cost………160$ including new replacement 2 hole casing plate.
    And,..Im still able to use my main electric pump just like with the flowjack setup……..saving bucks is a big deal for me…….fixed income and all..

    1. Yep oldvet, you got the right idea. How do ya know when you are that 10 or so feet below the water line though? I am thinking of doing something like this, but my well is 200 ft. deep and would probobly have to go with something like the deep well pump though.

  3. Take some kite string with a large fishing float and lower it until the string goes slack , that will be the water level……….mark the string….pull it out and measure the length. then just add your 5 0r 10 more ft. to the total length.

    If you have good access to your well casing, can glue 2 section of pipe at a time and lower down the casing……….oh yeah……tie off the pipe with a couple good half-hitches so it wont slip out of your hands as you or your helper lower the sections to prepare to glue the next set.

    BTW Digger,..forgot to mention but these pumps are not self-priming. I keep a gallon jug of water out in the pump house to prime with………it only takes a few cups but the jug is a handy backup

  4. Redundancy is a good idea…..if you got the budget of the U.S. Government.

    Better yet, learn what parts go out & break. Learn to repair & get spares on hand. ANY of this crap that’s got electronics WILL fail. You’re in a SHTF, you won’t be hopping down to the parts house to pick up a electronic ignition module or a glow plug for that diesel motor. Some of the Onan & Cumins diesel genny plants have electronic fuel pumps & a module that controls fuel injection. As for the well water, there are emergency well buckets for 6″ casing & up, but you have to pull the pump out of your well to use them. One can make a emergency bucket from PVC pipe, endcaps, glue, rubber sheet & some tools. Where I’m at, a 850′ X 6″ well is common. A common hand pump won’t draw water that far down. The lift force on the handle would be too great for one person pumping.

    1. Well,..ya know there is no “One Size Fits All” to every single problem we face.
      Each person/family must work out their own solutions to problems they face in their A.O.
      Now all I offered was a cheaper alternative to the high dollar FlowJack pump. With the depths you are speaking about….a small windmill may be a better solution than an 800 ft rope. Even the finest hand pumps in the world wont be able to reach head heights of that proportion.
      Check out Mother Earth news,…they used to have a cpl articles on building “do-it-yourself” Windmill water pumping setups.

      I like the “jist” of the article………look for sustainable (and cheaper) alternatives…..

      1. Mother Earth News is good. I really like the book series called Foxfire. The series is about alternative lifestyles – ya know, kind of like the old mouintain man life style. Excellent books for anyone who wants to learn things like living off the land.

Join the Conversation

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *