How to Retrieve Well Pumps

Kelvin Hayes

Pulling a well pump without the help of a technician and a hoist is a delicate process. Domestic wells are generally 40- to 300-feet deep, with the pump apparatus reaching the bottom via sectional piping. If the sectional piping or cable attached to the pump is damaged, you may risk the viability of the well. However, with a careful approach and a few extra hands for help, you can successfully remove the pump without the need for a paid technician.


  1. Place the hoist or pulley system of your choice over the well head, ensuring the cable used to pull up the well pump is vertical above the well head. This pulley system may be as simple as a winch a steel car rim, or may be an actual hoist, as used by well technicians.

    The key however, is to make sure the well pump pipe is removed using a vertical pulling motion.

  2. Connect the pulling mechanism to the cable that escorts the well pump pipe. This escort cable reaches to the bottom of the well and allows for removal of the pump.

  3. Initiate the vertical pulling motion on the well pump. As you pull up, the semi-flexible well pump pipe will begin to emerge. This pipe is connected in sections that are usually 10- to 20-feet long. Continue pulling (by hand or via the pulley) on the pipe in a vertical fashion until the first connection point rises above the ground level.

    If your pulley system is capable of lifting an entire section of the pipe above ground, you may continue the lifting process in this fashion. Otherwise, you can use 2-3 people to hoist the pipe.

  4. Attach one pipe wrench to the top section of pipe, and another to the lower section. Rotate the upper pipe wrench counter-clockwise while holding the bottom wrench firmly in place (this may require two people).

  5. Set the detached piece of well pump pipe on the ground and re-attach the pulley system to the next section of pipe. Repeat this process until the pump apparatus is lifted above ground.