They are used primarily in remote or rural areas or in areas where flowing water is required at a higher level than its source, but where an electrical pump is not a viable option.
Water forced to move by a hydraulic ram provides the kinetic energy required for the pump to work. The hydraulic pump itself has minimal moving parts and therefore is a low maintenance pumping system option. There is an inlet pipe and an outlet pipe, and located in the mechanism between are two valves. One valve allows waste water to escape from the system, thus releasing interior pressure. The other valve is in the delivery pipe to help control the flow rate of water as it is released.
The hydraulic piston and ram are used to move the water within the hydraulic cylinder, creating kinetic energy which in turn creates enough pressure to force a small amount of water up into the system. Due to their simple design, hydraulic rams and their pumping systems are easy to manufacture and are relatively inexpensive.
Unfortunately, a large amount of water is required to produce the amount of kinetic energy needed to lift the supply above the source. This potential wastage is not a workable option in areas where water is scarce. The amount of water that is required to create the pressure in comparison to the amount of water than then is available for use at the pump sometimes outweighs the other benefits to hydraulic ram systems.
While hydraulic ram pump systems tend to be durable and reliable, there are a few operational problems that can occur. Freezing of the pipes and water system during winter is a major concern in areas where temperatures drop well below freezing as the pipes could burst or crack under the added tension, especially in small hydraulic cylinders. Blockage of the piping system is also another fairly common problem. As the hydraulic ram works from the build-up of pressure, having a blockage in the system by debris or air coming through either of the valves.
This increase in pressure could result in a subsequent bursting of the valuable pipes which would then need to be replaced or repaired in the remote location, an action that may or may not be easily achievable. Water is an extremely powerful material, and hydraulic rams use its power to move large quantities of it. This is an environmentally responsible method of pumping water, and if the system is well maintained can last for a long period of time, making it well worth the investment.