I recently bought a new house, and it has some out buildings with some hose bibs coming out of the ground. There are no city water lines in this area so it must be from some well. I've looked around a bit, but I have not found the source well. The outbuildings have power so I tried shutting off the mains, and still the water flowed from the faucet with good pressure (guessing like 20 PSI) for 10+ minutes.

I have my actual house on this property, probably 200+ yards away from the out building (barn more precisely). My house is on a well and it is probably 50ft+ in elevation to the barn. Also there is a creek which runs through the property within 100 yards of the barn and separates my house and the barn. I was walking around listening for any motor or noise which could help me locate the source of the pressure but I didn't find any. Also my electric bill includes bills for 2 meters, one for my house and one for the barn, so I doubt there is another meter. The house and barn were both built in the 60s.

How is there pressure?

  • Well pumps usually fill a pressure tank. The pressure tank can hold pressure for minutes, you probably did leave it run enough. The well itself might only look like a five or six inch pipe sticking out of the ground a bit(enough to trip over). Can be in a building or outside. You should have a hot water tank and a pressure tank somewhere.
    – crip659
    Apr 25, 2022 at 22:00
  • When testing, did you shut off the well pump at the house? Or only turn off the mains at the barn?
    – Ecnerwal
    Apr 27, 2022 at 21:01

1 Answer 1


Could be a gravity well. No pump required, just a well uphill from the building. ~54 vertical feet would get you 20 PSI. Usually means the well itself is somewhat further uphill unless it's a spring that flows out on the top of the ground.

A subtle (and mostly rare) variant of the gravity well is a "true artesian" (as George's comment reminds me) where the well is at the lower level, but the water bearing strata extends uphill (underneath an impermeable layer) and water flows out of the top of the well - that just needs a sealed well casing, a pressure seal in the well, and a pipe. Artesian is flung about a lot in well companies, but hiring a company that includes it in their name doesn't mean you're going to get one, unless your particular location happens to be favorable.

Alternatively (say there's no hills here) there might be a dedicated power drop, meter and all, for the pump/well wherever that is that you didn't shut off.

Weird outlier would be a hydraulic ram pump, but you'd likely hear that, and there would have to be a pretty good stream on/beside the property for that to pump up from.

This sort of stuff should have been disclosed in the sale process.

Edit based on your update: The house water supply may have a pipe running to the barn area, rather than it being a separate supply.

  • I'm impressed! Ecnerwal. Not very many people know about a hydraulic ram pump these days. And yes, they do make noise. If the water was pumped into a tank at some degree of elevation, depending upon the size of the tank, it could take quite some time to drain (that's the point!). If fed by surface water or artisan, it may never drain completely. The OP will just need to poke around and sort it out. Apr 26, 2022 at 0:29
  • 1
    I have exactly this type of well on a property I rent. The water level is ~2m below the ground where the well is, but at about 2m above the first floor of the house (the terrain is sloped and the house is at the lower end). I actually have to drain the well in wet weather in order not to get moist in the basement, the good thing is that once primed, it drains itself, no pump needed.
    – fraxinus
    Apr 26, 2022 at 11:16
  • This sort of stuff should have been disclosed in the sale process. Exactly! Go review the documentation you received when you bought the house, it should be listed there. TBF, you may need to contact your realtor again to help you sort through it all...
    – FreeMan
    Apr 26, 2022 at 11:46

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