Underground Wireless Flow Meter Installation: 3/4-inch PVC (Underground Only)


Rachio recommends installing your Wireless Flow Meter above ground. We cannot confirm in advance of installation that a Wireless Flow Meter will work with your underground setup. Using the instructions in this article, you can test if the flow meter will remain connected to your controller before cutting any pipe.

Let’s get started!

The first part of this manual is designed to set you up for a successful installation. Before any pipe is cut:

  • Ensure system compatibility.
  • Gather all required parts and tools.
  • Scan the installation instructions to preview the requirements and what you will be expected to do.


  • Rachio recommends professional installation; however, we provide installation instructions for handy people with DIY skills.
  • Rachio recommends specific installation instructions based on your pipe size and material. Using any installation methods other than those recommended could damage the Wireless Flow Meter or void the warranty.
  • Using glue of any kind will damage the flow meter.
  • While installation times average 1 hour, we recommend allowing 2 hours for completion.
  • If you cannot complete any of the steps, we recommend a professional installation. Need a professional? To find a Rachio Pro, go here.

System compatibility

  • Installation site must be within 75 feet of an above-ground (not in a basement), indoor, installed and set up Rachio 3 Smart Sprinkler Controller.
  • The flow meter is not rated for potable water and must be installed after the backflow preventer.
  • System must have ¾-inch or 1-inch pipe made of either copper, PVC, PEX, or SDR-9 poly.
    • For 1-inch or ¾-inch copper or PVC pipe, you will need 17 inches of straight pipe between the backflow preventer and valve box.
  • If you have more than one Rachio 3 controller, more than one backflow preventer, or a pump, visit rachio.com/flow-advanced.


The following Rachio Wireless Flow Meter installation instructions are intended only for underground installations in irrigation systems with 3/4 inch PVC pipe. If your system uses a different pipe size and/or material, please visit rachio.com/flow for instructions tailored to your system.

What’s in the box

  • Rachio Wireless Flow Meter
  • Battery cover
  • 4 screws
  • 2 AA batteries (do not install batteries until prompted)

What you’ll need


Installation instructions are intended only for use with required fittings. Using glue of any kind will damage the Rachio Flow Meter.

  • Required fittings (listed below)
  • Recommended pipe cutter (listed below)
  • A valve box at least 15 inches long to cover the flow meter and unions
  • Shovel
  • Trowel
  • Sandpaper or deburring tool
  • Fine point permanent marker
  • Measuring tape
  • Phillips screwdriver
  • A rag
  • Smartphone or tablet
  • Box cutter (if you have ground cover [weed barrier] between your valve box and backflow preventer)
  • Rake (if there are small rocks covering the ground between the valve box and backflow preventer)
  • Optional: Tarp (to pile dirt on)

Required parts and fittings for 1-inch PVC pipe underground

Required fittings:

  • Two, 1-inch PVC lock fittings
    • Orbit model #38676. Available at Home Depot and Amazon.


  • Two, 1-inch to ¾ inch reducing PVC lock fittings
    • Orbit model #38677. Available at Home Depot and Amazon. 


  • Two, PVC Swivel Adapters
    • Orbit model #57202. Available at Home Depot and Amazon. 


  • Two, PVC Transition Adapaters
    • Orbit model #57191. Available at Home Depot and Amazon. 


Recommended pipe cutter:

  • Folding Jab Saw (or Jab saw): Model #48-22-0305. Available at Home Depot and Amazon.


Take Note


Using installation methods other than those recommended in this manual could damage the Wireless Flow Meter or void the warranty. Using glue of any kind will damage the Rachio Flow Meter.


Inserting your fingers into the flow meter or fittings can damage equipment or cause personal injury.

Once attached, fittings cannot be removed from the Flow Meter, but may be removed from the pipe using fitting removers.

Need help?

  • Check out our Help Center
  • Give us a call at 1 (855) 300-3569
  • If you’re unable to complete any of the installation steps, we recommend a professional installation. To find a Rachio Pro, go here.

Video Guide 

Are you a visual learner? Preview the underground installation method in our video! These instructions are specific to 1-inch PVC underground installations; instructions and required fittings will vary depending on your pipe size and material.

Installation Instructions


Don't miss a step! For a successful installation, review and follow all instructions carefully before installing your Wireless Flow Meter.

Step 1: Locate Manifold

  • Locate the valve box containing your irrigation manifold.
  • Open the valve box; using the visible pipe, determine the direction and layout of the pipe that travels between the backflow preventer and valve box.
  • The valve box must be within 75 feet of your Rachio controller.

Step 2: Dig

  • Based on the determined direction and layout of pipe, begin to dig where you guess there will be 17 inches of straight pipe between your valve box and backflow preventer.
  • Continue to dig to expose more straight pipe if you detect any bends in the pipe.
  • Dig a hole large enough to fit the valve box and dig about an inch of soil out from under the pipe.
  • If you do not have 17 inches of straight pipe, you can either hire a professional to redesign your irrigation layout, or return for a refund.


If you have multiple manifold boxes, you must place the flow meter before they split off.


If you have rocks or other organic matter as ground cover, use a rake to remove it before digging. Use a box cutter to remove any weed barrier that may be under the ground cover.


Be careful not to damage the irrigation system wiring, which often runs alongside the pipe. If you see wire(s) - for instance, the black strand in the picture below - use the trowel and your hands to gently remove the dirt from around the pipe.


Above: Underground pipe with irrigation wire exposed.

Step 3: Pair flow meter

  • Take the Wireless Flow Meter to the backflow preventer where it will be installed.
  • Do not put the batteries in the Wireless Flow Meter until prompted.
  • Open the Rachio app. From the "More" tab, select "Accessories," then add the Rachio Wireless Flow Meter. You will be guided through the pairing process and then prompted to continue installation using this digital manual.

Step 4: Test connection stability

  • Put the flow meter into the box it came in; place it into the manifold valve box with the top on.
  • Open the Rachio app. You should see the flow meter details screen. If you do not, from the “More” tab, select “Accessories”, then the Wireless Flow Meter.
  • If the flow meter status is “Connected”, remove the flow meter and continue on to the next step. If you see the status is “Disconnected”, contact Rachio support.

Step 5: Turn water off

  • Turn off water to the irrigation system at the backflow or at the main shut-off.
  • Drain the system by running any zone for one minute each using the Quick Run feature in the Rachio App.

Step 6: Connect fittings to the flow meter

  • Push one 1-inch PVC lock fitting (this is not the reducing fitting that is smaller on one end) onto each end of the flow meter firmly using a twisting action until the fitting is nearly flush with the flow meter.
  • Push the PVC swivel adapters (the female side of the union) into the fittings up to the ribbing on the body of the adapters.
  • Press the ends down onto a hard surface to ensure the fittings and adapters are pushed in fully.Screen_Shot_2018-06-29_at_3.57.55_PM.png

Step 7: Measure and cut pipe

Instructions for cutting (3/4-inch PVC underground)

  • Identify 17 inches of continuous straight pipe between the backflow preventer and the valve box.
  • Use the marker to make a mark at least two inches from either edge of the hole; this will be the first cut.
  • Mark 15 inches after the first mark; this will be the second cut.

Accuracy is important here! Measure twice, cut once.

Step 8: Cut and clean pipe

  • Hold the pipe and use the jab saw to create a square, straight groove in the pipe at the two marks.
  • Cut the pipe at the two marks.
  • Use the deburring tool or sandpaper to remove rough edges and debris inside and outside the pipe.

Step 9: Mark insertion depth

  • Mark 1 inch beyond each cut to indicate insertion depth.

Step 10: Connect fittings to the pipe

  • Use the rag to wipe off any dirt or matter from the cut sides of the pipe.
  • Push together one 1 inch to ¾ inch reducing PVC lock and one PVC transition adapter (the male side of the union).
  • Push the combined fitting and adapter onto the cut pipe using a twisting action until the fitting reaches the insertion depth mark.
  • Repeat on the other side.


Step 11: Install the flow meter

  • Important: Install so the arrows on the side and face of the flow meter are oriented with the direction of water flow. (Water flows towards the valve box, away from the backflow preventer.)
  • Important: Install the flow meter face up.
  • Align the flow meter section inside the cut pipe and fittings.
  • Screw the unions securely together by hand (but don’t over-tighten).
  • All Rachio recommended fittings can be removed at the unions, allowing for easy replacement of the batteries after installation.


Step 12: Turn water on

  • Turn the water back on.
  • Check installation site for leaks. If there is a leak, turn the water off and make sure the fittings are square and fully pushed up to the body of the flow meter and insertion marks. If the leak cannot be remedied, visit rachio.com/leak.

Step 13: Install valve box

  • Cut the plastic bar beneath the open arch of the valve box so that it can fit over the pipe. (See image.)
  • Place the valve box over the pipe so the unions are covered.
  • Ensure that you can reach into the valve box and unscrew the unions when the lid is off.
  • Check that the top of the valve box is level with the surrounding ground, so it will not be buried by dirt or any ground cover.
  • Fill in around the valve box with dirt.


Step 14: Calibrate zones for leak detection

  • To enable real-time leak detection, you must calibrate the Rachio Wireless Flow Meter. In the app’s "More" tab, select "Controller Settings", then "Accessories,"; select the Rachio Wireless Flow Meter and tap "Calibrate Flow Meter". Follow the app instructions to calibrate.

  • Check your email for tips on monitoring water flow and leak detection with your Rachio Wireless Flow Meter.

Congrats, you did it!

Your flow meter is now reporting actual water usage and monitoring for leaks. Want to explore Wireless Flow Meter notifications and what they mean? Check out this article for more information!


Was this article helpful?
2 out of 2 found this helpful

Have more questions? Submit a request



Article is closed for comments.