I was finally successful at installing the flow meter today and it calibrated successfully. Woohoo! Here’s a picture of the installation:
The original plumbing had a short length of 1" copper pipe sweated to a male pipe thread adapter, a female 1" PVC adapter, and a 1" plastic ball valve at about the 16" level on the tape measure. It went straight down from the pipe coming out of the house with no bends. My first thought was to cut out the valve and stick the flow meter in its place, but neither the copper pipe exiting the house nor the PVC in the ground moved at all despite much water and persuasion. I tried every fitting that I could find, but there just wasn’t enough space from the screw fitting to the elbow in the ground to fit anything along with the flow meter and the required joints. The ground in that area is really busy (low-voltage lighting wire and tubing for one of the irrigation zones running alongside the house), so there wasn’t much room to maneuver. That was last weekend, and I ended up adding the elbows without the flow meter to get the water back on. There isn’t a separate valve before it goes outside, so the water needs to be off in the house to work on this.
Fast forward to this weekend. Given the need to transition from copper to PVC, I switched over to Sharkbite fittings for the top portion in the hopes that it would eliminate the need for the bulky threaded fittings. They have a handy transition fitting that was available at HD, so that solved that problem. I had already installed the PVC-Lock fitting on the upper end of the flow meter and I had to destroy it with a Dremel tool to pull it off. That’s the second time that I had to do that, and adding a couple of inches of pipe extension to each side of the flow meter would have saved a lot of drama and parts. Luckily, I guess, the PVC-Lock fittings are easier to destroy than the Sharkbite fittings, which I believe are brass. As it is, I could remove the pipe from the top of the flow meter using the Sharkbite removal tool, but the bottom one is there to stay. It’s almost as if the stubs coming off of the flow meter were designed to be exactly long enough to have the fittings bottom out with no room for any removal tool.
I intended to sweat the elbow coming down from the faucet and the pipe coming out of it, but I had another Sharkbite elbow fitting and it was just too easy to install it instead. The whole thing flexes a bit more than I’d like when the zone valves shut off, but I don’t think it’ll be a problem.
After all of my gymnastics last weekend, I’m pretty much out of PVC to do any more modifications at ground level. A couple of inches below the last elbow is another elbow, and then the pipe goes under the concrete walkway. Cutting any more would require some major surgery, so hopefully it’s good enough as is.