Site Survey (& troubleshooting for over or under reporting bluebots)

Modified on Tue, 30 Apr 2024 at 12:36 PM


Estimated reading time: 2 minutes, 42 seconds


As all situations are slightly different, this guide is a general description of a typical suburban residential water line. It's intended to be helpful and not definitive in nature. If you live in an urban environment or in a more isolated off grid environment your water line will different, but will contain similar components.

Main Water Line

The bluebot water app will walk you through a site survey to help identify your main water line. The bluebot device can be placed on any water line from ¾” - 2” (larger pipe sizes also available by consulting our factory). If you place a bluebot on a section of pipe further down your main line, you may not capture the total flow to your home.

To locate your main water line, begin at the in ground utility water meter, typically on your street or sidewalk. The utility meter can be hard to find sometimes so you may need to do some detective work.  There will be a metal or concrete lid, typically marked "Water". Your main line runs in a straight line into your home directly to where your main shutoff valve is located.   Stand at the utility meter and face your residence, the water will enter your home directly from this perspective.  Walk straight to your residence and begin the search for where water enters.  In colder climates, the water may enter into a basement with the main shutoff valve inside the home.  Warmer climates, the shutoff valve is typically outside the home. 

Note: If you do not have easy to find water main. The next step will help you.

Tip: Consider your home’s age, floorplan, and possible plumbing updates when choosing an installation location.

Main Shutoff Valve

Locating your main water shutoff valve means you have found your water main and a good location for bluebot.  This valve is typically a ball valve with a yellow handle, typically with a rubber cover.  Older homes, built before 1970 will typically have gate valves with a round handle.  

If the main shutoff valve is not outside your home, check in your garage, utility closets, or the basement. Your main shutoff may be located on the cold water main before hot water tee's off to your water heater.  Other great install locations on the main water line are before or after a water softening system or purifier.  And remember, you are looking for a clean 4" section of pipe.

Tip: just below the main shutoff valve is a great location for bluebot if power is nearby and Wi-Fi is available.

Water Heating System

If the main shutoff valve is not outside your home, check in your garage, utility closets, or the basement. Your main shutoff may be located on the cold water main before hot water tee's off to your heater, water purifier or softener. 

Can't find your water heating system? Get Help

Wi-Fi Signal Strength

Hold your phone touching or within a few inches of where you plan to clamp-on bluebot (as close as safely possible). The ideal signal is 3 bars, but assure Wi-Fi strength is at least 1-2 bars at this location. 

Note: The app will lead you through Wi-Fi connection where you need a full 3-bars. Next when you go to plug your bluebot in at the install location, we need at least 1-bar Wi-Fi strength and bluebot will automatically reconnect.  This is a fringe case and may still not work at 1-bar.  You may opt to install a quality Wi-Fi extender to boost the signal strength at the install location.

Locating Power

Once a location is identified for bluebot, you will need to locate the nearest power outlet. If there is no power nearby, many customers opt to simply run an extension cord to the installation location.

Note: Your bluebot comes with a 10-foot USB-C power cable.

Selecting A Good Section Of Pipe

Locate the longest straight run of pipe possible. Assure at least 5 diameters(of the size pipe you have installed the bluebot on) of unobstructed pipe before and after the bluebot.  That means 3.75in before and after on 3/4in pipe and 20in before and after on a 4in pipe. The sticky clear coupling pads on your unit must directly touch the pipe for a strong ultrasonic signal transfer into the pipe for highest performance. For more information on picking good pipe please read this more detailed article:  Picking good pipe.

Turbulent Flow

In the image below you will see an ideal install location. The red Xs are areas where there may be possible turbulent flow present.


Note: Watch out for common pitfalls - don't clamp over couplings, fittings, or debris.  Remember, the unit must be toughing the pipe in a tight snug fit so the ultrasonic signal can transfer into the flow for measurement.  Air gaps are the enemy, sometime an unrecognized coupler will lift the bluebot just millimeters over the pipe and it will not work.

What Is Turbulent Flow?

To understand why we want to avoid turbulent flow we need to understand how the ultrasonic sensors work to read the flow of water.  Please take a look at our help desk article on that here:  How bluebot works. Take a look at the illustration below to see what turbulent flow can look like.  Turbulence causes the path of the ultra sonic beam to travel in a less predictable path which can show false(less accurate) results.  


This is a basic image of what turbulent flow looks like.

The above images Illustrates how liquids flow around corners.

In this Photo you can see that below the bluebot is a BOOSTER pump.  Booster Pumps and pressurizers create turbulent flow conditions so for best results locate the bluebot as far away from one as possible.

As you can see we locate the bluebot as far from turbulence areas as possible and we never install on corners.

Align The Sensors

To produce a strong ultrasonic signal and deliver reliable flow data, the bluebot device's ultrasonic sensors must both be aligned directly over the pipe. The device has a notch on each end to assist you in achieving proper alignment. In most cases, a tight squeeze of the device onto the pipe will help the device center itself onto the "^" shape on both sides underneath the unit (See drawing below).  Tip: it can help to draw a straight line down the centerline of the pipe so you can "eyeball" the installation to assure excellent alignment.

Learn more about ultrasonic sensor signal here.  

Send Us A Photo

If you are unsure of a final install location for bluebot, we encourage you to upload a photo of your surveyed location by creating a ticket and attaching your photo. We will do our very best to guide you to the best location for bluebot.

If you have any questions, please submit a support ticket or call (831)275-2715 and leave a message. A member of our support team will call you back within 24 hours.

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