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  • Take The SOFTENER FINDER Quiz

  • September 20, 2022 3 min read

    Most modern water softeners have a meter that is able to measure the flow of water through the softener and it uses this info to determine the proper interval to do a backwash or regeneration. Sometimes the meter stops counting, and there are a few different reasons why this can happen.

    1. The Meter Cable Is Disconnected

    The water softener controller will have a cable that connects to the device that measures the water flow: 

    water softener turbine meter cablewater softener paddle wheel style meter

    Water softeners will have either a paddle wheel or turbine style meter.  Turbines are usually integrated into the main control valve while paddle wheel meters are usually an extra component that sits between the control valve and the bypass valve. Make sure that the meter cable is snugly inserted into the receiving hole. If it is not, it won't measure the flow properly or at all if it's completely disconnected. The other end of the meter cable connects to the circuit board of the control unit.  Follow the cable back to the circuit board and make sure the connector is firmly in place (make sure you disconnect the power before taking this step though).

    2. The Water Softener Is In Bypass Mode

    The vast majority of water softeners on the market are equipped with bypass. This is usually a set of two valves - one for the inlet and one for the outlet - and these valves can be positioned so that water either flows through the softener or around the softener. If the handles are positioned such that water is flowing around the softener ("bypass" mode) then water won't be flowing through the softener and consequently the meter won't register flow. For most systems, the system is in bypass mode when the handles on both valves are pointing towards each other (and by consequence are perpendicular to the water flow).

    3. The Water Softener Meter is Jammed

    Sometimes debris can get into the mechanics of the turbine or the paddle wheel style meter and prevent it from measuring water flow even when water is running. To check this out, you'll need to refer to your manual, but there are a few details that are universal:

    • power off the softener
    • put the softener in bypass mode
    • depressurize the softener by manually initiating a regeneration (no water should flow but the drain port will be opened and this will bleed out the pressure)
    • find the paddle wheel or turbine location and remove the meter for inspection
    • make sure it can spin freely
    • check the hole where it was remove from for any debris or excessive fouling
    • clean it up and put it back together, put the softener back into service mode, and plug it back in

    Here's a video example of what this process looks like.

    Watch Out For Electromagnetic Interference

    Many water softener meters - especially the turbine style - use magnetic induction to transmit a signal from the spinning meter to the control unit. This is a relatively weak signal and as such can be subject to electromagnetic interference. So if you've checked everything else and your turbine style meter still isn't measuring the flow, check to make sure that you don't have the softener pushed up against a source of interference. The most common sources would be an electrical panel or something with a large motor like a shop tool or fan.