Poor Ultrasonic Signal

Modified on Fri, 02 Feb 2024 at 12:44 PM


Estimated Reading Time:  6 minutes, 40 seconds 

What is Ultrasonic Signal?

This is a measure of the quality and strength of the ultrasonic signal being transmitted between the sensors into the flow.

Tip: Proper preparation prevents poor performance, read about the common pitfalls

Understanding Your Water System

Knowing where to install the bluebot is key to having high signal quality and accurate water data. It's very likely if you have a limited understanding of your water system you may end up with poor signal quality resulting in a failed installation or inaccurate data. Water systems can be hard to understand so don't give up, there are a lot of free public resources on the internet and most plumbing companies will charge a nominal fee to walk your property with you.

Here are some guidelines to begin with:

  1. If you are not the primary homeowner or have basic knowledge about your residential plumbing, consider spending a little extra time understanding your water system before you begin troubleshooting your poor / weak signal quality.
  2. Ensure you're on the main water line , ask a friend or neighbor if you're unsure, you may always get professional help.
  3. Make sure it's in fact the main cold water supply line and not an addition or spare bathroom line, this way you will get total water usage on your app when properly installed.
  4. Ensure your surveyed install location is in fact the cold water supply line and not the hot water line, you can do this by carefully touching the water line.
  5. Know the difference between a gas line and water line, bluebot will not work on a gas line. Gas lines are usually black metal, covered in yellow plastic, or galvanized. Water lines are usually copper or PVC but can be galvanized. PEX and PE are always water lines.
  6. If you know your water is hard and you live in an older home, it's very possible your line has scale which will interfere with proper operation of the bluebot and you may need help from a plumber.
  7. The bluebot is designed to measure flow inside a pressurized full water pipe and will not measure flow reliably if the pipe run is partially full or empty.  

Poor Ultrasonic Signal, Signal Quality, Signal Strength 

This section will help you if you have a Poor Weak  signal indicator or your Sensor Details indicate you have low Signal Quality or Signal Strength.  

Once your units is commissioned, you can navigate to Sensor Details page on the app by selecting the meter, scroll down to Device Details and scroll down to Sensor Details.  Signal Quality is preferred to be above 70% (above 90% is ideal).  Signal Strength is preferred to be above 1500 (above 1700 is ideal).  

It is likely you need to perform one of the solutions listed below if you have a Poor Weak  signal indicator.  If none of these solutions describe your issue or help you to increase your signal quality, please contact us directly for more advanced troubleshooting and product support, we're happy help.

Common Pitfalls & Solutions for Poor Ultrasonic Signal

Here are some common situations that will undoubtedly result in a failed scan of the pipe and report a poor signal quality.


Pipe Related:

Problem: Device is not tightly fit to the pipe and there is a small air gap between the pipe and the meter

Solution: The device needs to have a tight snug fit to a clean section of pipe at lease 4" in length.  A tight fit is necessary to assure ultrasonic transducer signal quality and strength are as high as possible. The device uses AI to scan the pipe to determine pipe size for the most accurate flow measurement.

Problem: Installation location (pipe) is painted, covered with debris (dirt, cobb webs, dust, grime, etc...)

Solution: Thoroughly remove any house paint, dirt or debris from the pipe with the provided sand paper disk and wipe clean with the provided microfiber towel. It helps to dampen the cloth. When complete, remove the device and check the pads for debris, clean the pads by wiping them with soap and warm water or replace them with the included replacement pads before attempting installing again.

Problem: Install was attempted on multiple pipe locations without cleaning the pipe resulting in dirty ultrasonic pads

Solution: The ultrasonic coupling pads are sticky so that when bluebot is clamped on, it adheres tightly to the pipe for optimal performance. The downside of this is that they can pick up dirt and grime on pipes that are not completely clean. 

Use included C-Holders to prop open both bluebot clamps, peel away both factory installed ultrasonic pads. Be patient, peeling off pads may take some time and they may rip.  This is normal.  Get two replacement pads and peel one side off and place the pad over the clear plexiglass ultrasonic sensor, repeat for the sensor on the opposite side.

Problem: Install was performed on hot pipe and pads melted onto pipe / device is stuck onto the hot pipe.

Solution: Carefully check the pipe with a quick touch before installing bluebot. The bluebot device should be installed on your main cold water line not the hot output line from your water heater. If the device is stuck onto the hot pipe gently rock the device back and fourth to break the suction while holding the clamps open, it should peel right off the pipe. Use C-Holders to prop open bluebot clamps, peel away both factory installed ultrasonic pads. 
Be patient, peeling off pads may take some time and they may rip.  This is normal.
Get your two replacement pads and peel one side off and place pad over the plexiglass ultrasonic sensor, repeat for the sensor on the opposite side.
Tip: For customers installing bluebot outdoors in the sun in a hot climate, bluebot's operating temperature specification is 122 degrees F (50 degrees C).  Consider covering or shielding bluebot from the sun if temperatures exceed these specifications.

Problem: Install was attempted on a gas line instead of a water line resulting in 0 signal quality because no water is in the pipe.

Solution: Ensure your install location is in fact a water line. Use the in app survey to locate your "water meter" box and walk in a straight line to your home. For rural / off grid water systems and applications consult a plumber or technician to help locate your main cold water line. In most cases if you locate your emergency shut-off valve you have in fact located your main water line. From here, you will be able to determine an acceptable location for bluebot to operate.

Problem: Home has hard water and the pipe has scale or corrosion inside the pipe preventing the bluebot from achieving a strong ultrasonic signal. 

Suggestions: It's very likely you may live in an area with hard water WATER HARDNESS MAP. If you live in one of these areas with hard water and your home was build before 1970 you may have scale or corrosion forming inside your plumbing. Copper and Galvanized pipe can build up with scale or corrosion inside essentially doubling the wall thickness of the pipe resulting in a failed install or poor signal quality. Consider another location or have a plumbing expert inspect your water line for scale and corrosion. 

Problem: The bluebot is on a pipe larger than 2" or on a pipe smaller than 3/4"" in diameter. 

Solution: Please read this article on compatibly to better understand compatible pipe sizes and types.

Alignment Related:

Problem: Alignment of the device is angular and not straight over the pipe resulting in low signal quality because the ultrasonic sensors are not directly over the pipe.

Solution: Open the clamps and rock the bluebot device side to side to break the suction and remove it from the pipe. Re-install the bluebot and carefully align the centerline of bluebot over the centerline of the pipe. Use the "^" shaped notches in the center of both sides of the device as a guide for placement.

Problem: Less than 4" of straight pipe was available at the install location so the device was clamped onto the pipe over a fitting or elbow.

Suggestions: Consider installing the device further up the line. If outside near the shutoff and you cannot locate 4" of pipe you may need to dig down below where the main comes out of the ground. If digging down or no pipe is available outside consider installing indoors near your water heater, softener or filtration system on the cold water line. Normally these systems are inside a closet or available to you inside your garage.
Tip: After you clamp on your bluebot give it a good squeeze to close any gaps to assure a tight snug fit to the pipe for optimal measurement.

App Related:

Problem: Incorrect pipe type selected by the user. The pipe type selected at beginning of install process differs from final install location.  For example, copper was initially selected, but the final location was actually PVC.

Solution 1: From the Dashboard.

1. From app group Dashboard navigate into your device by locating the "Devices" section header and selecting your device.
2. Scroll down and select "Device Profile"
3. Scroll down to the "Install Location" section
4. Select "Pipe Type" and confirm "Yes"
5. Select the correct pipe type from the menu
6. REQUIRED: Once the correct pipe type is listed in the menu, Select the "Rescan Pipe" RESCAN button, also located in the "Install Location" menu. This is critical to allow bluebot to use AI to adjust itself to the new pipe and assure best flow measurement performance.

Solution 2: From the "Poor Signal Strength" screen during an install

1. Start from the beginning of the install process
2. Complete site survey and select correct pipe type
3. Connect
4. Install
5. Scan for flow
Tip: Spend more time upfront understanding which line is correct before installing your bluebot, this will save you 5-10 minutes of having to start from the beginning again.

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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