Troubleshooting Roomba robot vacuums

How to Solve The Most Annoying Robot Vacuum Cleaner Problems (Quick Fixes for Roomba, Neato and More)

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Robot vacuums save a lot of time and effort especially if you have kids and/or pets. But sometimes they can be frustrating.

All the cool tech that makes them great around the house can be really annoying when it fails.

Fortunately, most failures are usually not major problems that require a technician or returning your unit to the manufacturer.

With a bit of troubleshooting and trial-and-error, you can probably get your pet hair vacuum back into fighting shape in no time.

Here are some helpful tips for solving the most common problems in iLife, Neato, Shark ION, Deebot and Roomba robot vacuums.

Robot Vacuum Not Charging

Charging problems are pretty common with many robot vacuums – including premium Roomba models.

This problem is most often caused by dirty charging contacts.

Because the charging contacts are located underneath the robot vacuum, they easily get covered by dust, lint and other bits of debris.

Cleaning the contacts with a dry cloth should solve the problem. If that doesn’t work try using an abrasive pad or steel wool.

If that still doesn’t work you might have a stuck charging contact or the battery may be faulty.

Contact the company’s customer support for advice.

Robot Vacuum Not Docking

Most robot vacuums come with an auto-recharge feature. When the battery gets low during vacuuming they can automatically find their way to the charging dock.

If your robot vacuum can’t seem to find the dock and keeps wandering around until the battery dies or it gets stuck, it could just be a quality problem that you can’t do much about.

But before you blame the manufacturer make sure you’ve positioned the charging dock properly. If the dock is on a rug, a dark floor, near the stairs or under furniture, it will make it more difficult for the robot vacuum to dock.

The dock should be placed on a hard flat floor in an open area with adequate clearance from the walls and any furniture.

Try moving the charging dock to another place and see if it will work.

If your robot vacuum has been working fine and then suddenly refuses to dock, it could also be a problem with the sensors. Check if the robot is having trouble navigating around the house. Maybe it is cleaning haphazardly or bumping hard into obstacles.

Clean the sensors and if that doesn’t help, get them replaced.

Robot Vacuum Not Moving Normally

If the robot is not moving or moves in an unusual way, the first thing to check is the front directional wheel.

Turn the robot over and see if there’s anything stuck in the wheel. In most robot vacuum models you can take off the wheel to check if there is something stuck in it.

Also check the other wheels; a cable or string may have gotten tangled on them.

Robot Vacuum Starts Cleaning On Its Own

If your robot vacuum starts cleaning unexpectedly, the problem could be in the scheduling.

Use the remote control (or app if you have a smart robot vacuum) to clear the schedule and set a new one.

If that doesn’t work, try resetting the vacuum. Some models like Roomba have a special resetting procedure. With others you remove the battery and long-press the power button on the robot to clear the schedule and other settings.

Another common cause of this problem is a wrongly-set clock. You have to set the time first before creating an auto-cleaning schedule.

If you set the time wrongly or forget to set it, the robot will clean at unexpected times. Check if the clock is showing the correct time.

Robot Vacuum Leaves Dirt on the Floor

If the robot vacuum is not cleaning as well as it used to, check whether the brushes are worn out.

The side brushes are usually the first to wear out and often need to be replaced every 6 months. Check the main roller brush too.

Worn out or clogged filters can also affect cleaning performance by reducing suction. This makes it more difficult for the vacuum to pick up dirt and pet hair.

After every cleaning, make sure you dust the filters to remove any hair and dust stuck on them.

If it is a foam or mesh filter, you need to wash it every 15-30 days. If it’s a HEPA filter, replace it after around 6 months.

Smart Robot Vacuum Not Connecting to WiFi

If you’ve just bought a smart WiFi robot vacuum, it may take a couple or so tries before you successfully connect it to your WiFi network.

Try resetting your router to see if it will connect.

Also make sure you are using the recommended WiFi frequency. Some robot vacuums can work with 2.4GHz routers only while others support both 2.4GHz and 5GHz.

You can also try setting a new password (some robots may specify an alpha-numeric password), checking that the robot vacuum is docked in and charging and that your WiFi network is strong enough.

What To Do If Nothing Works & You’re Out of Warranty

Honestly, your best bet is to buy a replacement robot vacuum.

Every year, the latest models have more features, are more reliable and cost less – a combination that’s hard to beat verses trying to find a local repair person who understands how to fix your specific (outdated) model.

Check out one of our recently-update buying guides for reviews and comparisons of our favorite new robotic vacuums and mops:

About the author

Vicky Nicholls is the Sr. Researcher and Writer for

Vicky is a full-time professional writer who spends most of her time covering the real-world impact of the latest technologies on consumers' lives around the world. She writes full-time for a number of leading review and editorial publications on the web.

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