Roomba Dies Before Docking

Roombas are awesome. They take over a large chunk of the daily cleaning ritual so you can focus on other stuff. They also break, just like any other electronic gadget, and they’re flipping expensive to fix.

Sometimes, there are also some basic things that you just don’t know and don’t want to spend the time figuring out, so you’d rather ask Google.

In this article, we look at some common questions that you might have relating to the docking process, such as my Roomba dies before docking.

If you are having any sort of Roomba docking problems read on for some easy fixes.

My Roomba won’t dock (9 quick fixes…)

There could be any number of reasons why a Roomba won’t dock or won’t return to home base when it’s done with the cleaning cycle.

[1] Damage to the charger line

Just check the cable that runs between the dock and the wall outlet. Is it frayed, pinched (or worse severed?) You will need a new charger. Don’t try to repair it if you can see any wires as it is too dangerous.

Although it is inconvenient, these things are easily done. After all your docking station is on the floor. The cable may have been damaged when the home base was kicked or shunted.

[3] The docking station is damaged

Unplug your dock and pick it up. Take a close look at it. Does it look damaged in any way. Is the plastic casing cracked? This could indicate a bigger problem..

[3] The dock’s adapter is broken

Plug the charging cable back in and wiggle the end of it (where the cable goes into the dock.) Does this connection seem loose? It could be that even if the cable correctly “seats” itself into the dock’s adaptor, the adaptor itself might be damaged. In all likelihood this will mean buying a new docking station.

[4] The docking station is not properly plugged in

If when you check your cable you find out that there is nothing wrong with it, after you have breathed a sigh of relief, now check that it is inserted properly in the docking station. Again, in the hustle and the bustle of a busy house, these things are easily done.

If the charging cable was not properly plugged in and you push it in securely, you can check that everything is OK the power indicator should illuminate to a solid green.

If it doesn’t, move on…

[5] Faulty electrical outlet

Move docking station so that it is near another electrical outlet in the room. Plug the charging cable in and make sure that it is all connected properly. If the power indicator turns green, the good news is that you have fixed your Roomba. The bad news is that you have a power outlet that needs to be fixed.

[6] Charging contacts are dirty

I think that the next thing to check is the “charging contacts” on your Roomba and its dock. These are the metal contacts that need to be in contact with each other in order for the Roomba to charge. Just wipe them over with a soft cloth and place the Roomba on its dock once more.

[7] Infrared Interference

Infrared interference from Virtual Walls, Virtual Wall Lighthouses or other Home Bases could also cause your Roomba not to get back to the Home Base. Check that you don’t have any of those within 2.4 meters of the Home Base.

[8] Obstruction

Family homes are busy places with lots of stuff in them. Just quickly check that there isn’t any clutter or furniture which could be blocking your Roomba’s path. It is very important that the area immediately surrounding the home base (within 2.4 metres) is clear.

[9] RIP Battery

The final reason that your Roomba might not be returning to its dock is that it’s battery has died. Not in the sense of the battery just needing to be recharged but in the sense that you need to buy a new one.

But since I discuss battery issues later, I won’t labor the point.

If something, like a sticker, some tape or even paint, gets stuck on the bumper of the Home Base, your Roomba won’t be able to dock. Check that the bumper is clean and try again. Similarly, debris could build up on the charging contacts of both the Home Base and the Roomba unit. Wipe down both with a dry, clean cloth and see if that solves the problem.

Sometimes, the Roomba can’t find the Home Base again at the end of a mission, especially when cleaning multiple rooms. First, you need to verify that the Roomba can actually dock. To do this, you would place the Roomba within 2 meters of the Home Base and press Dock. If this works, it means your little dust gobbler is getting lost in your home. To remedy this, use Virtual Wall Lighthouses to help it find its way, or use Virtual Walls to set a smaller space for it to clean. That is, if your model is compatible with those.

Lastly, your Roomba unit has a little charging port that you can use instead of the docking station. When you’re using this port, your Roomba won’t dock, because it can’t handle a charge coming from two sources. Clever little one! Sometimes, though, some dust and nonsense gets into this charging port, making the Roomba think that it’s already on charge, even when it’s not. To remedy this, you need to get the dust out of this port. Some compressed air or even your lungs should get this sorted out.

Here are some other things to note:

For your Roomba to find the Home Base again at the end of a cleaning session, it must either start the session at the Home Base or see the Home Base at some point during the session. If you move your Roomba around during a cleaning session, it won’t be able to find the Home Base, even when you press Dock, unless you place it within 1.8 meters of the Home Base, actually facing the Home Base. You went and confused the poor thing. Shame on you!

How to manually dock a Roomba?

There are two easy ways in which you can manually dock a Roomba. The first is to literally pick it up and move it to the Home Base. Gently slide it onto the Home Base in such a way that the Home Base charging contacts are touching the Roomba charging points.

The other way is so easy, it feels like a cheat. On your Roomba unit, press the Home or Dock button. It should return to base and slide right up on the charging points. Easy peasy.

Can you reset a Roomba?

Yes, you can and a great reason to do this is to help the battery. Press “Clean” for 3 seconds in order to wipe out the previous job.

Why would you want to reset your Roomba, though? Well, sometimes the cleaning cycles become a bit less effective, indicating that your battery is getting a bit tired. It needs a proper reset, kind of like your laptop sometimes just works so much better after you restart it. This process might differ slightly between different models, so we picked the procedure for the 500 and 600 series:

–          Turn on your Roomba. Just press the “Clean” button.

–          Simultaneously press and hold the “Spot” and “Dock” buttons for 10 seconds.

–          Release the buttons simultaneously. Your Roomba will make its normal startup sounds.

–          Charge the Roomba for at least 12 hours or until the green light at the “Clean” button lights up.

6 signs that you need a new battery

All good things must come to pass and the average Roomba battery will need to be replaced after every 400 charges.

Although it might seem like it at the time buying a new battery isn’t the end of the world. They are easy to get hold of and they are a lot cheaper than buying a whole new model.

To give you piece of mind, let me run through some classic signs that your battery has given up the ghost.

[1] First anniversary

Well the most obvious thing to check is how long you have had your Roomba. If you have been going “steady” for over a year and it has been used on most days then the signs don’t look good.

[2] Soft Reset

If you have tried the soft reset procedure described above and it makes no difference to your Roomba slovenly ways…

[3] Hard reset

By this I mean taking the battery out, wiping the battery and its contacts over with a soft cloth and putting it back in and still seeing no difference in performance

[4] Roomba won’t dock

We tackled this subject earlier, but if your Roomba will not dock and you gone through the checklist outlined above, it is time to accept the inevitable. And by the way, we are not talking about having an one or two “off” days, but something far more serious..

[5] Short run time

Your Roomba may have been on charge for three hours or for three days but it doesn’t change the fact that it only functions for a very limited. And remember, most Roombas should have a run time between sixty and seventy five minutes.

[6] Lights, camera, inaction

Most Roomba models use lights to indicate battery status and health. For instance a solid green light shows that a battery is fully charged, amber tells us that the battery is partially discharged and a flashing red light indicates that the battery is dead.

If you are seeing a flashing red light after only a short time of cleaning or you are seeing no light at all, it looks as if the game might well and truly over.

How long should a Roomba battery last? (7 tips for a longer life)

Roomba batteries are good for about 400 charges. This means that, if you’re letting your Roomba run once a day, every day, it will last about a year and two months. That’s not a lot, unfortunately.

There are ways to extend your battery life, though. Here are some basics:

[1] Reset your battery (often.)

I outlined my step by step guide earlier.

[2] Clean the brushes

If dirt builds up in your Roomba’s brushes, it will have to work harder to clean your home, using way more power than necessary and shortening your battery life in the process.

[3] Charge often use often

Because Roomba batteries are nickel-based, they require regular loading and unloading. For this reason, it’s best to keep your Roomba on charge when you’re not using it and to use it often. If you’re planning on not using it for a few days, don’t leave it on charge, though.

 [4] Exhaust the battery

The type of battery in your Roomba needs to be drained often. To do this, simply let it clean until the battery runs empty, then charge it until full. Do this regularly and your Roomba will keep going on the same battery for much longer.

[5] Don’t overheat

This goes for all electronics. Make sure that your Roomba stays away from direct sunlight and other heat sources, since overheating will definitely shorten the battery life.

[6] Vacation Mode

If you’re planning on being away for a while, you probably don’t want – or need – your Roomba to run its regular schedule, right? So, before you go, charge it until full, then remove the battery. Store the battery and the unit separately in a cool and dry place.

When you get back, replace the battery and charge it again until full. Now, allow it to clean until the battery runs flat. When all of this is done, you can return to your normal cleaning routine.

[7] 6 month battery rule

If you are lucky enough to go on a 6 month vacation, it is important to bear in mind that iRobot recommend that the battery is charge at least once every 6 months.

Your Roomba might have fallen out of favor (have you got yourself a younger model?) and is now living in the cupboard under the stairs. Remember the 6 month rule. After all, you know how fickle you can be!

Can my Roomba be docked via the app?

In short, yes. In order to get your robot to dock via the app, press CLEAN in the app. This will pause the robot’s cleaning cycle, after which you can follow the in-app instructions to get your robot back to Home Base. Nifty.

Where to place my Roomba dock (good and bad locations)?

Your Roomba dock or Home Base is a really cool gadget, allowing your Roomba to automatically recharge. Nice. So, just where should you place this awesome thing?

First off, Roombas often get lost if they can’t find the Home Base or if they can’t get around clutter in order to reach it. So, don’t place it in a cluttered area. Also, don’t place it in a tiny corner, like the cupboard under the stairs. You need about 1.8 – 2.4 meters of clear space around the dock, depending on the model. This means you would probably place it against the wall in the hallway or in a large, open room in your home.

The Home Base should also be positioned on a flat, firm area, so not on the rug near the front door. Maybe it’s also a good idea to avoid the flagstones near the fireplace.

Roombas can take a tumble down the stairs, especially if they’re trying to find home base and not really paying attention to their environment, so don’t place your home base at the top of those stairs.

How to send Roomba home using Alexa?

Alexa is your bestie at home. We get it. And she’s bossy too, telling your pet Roomba what to do and when to do it. So, can Alexa send your Roomba to its room when it misbehaves? Yes, she can! Simply say “Alexa, have Roomba go home.” Super easy!