Roomba Keeps Saying Clean Brushes

Photo by Person Lin on Flickr

It’s happened again.

Your Roomba keeps trying to tell you stuff that you don’t want to hear.

This time, it’s about your brushes: again.

How many times do you need to turn this thing upside and check the brushes?!

As a pet owner, I feel your pain because this is something which I have to do very regularly.

It seems hair is the main reason why this error message keeps coming back.

And in this article I will take you through all the different things that you need to check and what you need to do in order to stop all this nonsense!

So, first things first: why would your Roomba say “clean brushes”?

Why does your Roomba say clean brushes?

When your Roomba robot displays the error code 2, which says to clean brushes, the main reason behind it is that the main brush rollers of your Roomba robot are experiencing resistance while rotating or have completely stopped rotating. The most often culprit behind these error messages is hair choking up the brush rollers, preventing them from being able to spin properly except in the rare circumstances in which hair can end up in clogging in the gears or in the between the handles that keep the front wheel in place. Not regularly cleaning the main brush rollers can cause this buildup of this hair which clog the brushes making the unable to move properly. To fix this problem you simply need to clean your Roomba’s main brush rollers which is not a very a complicated process and only takes up to ten minutes.

How do you clear the main Roomba brush rollers?

There are two models of brush rollers that can be found on Roombas. One of them is the bristle type brush roller that is the older version found inside older models of the Roombas such as the Roomba 400, 500, 600 and 700 series. The other is the multi-surface rubber brush roller that is found inside newer models of the Roomba robots like the 800, 900, i and S series. These new brush models have an improved design that helps them in getting tangled up in hair less often

First let us see how to clean the older model of the brush rollers. The very first thing to flip your Roomba upside on a soft surface, preferably a towel or some type of a cloth to avoid scratching the shiny surface of your Roomba robot. Now you can hopefully see two thin cylindrical brush, one of which has bristles brush while the other one should have rubber flaps which is called the flexible beater brush. These brushes are kept in place with the help of a guard that can be easily removed by simply pulling back on the colored (most are yellow) levers on the guard itself. Once the guard is open simply remove the brushes from the cleaning head module. Now to clean the brushes, using the Roomba cleaning tool to remove the hair from the bristles by pulling the tool over the brush itself. And also remove hair from tucked under or inside the bearings after removing them from the end of the brushes. After cleaning the brushes, you should wipe the inside of the cleaning head module it gets awfully dusty inside. Finally, you should reinstall everything back into its original place and when the brushes are firmly in place snap the guard back into place. Your Roomba should be ready to run now.

The process is very similar for the newer models but albeit easier since you don’t have to contend with the awfully tiring process of cleaning bristles. Start by turning your Roomba upside down. Open the brush frame release tab by pushing down on the tab on the right side of the cleaning head. Once the door is open, remove both brushes. Then, remove hair and debris from the square and hex pegs located at the ends of the brushes. Once the ends are clean, remove the gray brush bearings and clean around and under them as a lot of hair end up clogging this area. After the bearings are clean, clean the green shaft of each brush. The new rubber brushes are excellent for keep out gunk, reducing potentially stuck hair and saving a lot of time in maintenance. Repeat this process for the second brush. Lastly put everything back into place by reinstalling the bearings onto each brush. Then, reinstall the brushes back into the Roomba, making sure the bearings are in the right place. Press lightly on the release tab to snap it into place.

Why would your Roomba be saying this when the brushes are brand new?

If the error still persists after cleaning the main brushes, then you may need to clean your side brush. It is the tri-brush component on the underside of your Roomba that cleans the hard-to-reach dust and debris. It is mostly ignored when you clean your Roomba and can get a lot of hair entangled around it. You can use a standard Phillips type screwdriver to remove the side brush. Remove the hair entangled around the brush, a scissor can be used to cut the hair off and it should come right off. Clean the brush and then reinstall it back into place using the same screwdriver. The other less known culprit behind the error code 2 could be choked castor wheel. The wheel may have hair entangled in their axles causing them to resist movement which the Roomba may think is due to the brushes slowing down due to hair stuck in them. You need to pull the caster wheel out of the Roomba. You won’t require any tools to perform this trick; just get a firm grip on the wheel and pull it straight out. With a little effort, the caster should come free, complete with its stem. More likely than not, there will be a substantial amount of hair wrapped around the axle. Rather than trying to yank it free, simply remote the wheel from its housing; once that’s done, you can easily remove the ring of hair from around the axle. Using a cloth, you should wipe the wheel itself and its compartment to get rid of any dust or debris. After doing this pop the wheel back into place. Now hopefully there should no longer be any error codes.

How do you reset a Roomba error code?

If Roomba still shows the same error code, it could possibly be a glitch which can be fixed by resetting your Roomba. To do this press and hold the Home, Spot Clean, and Clean buttons simultaneously. Then, wait for the light ring around the Clean button to begin spinning. Once there’s a light ring, let go of the three buttons. For older models release the button once you hear a beeping tone Now, the Roomba will restart, signaling the end of the factory reset process.

How long should the brushes on a Roomba last? Can you buy replacement brushes from iRobot?

The main brush rollers inside your Roomba robot are not meant to last indefinitely. You are supposed to replace them after six to twelve months according to the official iRobot guidelines. Fortunately, you can order replacements made by iRobot through their online store or from amazon.

Can you buy replacement brushes made by a third party? Are they cheaper than brushes bought from iRobot? Do they work as well?

I would not recommend buying third party replacements because even though they may be cheaper most would not last as long as or be as effective as the original ones. In the long run you would benefit more from the original brushes even if it looks like you could save a few bucks from the buying the third-party ones. 

What can damage Roomba brushes? How regularly should you clean the Roomba brushes?

In order to make your brushes last long make sure to clean your brushes regularly. As hair, dirt and gunk stuck in the brushes for long periods can damage them and decrease their lifespan. It is recommended to clean the main brushes twice every week according to the official iRobot guidelines. You may want to increase the regularity if you think you have more sources of hair then common in your home like a lot of pet dogs. 

What Roomba models seem to have the most trouble with the clean brush error message?

The older models of Roomba like the 500, 600, 700 and 800 series have more problems with the clean brushes error as they have the older type brush models which have bristles and are more prone to getting hair tangled in them. So, if you are looking to buy a new Roomba or considering of upgrading make sure to get the latter model which makes use of the new and improved brush rollers that don’t have bristles.

What are other common error messages on Roombas?

Other common error messages include Error 1 caused by uneven grounds. Roomba is a powerful home cleaner. However, uneven grounds are a major obstacle for it. You will get the Roomba Error 1 if Roomba encounters an uneven surface. In case the left wheel of the cleaner gets tilted and stays suspended above the ground, you will receive this error message. To solve this error, place your Roomba on a stable, flat surface and press the “Clean” button. Another common error message is Error code 6 caused by blocked cliff sensors. Roomba cleaners are designed to work perfectly on plain floors. They will not do their job if you place them on bumpy floors with a lot of obstacles. This is why your Roomba cleaner comes with Cliff Sensors. When your Roomba reaches an obstacle, a fall, or even a wall that it cannot roll past, it will display the Error 6 message. Unless you pick it up and place it back on a plain surface, it cannot continue cleaning. To solve this, pick up the cleaner and place it on a plain surface. If you still encounter the error, double check to make sure there isn’t anything stuck or blocking the cliff sensors. The other common error message is Error code 8 caused by problem in the vacuum. All Roomba cleaners come with a motor and a filter. If both of them stop working, you will get Error 8. A broken motor means your Roomba cleaner will not be able to suck the dirt in. And a broken filter means it won’t be able to filter the collected dirt and store it in its bin. To remove the bin, press the Bin Release Button on the back of your cleaner. Gently slide out the bin door and empty the trash. Hold down tight on the left side of the filter and slide out to separate the filter from the bin. Use a brush to clean out the debris or shake the bin and the filter. While doing so, make sure you do not try to clean the filter with any liquid detergent or water, as this part is meant to be kept dry.

As you can see most problems are evidently caused by lack of maintenance. It takes very little time to clean the Roomba robot but it goes a long way in making sure that the Roomba function properly and its components last as long as they can. By learning how to clean Roomba brushes, you are doing your part to keep an important part of your home running smoothly for years to come.