If you own a Roomba, you already know that there are certain limitations – there are some height limitations, some floor limitations, and oftentimes issues going from material to material.
Other times, it gets stuck on certain areas, under furniture, or accidentally falls off the stairs.
Many of these are physical limitations related to your Roomba; after all, while it is incredibly comprehensive, it cannot possibly catch everything!
There are certain spaces it can’t get to, and for that we need to make adjustments to ensure that it can do its job.
What do you need to know and what concessions should you make to ensure that your Roomba is able to clean your home with no issues?
For our article on Roomba height clearance issues, do refer here.
This article will cover common Roomba-related problems as well as their potential solutions to address them, especially for new owners.
Let’s start with some basic (and relevant) information about the iRobot Roomba for this article.
How tall are the most popular Roomba models? Can you adjust the height of a Roomba?
For a complete list of all the series’ specifications, please refer to the article as above. The heights of the four most popular Roomba models, the I3, I7, J7, and S9, are listed here.
|iRobot Roomba i3+||iRobot Roomba i7+||iRobot Roomba j7+||iRobot Roomba s9+|
|3.63 inches (92.2mm)||3.62 inches (91.9mm)||3.4 inches (86.4 mm)||3.5 inches (88.9 mm)|
All iRobot Roombas are less than 4 inches in height, and less than 14 inches in width (diameter, from end to end).
While you cannot adjust the physical height of the Roomba itself, you can adjust the height of the cleaning head underneath with the brush deck height adjustment string. This is also done automatically.
All Roomba models (e.g. the iRobot Roomba 980) automatically adjust the height to keep close contact with anything it is cleaning. When resistance against the brushes increases while turning, the entire motor of the Roomba rolls up the string; since the motor is attached to the brush deck, it pulls the entire thing upwards. In action, if a Roomba climbs onto a higher surface, the entire brush deck lifts to reduce friction between the brushes and the carpet.
If this automatic function is not working, or if you need to adjust it manually:
- Remove the dirt bin.
- Prop the Roomba up on its bumper (upside-down) so that you can see the brushes.
- You should be able to get to the brush deck string by moving the brush deck around.
This does affect the height clearance of the Roomba, as discussed below.
What is the height clearance of the Roomba?
You should allow the Roomba at least an inch or so above its physical height, depending on how tall your Roomba actually is. By default, you can assume that roughly 4 inches is enough space for your Roomba to move without getting caught. This is the clearance allowed for the top of your Roomba
On the other side, the maximum height that any Roomba can cross during a cleaning cycle is about ⅝ inch, or 1.6 cm. This is the height that the bottom of your Roomba can safely cross without getting stuck, and is roughly the width of 1-2 pinky fingers. Anything taller (e.g. a bump) may cause the Roomba to stop or stall, or simply treat it like an obstacle; the Roomba will then simply move around it.
What surfaces can my Roomba clean?
The Roomba has been making increasing advances with time, and newer models demonstrate incredible proficiency with difficult materials. Your Roomba should be able to clean debris, dust, hair, and dirt easily from hard floors such as wood or hardwood, tile, linoleum, laminate or vinyl. It may do well with carpets with short fibres (e.g. cut pile, plush pile, Saxony, loop pile), but may be less efficient on carpets with longer fibres (e.g. high pile, shag carpets) due to the shorter reach of its brush into the depths of the carpet.
Stone and concrete pose different problems entirely. While both are hard floors, bare stone may be jagged and rough, depending on the interior design style that you have, and may even damage the Roomba. Bare concrete without a finish (common in industrial spaces and some offices) creates a lot of concrete dust that may clog up the Roomba much faster.
Threespecific Roomba height problems
Can my Roomba move from carpet to hardwood, or vice versa, easily?
Yes! As mentioned, the Roomba has a base clearance of around ⅝ inch (1.6 cm). This means that as long as the height difference between your carpet and hardwood is less than that, the Roomba will be able to navigate the different heights with ease using its spring system.
Can my Roomba cross over thresholds or climb over bumps on the ground?
Yes for some! In general, as long as the thresholds of your house have the same clearance heights – again, ⅝ inch (1.6 cm) – it will be able to go up and down the thresholds relatively well.
It may be made easier if your thresholds are rounded as opposed to one with square edges, as the rounded thresholds provide the Roomba a ramp to get over it. Sharp edges are more difficult to get past, and even if it is less than the clearance your Roomba may not be able to move past it.
For square edges, it has been shown that the Roomba can go over dividers only around ½ inch in height rather than ⅝ inch.
Why does my Roomba keep getting stuck under furniture?
There are a huge number of reasons as to why, and a large number of obstacles including high-pile rugs, furniture, and even cables under your sofa or table.
Clutter can also get in the way. For instance, a loose handkerchief, shirt, or even coin could get sucked up into the Roomba, and could accidentally plug up the system and cause it to stop. These items are commonly found in spaces underneath furniture, where they have fallen unseen and therefore go undetected until the Roomba picks them up. They could also get stuck on cables, loose parts, and the like under work tables.
Additionally, there could also be network issues. Your sensors might not work properly because it is covered in dust, or because it is too dark, which in turn causes the Roomba to stall. Other times, a pet accidentally bumps the Roomba and causes it to deviate from the planned path it has charted out. Yet other times the Roomba accidentally travels out of the range of the network signal, or your home wi-fi suddenly drops due to one reason or another. All of these are valid reasons that may cause your Roomba to keep stalling, needing you to hunt for it and get it back.
A last issue that may be more common in kitchen areas would be water on the ground. The vacuum might suck up the water and cause a stink, but it could just as well ruin the electronics.
What should I do if my Roomba gets stuck?
Depending on the reason as to why it got stuck in the first place, there are a few ways of making sure that your Roomba doesn’t get stuck.
The first is to clear up any larger pieces of clutter. The Roomba is meant to pick up dust and debris, not clothes or small toys. These should be picked up and put away regularly outside of the Roomba’s cleaning schedule. Do a quick sweep of areas underneath your furniture to make sure that none of these have fallen outside your line of sight.
Secondly, it becomes important to deal with any loose cables and wires that are coming around, especially near electronics in the living room, or at work tables in bedrooms or study rooms. While cables fulfill the height clearance requirements, tangles of wires may come together and cause the Roomba to be stuck. Organise your wires with an organiser, or tuck them away in areas that the Roomba will not reach. Many tables now have specific wire management accommodations such as an extra shelf to tuck them away.
Thirdly, to move thick rugs or to make sure that the Roomba does not go onto it by creating a faux obstacle while the Roomba is initially setting up. In this way, the map created by the Roomba will recognise the area as a potential obstacle, and will try to avoid it.
Keep the Roomba away from areas with water, or ensure as best as you can that there is a small chance of any liquid being on the ground.
Leave a light on while the Roomba is cleaning as well, especially if it is set to clean during the night. Light is necessary for the Roomb’s sensors to work properly, and while this is taken care of during the day, it might need a little help at night as well as under the furniture.
Ensure your wi-fi network is solid as well – upgrade your router, upgrade to a comprehensive plan as needed, and make sure that the signals can reach your Roomba.
Use Roomba bumper extenders
Bumper extenders are attachments you can purchase that help prevent it from getting stuck or lost. Mounted with glue strips, it is often fit to the top of the Roomba and serves as a height adjuster for your Roomba. They usually come in pairs: one for the left and one for the right. The additional height helps prevent it from being wedged under furniture that is close to its height, and thus prevents it from being stuck!