Roomba robotic vacuums offer convenient cleaning but they can get hung up of some surfaces, may run out of battery power, and will need maintenance.
To best care for your Roomba, be prepared to listen for the error number or beeps so that you know what care your Roomba needs.
In this Roomba troubleshooting guide you will learn how to troubleshoot your Roomba including error codes, charging and battery issues, sensor fixes and diagnostic mode.
Note: Over the years iRobot has changed some of the error code designations depending on the model. We’ve done our best to compile this information in our guide, but it’s always a good idea to check the iRobot site for your specific model.
Roomba Error Codes
The following table is a list of common errors that correspond with the number of beeps or voiced audio problem. Newer models, like the Roomba 980, should also tell you the exact problem.
Possible Roomba Problems
Clean Battery Contacts & Reset Unit
Reset & Return To Charger
Remove Yellow Pull-Tab
Clean Sensors & Reset Unit
Clean & Reset Unit
Remove problem areas, Increase Lighting, Clean Unit
Your Roomba will let you know it’s in trouble with a two-tone beep in the rhythm of “Uh-Oh!”
Once you hear this beep with older models, you’ll know to listen for the next set of beeps; the number of beeps will tell you what your robotic vacuum needs to get back to work. Newer models will voice the error number.
Roomba Charging Error 1
This error is displayed by a single blinking pattern and generally means your battery is not connecting effectively.
A bumpy vacuuming path may have shaken things loose, or the battery contacts may be dusty.
Feel free to clean them with a soft cloth or dust catching disposable wipe, but never use a wet cloth on your battery contacts.
Roomba Error 2
If you hear your Roomba chirp out an “uh-oh” and repeat two beeps, it means the brushes are clogged.
Per Sharon Profiss of C-Net, a weekly cleaning to pull the brushes and their corresponding bearings can reduce the risk of dealing with a Roomba shut-down.
Remove the brushes and clean them with a comb or one of the provided cleaning tools to clear the brush of pet hair or long human hair that can tangle up your Roomba and stop it from working properly.
Roomba Charging Error 3
If your Roomba has stalled and is exhibiting three blinks, reset the machine and return it to the charger to rest and regain strength.
Generally this will clear the error; once you turn it on it will work normally as before.
Roomba Charging Error 5
This error generally happens to brand new Roomba owners. Reset the unit, flip it over and remove the yellow pull tab to enable proper battery connection.
Charge the unit overnight to be certain it’s fully powered up and ready to go to work once you’re removed the pull tab.
Roomba Error 6
Your Roomba has cliff sensors that prevent it from tumbling down the stairs. If the sensors get dirty or blinded by dust, the machine will get stuck and be unable to move alone.
Wipe the sensors with a dry dust cloth to remove dust and debris, reset your unit and watch it go to work.
Please note that black patches in your rug may also cause your Roomba to panic and avoid those “cliffs.” Instructions on how to defeat this overreaction are listed below.
Roomba Error 9
An “uh-oh” followed by 9 beeps means your Roomba has dirty bumpers, or has debris caught along the sides of the tool. Tap the sides to encourage the debris to drop out, clear it away and reset your Roomba.
Experts recommend removing the cover monthly to get at all the nooks and crannies where dust, debris and hair can collect and clog up your Roomba.
The powerful suction of your Roomba can lead to debris being trapped within the body of the tool but outside the dirt capture bin, so this extra cleaning step is essential.
Roomba Error 10
If you get 10 beeps instead of 9, it means the side wheels are dirty.
Reset the machine, flip it over and spin the side wheels to loosen dirt, dust, hair and whatever else may be stuck near the wheels.
Again, if you’re getting a lot of these errors, your machine may be due for some maintenance.
Roomba Error 17
Error 17 refers to geographical difficulty.
Your Roomba knows where it’s been and will happily travel to new frontiers of cleaning via the sensors built into the tool, but if something in the area changes, the machine can’t complete the intended route.
For example, per the experts at iRobot, if a door that was opened in the cleaning area gets closed, you get Error 17.
This error can also crop up if there’s a lot of clutter in the space or if you have a high or particularly bumpy threshold the tool has to clear.
Roomba Not Returning To Base
The Roomba charging base needs to be free of clutter and debris for your Roomba to get home to charge; if not, it will continue to clean until the battery is completely out of power.
Additionally, make certain there are no other chargers in the area and that you’re charging base is at least 4 feet from stairs or very uneven surfaces. Be certain that the home base is plugged in completely and wipe away any dust on the docking surface.
Roomba Battery Reset May Be Required
If you see the Roomba dock light flashing, the tool knows that power is getting low and it needs to head to the charging station.
As previously stated, if it can’t find the docking station due to dust, debris, clutter or a stairway that’s too close, the Roomba won’t charge.
Over time, you may notice the charging time growing short or that the tool runs out of cleaning power sooner than it used to.
A robot battery reset might be in order.
- To do this, charge the unit as fully as you are able. Press the “clean” button to turn the unit on, then press and hold the two buttons around the clean button until the “clean” button dims.
- The robot will chirp to indicate it’s been reset. Rather than using the docking station, plug your robot into the charger until the “clean” button turns green.
- Continue charging for another 3 day period. This cycle should not be interrupted.
- Go ahead and put the robot to work until it completely runs out of power and perform the battery reset procedure again.
Your run times should improve. If they don’t, you probably need a new Roomba battery.
While these batteries are designed to recharge, rechargeable batteries have a limited life and will ultimately lose the ability to hold a charge or disperse their charge fully.
Roomba Remote Not Working
If you have multiple robots, it’s important to remove their power source before trying this. It’s also important to ensure than your current batteries do not need to be replaced.
700 & 800 Series
You should see the days of the week flash on the remote. Lay the remote on top of the Roomba.
Once it turns on, hold down the left and right direction arrows until all the lights on the remote flash and you can be certain the unit is paired.
For the 500 series Roomba, charge your Roomba and remove it from the base. Install three of the four necessary AA batteries into your remote, then press and hold the left directional arrow while you add the last battery.
Continue to hold the left arrow button until the days of the week flash from right to left. Put the battery cover on and lay the control on top of your Roomba.
Hold down the Day and Minute buttons at the same time until the lights flash. The pairing should then be complete.
Roomba Black Carpet Fix
Because the Roomba cliff sensor fix protects this wondrous tool from taking a flying leap down your staircase, you really don’t want to cover the cliff sensors.
However, if your rugs have black patches, this may be your only option to get the black portions of your rugs properly cleaned.
This is where the virtual walls become critical.
With the sensors covered, you can protect your Roomba from a stair-related boo-boo with a virtual wall to keep it away from the staircase.
What Is Roomba Diagnostic Mode?
Roomba Diagnostic Mode enables you to check the sensors. It’s important to note that getting into diagnostic mode means you
- hack the tool
- may void your warranty
- may do serious damage to the programming, and
- should really only use this as a Hail Mary option, where the next step is trashing your robotic vacuum altogether.
SEE ALSO: Best Robot Vacuums
However, if you’re facing having to toss your Roomba, getting into diagnostic mode is worth a shot.
You can’t do anything in diagnostic mode until the unit is fully charged, so if your battery is done for, diagnostic mode can’t help you.
However, there are several sets of instructions to get your unit into diagnostic mode, and once you’re in you can check each sensor one at a time and chase down any ghostly dust bunnies in the system.
Roomba Not Docking
This is a common issue with the Roomba 650. It could the result of:
- Debris on the Roombas sensors underneath the unit.
- Bad or no continuity of the Roombas sensors (located on the bottom of the 650)
- Finally, and most likely, the docking station pins are not operating correctly.
For the last point, the issue is inside the docking station. There are metal strips that flex to act like springs and push the ping/buttons up when the Roomba docks.
Over time the metal becomes weak and doesn’t spring back like it should. In the video, Jacky uses masking tape to help buffer the space and keep the pins up. This should only be a temporary fix.
If you’re out of your warranty period, I would recommend trying a temporary fix to verify that that is the issue and then look at purchasing a new docking station.
I know that docking stations aren’t cheap, but it’s much cheaper than buying a new Roomba and it’s more reliable than a cheap fix. Not to mention, adding tape or paper in the docking station presents a potential fire hazard
A well-maintained Roomba can give you hours of free time back because it cleans when you’re gone. This tool needs proper maintenance and care to keep on tooling around your house.
- Pick up clutter.
- Protect it from the stairs
- Make it easy for your Roomba to get back to the charger.
Did you enjoy this guide? Let us know in the comments with your Roomba problems and favorite solutions that you’ve found to be useful.