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Roomba Couldn’t Find/Return to Base/Dock/Rooms

Roomba Couldn’t Find/Return to Base/Dock/Rooms

Roombas are smart devices that know how to navigate rooms and even return to their charging station. This is if everything is according to plan; however, as we all know with technology, it doesn’t always work as intended 100% of the time.

If your Roomba is having trouble finding its way home or other rooms, there might be something preventing a clear path to the dock or said room. Another common reason why this happens is that someone moved the Roomba as it was cleaning, which throws off where it thinks the dock or room is. 

We will go over the various reasons why a Roomba may not be finding its dock and what you can do to resolve the issue. Read on if you’d like to learn more.

Roomba Couldn’t Find Base/Dock: Causes / How to Fix

Roomba Couldn’t Find Base/Dock: Causes / How to Fix

Roombas work best when they are allowed to do their thing without intervention. They work on a process of what is known as visual simultaneous location and mapping or VSLAM. In short, the optical system in a robot vacuum cleaner is what allows it to map out your home by judging distances between walls and identifying various landmarks on the ceiling. 

The vacuums also perform best when your home is free of clutter, such as wires everywhere or things randomly in the middle of the floor. If allowed to roam in a clutter-free home, it will usually be able to navigate and clean your home optimally.

But what happens when it is time to wrap up a vacuuming session? You can either let it dock itself when it completes the job or runs low on battery or manually tell it to go to the base by pressing the home button on the device itself or in the app. 

When it is time to go home, the Roomba searches for an infrared signal emitted from the base. The vacuum then follows said signal, avoiding virtual walls and such until it reaches the charger. 

Why Can’t Roombas Sometimes Find the Charger?

If your Roomba fails to find the base, there are multiple reasons why this might be the case. If your Roomba isn’t connected to Wi-Fi or you don’t have a Wi-Fi model, you’ll need to start the cleaning session from the home-base for a better chance of it being able to return home. 

If you start a cleaning session away from the base on a Wi-Fi-enabled model, it must be in close proximity within 6 ft (1.8 m). The Roomba also has to be facing the dock when you begin the session. 

Another issue could be that you plugged the base into a faulty outlet, or it isn’t plugged in tight enough. You can see if the charger is powered on by observing the blinking light illuminating every 4 seconds.

Next, make sure there aren’t any Dual Mode Virtual Wall barriers within 8 ft (2.5 m) of the base to avoid infrared interference. 

Finally, the base should be placed against a wall on a hard, even surface with a clear path for the Roomba to easily navigate through. Things to avoid when placing the home base are as follows:

  • Avoid placing the base next to stairs,
  • Ensure the power cord isn’t in the way; move the base to the side if you must. 
  • Ensure there isn’t any furniture within 4 ft (1.2 m) in front of the base.

Roomba Won’t Return to Base/Dock to Charge: Causes / How to Fix

Roomba Won’t Return to Base/Dock to Charge: Causes / How to Fix

If your Roomba won’t return home after a cleaning session or after you manually tell it to through the app or on the device itself, this is often due to it having trouble navigating back to the dock. 

Ensure that the Roomba has a clear path to the charging station with no wires or anything else in the way. Furthermore, it is optimal that the Roomba begins cleaning by leaving from the dock to reference where it is. 

Roomba Won’t Dock Properly or Not Docking Properly: Causes/How to Fix

Roomba Won’t Dock Properly or Not Docking Properly: Causes/How to Fix

If your Roomba fails to dock properly, this can indicate that debris has built up on the charging contacts on both the device itself and the charging dock. The manufacturer recommended way to clean the contacts is to use a lightly damp melamine foam such as these Extra Large Eraser Sponges. Here is a short video showing what the connectors look like:

Roomba Can’t Find a Room: Causes / How to Fix

Roomba Can’t Find a Room: Causes / How to Fix

If a Roomba is failing to go into a specific room, there is a possibility that it is running out of battery before it can get to it if your home is large. When the battery begins to get low, it will head back to the charging base regardless of how much of the job it got done. 

Another reason could be that it isn’t starting at the home base when it heads out to clean. This is key for the device to navigate appropriately. 

Finally, it is best to place the charging base in the central area of your home if you intend for it to clean your whole home. If it is still running out of battery before getting to every room, it might be best to place it in that specific room once it recharges. 

Roombas will clean for up to 2 hours before heading back to the station on the lowest cleaning session. Remember, it takes significantly longer for a robot vacuum to clean a room than a human – it has a lot of space to cover in larger homes.

Roomba Takes Forever to Go Home: Causes / How to Fix

Roomba Takes Forever to Go Home: Causes / How to Fix

If your Roomba is taking an abnormally long time to head home after cleaning, it may be having trouble navigating the environment. It must have a clear path to the charging station, which should be up against a wall and away from stairs. 

Furthermore, Roombas must start from the dock to find their way back optimally; DON’T pick it up and place it away from it and have it start cleaning. 

Roomba Dies Before Docking: Causes / How to Fix

Roomba Dies Before Docking: Causes / How to Fix

If your Roomba is running out of battery before it can dock, there are several reasons why this is happening:

  • Too many obstacles for the Roomba to navigate
  • The base station isn’t charging the Roomba all the way
  • The Roomba has been moved during cleaning (this confuses the navigation)

Will Roomba Return to Base on Its Own?

Will Roomba Return to Base on Its Own?

Roombas are designed to return to their base after completing their cleaning or running out of the body. They can return by following the infrared light being emitted by the base. 

Roomba Not Cleaning All Rooms: Causes/How to Fix

Roomba Not Cleaning All Rooms: Causes/How to Fix

If your Roomba is not cleaning all of the rooms in your house, there is a big possibility it is running out of battery before completing its task.

Roombas will clean for up to 2 hours before heading back to the station on the lowest cleaning session. It takes longer for a robot vacuum to clean a room than a human, and it has a lot of space to cover in larger homes.

How to Send Roomba Home From App

How to Send Roomba Home From App

In the iRobot HOME App, press CLEAN in the middle of the app and then press Send Home. If the Roomba is already actively cleaning, just press Send Home.

Roomba Not Mapping Correctly: Causes / How to Fix

Roomba Not Mapping Correctly:  Causes / How to Fix

If your Roomba is not mapping your home correctly, ensure that there is plenty of lighting. Roombas won’t be able to map their surroundings very well if it is very dim or dark. The iAdapt localization camera also needs to be clean – a microfiber cloth works for clearing up the window. 

Final Thoughts

The common reasons for why a Roomba is having problems with finding its way home and navigating to different rooms usually come down to:

  • Obstacles in the way
  • The Roomba has been moved while cleaning
  • It’s running out of battery

If the troubleshooting methods above have not worked for you and you believe something is wrong with your Roomba, contact iRobot for further assistance. 

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