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Roomba Keeps Cleaning the Same Area (12 Reasons and 10 Fixes)

You buy a robot vacuum cleaner with high hopes of automating the cleaning chores of your house. But if your Roomba keeps cleaning the same area or keeps spinning in circles, you may start to wonder, that’s not what it was supposed to do. 

This article will elaborate on:

  • Why Roomba keeps cleaning the same area?
  • How to make your Roomba work properly without spinning in circles? 
  • How to make your Roomba clean the whole house? 

Key Takeaways

A Roomba that keeps cleaning the same area or going in circles can be very frustrating. The first step in troubleshooting this error is to find out the cause. It can be because of the Roomba mapping the area, a stuck bumper, dirty sensors, wheel malfunctioning, virtual wall or no-go zones, improper lighting, or software issues. 

Once the cause is detected, you can solve this problem by cleaning the bumper, sensors, and wheels, decluttering your floor, enabling Edge Cleaning and Detailed Cleaning, removing dark rugs and carpets, or resetting the Roomba. If nothing works, the last option is to call the iRobot Customer Care

Why My Roomba Keeps Cleaning The Same Area?

roomba keeps cleaning the same area and going in circles

A robot vacuum cleaning the same area or doing a circle dance will surely take forever to clean the whole house. So, take note of the following reasons that might be causing your Roomba to act drunk.

Roomba Mapping The Area

One possible reason for your Roomba cleaning the same spot might be that it is still mapping your room. Newer models map your house floors and store the map in their memory. This helps them avoid furniture and other obstacles while cleaning. 

Does Roomba clean randomly? Some older models, the 500 and 600 series, navigate in random patterns. Newer models, the i and j series, move in neat, straight lines.

Stuck Bumper

One of the main reasons why your Roomba keeps going in the same area or going in circles is that the bumper might be stuck. 

The bumper contains touch and light sensors that help the robot navigate around. 

If dirt, dust, fluff, and hair strands are accumulated in the bumper, they will make the bumper stuck. If the bumper is stuck, the robot will think that there is some obstruction ahead and it will try to change its path. It will keep doing so until the bumper is not set free. 

Dirty Sensors

Robot vacuums have multiple sensors that help them in navigation. If dust is accumulated on these sensors, they will find it difficult to navigate around your house. 

Cliff sensors enable Roomba to avoid stairs and other edges. If these sensors are dirty, it will misinterpret something to be a cliff or edge. As a result, it will avoid that area.

Wheels Malfunctioning

Another possible reason for Roomba going in circles is a malfunctioning or stuck wheel. Again the accumulated dirt and dust will be the culprit here that will jam the wheel. A malfunctioning or stuck wheel will make Roomba do the circle dance and keep moving in the same area again and again. 

Hair strands clogged up in the axle of the wheel will make it jam if not cleaned over time

Cleaned one Room And Doesn't Know Where To Go Next

Older models don’t have mapping features so they cannot navigate from one room to the other on their own. So, if one room is cleaned, it will not be able to find its way to the next room automatically. 

You will have to manually pick up the Roomba and place it in another room to start cleaning. 

Roomba Got Stuck

Robot vacuums can get stuck mostly under furniture – couch, bed, or dining table. And in an attempt to find its way out of there, it will go in circles. 

In this situation, you will need to pull it out manually so that it starts cleaning the whole house.

Virtual Wall Placement

A virtual wall restricts Roomba from going into a certain area or leaving a certain room. If you have placed a virtual wall at the entrance of your room, your Roomba, after cleaning the whole room, will not be able to leave that room to clean the whole house. In this situation, you will have to remove the virtual wall to let it navigate to the other areas in the house.

Dark Area Rug or Carpet

One fact you should be aware of is that robot vacuums don’t like dark area rugs or carpets. This is because the cliff sensors, built into the robot vacuum cleaners, misinterpret dark rugs or carpets as cliffs and edges. This is the reason that your Roomba will either get stuck on a dark-colored rug due to the fear of falling over or simply will not visit the area where dark rugs or carpets are placed. 

Improper Lighting

Most robot vacuum cleaners use optical sensors to see around, recognize obstacles and navigate through your house. These optical sensors work best when there is some light around. If you make your Roomba clean the house in the dark, it will most probably start bumping into obstacles and cleaning the same area again and again.

Dirt Detect Technology

Roomba vacuum cleaners have dirt detection technology that activates when there is more dirt around. This makes the robot focus on the dirt spot before going ahead. This might be one reason that the Roomba starts cleaning the same area because it has detected more dust there. 

Software Issues

Robot vacs are machine learning and A.I.-based appliances that require some sort of software to perform their work. These smart devices go through continuous learning to evolve and learn new things. So, the software needs to be updated regularly. 

While the software offers the convenience of controlling your vacuum from your cell phone, it also comes with drawbacks. The software might cause issues if not updated in time. Even updated software can cause problems sometimes. As described by a user on Reddit who uploaded a time-lapse video of a Roomba struggling to dock and going in circles. The main issue was a software update from iRobot that was not working properly. 

Time lapse video of i7+ attempting to return to clean base after 3.12.8 update. After over 15 minutes of this, the roomba stopped due to low battery, failing to dock. from roomba

Multiple Roombas

Another possible reason might be the presence of multiple Roomba vacuum cleaners in your house. Robot vacs communicate with their Home Base and get commands from it. If there is more than one robot vacuum cleaning in your house, they will get confused and would wonder, what’s going on and which Home Base commands should they obey.

How To Make Roomba Clean The Whole House

Once you have figured out the main reason why your Roomba is cleaning the same area, it is easier to select the related solution to make it clean the whole house.

Clean The Bumper

The bumper of the vac should be cleaned properly. The bumper tends to clog up with dirt and dust more often because it is the first thing that comes into contact with dust and debris. 

Unscrew the bumper and remove all the dust and hair stuck in it. Clean the sensor installed on the bumper as well.

Give the bumper a gentle tap to get rid of all the loose dirt stuck in it. 

Clean The Sensors

Dust and debris can accumulate on the sensors over time. Sensors are the eyes of a robot vacuum cleaner. If the eyes are covered in dust, they won’t be able to see around things.  

Wipe the sensors with clean melamine foam (magic eraser). The following image shows the placement of sensors on different models of Roomba. 

roomba robot vacuum cleaner sensors

Clean The Wheels

Robot vacs need maintenance. Regular cleaning will make it live longer and work more efficiently. Cleaning the caster wheel and wheel modules will make life easier for your Roomba. 

The caster wheel and both wheel modules should be removed and cleaned properly. Hair strands tend to clog up in the axle of the wheels. So, make sure to take out all the hair and fluff out of the axles as well.

Declutter Your Floor

If you want your Roomba to clean your whole room or house without missing a spot, you should first declutter your floor. This includes removing all the toys, socks, towels, and other household stuff before starting a cleaning session. 

Keep your wires and cables organized as well. Aligning the cables along the walls will not only make it easier to navigate around your house easily but it will also make it safe for you and other family members to avoid entangling in the cables. 

Enable “Edge Cleaning”

If the ‘Edge Clean” feature is turned off in the home app, it will avoid the edges completely. Dust and debris tend to accumulate more around baseboards and near the walls. So, make sure that the Edge Clean option is turned on. 

Follow these steps to turn on the Edge Clean.

  • Go to iRobot Home App
  • Open “Cleaning Preferences”
  • Enable “Edge Clean”

Enable “Detailed Clean”

Some models of Roomba have “Smart Map” technology. This enables them to perform direct room cleaning. This means you can direct your vac to clean a specific room.

While “Smart Map” is activated, it will only clean the specified room. To make it clean the whole house, make sure that the “Smart Map” feature is deactivated and “Detailed Clean” should be activated. 

Follow these steps to activate the “Detailed Clean” feature.

  • Go to iRobot Home App
  • Open “Cleaning Preferences”
  • In “Vacuuming Behavior” select “Detailed Clean”

Remove Dark Area Rugs And Carpets

Cliff sensors misinterpret dark area rugs and carpets as cliffs or edges. These sensors use infrared rays to detect edges and stairs. The dark surface will absorb the infrared rays instead of reflecting them back. This makes the Roomba thinks that the dark surface is a steep fall. Hence, it will avoid such a surface. 

The best practice is to remove the dark area rugs and carpets before starting the cleaning. This will make your Roomba clean your whole house without fearing a fall. 

But if your whole floor is dark-colored, your only option is to turn the cliff sensors off. Special care should be taken while turning the cliff sensors off because now the robot vac will not be able to avoid stairs. 

In this case, you should put either a virtual wall or some other physical barrier on the stairs to keep your robot vac from falling.

Ensure Proper Lighting

Some Roomba vacuum cleaners use optical sensors to navigate around the house. These optical sensors use light to detect obstacles. So, there should be enough light to let these sensors work properly. 

Reset Your Roomba

If the issue still persists, resetting the robot vac might solve the problem. Follow these steps to reset your Roomba: 

To reset the 500 and 600 series, press and hold the SPOT and DOCK buttons for around 10 seconds until it restarts.

To reset the 700, 800, and 900 series, press and hold the CLEAN button until ‘rSt’ appears on the display.  

To reset the i and j series, press and hold the CLEAN button for about 20 seconds until a white light ring swirls clockwise around the CLEAN button. 

To reset the Roomba s9/s9+, press and hold the CLEAN button until a white light swirls clockwise on the bin lid.

Contact Customer Support

If nothing, mentioned above, works, the last option for you is to contact iRobot customer support. You should describe the malfunction and also the steps you already have taken to correct it. There might be issues with hardware or software that only the manufacturer can troubleshoot. 

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