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People often overlook the importance of robot vacuum maintenance to their device’s lifespan. However, this isn’t your conventional upright device where you empty out the dirt and dust and put it away in the cupboard. You should never underestimate the ‘robot’ part of the name and always consider that these are some pretty high-tech devices.
Crucially, they’re not cheap either, so it pays to do some occasional routine robot vacuum maintenance to ensure that everything remains in full working order. Even if you buy one from our feature on the best budget robot vacuums, that’s still not the kind of money that you want to flush down the drain!
Fortunately, robot vacuum maintenance is neither difficult nor time-consuming, and if you keep the following tips in mind, you’ll have an automated home cleaning device that will keep on running far beyond the warranty period.
Keep the Battery in Top Condition
Apple has been in the news regularly in the past few years for its efforts to slow down devices to preserve battery life. The fact is that in spite of the numerous technological advancements that have been made in recent times, batteries do more to hold back progress than just about anything else.
In the context of robot vacuums alone, you don’t have too much to worry about when it comes to the battery lasting long enough. We cover how long each robot can clean for in each of our robot vacuum reviews, and while a higher price usually means a better battery, the vast majority of models will last long enough to do both floors in the average home.
However, battery degradation remains an issue. Rechargeable batteries in all kinds of electronics will not perform at their peak forever, and you’ll usually start to notice some deterioration after a couple of years. This varies depending on use, of course, but is worth keeping an eye on. After all, these tips are designed to make your robovac last as long as possible. With the battery potentially becoming a weak spot, you should do what you can to keep it performing optimally.
To keep your robot vacuum battery performing at its best:
- Always make the charging base available to the robot. The vast majority of models will return to their base either when the job is complete or when their battery is empty. Leaving it discharged for prolonged periods can negatively impact future performance.
- Fully discharge the battery occasionally. Most robot vacuums can go for well over an hour. If you typically only do one floor at a time, then the robovac will rarely fully discharge the battery in regular use. However, a full recharge cycle can be beneficial to its long-term health. The easiest way to do this is to make the base inaccessible – most robot vacuums will keep on cleaning and searching for the base unit until they cannot go on any longer and run out of juice.
- Use the robovac and its battery regularly. Batteries in tech goods can start to weaken through a lack of use. Given the benefits, we can’t imagine too many robot vacuums standing dormant for months on end, but if you want to make sure it’s ready when you need it, ensure you give it a run out every month, potentially to drain the battery entirely as outlined above.
Avoid Extreme Temperatures
Extremes of heat and cold are other factors that can negatively impact most electronic devices, and robot vacuums are no different in this regard. You don’t require a massive amount of space around base units, so you generally have the freedom to position them anywhere with easy access to a plug socket. That means that there’s no excuse for leaving the robot vacuum in direct sunlight, which will be the most extreme temperature change that most of our readers will need to deal with.
At the other end of the spectrum, you should avoid storing your robot vacuum anywhere that’s colder than what you’d consider comfortable room temperature. Again, there are few reasons to keep a robot vacuum in the garage, especially if you like to make use of apps and remote controls. However, if the idea crossed your mind, you should think otherwise, as the potential extremes of cold can play havoc with the electronic innards.
Keep the Brushes Clean
If you leave a robot vacuum for long enough without cleaning the brushes, you’ll notice a drop off in performance. We’ve seen it ourselves, as a clogged brush cannot get deep into carpets in the way a clean one does. That’s not the only issue you’ll encounter either, as many robot vacuums will up their draw on the power in an effort to compensate for their reduced cleaning capabilities.
While we don’t want to make every tip about the battery, this is the part of the device that suffers when power spikes occur. However, tech issues aside, anyone that wants their robot vacuum to last should make a weekly habit out of keeping brushes clean and clear for peak performance.
The brushes used on the iRobot Roomba 671 are reasonably standard across most mid-range robot vacuum models. If you live in a home with pets or, like us, people with long hair that are unusually fond of shedding it, these are the kinds of brushes that can get clogged easily. It’s an easy fix, as you just need to remove the roller, grab the scissors and slice straight through the centre of the hair wrap.
If that feels like too much work for a device that is meant to keep effort to a minimum, you may consider a different approach to brushes. For the more budget-conscious, you have the likes of the iLIFE V3S Pro. This robot vacuum is practically maintenance-free in the brush department, as it foregoes them altogether in favour of reliance on suction.
At higher price points, you’ll move away from mid-range brushes and find their rubber equivalents – particularly on robot vacuums for pets. The Roomba 981 is the perfect example, with the standard brush of the 671 replaced with a pair of rotating rubber grips that do just as good a job, but with far less maintenance.
Buy Replacement Parts and Accessories from Your Robovac Manufacturer
As anyone with a tech-heavy hobby like photography will tell you, most electronic items play best with parts and extras from the same company that made the device itself. Roomba is close to being a household name, but relatively few other robot vacuum manufacturers can claim the same, so you’ll rarely pay extra based on price alone.
In practice, this means that you tend to get what you pay for. Third-party accessories do tend to be cheaper, but they’re often not quite as good either. If nothing else, these third parties don’t have a reputation to protect – many unofficial robot vacuum accessories come with no branding at all. If you want the same kind of results that you had when your robovac first came out of the box, then it makes sense to use identical parts.
At worst, you can consider third party filters and brushes, as long as they conform to the same standards as the originals. Under no circumstances would we ever recommend switching out original batteries or other electronic components for anything other than manufacturer originals.
Use Your Robot Vacuum Every Week
Robot vacuums are so convenient, easy and great for saving time that we can’t see why anyone wouldn’t want to use their robot vacuum at least once a week. However, we can’t speak for everyone. You might have an old one in storage ready for moving on elsewhere, or it might be going upstairs to save taking your main robovac up and down.
Even if it takes a bit of extra effort, you should go to the trouble of running a standard clean at least once a week to keep your robovac in excellent condition. On top of this, it is good to get into the habit of emptying the device following each clean wherever possible. Dust boxes can cope with holding on to the dirt for a while, but the longer you leave it, the more chance there is of it becoming compacted. It won’t damage the device, but it can make it more difficult to empty in the future.
Well, we told you that robot vacuum maintenance wasn’t complicated and most owners will be able to keep their device in tip-top condition with just a few minutes of extra work each week. The best robot vacuums are not cheap and we speak from experience when we say that you can feel a bit lost if your trusty cleaning assistant isn’t working for whatever reason. It makes sense to take those few minutes to keep your robovac in good working order, as you’ll be able to reap all the benefits for many years to come.
If you have any routines, rituals or additional tips, or any questions about peak robot vacuum performance, be sure to leave them in the comments below!
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