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We all have to admit and accept that robot vacuums are still a new technology and, as such, things can go wrong. As great as they are for supercharging your home cleaning schedule, the fact is that you may well encounter the same issues as you would with any other piece of advanced electronics.
This is something of a personal interest piece for me as my Roomba 671 decided that it no longer wanted to charge this morning. It was plugged in and sat on its dock, but with two key giveaways. First, the trusty green light on the charging station was out. Secondly, the screen on the robot displayed a red outline of a battery. I had never seen it any colour but green previously, and I knew that the battery indicator would pulse if charging were happening as expected.
Unsurprisingly, hitting the ‘clean’ button did nothing. The poor robovac didn’t even have enough juice to respond to hitting ‘dock’ – just in case my manual efforts weren’t entirely placing it on the base correctly.
So, I thought to myself, “who do I know that knows about robot vacuums?” Perhaps unsurprisingly, it was me. I’ve researched how to fix a Roomba that won’t charge more thoroughly than anyone has ever before and I’m pleased to say that Pepsi (named by my daughter) is back to work thanks to a simple fix. However, it won’t work for everyone, so I’ve gone into detail here on everything you should try to solve your Roomba battery issues and get it cleaning again like it was brand new.
If the Roomba Won’t Charge on Dock, Clean the Connections
If everything is plugged in and switched on, but you find that your Roomba won’t charge on the dock, then it might be easier to get it back to work than you might think. Incidentally, this is the tip that worked for me.
Virtually every Roomba model charges using contacts on the docking station and the device itself. It’s no secret that your robot vacuum does a dirty job, and unless you clean it regularly, the dirt build-up can start to matter – especially on the charging connections.
There’s nothing unusual to the process here – all you need to do is clean them! I tried using a microfibre cloth for this to start with but had no luck. From there, I introduced a kitchen cleaner – ensuring everything was switched off beforehand, of course. Still no luck.
Then, I was tipped off on the use of steel wool. Fortunately, I had some of this to hand. I didn’t rub too hard but wasn’t exactly delicate. I just didn’t want to scratch anything. Lo and behold, I plugged the Roomba back in, and it started to charge again as if nothing had ever been amiss.
Check the Springs on the Base if Your Roomba Won’t Charge
You may never have looked close enough to notice, but the charging connectors on your Roomba’s base are spring-loaded. One issue I’ve always had with Roomba bases is that they feel somewhat cheap and plasticky – unless you go for the feat of engineering included with the i7+. There’s nothing fancy to the connectors other than they use springs to ensure contact between the base and the robot. Most pertinently of all, they can get stuck.
You’ll kick yourself if this turns out to be the issue, but it’s worth checking before you get into more expensive solutions. The chances are that both won’t get stuck at the same time, so use the one that sticks out the furthest as the baseline, and ensure that they both reach out as far as they should. If not, you don’t need to do anything more than pick it out with your fingernail to return to a tried and true connection that should solve your charging woes.
Replace the Base
As alluded to above, there’s just something about Roomba docks that cheapen the whole setup for me. They’re light and plasticky, which goes against the Roombas themselves, which are usually built to withstand a run on Robot Wars. I can only assume that the designers didn’t bother with and flair here to keep costs down, and that can work to our benefit if it seems like the base unit is the source of the charging problem.
Better still, you don’t need to buy an authentic Roomba replacement. Something like this will get the job done, and save on space in the process. I’m torn here, as when it comes to the electronic parts, I prefer to go authentic, even though I’m okay with third-party filters, brushes and accessories. However, given the difference in price between official base units and their third-party equivalents, I’d rather try the latter first, especially if I’m not 100% convinced that the base unit is the issue.
Replace the Battery
If you keep up with news about iPhones, you’ll know that batteries degrade. Without going off on too much of a tangent, I’m a firm believer that battery limitations hold back the next leap in technology more than anything else. Anyway, the fact is that Roomba batteries don’t last forever and you don’t know how susceptible they are to degradation until they stop working.
Much like those aforementioned iPhones, batteries in Roombas aren’t usually designed to swap in and out easily, so you’ll need a screwdriver. However, removing and replacing them isn’t a mammoth task, and replacements are easy enough to get your hands on. I mentioned that I prefer originals for key electronic parts, and that’s definitely true with batteries. There’s just too much that can go wrong with their third-party equivalents. You, therefore, need look no further than the official Roomba replacement battery, as displayed below.
- Compatible with Create 2 and Scooba 450 robots and Roomba 500, 600, 700 and 800 Series robots
- Fits all Roomba vacuum cleaners
If Your Roomba Won’t Charge, Try a Reboot
Robot vacuums are cleverer than we give them credit for, and it’s not unheard of for them to suffer from information overload. No matter the issue you encounter, I’d always suggest having a hard reboot as a backup plan. I honestly don’t know how such a reboot fixes battery issues, but the fact is that there’s plenty of evidence out there that it can in some cases.
You may need to refer to the manual for your specific Roomba model to find out how to reboot the device. In most cases, however, you just need to hold down the ‘Clean’ button for 10 seconds. Your Roomba will then empty its memory and start afresh. In most cases, it will retain information about your wi-fi network, but it may lose any schedules or maps you’ve inputted previously. Fortunately, that’s a small price to pay to go from not cleaning to cleaning!
So, there we have it – the best ways to address a Roomba that won’t charge. I was personally fortunate in that it didn’t cost me anything other than a steel wool pad to get my device running again. Sometimes, things go south and you’ll need to invest in a replacement part.
I’m happy to come back to this article in the future as more solutions are found. If you’ve tried some or all of these tips and still aren’t having any luck, let me know in the comments. Also, if you’ve had issues and solved them in a way not covered here, I’d be delighted to hear about them – as would our readers!
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