If your Roomba has trouble making its way back to its dock or scooting securely onto its charging contacts, join the club.
I’ve sometimes found my Roomba 630 fruitlessly spinning around near the charging dock (or the Home Base, as iRobot calls it), as if the Roomba can’t quite get a fix on its location.
Other times my Roomba does make it to the dock, only to back up and try again because it can’t make a solid connection with the charging contacts.
Luckily, a Roomba with docking issues can usually be fixed with a minimum of fuss. Try these four troubleshooting steps before calling iRobot tech support.
How to troubleshoot a Roomba that won’t dock
At a glance
Time to complete: 30 minutes
Tools required: None
Materials required: Melamine foam
Clear more space around the Roomba dock
Over time, it’s possible that shoes, boxes, power cords, and other obstacles have begun accumulating near your Roomba’s Home Base, particularly if it’s in a well trafficked room like the kitchen.
As much as you can, try clearing more space around and to the sides of the Roomba dock. iRobot recommends at least 1.5 feet of room on either side of the Home Base.
Move the Roomba dock to a new location
Is your Roomba still having trouble finding the dock, even after you’ve cleared out more room around it? If so, consider a new spot for the Home Base.
Besides needing at least 1.5 feet of room on either side, the Roomba dock also needs about four feet of clear space in front, and it should be four feet or further away from any stairs.
Also, if you own any Virtual Wall barriers, they should be at least eight feet away from the dock.
Clean the dock’s charing contacts
The charging contacts on the Home Base and the Roomba itself can get gunky and discolored over time.
If the contacts get too dirty, the vacuum will have a tough time getting a solid charging connection, and it may be unable to dock as a result.
The best way to clean the Roomba’s charging contacts is with a damp melamine foam, like Mr. Clean’s Magic Eraser. Just run the foam under the faucet, wring it out, and start polishing.
Make sure to clean the charging contacts on the Roomba Home Base and the Roomba itself.
Test your Roomba’s Room Confinement sensor
If all else fails and your Roomba is still having trouble finding the Home Base, there could be a problem with the Roomba’s so-called Room Confinement sensor–the small circular nub on top of the Roomba that detects IR signals from the Home Base.
To test the Room Confinement sensor (a.k.a. RCON), place the Roomba within about six feet of the dock, with the sensor facing forward.
Press and hold the Clean button for three seconds to clear out any prior cleaning jobs.
Ben has been writing about technology and consumer electronics for more than 20 years. A PCWorld contributor since 2014, Ben joined TechHive in 2019, where he covers smart speakers, soundbars, and other smart and home-theater devices. You can follow Ben on Twitter.