A robot cleaner used to only exist in movies and TV.
A family living a hundred years in the future. Kinda like the Jetsons.
Well, the future is now.
The Roomba cleans all the dirt while you chill on the sofa in yesterday’s shirt.
But what if – just oh-so-suddenly – it gives up?
You see “Error 17” flashing on the screen.
Don’t be alarmed. This isn’t a mystery!
So, what does it mean when your Roomba says “Error 17?”
Read on to find out:
- Why your Roomba displays “Error 17”.
- 6 easy ways to fix “Error 17” in just seconds.
- Where to put your Home Base to avoid Error 17.
- Why you (or your pet) should leave your Roomba alone.
- And so much more…
What does it mean when Roomba displays error 17?
When your Roomba displays “Error 17”, it means it can’t continue cleaning. This happens because of sudden changes in the environment. Such as lighting or interference. Also, something may have interrupted its cleaning cycle. Like a touch from a pet or human, dirty parts, or corrupted software.
Roomba error 17: 6 causes & fixes
#1: Not enough light in the area
Imagine cleaning your house. Dusting your knick-knacks. Wiping the windows.
Seems normal and easy, right?
But how about doing it in total darkness?
Seems difficult. And crazy.
That’s exactly how your Roomba would feel if it were alive. Especially when it goes through dark areas in your home. Or when it operates at nighttime – without lights.
Most newer Roombas have built-in cameras. These cameras can detect things in its way. Like large furniture, small toys, and that one sock you haven’t seen in 3 months.
Thus, the camera helps the Roomba avoid bumping into things.
It’s hard for the Roomba to detect its surroundings. Most especially when the lights are off.
So it automatically stops its cleaning operation. The device does this to protect itself.
Now that we’ve shed light on the situation…
Be sure that all rooms in your house are well-lit.
If you think the room is too dark, turn on any lighting fixtures. Open windows or curtains. Natural light can also help. Ensure your Roomba’s path is easy and clear to navigate.
Also, turn on your Roomba’s cleaning activities in the daytime.
What if you’re away in the mornings? Or still sound asleep?
That’s when scheduled cleaning mode comes in!
Setting up Scheduled Cleaning Mode
Step 1: Make sure your Roomba has the correct time.
To adjust the time:
- Press and hold CLOCK.
- Tap the DAY, HOUR, and MINUTE buttons to choose the numbers. Make sure you are holding CLOCK as you do this.
- Release CLOCK.
- Wait for a beep. This means changes are saved.
Step 2: Customize the schedule. Your Roomba can have one cleaning schedule a day. And up to seven times a week.
To set a schedule:
- Press and hold SCHEDULE.
- Tap the DAY, HOUR, and MINUTE buttons to choose the numbers. Hold SCHEDULE as you do this.
- Release SCHEDULE.
- Wait for a beep. This means your changes are saved.
Now that’s all set. Your Roomba will see clearly. And your mornings will be even better. Who wouldn’t want to wake up to a clean house every day?
#2: Dirty sensors and camera
So you’ve turned on all your lights. And the sun is up and shining. But your Roomba is still taunting you.
Let’s be honest. When was the last time you’ve cleaned your Roomba?
If you said last year, then you might want to do it now.
Your Roomba not only has a camera. It also has sensors as well. These sensors allow the Roomba to feel its surroundings. And avoid dangerous situations.
Your Roomba has three types of sensors, which are:
- Cliff sensors.
- Full bin sensors.
- Floor tracking sensors.
Cliff sensors detect changes in the floor’s level. Like staircases, steps, or ledges. It helps the Roomba swerve or stop. Full bin sensors alert you when the bin needs cleaning. And floor tracking sensors get the room’s data. Like the location of walls and furniture.
The sensors and camera help the Roomba move around. Any hurdle can cause the cleaning process to shut down.
Cleaning the sensors and camera
Have a microfiber cloth in hand. Make sure it’s clean. Locate the sensors in your Roomba. Each model may differ. Some sensors are found under the device. You may consult your Roomba’s manual.
Wipe the sensors gently. Repeat the same steps for your camera.
“How often should I clean these parts?”
Clean the cliff sensors, floor tracking sensors, and camera once a month. The full bin sensors need it every 2 weeks.
Further reading: How Often Do You Need To Empty Your Roomba? 10 Steps + Tips
#3: A human or a pet pushing the Roomba
No, your Roomba isn’t shy nor moody.
It thrives working alone. Your Roomba’s that student who doesn’t wanna work in groups. The lone wolf.
Your Roomba is designed to work by itself. Without any human (or even animal) help.
It also doesn’t want to be touched. Nor be pushed around. So any physical force disrupts its cleaning process.
Your Roomba has all the data. On where to go and what to stay away from. It knows your house waaay more than you’ll ever do.
“Just let me do my job, please?” – Sincerely, Your Roomba.
When your Roomba starts cleaning, keep pathways clear. Put your pets in another room. Or as far away as possible. So that they won’t hit the Roomba by accident.
Any children in the house? Stow away toys that can travel. Like remote-controlled cars and walking dolls or animals. Kids should also not get in the Roomba’s way. You can tell them to stay away from the device.
Avoid touching your Roomba as it cleans. Don’t carry the device off its course. Be careful not to trip or step on it.
If you or your pet has bumped into your Roomba, turn it off. You can put it back for a few minutes. Then, you can resume the cleaning process.
#4: Firmware has slowed down
Let’s be real. Cleaning the house isn’t just a chore. It feels like a high-intensity workout.
After pumping it up at the gym. Or even running five miles. Your body begs for a warm shower and a hearty meal.
Your Roomba’s firmware needs the sweet R & R too!
Gathering all that dust and grime every day is exhausting.
Its software getting too worked up could be the culprit – the one causing your Roomba to just quit.
Software bugs can cause its software to slow down. These bugs can interrupt its cleaning cycle.
You’d stop in your tracks seeing a bug while cleaning, won’t you?
Maybe your Roomba just needs a little boost.
Restarting your Roomba may fix this error. This depends on which model you own.
For the I Series and S Series Roomba:
- Press the Clean button. Hold it for 20 seconds.
- Wait for the white light around the button to spin clockwise.
- Release the button.
- Wait for the Roomba’s white light to turn off. This only takes a few minutes.
For the 700, 800, and 900 Series Roomba:
- Press the Clean button. Hold it for 10 seconds.
- Release when it beeps.
- Wait for your Roomba to reboot.
Or maybe it needs a 20-minute power nap. A complete reset.
If restarting didn’t work, a factory reset may help.
A reset deletes all custom settings, maps, and schedules. Take note of all your data before doing this. Also, make sure your Roomba is connected to the iRobot Home app.
- Open the iRobot Home app.
- Go to Settings.
- Choose Factory Reset.
- Confirm the prompt that will appear.
- Wait for it to finish resetting.
If this fails, open the app again. Disable the Edge Clean Mode. This mode tells your Roomba to focus on the outer edges of a room. You can find this in Cleaning Preferences.
Giving your Roomba a refresh may take the load off of its software.
You might also like: Why does my Roomba keep going in circles?
#5: Interference with the sensors
Your Roomba’s sensors are kinda sensitive. Not that it cries if you don’t give it enough attention. (Just kidding, please take care of your Roombas).
It’s that these sensors use infrared waves. Or IR light, for short. A Roomba needs IR light for its tracking system. We can’t see this. But we can feel it as heat. Also, they use photocells that emit a light beam.
IR light detects motion changes. Photocells measure light levels in a room.
These two things give off invisible waves. These waves transmit and collect data. Making the Roomba smarter.
But many other waves go around in our house. And other devices that release these waves. These can throw a Roomba off-course. Disrupting its cleaning process. Thus, causing Error 17.
“Can you turn it down? It’s so hard to focus!” – Your Roomba.
Put away gadgets that use Wi-Fi. Like smartphones, tablets, and laptops. Make sure they are as far from the Roomba as possible. If you can’t keep them, turn off their Wi-Fi.
Incandescent bulbs produce lots of infrared. It can affect your Roomba’s sensors. Put your Roomba’s Home base with less or without these bulbs.
You can also turn off these bulbs when your Roomba cleans. Use sunlight to brighten your room instead.
#6: Lost communication with the Home Base
“Roomba to Home Base, can you hear me? Over.”
Your Roomba has its own home too. It returns to the Home Base when cleaning is finished.
It’s also where it charges itself for the next day.
Your Roomba communicates with the Home Base through Wi-Fi. The Home Base collects data from it too. It’s always plugged into the wall for continuous power.
If these buddies can’t hear each other, the Roomba stops working. This can be the cause of Error 17.
Remember: You can’t just put the Home Base anywhere. Placement is key.
Choosing the best spot for your Home Base
Put your Home Base in an open and tidy area. Free from any clutter. There should be a distance of 1.5 ft (0.5 m) on each side. And a distance of 4 ft (1.2 m) in front of it.
Remove any obstruction at its front. Like tables, chairs, and other objects.
Your Home Base should be at least 4 ft (1.2 m) away from any stairs. And 8 ft (2.4 m) away from wall barriers or dividers.
Does the Error 17 message persist? Turn off your Roomba. Put it back on the Home Base. And let it start moving from there.
Also, give your Roomba time to familiarize your home. It can master all rooms and floor plans after 7-8 runs.
Knowledge is power!
It wouldn’t hurt to know these things. Especially if you’re a proud Roomba owner. Or have gotten one for the first time.
“Error 17? Are there also Errors 1 through 16?”
Our Roomba has a unique way of telling us about its problems.
It makes an “Uh-oh” sound. Followed by beeps and a narration. You’ll also see codes on its screen. These codes are in numbers. They run from 1 to 18.
Each code represents a technical issue. This makes it easy for Roomba owners to troubleshoot and fix the problem.
“How long is a Roomba’s lifespan?”
With enough TLC, your Roomba can last between 2 to 6 years. Take note of this before getting a replacement.
“Can you change a Roomba’s battery?”
Just with basic DIY skills, changing it is easy. Just loosen the four screws on the back of your Roomba. You’ll see the battery slot. Then, replace the old battery with a new one.
Be sure to buy a battery from a trusted manufacturer. Or better yet, the same one you had originally.
A Roomba can work up to two hours. Then, it needs to be charged.
Its lifespan varies. Depending on how you’ve maintained your device.
If your battery:
- Doesn’t charge.
- Quickly drains in less than two hours.
- Is almost at the device’s maximum age of 6 years.
Then, you may want to consider replacing it.