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10 Steps To Fix “Roomba Error 38” In Seconds (2022 How-To)

Roomba Error 38

“My Roomba suddenly stopped and displayed ‘Error 38.’ What should I do?”

Roomba Error 38 happens plenty of times.

It can sometimes interrupt you in the middle of a cleaning session…

You don’t need to worry.

Luckily, troubleshooting Error 38 is super easy!

Read on to learn:

  • 10 steps to fix “Roomba Error 38” in seconds.
  • How to ensure stable connection for your devices.
  • How to reboot and factory reset a Roomba vacuum.
  • What causes internal communication errors in Roomba.
  • And so much more…

Why does my Roomba display error 38?

Your Roomba displays Error 38 due to internal communication errors. This can happen if your WiFi-enabled Roomba fails to communicate with the Home Base and iRobot app. Unstable connections, system glitches, software bugs, and out-of-range devices often cause internal communication errors in Roomba.


10 steps to fix “Roomba error 38”


#1: Press the “CLEAN” button once

Is there an “Error 38. Please CLEAN to restart” on your Roomba display?

Then, it means that your device has internal communication errors.

Error 38 means that your Roomba has difficulty connecting with its paired devices. May it be with the Home Base or the iRobot Home app.

Regardless of which, you can’t use your Roomba unless you’ve fixed this error.

Many things can cause internal communication errors, including:

  • Software bugs.
  • System glitches.
  • Any obstructions.
  • Out-of-range device.
  • Unstable connection.
  • Connection interference.
  • Outdated device software or firmware.

And you can fix most of these by restarting or updating the device.

“So, how do I fix Roomba Error 38?”

Well, you just have to follow what the Roomba display says: press “CLEAN.”

Pressing the “CLEAN” button restarts Roomba’s cleaning mode.

It restarts the connection between devices. Which allows your Roomba to reconnect properly.

After this, you should be able to use your Roomba again.

This particular step is the basic troubleshooting step for Roomba Error 38.

But sometimes, it can’t resolve the problem. So, you would have to proceed to step #2.

Reading recommendation: 27 Roomba Tips And Tricks To Keep Your House Clean

#2: Force close the iRobot Home app

Your Roomba vacuum works by communicating with the iRobot Home app.

So, when the app malfunctions, your Roomba can stop working as well. And it may display Error 38.

If the iRobot Home app lags or crashes, force close it.

Note: Force close is different from simply exiting the app.

Doing this refreshes the app’s system. Allowing you to use the app more smoothly and without errors.

To force close your iRobot Home app:

  1. Access the apps preview page of your phone.
  2. Swipe left and right to find the iRobot Home app.
  3. Swipe up the iRobot Home app to force close it.

Additional note: Steps 2 and 3 may require different actions depending on your phone. For example, you may have to swipe the app to the left or right to force close it.

Once you’ve force closed the iRobot Home app, launch it again. 

And continue the cleaning mode by pressing the “CLEAN” button on the app.

Or by pressing the “CLEAN” button on the device itself.

If this doesn’t work, proceed to step #3.

#3: Connect the devices to the same WiFi network

A Roomba communicates with the iRobot Home app by sending radio waves. And these radio waves travel through a WiFi network.

That said, your Roomba and iRobot Home app should be connected to the same WiFi network.

If not, your Roomba won’t receive the commands from the iRobot Home app. Or vice versa.

What you have to do is to check your devices’ connectivity.

Check whether your phone and Roomba are connected to the same WiFi network.

If not, change their WiFi connectivity.

Note: This step only applies to WiFi-enabled Roomba devices.

To check or change the WiFi connectivity of your Roomba:

  1. Launch the iRobot Home app.
  2. Go to the settings.
  3. Click “Change WiFi network.”
  4. Then, select the right WiFi network.

To check or change the WiFi connectivity of your phone:

  1. Go to your phone’s settings.
  2. Click “WiFi” or similar.
  3. Then, select the right WiFi network.

Tip: Click “Forget this network” on your previous WiFi network. This prevents your device from automatically connecting with it. Which also lessens the chances of your Roomba from experiencing internal communication errors.

#4: Update the iRobot Home app

“I’ve already changed the WiFi network. But there’s still an Error 38 displayed on my Roomba…”

Sometimes, your Roomba can’t connect with the iRobot Home app because the app is outdated.

When the app’s software is outdated, it can fail to connect with the WiFi network. 

And since your Roomba is WiFi-enabled, it won’t work without WiFi.

That said, if you see Error 38 on your Roomba, update your iRobot Home app.

Doing this also fixes software bugs and system glitches. Which may be affecting the WiFi connectivity of your device as well.

To update the iRobot Home app:

  1. Go to the app store.
  2. Search for “iRobot Home.”
  3. Then, click “Update” if displayed.

If there’s no update available, you may also try uninstalling and reinstalling the app.

This also helps resolve most connectivity issues.

To uninstall and reinstall the iRobot Home app:

  1. Go to the app store.
  2. Search for “iRobot Home.”
  3. Click “Uninstall.”
  4. Then, click “Install.”

Note: Uninstalling and reinstalling your iRobot Home app doesn’t delete data. As long as your data is stored in the iRobot cloud storage.

#5: Ensure that the Home Base is plugged in

Are you using a Home Base?

If yes, maybe your Roomba is displaying Error 38 because its Home Base is unplugged.

After a cleaning session, your Roomba returns to its Home Base automatically.

But it can fail to do so if it loses connection with the Home Base.

Several things can cause the Home Base to become disconnected. And that includes:

  • Unplugged device.
  • Faulty power cord.
  • Loose power outlet.

Once the Home Base loses power connectivity, your Roomba can fail to return to it. 

As a result, your Roomba will display “Error 38.”

To resolve the error, ensure that the Home Base has power.

Check whether it is plugged in. 

While you’re at it, check if there’s any damage to its power cord and plug prongs.

You should also check whether the power outlet is working using an outlet tester.

If the power outlet happens to be faulty, replug the Home Base to another outlet.

Note: Your Roomba can find the Home Base to its new location as long as there are no obstructions on its way.

#6: Move the Home Base to a good spot

If the power outlet isn’t the problem, the location of the Home Base must be the issue.

Roomba Error 38 can also happen when the device has difficulty locating its Home Base.

Sure, a Roomba is supposed to be “smart.”

It should be able to find its own way.

But it can fail to do so when the Home Base is out of range.

Location is key to ensuring a stable connection between your Roomba and its Home Base.

That said, you should move the Home Base to a good spot.

“What makes a location a good spot?”

In the case of Roomba, a good spot is a spot that’s free from obstructions.

Meaning the place should have enough room for space.

Adequate space is important for your Roomba to return to the Home Base without issues.

Here are some tips and reminders when relocating a Roomba Home Base:

  • Avoid placing it near electronic devices.
  • Keep it at least 8 ft (2.4 m) from virtual walls.
  • Avoid placing it between large furniture or appliances.
  • Ensure that there are no obstructions 3.2 ft (1m) around it.

Doesn’t it resolve anything? Proceed to step #7.

Continue reading: Can You Pick Up and Move a Roomba? 5 Things To Know

#7: Reboot the Roomba

Reboot Roomba

If the troubleshooting steps from above don’t work, reboot your Roomba.

Rebooting is refreshing your device’s system.

It fixes system glitches, software bugs, and connectivity issues. Allowing you to use your Roomba without errors.

Note: Rebooting doesn’t delete data. So, you shouldn’t worry about your maps and cleaning schedules.

Different Roomba models follow different rebooting processes. 

Here’s how to reboot a Roomba based on its series:

For 700, 800, and 900 series

Press and hold the “CLEAN” button for 10 seconds.

Once released, you should hear a reboot tone. This tone indicates a successful process.

For s and i series

Press and hold the “CLEAN” button for 20 seconds.

Once released, its light ring should swirl clockwise in white. When it shuts off, it means that the reboot process is complete.

You may have to wait 1.5 minutes for your Roomba to turn on.

Note:  In the s series, the light ring is around the bin lid.

For e, 500, 600, and WiFi-enabled 800 series

Press and hold the “HOME” and “SPOT CLEAN” buttons for 10 seconds.

Once released, you should hear a reboot tone. This tone indicates a successful process.

Note: This instruction applies to both regular and WiFi-enabled Roomba 600 series.

Need a visual guide on how to reboot a Roomba?

Then, watch this short video:

#8: Replace the Roomba’s battery

In some instances, connectivity issues happen due to battery issues.

A Roomba has a rechargeable battery installed on it.

It can last for several years.

Yet several things can cause it to fail early, including:

  • Over usage.
  • Hardware issues.
  • Battery corrosion.

When the Roomba’s battery becomes faulty, your Roomba can fail to communicate with the Home Base or the app. Since it has little to no charge.

What you have to do is to replace your Roomba battery.

Buying tip: To ensure product quality, buy a battery replacement directly from iRobot.

To replace the Roomba battery:

  1. Flip the Roomba upside down.
  2. Remove the edge-sweeping brush.
  3. Loosen the screws of the bottom cover.
  4. Unclip the battery.
  5. Insert the replacement battery.
  6. Then, return and secure the bottom cover and side brush.

Reminder: Depending on your Roomba model, some steps may require slightly different actions. So, make sure to refer to your user manual as well.

Does your Roomba still display Error 38? Then, proceed to step #9.

#9: Factory reset the Roomba 

“My Roomba still displays Error 38 after doing several troubleshooting steps. What should I do?”

If your Roomba still doesn’t work, factory reset it.

Warning: Factory reset deletes data on your device. And that includes connected devices, cleaning schedules, and stored maps. So, make sure to do this only as your last resort.

Factory reset turns your device’s settings to default.

Sure, it may be a hassle redoing everything from scratch.

But doing this removes any errors in your device. Allowing you to use your Roomba without errors.

Plus, it frees up your device’s memory storage. Giving you more opportunities to create more schedules and maps.

Different Roomba models follow different factory resetting processes.

Here’s how to factory reset a Roomba based on its series:

For s and i series

Press and hold the “HOME,” “SPOT CLEAN,” and “CLEAN” buttons.

Continue holding until the light ring swirls in white.

For j series

First, remove the dust bin.

Press and hold the “CLEAN” button for 7 seconds. Or until you hear a tone.

Then, click the “CLEAN” button again to confirm the action.

For e series

Press and hold the “HOME,” “SPOT CLEAN,” and “CLEAN” buttons for 20 seconds.

Then, release.

For 900 series

Press and hold the “DOCK,” “SPOT CLEAN,” and “CLEAN” buttons.

Continue holding until all LED lights illuminate.

For WiFi-enabled 600 and 800 series

Press and hold the “DOCK,” “SPOT CLEAN,” and “CLEAN” buttons.

Continue holding until you hear a beep.

Tip: You can also factory reset your Roomba through the iRobot Home app. Just head over to the settings, and click “Remove/Factory Reset (device name).”

#10: Contact the iRobot customer care 

Have you exhausted any troubleshooting steps?

But your Roomba still displays Error 38?

Then, it’s time to contact iRobot customer care.

They may either provide you with some more troubleshooting steps. So, prepare your device’s serial number in advance.

Or they may offer you a replacement. Given that your Roomba device is still under warranty. And it doesn’t violate the warranty’s terms and conditions.

Regardless of which, it’s best to contact iRobot support.

Doing this prevents you from damaging your device further. Which will surely cost you more money and effort.

Learn more: How long do Roombas last?