A Roomba is the most useful gadget you can have around your home.
It vacuums for you, allowing you to focus on other household chores.
However, what does it mean if your Roomba is going in circles instead of cleaning the room?
Your Roomba is going in circles because the sensors are dirty, something got stuck in the wheels, or the front bumper is misaligned. Cleaning the Roomba usually fixes the problem. It can also be a software issue; in that case, restart the Roomba and let it remap your room.
This article will explain some of the most common reasons your Roomba keeps going in circles and some simple fixes. Let’s get started!
Why Does My Roomba Keep Going in Circles?
Roombas are notorious for going in circles. In fact, the problem is so common that it has a name — circle dance.
Thankfully, it’s not a serious issue. I’ll tell you how to fix it after explaining what makes the Roomba misbehave in the first place.
The Roomba Is Dirty
Robot vacuums work tirelessly to clean our homes. They don’t expect anything in return.
But when was the last time you cleaned your little cleaner?
We sometimes forget that dust can settle on moving objects. Sure, there’s more dust on your desk and wall shelf than on your smartphone.
But dust and debris build up on your Roomba over time. More importantly, it builds up inside the Roomba.
The Roomba Gets Stuck on an Obstacle
The Roomba is an incredible device with some features that are out of this world. However, they sometimes get stuck, and you may not even realize it.
An easy way to tell if the Roomba gets stuck is that it works fine until it reaches a specific part of the room.
This can be a software issue. But it might have something to do with your room, too.
For example, a small screw in the flooring you never noticed can get in the way of the Roomba’s wheel. Or, maybe your thick pile rug is to blame.
The Roomba will then spin in circles dozens of times. It’ll only stop if the wheel somehow frees itself or if you move the robovac.
Something Got Stuck in the Roomba’s Wheels
Just like the Roomba can get stuck, stuff can get stuck in the Roomba.
Robot vacuum’s wheels love to pick up stuff like:
- Pieces of paper
- Cotton thread
- Hair (yuck!)
You can tell that something is wrong with the wheel if one wheel moves faster than the other.
Depending on how much stuff is stuck in the wheel, the Roomba can make very small or large circles.
Stuck items are often not noticeable at first glance. That’s because there’s stuff sitting between the wheel and the axle, not on the wheel itself.
The Room Isn’t Mapped Correctly
The Roomba takes its time during its mapping run. But mistakes in mapping are a common issue nonetheless.
Maybe you had a Lego brick on your floor when the Roomba was mapping the kid’s room.
Now every time your Roomba wants to clean it, it thinks that the Lego piece is still there and vacuums around it over and over.
There can also be an issue with the Smart Map room dividers.
The dividers help the Roomba (and you) tell the difference between your kitchen and your hallway.
But these dividers have a very small chance of causing circle dance.
Editor’s pick: 27 Roomba Tips And Tricks To Keep Your House Clean
The Roomba’s IR Sensors Are Broken
If something is wrong with the IR sensors, the Roomba will think there’s an object and start to spin.
This is the most serious cause of circle dance. Fixing it involves soldering, which not everyone is comfortable doing.
You might also like: How to make Roomba quieter?
5 Fixes To Stop Your Roomba From Going in Circles
I’ll start with the easiest fixes first, so don’t grab your screwdriver just yet.
Here are a few simple solutions that’ll stop the circle dance.
1. Clean the Roomba
Your Roomba needs its IR sensors to scan the environment. The sensors won’t work if there’s a ton of dust sitting in front of them.
This solution is so easy when you know what causes the problem in the first place.
To clean your Roomba, grab a damp cloth and wipe it down thoroughly.
If the Roomba is still going in circles, that means dust is inside the Roomba, too. More specifically, the tachometer gets dirty and stops working.
A forum user by the name of doteyes9 explains how to clean the tachometer:
- Turn on the Roomba’s ‘Diagnostics Mode.’ To do this, hold the Dock and Clean buttons, and press the Spot button 6 times. The light blinks on the side that’s not working.
- Put the straw of your canned air between the wheel and the axis.
- Gently blow the air into the axis.
- Repeat all steps until the Roomba stops going in circles.
If you don’t have canned air, get the Falcon Dust-Off (available on Amazon.com). It has a thin straw that’ll let you get close to the tachometer, and it’s safe to use around electronics.
2. Tap the Roomba
There’s a gap between the Roomba’s body and the front bumper.
Dust and debris get into this gap. It causes issues with the IR sensor. Also, the bumper can get dislodged because of this gap.
Your Roomba usually sends the Error 9 notification if you have this issue.
The following shows you how to tackle the issue:
- Tap the bumper a few times.
- Restart the robot.
3. Check the Floor for Clutter
If the Roomba always goes in circles in the same spot, it’s the floor’s fault.
Remove any minor obstacles from the spot. Maybe a piece of loose thread fell from your shirt. Or there’s a random screw in the floor that serves no purpose.
The less stuff that’s lying on the floor, the better. Roombas are very picky, and they detest clutter.
4. Clean or Replace the Roomba’s Wheels
If the wheels don’t spin correctly, clean them. And if that doesn’t work either, you’ll have to replace them.
Here’s how to clean and/or replace the wheels on your Roomba:
- Turn the Roomba off and flip it upside down.
- Use a screwdriver to unscrew the bottom panel.
- Gently lift the plastic.
- Unscrew the two screws holding each wheel.
- Clean your current wheels or replace them with new ones.
If you need replacement wheels, buy the Color Tree Wheel Module Pair (available on Amazon.com). The module contains everything your wheel needs. Just pop the replacement wheels in, and you’re done.
5. Let the Roomba Remap Your Room
If the hardware seems fine on your Roomba, it’s probably a software issue.
The easiest fix for a bugged room is to remap it entirely.
Here’s how to make the Roomba remap your room:
- Open the iRobot Home app.
- Open the Menu and go to ‘Clean Map Report.’
- Tap on ‘Update Smart Map.’
- Wait for the Roomba to finish mapping.
Reading recommendation: Can You Pick Up and Move a Roomba? 5 Things To Know
BONUS: Replace the Roomba’s IR Sensor
If everything else fails, you’ll have to replace the IR sensor.
This is a very complex step and requires you to do some soldering.
If you don’t want to do this yourself, transfer responsibility to an electrical technician.
Mike attempts has made an excellent YouTube video showing you how to replace the IR LEDs:
You can get the Neeha IR Sensor (available on Amazon.com) to replace the original one. This is compatible with 500/600/700/800/900 Series Roombas.
You don’t have to buy a replacement Roomba if your current one is going in circles.
More often than not, a simple tap on the bumper or a quick clean will fix it.
Some advanced fixes include replacing the wheels and IR sensor. But they’re still much cheaper than a whole new robovac.