Roomba can’t find home: why is he lost?

roomba can't find home
Roomba may not be able to find the charging station © Vacuumtester.com
In short: if your Roomba cannot find the base station, there is most likely a problem with the sensors or the WiFi connection. Check whether there are obstacles in front of the sensors and whether these sensors are clean. Also check the signal strength of your WiFi network at the location of the base station. In many cases that is the problem.

An iRobot Roomba returns to its base after vacuuming or when it needs to be charged. Here it can be charged, parked and, on some Roomba models, also emptied.

It is possible that your Roomba can no longer find the base station, also known as the home or charging station. If this is the case, you have to solve this, otherwise the Roomba simply can no longer charge and park. In this article, I’ll tell you everything you need to know if the Roomba can no longer find its home and how to quickly solve this.

Why is it a problem if Roomba can’t find the charging station?

A Roomba is a wireless robot vacuum. As a result, it will have to be charged every now and then. This is possible at the charging station: Roomba uses charging points to contact the home station, after which the battery is charged. And do you have a charging and emptying station? Then the Roomba can even be emptied automatically there.

When a Roomba discovers that its battery is low while cleaning, it will start looking for its house. Can’t find this one? Then he cannot charge and continue his cleaning activity. So it is very important to solve this immediately.

Why can’t my Roomba find its home station?

At Vacuumtester.com I’ve heard the problem of a Roomba not finding its home a lot. So I have a whole list of possible causes of this problem. In most cases, too many obstacles in front of and around the charging station were the problem, but not always.

The most common reasons why your Roomba can’t find its home:

  • Too many obstacles in front of or around the base station
  • The base station is not receiving power
  • Roomba’s cleaning activity has been paused and has not resumed properly
  • The charging station parking sensor is dirty
  • The charging station has been moved
  • WiFi signal weak or wrong frequency*

* Older Roomba vacuums are not always suitable for 5GHz connections. I’ll come back to that shortly.

Error codes related to navigation problems

As you’ve probably experienced, the problem is associated with a Roomba with a red light and an error code. By pressing the CLEAN button you will then hear an error code, letting you know what is going on.

In the table below I have listed the error codes related to problems with navigation, and probably also telling that the Roomba can no longer navigate home.

Error codeProblem
Error 17Roomba navigates unfamiliar territory
Error 18Roomba can’t park at home station
Error 19Roomba can’t drive away from home station
Error 46Battery too low to drive back
Error 48There’s something in front of the charging station
Error 66Internal memory full
Error 74Cleaning area is too big
© Vacuumtester

Did you know that I have listed all Roomba error codes? Many of these error messages require you to manually place Roomba on the charging dock.

Solution: This is how your Roomba can find the base station again

Let’s see why your Roomba might not be able to find its home station and how to fix it! Follow the steps below and check if something is causing the problem in your home.

Remove obstacles around emptying station

In many cases, the problem lies with obstacles around or in front of the charging station. It is important to provide enough free space around the base station. If there is an obstacle too close to the charging station, it can block the parking sensor.

Roomba recommends1Roomba Home Base Location, iRobot.com to keep at least 0.5 meters of free space on the sides and even 1.5 meters in front of the charging station. Make sure there are no obstacles in this space.

roomba i3 evo installation
Guidelines for free space around the home station. © Vacuum tester

Location: don’t just move base station

I would like to dwell on the following for a moment. After installing the Roomba robot vacuum, it is important not to just move the charging station. This can also prevent Roomba from finding the house.

After installing the Roomba robot vacuum, it is important not to just move the charging station.

Check power supply of base station

It may seem obvious, but in many situations the power supply turned out to be the problem. Check whether the charging station cable is properly plugged into the socket and that it is also properly seated in the base station. Make sure that the cable is not tight at all times.

Clean parking sensors charging station

The base station is equipped with a parking sensor. Thanks to this sensor, the Roomba can find its home. If this sensor is dirty, it will not be able to connect to the robot vacuum cleaner. After all, the robot vacuum cleaner cannot recognize it.

Therefore, check whether the parking sensor is clean. Take a clean and dry cloth and gently wipe the sensor. Also clean the sensors on the Roomba robot vacuum and consider cleaning the entire Roomba. I’ve published a complete guide to cleaning a Roomba.

roomba home sensor
The sensor on the Roomba base station may be dirty. © Vacuumtester.com

Check WiFi connection strength and frequency

It is important that there is a strong and stable WiFi connection. Both during cleaning and at the location of the base station. To come back to the obstacles: also keep in mind that thick walls can cause interference.

It is important to know that older Roomba series are not always suitable for a 5GHz connection. 2Setting up your WiFi Connected Robot, iRobot.com

Roomba Series2.4 GHz5 GHZ
Roomba 600-900Series
Roomba i1 – i5 Series
Roomba i6 – i8 Series
Roomba j7
Roomba s9
© Vacuumtester.com

Help: Roomba still can’t find home

If Roomba still can’t find the charging dock after checking the possible causes above, resetting your Roomba or factory reset may help. Keep in mind that many settings will be lost and you will have to set it again. Read all about resetting a Roomba here.

irobot roomba reset
A reset can be the last resort. © Vacuumtester.com

If a reset does not help either, please leave a comment at the bottom of this page or send me a message. I’d be happy to help you figure out the problem.

References

Robbert Tigchelaar

Robbert Tigchelaar

Robbert Tigchelaar is the founder of Vacuumtester.com and is a true vacuum cleaner guru. With more than 10 years of experience in the world of electronic devices, he knows better than anyone what is important in a vacuum cleaner. When a new vacuum cleaner appears, he is eager to test it extensively.

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