Roomba keeps going in circles: what’s going on?

roomba keeps going in circles
A Roomba can suddenly keep circling. ©

A Roomba robot vacuum cleaner is super smart, but it can also get lost for a while. Literally: because it can happen that a Roomba robot vacuum cleaner suddenly keeps running in circles.

There can be several reasons why a Roomba keeps circling. In this article I will list all possible causes and help you to solve this problem.

Why does my Roomba going in circles?

A Roomba robot vacuum cleaner follows a systematic cleaning route. This means that a Roomba does not skip anything and travels as efficiently as possible. If your Roomba suddenly continues to circle around and therefore no longer continues its route, there is a problem.

The Roomba's sensors are dirty

A Roomba navigates using cameras and/or sensors. This also detects obstacles, which are then avoided by the robot vacuum cleaner. This prevents damage to furniture, for example, or a Roomba does not suddenly drive down a staircase thanks to so-called cliff sensors.

irobot roomba j7+ obstacles
A Roomba is equipped with sensors to avoid obstacles. ©

When a Roomba's sensors are dirty, a Roomba can constantly think it has an obstacle in front of it. This allows him to keep running in circles constantly, because he wants to prevent that he drives into this.

Roomba cannot find the base station

When a Roomba has finished cleaning or if the battery is empty, a Roomba will automatically return to the Base Station. If we look at the Roomba J7+, it not only charges, but can even be emptied automatically at the base station. However, he must be able to find this Home Base.

If a Roomba can no longer find its home, it can continue to run in circles. With this, it actually searches for the location of the charging station.

There is something between the bumpers of the robot vacuum cleaner

A bumper can be found at the front of the robot vacuum cleaner. This bumper can be pressed gently, which also happens when a Roomba hits a wall. For a Roomba, this is a signal that it cannot go any further and must therefore turn around.

When something is caught in the bumper – which can be more common – the robot vacuum cleaner will think it is constantly bumping into something. This can result in a constantly spinning robot vacuum cleaner.

Roomba no longer recognizes the room

When you use a Roomba for the first time, it creates a virtual map of the home. As I mentioned earlier, the robot vacuum cleaner follows a systematic cleaning route. Thanks to the map, the robot vacuum cleaner gets to know the house well and knows exactly which route to clean most efficiently.

When a sudden major change takes place in the home, a Roomba can suddenly be lost. In other words, it no longer recognizes the room. Although this will not happen quickly with a sock on the floor, it can be the result of, for example, a new cupboard in the living room.

When a sudden major change takes place in the home, a Roomba can suddenly be lost.

The wheels or brushes are dirty

A Roomba is equipped with two large wheels on either side and a small swivel wheel on the front. Dirt can quickly get in here, preventing the Roomba from driving properly.

This can also be the case with the brushes: when they are extremely dirty, the Roomba can no longer maneuver flexibly, because the Roomba brush no longer spins. It may then appear that the Roomba keeps circling.

roomba brush not spinning
A dirty brush can cause a Roomba to spin in circles. ©

Step-by-step plan: Stop Roomba from circling

When a Roomba does not have a red light, you cannot hear any Roomba error codes. So the question is what exactly is the cause of your Roomba robot vacuum cleaner.

I've created a step-by-step plan to find out quickly and stop the Roomba from circling. Follow each step and go one step further if the problem is not resolved.

  1. Place the Roomba back in the room and click the CLEAN button.
  2. Turn the Roomba upside down and check for debris between the bumpers
  3. Check whether the wheels of the robot vacuum cleaner rotate properly and whether there is no dirt in between (e.g. pet hair)
  4. Clean all sensors of the robot vacuum cleaner with a dry clean microfiber cloth
  5. Have the Roomba create a new map of the room
  6. Check if the problem occurs consistently on a dark floor (or dark carpet)

When you have come to the conclusion that a dark surface causes a Roomba to keep going in circles, there is no other way to demarcate this area. You can create a virtual wall in the Roomba app for this.

Avoid a circling Roomba robot vacuum cleaner

We can conclude that in many cases poor maintenance of the Roomba is the cause of a circling robot vacuum cleaner. I recommend cleaning your Roomba regularly. This will last longer with the Roomba parts and the chance that you will run into these kinds of problems is smaller. View the complete manual for cleaning a Roomba.

Another tip for preventing your robot vacuum from getting stuck or potentially damaged is to ensure that the vacuum is suitable for its intended purpose. Verify whether a robot vacuum is capable of effectively picking up pet hairs before use.

Robbert Tigchelaar
Robbert Tigchelaar

Robbert Tigchelaar has made testing vacuum cleaners his life's work. He has dedicated himself to conducting fully independent and valuable tests of vacuum cleaners to provide consumers with honest advice. His expertise in vacuum cleaners has been highlighted in The Washington Post and the Daily Express.

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