One year with iRobot Roomba Pet: conclusions and hints

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I happened to become a proud owner of iRobot Roomba 564 pet about a year ago. Since then it has been remaining on combat duty, guarding our four-room apartment 4 times a week (at least).

  1. Some tips and hints
  2. Conclusion

I hope that this topic will help you choose the best robotic vacuum cleaner for your house, and I will do my best to reveal all the hidden pitfalls of Roombas for you.

It was around four years ago, when my wife started terrorizing me repeatedly: “I want a puppy”. I had been obstinate for a long time, although I liked dogs. The only obstruction was our study. At that time both of us had been studying at a university and working. Sometimes we had no time for each other, not to mention pets. Eventually I promised her that after her graduation we would adopt a dog. Finally it happened — in 2009 we adopted a golden retriever puppy. We named him Elvis.

The first year with the dog, as we had expected, yielded various dog oddities: bitten furniture, bitten legs, dog poop, wet floor, and periodical shedding. Age-dependent symptoms have ceased, but as concerns shedding… it became, how do you say it, CONTINUOUS!!! Three days with no vacuum cleaning, and you get dog-coat tumbleweeds drifting across your apartment, your entrance door receives a natural heat insulation made of hair, artificial hairy “snowbanks” emerge under your bed.

Cleaning the apartment every other day with our old vacuum cleaner was driving me nuts! So we’ve decided to make our life easier. At first, we were thinking about purchasing Scooba, but when iRobot salesperson heard about the dog, he started waving his hands and told us that only special Roomba pet series models would be able to solve THIS. Settled!

Some tips and hints

When I received a robot, I put it on charge for 24 hours in accordance with the instruction. On the next day, we removed everything from the floor, installed one of the two dust bins into the cleaner, and launched the robot. Note that for the sake of wow-effect we deliberately had missed cleaning for three days before this.

The robot was driving around the apartment for about half an hour, frightening our four-legged friend and squeezing itself under beds, and then it reported on a filled up dust bin. Having a little grievance against iRobot company, I shook the coat out of the bin, cleaned the brushes, and restarted the device. 20 minutes later the piece of iron stood still again and started shrieking that the bin was dirty. I shook it out once, cleaned it, cursed, and went to the extremities — opened the instruction. As it turned out, I had used a wrong dust bin — the one for everyday cleaning, and I should have used the one for dog coat. Next day we turned on the robot with the right bin, and it was driving around the apartment for about 2 hours, performing pirouettes and bumping into various furniture pieces.

The dog tried to hunt the robot, but soon he lost interest and began just to run away from this “fearlessly buzzing beast” to the sofa, trying to avoid it. This time the bin was filled to the hilt and the brushes were covered with a durable dog-hair coating. I just cut it off with scissors. Every here and there around the apartment we were finding some pieces of coat, mainly in corners and at some locations unattainable for the robot. However, we also found some dog coat at open areas, and it was annoying!

However, during the next cleaning I realized what the problem was. The thing is that as soon as the dust bin becomes filled with the coat, especially if the coat is long (5 cm +), the cleaner starts to wind it around the main brush, and after a while loses its ability to catch the hair.
Based on the above-mentioned, I established several rules for myself.

  1. Use the correct dust bin.
    If you need a perfect floor almost like after the wet cleaning, use the conventional bin. But only after use of the special bin for hair. Otherwise you’ll be sick and tired of cleaning it.
  2. Cleaning should be done frequently.
    In our case — every day, or at least every other day. Then there will be not so much hair wrapped around brushes, and the rollers won’t wear off.
  3. In theory, the robot knows how to disentangle itself of one or two wires. In fact, it is only 60% true. The thing is that the principle of “wire disentanglement” works only for the side brush. That’s why you shouldn’t leave wires on the floor, especially thin ones.
    Once iRobot wound a charging cable from Galaxy Ace (rather thin cable, one should say) and broke it.
  4. Lift all items, especially important ones, from the floor before the cleaning (my robot stole an SD-card once).
  5. If you have some furniture pieces that are lower than Roomba, you should fence them with Virtual Walls. The point is that optical sensors are located not on the top edge of the robot, but almost at its center. Thus, when Roomba moves along low furniture, it is constantly trying to squeeze itself under it. Sometimes the device succeeds, gets stuck, and you have to release and restart it. Luckily, we have only one such location.
  6. The cleaner may be searching for its base for a long time, as it detects the base via an infrared sensor instead of radio frequencies. Therefore, try to install the base in an easily accessible open place.

Perhaps, these are all the rules of using this robotic vacuum cleaner.

Conclusions

Frankly speaking, Roomba is worth the money and pays for itself in full. All my recommendations are 100% true only for our particular apartment and its inhabitants. Everything may vary depending on your apartment’s area, presence of domestic animals, and other factors.
I also would like to mention that during the whole period of use of the device there were no cases of repair / parts changing or calling to the service center.

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