Roomba Can’t Find Home: Why It’s Not Returning?

Is your Roomba not returning to its base station? Or it is having difficulty finding its Home. Many Roomba users have faced the same problem and asked us the ways to fix it.

Generally, when your Roomba fails to get home, the issue likely lies with its sensors or WiFi connection. Clear away potential obstacles in front of the sensors and ensure they are not dirty.

Furthermore, verify that your WiFi network is sufficient where you have placed the base station, as this may be causing connectivity issues. Poor signal strength can often create problems for Roombas trying to find their way back home.

If your iRobot Roomba is having difficulty locating the charging station, also known as its home or base, it won’t be able to return for a charge or at the emptying station. This leaves you with an inefficient vacuum cleaner that cannot clean your home or even charge itself.

In this article, you will find the reasons behind it, why it is happening, and ways to fix it.

Roomba Can’t Find the Charging Station: Is This A Problem?

Roomba not returning charging station

When everything runs smoothly, Roomba can detect its home base and make its way there on its own, using infrared light signals and mapping technologies to dock precisely when needed. 

They usually come back every 90 minutes after completing their cleaning cycle.

When there is a problem, Roomba struggles to navigate and find the charging dock.

When Roombas can’t find home, they won’t return to their docking station for charging and will stop in the middle of their cleaning duties. Alternatively, they might run until their battery dies and then travel aimlessly or send an emergency warning. 

In either of these cases, it will be inconvenient for you to manually place Roomba at the docking station.

Why can’t My Roomba Find its Home Station?

reasons that contribute to your Roomba not being able to locate the base

There can be several possible reasons that contribute to your Roomba not being able to locate the base. If you have a Wi-Fi-enabled model of the Roomba robot vacuum, it must be within six feet of the base when you start the cleaning process.  

Another problem is that the base is connected to a bad outlet that doesn’t receive power or needs to be plugged in tightly. 

You can check if the charger is turned on or not by looking at the blinking light that comes on every 4 seconds.

Here is a quick summary of some of the most common reasons:

  • The Roomba has too many barriers on the way to the base to navigate.
  • The Roomba base isn’t connected to a functional charging outlet.
  • Roomba runs low on battery before it can dock.
  • The Roomba Home is placed next to the stairs.
  • The parking sensor for the charging station is covered in grime and dirt.
  • To make charging your device more convenient, you have relocated the charging station for added accessibility.
  • Your WiFi has a weak signal or the wrong frequency.

Error Codes Related to Navigation Problems

Whenever Roomba faces a problem, it notifies you through an error code indicated by a flashing red light. By playing the error message, you can know the reason behind the displayed error and get instructions on how to fix it.

We have compiled a list of the most common error codes related to the navigational problems on Roomba.

You can either refer to the manual or follow the troubleshooting steps further provided in this article.

Roomba Error codesReason
Error 17Roomba navigates to unfamiliar territory.
Error 18Roomba can’t park at home station; alignment problem.
Error 19The battery is too low to reach the dock.
Error 46Roomba can’t drive away from the home station.
Error 48There’s an obstacle in front of the charging station.
Error 66Internal memory is full.
Error 74Roomba navigates into unfamiliar territory.

How To Make Roomba Go Home?

If you want your Roomba to go home as usual, you must know how to easily identify and troubleshoot the cause behind Roomba not finding Home.

Here are the proven ways that you can use:

Check and Remove Too Many Obstacles Near Emptying Station

Your Roomba will experience problems navigating the area if it is littered with many stray objects and won’t be able to return home after cleaning. 

It needs a clear route to the charging station, which needs to be away from staircases and walls. 

The Roomba robotic vacuum works best in a clutter-free setting with no toys, books, remotes or cables in the middle of the floor. 

If there are no obstacles around the emptying station, it will be able to move around and clean your home as much as possible and will return to its docking station easily for charging or for resting.

For optimal cleaning, the Roomba should be a minimum of half a meter open on either side and one and a half meters in front of its docking station. (1)

Don’t Move the Base Station While Roomba is Cleaning

Roombas employ a technique called visual simultaneous location and mapping, or VSLAM. The robot vacuum cleaner’s optical system enables it to trace out your home by calculating the distances between walls and recognizing different features on the ceiling. 

So, Roomba must begin from the dock to return to it in the best possible way. 

To ensure that Roomba can find its Home, do not pick it up in the middle of the cleaning, put it somewhere else, and then command it to begin cleaning from a different point.

Check the Power Supply of the Base Station

Irrespective of how much work it has completed when the battery starts to run low, Roomba returns to the charging base. 

If your home is big, Roomba may be out of charge before reaching the area where its docking station is. This is probably the case if your Roomba works in multiple rooms and you consistently notice it cannot reach a particular area.

Also, inspect the power of your home base. If the Roomba does not appear to be responding to any orders, it can also have something to do with the Home Base. If the Home itself is not powered on, how will it even convey the command to Roomba to return?

Clean Charging Station Parking Sensors

If your Roomba struggles to dock correctly, debris may have accumulated on the charging connections on both the machine and the charging station. iRobot advises using a lightly dampened melamine foam to clean the charging contacts and the sensors to function properly. 

Clean the sensors, particularly those on the front of the Roomba’s home base and the Roomba. The sensors may begin to fail if they become clogged with dust, making it difficult for the Roomba to locate its dock correctly.

Check WiFi Connection Strength and Frequency

A Roomba cannot heed instructions to move somewhere specific or return home without a Wi-Fi connection. Check your Wi-Fi network and your Roomba’s connectivity if your Roomba isn’t responding to navigation orders. 

Also, check the strength of the wi-fi signal by using a different device to connect to the same network and evaluate its performance. 

Do not connect multiple devices at once to a single wi-fi connection since that would hamper the signals and won’t let your Roomba and dock communicate clearly.

You should also try disconnecting and reconnecting to see if that improves the App’s functionality.

It is essential to be aware that the earlier Roomba series are not compatible with a 5GHz connection. (2)

Roomba Series/ModelsCompatible With 2.4 GHzCompatible With 5 GHz
Roomba i6 – i8 SeriesYesYes
Roomba j7YesYes
Roomba s9YesYes
Roomba 600-900 SeriesYesNo
Roomba i1 – i5 SeriesYesNo
Braava m6YesYes

Test your Roomba’s Room Confinement sensor

Roomba has a Room Confinement Sensor (RCON) that can recognize attachments like the Home Base and Virtual Wall. 

For optimal performance, ensure that any Virtual Wall barriers are situated at least eight feet away from the dock area.

For your Roomba to be able to return to the dock, they must be working correctly. To make sure the Room Confinement Sensor is operating properly, use the following process:

  •  Press the ‘Clean’ button on the base of the Roomba gadget for approx. 3 seconds. This will erase any previous settings.
  • Press Clean again.
  • Now, press Dock.
  •  If the Roomba does not return to its docking station at this command, you can conclude that it’s faulty and reach out to iRobot Customer Care. 

Reset Roomba if Roomba still can’t find a home

Resetting the Roomba is a preventive action that can save you from many issues even if the Roomba is not finding Home. 

In fact, giving it a reset after each cleaning area can help your Roomba function better. 

Please be aware that the manufacturer settings determine how the Roomba robotic vacuum cleaner operates, so after a hard reset, all settings return to the manufacturing settings.

You’ll have to reprogram all settings including clock, language, and task scheduler.

How Long Does it Take for iRobot to Find Home?

iRobot robot vacuum cleaners are equipped with a range of navigational tools, including sensors and algorithms, to find their way home.

The exact time it takes for an iRobot robot to locate its home base will depend on several factors — the size of the space it is navigating, the complexity of obstacles within that space, and the number of times it has been to its home location.

Generally, most iRobot robots can find their way back home in minutes or less.

Summary

There are several causes for your Roomba not being able to find its Home Base, ranging from an improperly configured docking station to dirty contact sensors.

If your Roomba can’t locate and reach its dock, the Roomba’s sensors may be clogged up or broken, which prevents it from accurately recognizing the dock location. The dock itself may be dusty or blocked with sludge, preventing the Roomba from properly aligning. The Roomba’s battery may also be running low, causing it not to function optimally.

Robbert Randy

Robbert is an expert in vacuums. He graduated from the University of Applied Science with a degree in Commercial Economics in 2019. He tests and provide troubleshooting tips to vacuum users on his website. He don’t do this for profit–he simply want to research the best models out there and share his findings.

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