One of the great things about robotic vacuums is their compactness. Their small size means that once their cleaning rounds for the day are done, they can be easily stored away. There’s no need to worry about storage space or clutter in your home.
The other bonus that comes with their size and shape? The fact that they can get to those difficult-to-reach areas around your living spaces. They go where conventional vacuum cleaners can’t, such as under beds, tables, chairs, and couches. The result? A more dust-free and clean living environment for you and your loved ones to enjoy.
Most robot vacuums are relatively independent (you can program cleaning schedules for when you’re out, they’ll automatically return to the charging station when low on battery, and some are even self-emptying). However, you’ll still need to carry out some basic care and maintenance to ensure their smooth running.
This article will cover some of the essential tips for this care and maintenance. By looking after your robot vacuum, you’ll help extend its working life and make sure it keeps your home spick and span for years to come.
Getting Started With Your Robot Vacuum’s Maintenance
It’s essential that you properly maintain your robot vacuum to ensure it keeps running how it should. There’s nothing worse than forking out money for a piece of household technology, only for it to break down on you because you didn’t carry out some simple maintenance steps.
The first thing to do is read your robot’s operating manual thoroughly as soon as you unbox it. In doing so, you’ll give yourself a better idea of how it works, what its components are, and how to carry out maintenance and basic repairs. Even if you’ve had one of these nifty little helpers before, chances are this is a newer, different model with a different set of requirements. It’s also important to charge the robot for a specified amount of time before its first use.
Clearing Floors and Surfaces
Robot vacuums are “smart,” but that doesn’t mean that they’re able to dodge every single small item that’s left on your floor. And that means that they risk getting stuck or, even worse, getting blocked or clogged. Ensure that you clear your floors of toys and other pieces that may get in the way. Also, keep drapes and pull cords off the floor to avoid the robot trying to suck them up.
Oh, and a quick warning for pet owners: check your home for any messes before using your robot vacuum. Otherwise, you run the risk of getting your floors and walls “painted” in an unsanitary and disgusting way.
Related Post: Roomba’s Pet Owner Feature
When the Robot Gets Stuck
Robot vacuums don’t always perform flawlessly. At times, you can expect it to get stuck somewhere like under a piece of low-sitting furniture. If your robot gets stuck under your favorite armchair, your first instinct will be to pull it out from underneath the chair.
Refrain from yanking on the robot vacuum as this can damage the wheels, sensors and/or brushes. Instead, lift the chair slightly so that the robot can roll back to the open floor. If necessary, turn the robot around to help guide it back.
Cleaning the Sensors
Your robotic vacuum will likely be able to “see” and navigate its way around the floors of your home using sensors, like LiDAR, fitted on its front and back. It’s important not to tug directly on the vacuum if it happens to get stuck anywhere, as this may damage its sensors. Instead, try to remove what’s making it stuck and let it maneuver its way away.
Cleaning the sensors isn’t complicated. They’re either made of glass or clear plastic and should be cleaned with a soft rag moistened slightly in warm, soapy water. Make sure not to use glass cleaners, detergents, bleach, or abrasive materials as these may damage the lens.
Emptying, cleaning, and replacing filters and bins
It’s essential to regularly empty and clean your robot vacuum bin. This means ensuring that the bin doesn’t over-fill or become too densely packed with dirt and debris. Most models have small bins, meaning that they fill up quickly. It’s a good idea to check them after every cleaning pass. Also, give it a little rinse out now and then, making sure you dry it thoroughly before putting it back in.
And the same goes for the robot vacuum’s filters(1). They need to be kept clean to ensure they stay in good working order. If they get clogged, it’ll be harder for them to filter all the dust and dirt that the vacuum collects. Furthermore, if the filter’s dirty, it means the vacuum has to work harder to effectively pick up debris and risks causing the unit to malfunction.
Most robot vacuum filters shouldn’t be cleaned using water, and it’s best to use a dust brush, hair dryer, or compressed air to remove grime to get them clean. It’s always a good idea to refer to the manufacturer’s guide and to replace the filters altogether after the recommended amount of time.
Untangle the Brushroll
If your robot vacuum has a brush roll, it’s wise to examine it every once in a while to make sure there are no pieces of string or hair wound around the bar. As hair and string accumulate, they impede the brushroll’s rotational movement. In turn, the brushroll is unable to lift debris, and the motor is at risk of overheating.
Some robot vacuums have a self-cleaning brushroll, which helps keep the bar and bristles free of hair. If your robot doesn’t have this feature, you’ll need to cut the wound string and hair with a pair of scissors. The ease of this task depends on whether the protective plate is attached with screws.
Related Post: Best Robot Vacuums for Pet Hair
Checking the Brushes and Wheels
To keep your robot vacuum running smoothly, you’ll need to keep an eye on its brushes and wheels(2). With the brushes, ensure that they’re clean and free of any debris that may impede them. Take special care to remove any long hairs, fibers, threads, or strings that have become wrapped around the brush spindle. The spindle needs to rotate properly for the brushes to do their job and prevent possible damage to the motor.
Don’t forget the side brushes, either. These will need to be cleaned now and then, too. You can remove these first before rinsing them with warm water. A comb also comes in handy to help free the brushes of any hair or debris. Just make sure to get the brushes completely dry before you reinstall them.
Unclog the Wheels
Hair is perhaps the most aggravating type of debris. It has a knack of winding around the brushroll and clogging the suction inlet. Human hair, pet fur, a string, and fuzz also impede the movement of a robot vacuum’s wheels.
Make it a habit of checking the robot’s two main wheels every week. If you see a buildup of hair in the wheels’ wells, you can use a pocket knife to free the debris from the axles. After all the hair is removed, use a dry cloth to wipe away any sediment.
The wheels can be cleaned by first removing them using a screwdriver. Never use water to clean them; a dust brush will be able to get rid of any built-up dirt and grime just fine. A dust brush should also be used to remove any hair, dirt, dust, or debris from the vacuum’s inner drive wheel. Then, carefully put all the wheels back. Your robot helper is now good to go!
Checking the Batteries
If you look after your robot’s batteries correctly, you’ll prolong their life and that of your robot. That means you’ll be cutting down on costs. (Robotic vacuum batteries tend to be expensive.) You can help maintain the battery life by following the manufacturer’s guidelines regarding the frequency and duration of charging. Some robot vacuums require the battery to be fully drained before recharging, while others don’t.
Charging the Battery
The longer the rechargeable battery’s runtime, the more the robot can vacuum in one go-round. In general, frequent use of your robot vacuum cleaner will keep the battery in working order for quite some time. Rob vacuums either contain a lithium-ion or nickel-based rechargeable battery. To avoid reducing the battery’s lifespan, you should follow the proper protocol for the type of battery in your robot vacuum.
If your robot has a lithium-ion battery, fully charge it before you let the robot lose for the first time. Keep the robot vacuum on the charging dock in between runs. A nickel-based rechargeable battery needs different care. For a nickel-based battery, let the battery completely drain on occasion and recharge it to 100 percent.
Replacing the Battery
Even rechargeable batteries don’t last forever. As time goes by, their cells degrade. If your robot vacuum’s runtime is shorter than it was when you first bought the vacuum, it’s time to buy a new battery. Don’t be tempted by aftermarket batteries. Stick with OEM batteries(3), which are more reliable than their non-OEM counterparts.
Updating firmware and software
Keep up-to-date with any firmware or software updates relating to the make and model of your robot vacuum. Many units are app-operated, and you’ll receive any updates automatically. It may be the case that you need to stay in touch with the manufacturer to get update information. Either way, it’s essential to stay on top of this as the efficacy of your vacuum relies on it.
Newer, more sophisticated models contain system controls and movement algorithms that require periodic updating to work effectively. Additionally, firmware updates are important and usually require you to plug the unit into a computer.
Storing the Robot
If you’re preparing to go on vacation or move and you need to store your robotic vacuum, there are a few steps to take to keep the robot from getting damaged. If your robot vacuum has a vacation mode, you won’t need to detach the battery. If not, don’t put it in a box or a closet until you recharge and remove the battery.
Make sure the storage location is a cool and dry room – High humidity and extreme hot and cold temperatures can ruin the electronic components inside of a robot vacuum. Additionally, block the battery and the robot from direct sunlight.
It’s easy to get the robot ready for action when you remove it from storage. All you have to do is replenish the battery’s charge level. Then, let the robot clean your floors until the battery dies. A final full recharge will put the robot’s operation back on track.
Mentioning it Again: Read the Manual
Our robot vacuum maintenance guide gives general tips that pertain to most robot vacuums currently on the market. For specific maintenance instructions, you need to read the manual that came with your robot. These manuals often provide a maintenance schedule, and they contain battery-care information and part-removal and cleaning directions.
Although it may not seem so, maintaining your robot vacuum doesn’t take more time or effort than maintaining a regular vacuum cleaner. The main difference is that it may contain more sensitive components, such as sensors, requiring more care when being cleaned. Always refer to your manufacturer’s guide to get tips on the best ways to clean your robot and its parts.
Unless you have a self-emptying model, most robotic vacuums require regular emptying of the filter bin. You’ll also need to keep an eye on the brushes, giving them a clean every month or so. And don’t neglect software or firmware updates, as these will help keep your little robot helper running smoothly and efficiently. With a bit of care and effort, your robot vacuum cleaner will function as good-as-new for years to come.
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