One of the main reasons to invest in a robot vacuum is to make sure you always have clean floors. Many of the brands are now very autonomous so they can run on their own while you’re even at work. But that’s assuming you know the various tricks on how to stop the robot vacuum from getting stuck.
Unfortunately, this is a common issue on the magic chore machine, irrespective of the brand you own. Even a sophisticated robot vacuum for hardwood floors and carpets like Roomba J7+, which should avoid cords, can get stuck. Why?
There are various reasons your machine will get stuck while cleaning. And in this article, I’ve put together these causes/ reasons, plus the viable solution so your vacuum can complete its tasks.
11 Reasons Your Robot Vacuum May Get Stuck While Cleaning
As was just mentioned, your robot vacuum can get stuck when cleaning for a number of reasons. The most common of these causes include:
- The Thickness of the Robot Vacuum
Similar to any other product, different robot vacuums have different designs and dimensional measurements.
For instance, we saw the other day that Eufy Robovac 11s is about 2.8-inch high, whereas most Roombas are approximately 3.5-inch thick. The former will be able to roll freely under most furniture the Roomba may be unable to fit.
But the overall thickness is not exactly the cause of the robot vacuum getting stuck. Instead, the issue is usually with the beveled top. And what happens is that the device will try to force itself under a space the thickest part won’t fit.
- Dirty Robot Vacuum Wheels
Debris buildup is pretty common if you don’t clean your Roomba side wheels, or those of any robot vacuum for that matter. In extreme cases, the build-up of hairs/ fibers and dirt will clog the axle, which will lead to the wheels getting stuck.
- Low Furniture Ground Clearance
Naturally, your robot vacuum has a high risk of getting stuck under the furniture with a lower ground clearance than its thickness. But the issue is most common on those devices with a beveled top, where the edge thickness is smaller than the center.
- Shaggy & Thick Pile Carpets
Similar to other appliances, a robot vacuum doesn’t work or run the same on all the floors. Based on the design, your model may have difficulty running on shaggy rugs and thick pile carpets. The “design” aspect in this case includes the ground clearance of the vacuum.
- Electrical & Electronic Cables Lying Around
Leaving your computer cables, chargers, and electrical cords lying anyhow on the floor can also cause your robot vacuum to get stuck.
- Cluttered Floors
Obstacles like toys, clothes, and shoes scattered all over the floor can also cause your robot vacuum to get stuck. What happens is that the mess, especially for toys, is usually spread all over, which will leave the little guy trapped.
The clothes and shoelaces can also get entangled in the wheels or even the roller brush that hinders your robot’s movements.
- Unexpected Malfunction
Your robot vacuum may also stop running mid-cleaning in the event of a malfunction. The malfunction can be either from spoilt electronic parts or technical errors from the incorrect configuration of the firmware.
- Poorly Lighted Environments
We do have robot vacuums in the market that can continue to work even in the darkness. But others require sufficient light for the navigation system to avoid bumping into obstacles or getting stuck (under the furniture).
- Worn Out Robot Vacuum Wheels
Well, as funny as it might sound, your robot vacuum may end up getting stuck if the side wheels have worn out. The “wearing out” in this case involves the tiny tires eating up all their threads. Then loses their grip on the floor.
Without a grip, the robot will only slide and get stuck in one position instead of moving forward. Remember, only the side wheels have the motor to pull the appliance. The front swivel caster wheel is just for “swiveling” or guiding the others.
- Tightly Packed Rooms
There’s also a risk of the robot vacuum getting stuck in a crowded space- perhaps your room has too many items. It can also happen when you have the device clean a corridor that is narrower than its width.
- Dark Rugs/ Floors
Last but not least, some older robot vacuums tend to get stuck on dark floors (and rugs/ carpets). It happens when the drop sensors interpret the black/ dark patch as a potential cliff.
A perfect illustration here is a carpet that has squared patterns with black edges or long stripes. If the infrared drop sensor doesn’t receive the reflected light from these dark parts, the robot assumes there is no object. Thus, prompting it to change course and seek an alternative path- only to get trapped if the entire borderline is dark.
Tricks & Hacks on How to Stop Robot Vacuum from Getting Stuck
Simply, the best way to stop a robot vacuum from getting stuck depends on the cause of the issue. And from the eleven causes above, we can sum up our solutions as follows:
- Solution for Thick Robot Vacuum
The perfect answer here is to make sure you purchase a robot vacuum with the right thickness for your needs. If the idea’s to keep everywhere clean, including under the furniture, choose a product with the slimmest profile you can get.
- Solution for Dirty Robot Vacuum Wheels
The best way how to stop a robot vacuum from getting stuck due to debris buildup is to clean it regularly. In this particular context, remove the dirt, hair, and fibers entangled around the wheel. You should also lubricate the axle, preferably with a quick-drying lube that won’t lead to messy leaks later.
- Solution for Low Furniture Ground Clearance
As I’ve mentioned before, a robot vacuum with a beveled top has the highest risk of getting stuck under low-lying furniture.
The same tricks we used to prevent Roomba from getting under cabinet apply here, including to couches and other chairs.
Such hacks include making the bumper taller, plus lowering or raising the bottom rails of the furniture by some inches. And they’re not just applicable to the iRobot machines but also to other brands of robot vacuums.
- Solution for Shaggy & Thick Pile Carpets
Personally, I’d recommend investing in a premium robot vacuum for hard floors, rugs, and carpets. If you already have one that struggles on thick rugs or stringy fringes/ tassels, prevent it from stepping on the surface.
The first way you can do that is to remove that thick rug from the floor before the cleaning session starts. If that’s not an option, create a barrier with a virtual wall, pool noodles, or anything else the robot vacuum can’t climb over.
If lucky to have a smart robot vacuum like Roborock S7 or Roomba i7, you could program the carpet area as a no-go zone.
- Solution for Cables Lying Around
The easiest fix on how to stop robot vacuum from getting stuck on cables is to organize them (cables) properly. Make sure you pick up your charger/s and data cables that may be on the floor before your machine starts cleaning.
In the case of electrical/ extension cables, you can clip them to the wall as I’ve done in my home. If not, you can just organize them neatly closer to the walls.
- Solution for Cluttered Floors
Similarly, the perfect fix here’s to clear the way for the robot vacuum before it starts the cleaning session. So, collect all the mess, including the toys, clothes, and shoes that may be lying all over the floor.
- Solution for Robot Vacuum Malfunction
If the reason your Robot vacuum stopped was a mechanical issue, the only solution is to repair or replace the damaged component.
In case of a technical issue, you can either reboot or reset the machine to try and correct the incorrect configuration. But I’d recommend you first try rebooting (more like restarting) before doing the factory reset. Why so?
Factory resetting resolves unexpected malfunctions by sending your robot back to its original “factory” settings. The device will be removed from your account, plus all the personal data and settings will be lost. Thus, will require to be reconfigured (set up with the app) again to use.
- Solution for Poorly Lighted Environments
In a robot vacuum that navigates with a camera, the rooms to be cleaned should have enough lighting for visibility.
If you have set the cleaning sessions during the day, you can draw the curtains to shine the rooms with natural light. Then at night you can either leave the regular lights on or add a couple of nightlights on the main floor.
Note: a robot vacuum with an infrared navigation system can work better in low-lighted environments than those with visual (camera) technology. Hence, the reason you’ll find the Roomba i3+ is more dependable than the i7+ for night cleaning.
- Solution for Worn-Out Robot Vacuum Wheels
You’ll need to replace the side wheels of your robot vacuum when they have worn out and lost grip. If the wheel modules are still operational, retailers like Amazon do stock replacement tires alone from as low as $10.
- Solution for Tightly Packed Rooms
The only way to stop a robot vacuum from getting stuck between narrow corridors is to make sure it doesn’t go there. You can do that with virtual walls, no-go zones, or set up a barrier with any other object that the machine can’t cross.
In the case of a room crowded with boxes and maybe furniture, you can close it up. And if the packed room is the sitting room, you probably don’t need a robot vacuum at the moment.
- Solution for Dark Rugs/ Floors
Last but not least, you can stop the robot vacuum from getting stuck on dark patches of the floor or carpets in two ways. The first method involves restricting it from going there by setting up barriers, no-go zones, or removing the rug from the floor.
If you need all parts of the floor clean, you can make the robot believe even the black/ dark areas are not cliffs. The idea is to make sure these areas can also send a signal to the infrared cliff detection receiver sensor.
And the first way you can do that is to put scotch tape over each of the infrared cliff detection sensors (usually four in Roomba). If it doesn’t work, tape an extra layer of white paper towel that can reflect the signal to the sensor. ( you may need to put multiple layers of white paper towel to work).
The second way you can solve this issue will be by taking apart your robot and taping together the transmitter and receiver LEDs of the infrared cliff sensor.
Note: either of these two ways will render the cliff detection sensor ineffective when the vacuum encounters real staircases or cliffs. So, only go ahead with it in a single-story house with no steps or ledges.
Whatever it may be the reason, that’s how to stop the vacuum from getting stuck while running on its own.
As promised, the tricks are pretty straightforward and in most of them, you won’t need to purchase anything. But even where you may need to make a purchase, like replacing side wheel tires, it’s still worth it over time.
Otherwise, your robot vacuum will end up damaging other components that may be more expensive to repair/ replace.