When a robot vacuum like the Roomba from iRobot is working effectively, it’s an incredibly convenient little piece of technology that lets you keep your home clean without even having to think about it. When there’s something going wrong, though, like the Roomba’s red light flashing while it’s charging, it can be frustrating to figure out how to fix it.
The good news is, this is a relatively simple problem to diagnose and fix if you know how to go about it. The iRobot help site isn’t always the best at telling you what you need to do to fix problems, we scoured the web for experts to tell us exactly what to do in this annoying situation.
You may not have paid much attention to the Roomba while it was charging successfully, so when something goes wrong you might not be completely sure what it’s supposed to look like when it’s working right.
There are subtle differences in the design of the Roomba and the Home Base charging station between different models. Make sure you’re looking for the right indications for your model when you’re trying to assess where any problems are coming from.
First, look at the home base. When you first plug it in, the power light should blink green every few seconds. After that, it may keep blinking or it may stop, depending on the model. If you’re not sure that the home base is working, just unplug it and plug it back in, then look for that blinking light. Different models will also display differently while the Roomba is charging. On some, the indicator light will stay illuminated a solid green throughout the charge cycle; on others, it will turn off after a few seconds to save energy.
On 500- and 600-series Roombas, the “Clean” light should pulse yellow during the charging cycle. Like with the home bases, it may pulse for the entire cycle, or may turn off after about a minute. These Roombas also have a special heavy-duty charge cycle they go into when they sense the battery has been completely discharged. If it goes into this “refresh” cycle, you’ll see the “Clean” light quickly flashing both red and yellow.
You can interpret the indicators basically the same way on a 700- or 800-series Roomba, with one significant difference. When the vacuum is in refresh charge mode it will only flash yellow, not red. The 800- and 900-series also gives you indicator icons that will flash to give you more information about your vacuum’s status. The battery icon flashes yellow when it’s charging, and flashes red when there’s a charging issues.
It depends on what series of Roomba you own. If you have a 500- or 600-series Roomba, check to see if the yellow light is also flashing. If so, the red light isn’t an issue; it just means the Roomba’s battery was very low and is going through a more intensive charging cycle. This cycle will last longer than the usual charge. Leave it be for a few hours; it should be ready to go once the cycle’s finished.
If you have a higher-series Roomba, a blinking red light is a sign of a problem. The number of times that the battery indicator flashes will tell you exactly where the issue is taking place, which can make it a lot easier to diagnose and fix the problem. iRobot has a chart on their support site that explains this system in detail.
Roombas will also flash red if the battery is too low when you try to start a cleaning cycle. If it’s doing this while it’s sitting on the charger, it may not be recognizing the charger for some reason. Make sure the Home Base is plugged in and powered and that the Roomba is successfully locking into place on it. If it won’t lock in, double-check the base of the Roomba and its port on the Home Base to make sure there aren’t any obstructions in the way before pursuing repairs.
It’s relatively easy to check whether or not your Roomba is holding a charge. Most Roombas will need about two hours on the Home Base to reach their full capacity. Leave the Roomba on its base, then come back and try to use the vacuum. If it still gives you low or dead battery warnings, it’s time to move on to troubleshooting.
There are a few possible reasons why your Roomba isn’t holding a charge:
If the red light is flashing on your Roomba, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have a problem. Double-check what the different indicator lights mean on your particular model then move on from there. Hopefully this little guide is helpful in getting your Roomba back in working order!