What Happens If The Roomba Can’t Find A Home Base?

Roombas are a great innovation to make life easy such that with the push of a button, or a few phone commands, you can get your house cleaned every day. The typical Roomba is to be smart enough to navigate rooms and even return to their home base or charging station on their own. However, this only happens when everything goes according to plan. Well, since technologies may not always work as intended all the time, it can happen that the Roomba isn’t finding its home base. When this happens, your Roomba cannot dock or recharge.

What happens if the Roomba can’t find a home base? How do I get my Roomba back to the dock? How does Roomba know where the home base is? How long does it take Roomba to find a home base? Where is the best place to put my Roomba dock? Why does Roomba take forever to dock? How to send Roomba home without an app? This article will answer these and other popular questions you may have about the Roomba.

How do I get my Roomba back to the dock?

Roomba 800 series

After the Roomba goes to different rooms for a cleaning tour in one cycle, it’s supposed to trace its way back to dock at the home base, having completed its mission. You need to keep in mind that it can sometimes happen that the Roomba doesn’t go back to the dock, especially if the robot vacuum cleaner hasn’t been cleaned frequently or adequately enough.

The reason for this may be a navigation problem. You can manually send the Roomba back to dock from the device itself or the app. But if you have attempted and it’s not working, check for any wire or obstacle that may be on its path to the charging station.

Here are some other tips that can help if the Roomba is not going back to dock:

Look through the charger line cable:

Check for any potential damage that can be restricting the contact from the charging base.

Ensure the charger is properly plugged into the wall socket:

Check and ensure you see the power indicator displays a solid green light.

Ensure the charger is in rightly:

If you see that the charger with the home base is not inserted correctly, put it in rightly. Before the device shuts off for energy efficiency, the power indicator turns on for about four seconds.

Check for virtual walls:

Virtual Wall Barrier

Typically, to avoid infrared beams hindrance keeping the device from the charging base, ensure that the unit’s virtual wall lighthouse stays within 2.4 meters or 8ft. from the home base.

Set up your station in an open area:

You can also set up the charging base in an open area to see if the Roomba can reach it.

Look out for obstructions:

Inspect the cleaning area for exotic objects that can be obstructing the bumper. Check the caster wheels and for obstructions on the docking station too.

Clean the charging contacts:

With a dry cloth, wipe the debris off the Roomba filter. Clean the home base’s charging contacts too.

Reduce the distance:

Put the Roomba within 6ft. of the home base, hit the dock button, and watch for it to return to base.

There are cases where the Roomba can leave the virtual wall for the cleaning cycle. In this situation, you need to activate the virtual wall with the beam facing the direct path of the approach from the robotic cleaner.

How does Roomba know where the home base is?

Roombas are most efficient when they work without intervention. They use visual simultaneous location and mapping or VSLAM to create a working pattern. The robot vacuum cleaner has an optical system that allows it to map out your home and every room within its reach by identifying various landmarks on the ceiling and judging distances between walls.

Although to ensure you, Roomba has unrestricted access to their home base. You need to ensure your home is free of clutters like wires or random things in the middle of the floor. This clutter is a common reason for your robotic clean to lose its ability to clean your home properly and navigate its way home.

The Roomba should dock by itself after cleaning or when it runs low or battery. But you can also manually tell it to go back to back when you press the home button on the device or in the irobot home app. For the Roomba to find its way home, it has to search for infrared signals from the base. The emitted signal directs the robotic vacuum to avoid the virtual wall until it reaches the home base and charges.

How long does it take Roomba to find a home base?

Roombas run for different times based on the size of the room it operates in. Sometimes it can run between 40 minutes and one hour. The device begins to clean after judging the room size and circling in outward spirals. While your Roomba is doing this, ensure you keep unnecessary obstacles away from its path until the Roomba is done with the spiral routine, or it may judge the room as small and reduce its calculated cleaning time.

When the Roomba has difficulties with docking in time, you may run some experiments to check its operational reliability. Some tips help includes the following:

Place the base station in the middle of its cleaning area:

When the Roomba cannot locate its charging base, the Roomba would wander and keep cleaning until it reaches a certain battery level, then it starts searching for a beacon on the charging base. The Roomba would only attempt to dock when it finds the station. You can set up your charging base somewhere in the middle of the home where it cleans. This way, your Roomba has a better chance of wandering towards it in lesser time when it’s attempting to dock.

Set the station at a wide-angle:

For the home base to be visible to the Roomba to spend less time wandering, it’s better to set it up at a wide angle. Avoid tucking the charging base behind the furniture where the Roomba cannot have clear access across the room.

Look out for reflective surfaces:

Even though you cannot see or sense the infrared light on the home base, the program of the Roomba unit is to find it. Sometimes shiny surfaces or visible light can reflect the infrared off and cause the Roomba to be confused. It will find it difficult to tell the difference between the reflection of the beacon off a reflective surface and the actual beacon.

Wrap up smooth surfaces

The surface may not even be shiny, but it can still reflect the beacon. Once you notice your Roomba cleaning for about 45 minutes and changing behavior, it may be having problems with a reflected beacon. It may be heading to the docking station, then veer off, and start circling, or staying close to base without docking.

It’s best to keep the base station at least three feet tables with smooth-surfaced legs or plastic items that can reflect the beam. If you must have these items around, it’s best to wrap the bottom six inches of the reflective surface with a piece of brown corrugated cardboard.

Where is the best place to put my Roomba dock?

Roomba dies before docking

The placement of your Roomba dock has a lot of influence on whether it can find its way to the home base or not. Of course, you can put your docking station anywhere, but these are a few guidelines you should follow to ensure it doesn’t have any docking issues:

Give enough surrounding space:

Ensure there are no barriers such that your Roomba is not hindered on its way home. Well, since we will most likely place the docking station against a wall, leave as much as 1.5 or 2ft. of space on the sides. In the front, leaving about 4ft. Also, be sure you have no furniture standing as a barrier to the dock.

Keep on flat surfaces:

Let the place you set up your docking station be an even ground. The Roomba will have trouble finding the dock on an uneven surface. It will push the home base around or clean diagonally, at an angle following the balance of the home base.

Place it far from the stairs:

The best place to keep your Roomba is at least 4ft. away from stairs or other drop-off points.

Why Roomba takes forever to go home?

Roombas are meant to map out your entire house, navigate their way around, clean your home, and return to charge in the home base without external assistance. However, your Roomba may take too long to go back home.

These are some reasons why Roomba takes forever to go home:

The Home base is not rightly placed

Since the Roomba needs to navigate complex ways or obstacles before getting home, it may take too much time. You should check the caster wheels and ensure the Roomba’s way home is an obstacle-free and clear path. Keep the home base away from stairs, mirrors, or devices that emit infra-red rays.

Software Problems

The reason your Roomba is taking forever to return to the home base can be an issue with the device. Anything in the environment can cause this. After you have checked everything and the situation is the same, you can take it to the service center or the store where you bought it.

Connection issues

Check all the wires, especially the one connecting the home base to the power outlet, to ensure no damages. Plug the charger in and be sure this isn’t the reason for the delay. Clean the charging contacts.

Another nearby home base

If there is more than one Roomba in your home, make sure the home bases are far from each other or in different rooms. A nearby home base can get the Roomba confused about its home and wander around, even to other rooms.

Dirt or sticker on the home base

A layer of dust, paint, or finger smudge on the home base can make it difficult for the Roomba to sense the signal and navigate its way home.

How to send Roomba home without the app?

The Roomba follows a cleaning cycle. When this cycle is over or the battery is low, the Roomba should return to the home base, dock itself, and start charging. If the cleaning cycle is not yet over or the battery is not low, you can send it home manually. Usually, you can do this with the irobot home app. However, to send the Roomba home without the app, you can follow the steps below.

Step 1:

Ensure the home base is plugged in rightly. Without this, your Roomba will keep roaming and be unable to dock.

Step 2:

Move the Roomba to at least four or five feet from the home base.

Step 3:

Simultaneously, click the “spot” and “clean” buttons on the Roomba. This will cause the Roomba to travel into its home base and dock.

Also, interrupting your Roomba while it’s cleaning can disrupt the navigation and cause it to take a longer time to get home. If you have interrupted the working cycle or picked up your Roomba, you can either use your phone or set it near the home base and click the home button to send it home.


If you are wondering what happens if Roomba can’t find a home base, the Roomba may be running out of battery, or something is preventing the path of the Roomba to its dock. Another possible reason is that someone may have moved to the Roomba while away from the dock cleaning. This can throw the Roomba off its registered mapping and location of the home base or dock station.

This article has given a few ways to solve this problem. However, after carrying out the above troubleshooting methods and you still believe there is something wrong with your Roomba, you should contact support for further assistance.