Thursday, October 28, 2010

Alas, poor Roomba

In November 2007, Steve and I purchased a Roomba robot vacuum cleaner. In our household, it is probably the most-used domestic appliance after the kettle and the microwave. Certainly it gets used much more frequently than any of my traditional vacuum cleaners ever have (even pre-disability - I was never a great housekeeper), the happy result being that when I hit the deck I am able to just relax until I'm able to stand up, rather than lying there trying not to breathe too deeply for fear of inhaling several months' accumulation of crumbs and dirt. It's that independence thing again. If I think the carpets are too filthy to lie around on, I can just push the button and clean them rather than having to beg and pester and nag and cajole and use up favours to get someone else to do it.

Our Roomba is now very nearly three years old. And he is starting to feel the strain. He was absolutely fine until about a month ago, then one day he worked for about ten seconds and then stopped and sang his sad little song of woe. Slightly concerned, I dismantled his user-serviceable parts (oo-er) and extracted several handfuls of fluff from mechanism areas where fluff should not be. One charge cycle later, and he was fighting fit again.

A week later the same thing happened. This time Steve dismantled him rather more thoroughly and removed another handful of fluff from hard-to-reach areas. One charge cycle later, and he was cleaning the hallway with a smile. On his little non-existent face. You know what I mean.

Now we're at the stage where every time we want him to clean, he runs for anything up to a minute before stopping. Then he sings the sad little song of woe and flashes his little red light, then we reset the battery and mess about with the charger and then he cleans one room, gets back on his charging base, but still sings the little song of woe the next time we try to use him.

I fear he is on his last legs. Wheels. Whatever. He's not quite ready for that great WEEE recycling plant in the sky, but (shhh) if he was claiming DLA it would probably be under the Special Rules.

Amazingly, a Roomba 560 (same model) seems to be currently £300 in the UK (or would be if it was in stock). That's particularly upsetting as we only paid £250 for this one when we bought it three years ago! I say 'only', I mean relatively...

If anyone happens to have any bright ideas, I'm open to suggestions. My instinct says to replace the battery, but a new battery is about £60 which is rather too much for something that may or may not solve the problem. So it looks like we'll be pleading and coaxing him into occasional functionality until after the wedding and putting "new Roomba" at the top of the registry.


evilstevie said...

I think now's an ideal time to convert him to a car battery. Also he needs an arm. For... tidying. Yes.
Not too sure his chassis will take a full-sized car battery, but a scooter battery should be sufficient for a couple of rooms at a push I'd hope.
(I take it he pooped himself after the other day again)

Carie @ Space for the Butterflies said...

I'd contact the manufacturer or uk distributor. 3 years is a bit short for a life expectancy ev en with regular use and don't let them fob you off if the warranty has expired. If it isnt fit for purpose then you have 6 years from date of purchase during which they are liable.

Mary said...

Ooh, that's interesting to know, thanks. I'd kind of assumed that since the 12-month warranty was up quite a long time ago, a call to customer services would just result in me being laughed off the phone.

Consensus on Twitter seems to be that it's most likely a battery issue. I still have all the paperwork so I will have to dig it out - I know that the brushes and filters are listed as "perishable" components that an owner should expect to replace several times during the lifetime of the product, I can't remember off the top of my head whether the battery was on that list.

evilstevie said...

Bloop's new battery arrived this morning. Next step is fitting it in and getting him charged up...

Mary said...

It was the battery. He's working again in smiley fashion.

I'm sorry evilstevie. I know you were so hopeful about modifying him for... tidying.

Katie said...

Oh no!

I've been offline so only just seen this.

Sad to hear of Roomba's serious illness; happy to hear he's on the waiting list for surgery.

I'll pray for him... (Well, I'm an atheist, so I won't, but...)

Noisey said...

I'm having a blog catching up session and I'm very glad that Roomba is back to fighting fit form:)
Odd loud is he? Is he as loud as a normal vacuum cleaner?

Mary said...

He's not as loud as a normal vacuum cleaner but that may be because he's not as powerful. Cleaning with a Roomba is on a little-and-often basis.

If I don't have a headache, then I can happily sit in a room with him trundling around.

If he's downstairs and I'm upstairs, I can't hear him.

If he's upstairs and I'm downstairs, then I can hear him, but mostly because of the rattle and clunk of loose floorboards.

Noisey said...

That is very useful to know, thankyou :)