Robot vacuums are becoming smarter each day. At the same time, they’re becoming cheaper as well as they turn more advanced. So much so that people are buying robot vacuums for each floor of their houses. That said, if you own a Roomba vacuum or are about to buy one, you must ask yourself, will Roomba fall downstairs?
No, Roomba will not fall down the stairs because it is equipped with cliff sensors. These infrared sensors keep a lookout for nearby drops. When the sensors detect a drop or a climb, they guide the robot in another direction.
So, let’s take a look at how Roomba avoids such obstacles and what else you can do to prevent the robot from falling to its death.
Robot vacuums and cliff sensors
Back in the day, when robot vacuums were not that advanced, it was easy for them to fall down heights and stairs. At the time, they were expensive and relatively less effective and efficient in terms of cleaning.
However, today, robot vacuums such as the Roomba are equipped with cliff sensors. As a result, these robots do not fall down the stairs anymore.
The cliff sensors are installed underneath a Roomba at the front edge. This way, the sensors can detect stairs or steep drops first and prevent the robot from moving forward and getting seriously damaged.
How Roomba’s cliff sensors work
Cliff sensors work by emitting infrared light. The light hits the object or the surface underneath and bounces back immediately. If the sensor does not receive a response, it means that a cliff is approaching. As a result, the robot will stop right there and change its direction.
And another good news is that all Roomba robot vacuums come with Cliff Sensor technology.
Since you wouldn’t want to spend your money replacing a robot each time it falls down the stairs, the manufacturer has made sure that you have mental peace while the robot works its way around the house.
Can robot vacuums climb the stairs?
No, robot vacuums cannot climb stairs, let alone clean them. The reason is that robot vacuums are designed to clean flat surfaces with their tiny wheels.
Recently, Alphabet, a subsidiary of Google’s parent company, developed a two-legged robot capable of climbing the stairs, but its effectiveness at cleaning is still to be determined.
Only time can tell if we can get our hands on a robot that can climb and clean the stairs just like humans do.
Also read: Can Roomba be used on multiple floors?
How to prevent Roomba from falling down the stairs
Although Roomba will keep itself from falling down the stairs, accidents can still occur. We have some tricks up our sleeves to help your robot if it’s struggling with the lighting or coloring of the staircase and has the chance of falling down.
Clean Roomba’s cliff sensors
There is no doubt that infrared sensors are quite clever when it comes to detecting objects and surfaces. However, oil and dirt tend to be their biggest enemy.
Since your robot vacuum will spend most of its life cleaning dirt and other things spilled on the floor, the sensors are bound to get dirty. So, you must clean them on a regular basis.
All you need to do is use a cleaning agent, a microfibre cloth, or a sponge. Make sure you clean the sensors at least once a month or more, depending on the usage.
Avoid placing dark rugs near the stairs
Roomba cliff sensors struggle between dark rugs and cliffs. They simply have a hard time differentiating between the two. The reason is that dark-colored objects or surfaces do not allow the light from the infrared sensors to bounce back.
This usually happens when you place a dark-colored rug close to the stairs, and the robot is not able to tell the difference. As a result, it will think that the rug is an extension of the stairs and will tumble right over the edge. So, it is better to place dark-colored rugs away from the stairs and not close them.
Use Keep-out Zones and iRobot Virtual Walls
Upon purchasing and using your Roomba robot vacuum cleaner for the first time, it will map out your home during its first cleaning run. Once it is done creating a map, you can designate or point out keep-out zones in the app.
The keep-out zones are essentially the areas where you wouldn’t want your Roomba to go. It could be your stairs as well. If you do not want the Roomba to get close to the stairs, simply add it to the keep-out zone.
You can also use the iRobot Virtual Walls to create a virtual barrier or a circular region that the robot cannot enter.
And if all else fails, simply place a physical barrier that will prevent Roomba from getting too close to something that might harm it, such as the stairs.
Also read: Will Roomba avoid dog poop?
Replace broken sensors immediately
There is a chance that your Roomba’s cliff sensors got damaged while cleaning. Your robot vacuum might’ve hit a sharp object during its daily cleaning duty and accidentally damaged its sensors. Therefore, make sure to check the sensors regularly to prevent further accidents.
Installing a tall seam binder
Installing a tall seam binder is an elegant solution to your problem, but there is a catch. Keep in mind that the Roomba is able to handle small bumps and is pretty good at going over them. So, you will need a tall seam binder to stop it in its way.
However, the problem is that a tall seam binder might cause you to trip over and become an obstacle for you, just as it is for the robot itself. Therefore, if you already have tall stairs, installing a tall seam binder will make it nearly impossible to get to the top of them.
An alternative to a seam binder is a carpet transition strip. Both are more or less the same, but the difference is that the strip is easier to install. All you need to do is hammer a few nails into the carpet in front of your staircase, and you have got to go.
This option makes a lot of sense if you have carpets or floors that look different or are of different heights.
Disabling Roomba’s cliff sensors
Disabling Roomba’s cliff sensors is not something we would advise you to do. However, they can be disabled both temporarily and permanently by covering them with white paper. This will give the robot an all-clear signal to proceed.
Roomba users would rarely opt for this, but in some cases, the cliff sensors can be quite annoying, especially for those with lots of dark carpets and rugs. You can disable the sensors but make sure the robot does not get close to the stairs or something that might break it into pieces.
Concluding thoughts on whether Roomba will fall downstairs
And there you have it; you can now have peace of mind knowing that your Roomba is smart enough to recognize the stairs and prevent falling down. Just make sure that you keep the sensors clean and follow other important tips mentioned above to keep it on the safe side.