My Roomba--a clean shop's best friend

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Forum topic by Adam D posted 03-06-2012 04:02 AM 3694 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Adam D

103 posts in 2514 days

03-06-2012 04:02 AM

Topic tags/keywords: roomba cleaning sweeping vacuum dust collection

I wanted to take a few minutes to tell you guys my Roomba story. It started quite a few years ago when I bought one on for a birthday present for my older brother. He had it for a few months and liked it, but one day came home and found it gnawing away at a lamp cord. ...this coupled with the fact that he watched our neighbors house burn down when he was a kid resulted in him giving it back to me :-/

So I tried it—I used it in my college apartment for a few years. Owning it put me in a different mindset in that I need to keep stuff off the floor. This includes wires, clothes, shoelaces, etc. I don’t consider this a negative—the house stays cleaner as a result. If I start to notice the carpet getting dirty, I don’t need to stop what I’m doing and vacuum—I can just hit a button and move on. If I want to keep it in just the living room, I turn on my “virtual walls” to keep it confined to just that room.

And then it broke. Time and time again, it broke. It would start spinning in circles, or moving backwards, or only run for 10 minutes, or countless other things. The first few times, I took it apart, vacuumed it, took some canned air to the sensors, contact cleaner to everything else, etc. I bought TWO “broken” spares off craigslist for $20. This gave me enough parts to last a lifetime. ...but I’d have to take it apart like, once a month! Forget that!

Any time it breaks now, I don’t take it apart. Almost all the problems you have with a Roomba can be resolved with the air compressor. Make sure you’re outside! Just spray it all over and watch the dust fly. This works great to clean out all the sensors (many are optical) and you’ll be good as new. The only exception is battery life—They usually only last about 1.5 years for me, and that’s with Roomba brand batteries. A new battery will run for about 2 hours before it quits, and slowly reduces down to an unusable 20 minutes over the course of its life. Save yourself the cash and get the knockoffs.

Eventually, I upgraded and bought a newer 500 series “for my roommate” ;-) for his birthday. The major difference is that it has “rug detection”—if it detects that its beaters stopped spinning (because it sucked up a rug or shoelace or whatever) it will spin backwards and try to get un-stuck. Works great.

This left the older 400 series for my woodshop. I couldn’t imagine cleaning my shop without it. I need to pick up all the big shavings/chips before I start it (it WILL choke on some pieces), but for the rest of the dust, it does a remarkable job. No, it doesn’t get EVERYTHING on EVERY run, but it does get it all eventually. It fits nicely under all of my tools—even my delta TS. I’m more apt to keep a clean shop if all I have to do is press a button.

Also, while I haven’t used the Roomba “Dirt Dog” that’s meant for shops, I’ve got my reservations. It gives you more “cargo space” (for lack of a better word) at the cost of the vacuum portion of it (it only has bristles—no vacuum). I never FILL my regular one. Also, it still doesn’t solve the choking issue—anyone who buys that thing thinking it’ll handle their shop debris will be red-faced when they see it choke on a single joining biscuit. I’d rather buy a 500 series than a dirt-dog, just for the rug detection so it’ll spit out the biscuit and move on.

If you’re on the edge, find a “broken” one on craigslist or ebay, buy a new battery for it ($30), take the air hose to it, and thank me when you’re done. If you’ve got the extra cash, the 500 series will give itself CPR if it chokes ;-)

-- Adam, Rochester NY

14 replies so far

View David Grimes's profile

David Grimes

2078 posts in 2880 days

#1 posted 03-06-2012 04:14 AM

Cool. My shop needs a 3 axis (climbing) version. ;=)

-- If you're going to stir the pot, think BIG spoon or SMALL boat paddle. David Grimes, Georgia

View Adam D's profile

Adam D

103 posts in 2514 days

#2 posted 03-06-2012 04:15 AM


-- Adam, Rochester NY

View KMT's profile


603 posts in 2902 days

#3 posted 03-06-2012 04:47 AM

Yep, I’ve got a 500 pet series for in the house. Its pretty good. They take a fair amount of maintenance but overall we like it. I did have it in the shop one afternoon until the wife walked in. 8() Not allowed any more :(

-- - Martin

View joey bealis's profile

joey bealis

177 posts in 2746 days

#4 posted 03-06-2012 12:45 PM

I was able to get one awhile back. It is called my children and allowances. I will however have to look at them in the future for when I kick out my kids.


View Adam D's profile

Adam D

103 posts in 2514 days

#5 posted 03-06-2012 12:54 PM

I’ll bet my compressed air trick would work on them though, too, if they stop working. “I thought I told you to clean up?” PSSSSSTTTTTT xD

-- Adam, Rochester NY

View Bertha's profile


13551 posts in 2933 days

#6 posted 03-06-2012 01:11 PM

Brilliant. I never dreamed they would do the job.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View Martyroc's profile


2712 posts in 2546 days

#7 posted 03-06-2012 01:17 PM

I’m sold, I will try it for myself and let you know how it works for me.

-- Martin ....always count the number of fingers you have before, and after using the saw.

View NBeener's profile


4816 posts in 3414 days

#8 posted 03-06-2012 02:28 PM

I use a broom-ba ;-)

-- -- Neil

View poopiekat's profile


4408 posts in 3974 days

#9 posted 03-06-2012 03:20 PM

I never would have thought of using a Roomba in the workshop! Great idea!

-- Einstein: "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." I'm Poopiekat!!

View Mainiac Matt 's profile (online now)

Mainiac Matt

8621 posts in 2568 days

#10 posted 03-06-2012 04:33 PM

I want one… just to torment the cats.

But after my dog ate a frisbee last week, I’m afraid he’d eat the Roomba

-- I yam what I yam and that's all what I yam

View Cliff De Witt 's profile

Cliff De Witt

130 posts in 2932 days

#11 posted 03-07-2012 11:05 PM

I have a dirt dog and have had no problems with it at all.

When they discontinued them we got three two for the hard wood floors in the house and I grabbed one for the shop. My stance is just the opposite of yours I am not sure if I would want the vacuum in the shop.

Oh well.

-- Trying to find an answer to my son’s question: “…and forming organic cellulose by spinning it on its axis is interesting, why?”

View Adam D's profile

Adam D

103 posts in 2514 days

#12 posted 04-18-2012 04:15 PM

I took a before and after pic of my floor with nothing other than a push of a button:

-- Adam, Rochester NY

View NBeener's profile


4816 posts in 3414 days

#13 posted 04-18-2012 04:18 PM

Uh … Adam ??

If you’re looking for all the dirt … I believe it’s now on MY shop floor ;-)

-- -- Neil

View chrisstef's profile (online now)


17800 posts in 3246 days

#14 posted 04-18-2012 05:55 PM

Ive got 2 Roombas myself and ive had some problems with em so im definately gonna try blowing it out with compressed air. Currently mine just inches backwards, spins a few times, then quits. I have the Dirt Dog one … which ive dubbed as the “Junkyard Dog” or JYD, who also is my favorite old school wrestler (No offense to Superfly Jimmy Snuka).

Ive gotta say that these things work … ive got a yellow lab who spreads her fur all over creation and its gets the most of it. Its not real keen on some thicker area rugs weve got in the house but ill take it. If i can get JYD back up n running ill let him take a rip around the shop anytime.

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

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