Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Roomba Redux

 So yesterday Margie asked me about the Roomba.

About two years ago I decided to get a robotic vacuum cleaner. I searched Amazon, and read all the reviews. I bought their recommended model a Deebot. I paid $199 for it.

So here's the thing. You have to really THINK about what you want. I live on one floor. I have linoleum and wall to wall carpeting. I have a cat. I do not have throw rugs with fringe or tassels. I don't have a lot of electrical cords that a robotic vacuum cleaner can get stuck on.

I bought the Deebot and loved it. Thing was, when I got it it would run for about 90 minutes, and it moved around randomly, with no set pattern I could discern. I could set it to run, and it did, and when it ran out of juice it would find it's charging station and that was that. The longer I had it though, the less it ran, until after I'd had it a year it would only run for 45 minutes, and it wasn't enough time to clean the whole house.

There were some nice features, however. It had a "spot clean" which means I could set it on a particularly messy spot and it would go round and round in ever increasing circles until it had cleaned everything that was there, and then it would stop. I could tell it to clean one room. I could tell it to do the edges of a room. It had a remote, and I could run it from an app on my phone. It had a good sized bin, so I didn't really empty it more than once a week.

The Deebot also let me know if the "consumables" (brushes and pickup rollers) needed to be replaced, so I could check at a glance. (The Roomba expects me to know that on my own.) The Deebot also had a hard time finding the charging station when it ran out of juice. It could wander around the house for a half an hour until it "found mommy." (The Roomba knows EXACTLY where to find it, and it's rather amusing to watch it navigate its way around the house to get there.)

But like I said, the Deebot was running less and less, and wouldn't clean the whole house in one pass. I had to build a physical barrier to keep it from getting stuck under the front edge of the dishwasher, and it would get hung up near Millie's litter box, and I had to set another physical barrier to keep it out of my sewing studio (because there was a slight drop down in floor level, and while it could go DOWN, it could not make it back UP without getting stuck, and I didn't want it running in there on its own anyway. These barriers were not good. I and my guests often tripped over them. I'm 65 and I already have osteoporosis. A fall is not what I need.

The Roomba was a lot more expensive, well over $500, and while it won't run more than 45 minutes or so, when it runs out of juice, it goes back to the charging station to get charged up, then it continues the job. It does that as many times as it has to to clean my whole house. (For the record, I have it scheduled to start every day at 9 AM, and I get a text message about noon that it has completed the job. I know it charges twice.) The bin is a bit smaller, so every day after I hang up my coat, I empty the bin. (the Roomba lives next to the coat closet.) No big deal.

The Roomba, however, is a robot at heart. It vacuums in a back and forth motion, going from one end of the room to the other, then shifts to the side, and does it again. So it ABSOLUTELY covers everything. My house always looks good. I trust it so much I don't even bother to clean the food debris off my kitchen counters very thoroughly, I just brush them on the floor. The Roomba will pick it all up. (Yeah, I know.)

At the end of every job, the Roomba sends me a map of the job. Trust me when I tell you, it goes EVERYWHERE. My house is always, divinely clean, and there is always stuff to empty. It really is great.

The Roomba came with a gizmo that is a "virtual barrier." I bought second one. The first prevents it from going into the studio. The second keeps it away from Millie's litter box (like in the picture above.)

Millie's food dishes proved to be a different problem. Having used the two virtual barriers already, I would have had to buy a third (and they are not cheap - about $30 - $45 each) to keep the Roomba from knocking her food bowl over. I had tried putting her food in a tray, but both robots climbed right over the edge, and got stuck. I didn't want to use a barrier anyway, I wanted the Roomba to pick up the dried bits Millie left around.

The solution turned out to be elegantly simple - get something to keep her food dishes higher than the Roomba. Sure I could have bought a lot of useful, cheap, ugly things, but this one was good looking. Millie already has a water fountain that she loves, so I don't need to keep one of these bowls filled with water. She's a messy eater. Every other day or so I clean it off, but the Roomba doesn't spill the food so I'm good with it.

One other thing: I inherited my grandmother's Duncan Phyffe banquet-sized, drop leaf Mahogany dining room table (It opens to almost 12 feet long by almost 48" wide). It has these curved legs. The Deebot would regularly get stuck on one. It was like it was trying to hump it, and of course it would get stuck. At least once a week I'd get home and find it stuck under there. The Roomba never gets stuck that way.

I have cord covers for electrical cords that have to lie on the floor for some distance before they get to an outlet, but that was an easy fix. I use my laptop on my dining room table, and the cord lies on the floor. So instead of leaving it on the table when I am gone, I move it to the kitchen counter, and loop the extra cable around it, so the cord isn't resting on the floor. This way the Roomba doesn't catch the cord and pull it down.

I put the DeeBot in the studio. When I am ready for a good clean in there, I make sure nothing is on the design wall (because it would blow the stuff off) and pick up the cords and all the large scraps of fabric that might be on the floor. Then I turn it on and let it go to work. Works fine.

Millie is no longer afraid of either one. She will NOT sit on it, and gives them the evil eye when they go past her, but they can't get into her napping spots, so she's happy.

I'm amazed at the stuff they pick up. Pins, push pins, stray needles, fabric scraps, buttons, onion skins, peppercorns, cat hair, along with all the other dust and stuff. No they are not good at getting anything sticky or wet, and if I find a dried up hairball stuck to the carpet, it's me that's got to get it loose so the vacuum will pick up the debris, but seriously, that isn't often.

Like I said the first two times, I don't know why everybody DOESN'T have these. My house always looks good, and I am not stuck doing the work.

So if you're interested, figure out what you need and do your research. I've included the links to my original posts about each device below. Please also read the comments on each.

Here's my original post about the "Real Roomba".

Here's the original post about the DeeBot.


Poppy Q said...

My little home is small so it only takes a whizz round with the vacumn 2x a week. In fact you have inspired me to take it out tonight and clean up. The roomba sounds great, although I wonder how long it will last too.

Quiltdivajulie said...

We have multiple Roomba units - one for the upstairs (including my studios), one for the master bedroom/bathroom that can be run with the app on DH's phone, and the original unit that covers the rest of the downstairs. Using them has made such a difference! (great post BTW)

marge jansonius said...

Thank you for your quick response to my query. We recently removed all our wall to wall carpet with vinyl planking and I am finding dust balls all over the place, I guess the carpet hid a lot. We will definitely be checking into a robotic vacuum soon. Your information noted things we hadn’t thought of and appreciate the thoughts. Lots to consider.
Thanks again, Marge

owlfan said...

I had an early Roomba and I liked the concept, but i found it didn’t do a good job getting under the table around the chairs. I felt like I spent as much time prepping the room for the Roomba as it would have to do it myself. Then I had to be around because it would get itself stuck or hung up somewhere. Maybe they are better now, but I don’t see how it’s going to get around under the table well.

O'Quilts said... mind cannot even wrap itself around this!!! Good for you xo