Roomba Vacuum -- Pros and Cons
I'm the type of person who likes to look for ways to make life a little bit easier. Finding a more efficient way of doing something and the convenience of me not actually having to do something, is precisely the reason for me investing in an iRobot Roomba vacuum. I have a rather large, open kitchen and dining area. I also have a large dog who sheds, a lot. Because the summer months around here can be rather brutal, my dog sheds even more. He also likes to camp out on the kitchen floor during the hottest time of day, leaving a trail of little hairs in his wake. Then, when the A/C kicks on, hair flies around and gathers along walls, under the table and it makes my kitchen floor always look dirty.
I'm not the kind of girl who grabs a broom and sings a little song while dancing around the room as I clean. No. Brooms are dirty, and they just fling the dust and hair into the air, no matter how gingerly you try to sweep. That means, I'm just going to have to clean that area again as soon as it settles. Nope, I'm more of a vacuum kind of girl, suck it up and be done. But, I've found over the years, that vacuuming my kitchen and dining area is a rather bothersome task. For one, it's a big room! And it doesn't matter if I have the brush roller turned off on my vacuum, the fan on the side of my vacuum emits enough air from its side vent that the dog hair still goes flying around the room, only to settle once again onto the floor.
So when I had the chance, and the money, to buy a Roomba vacuum, I jumped on it! I purchased the 760 model, which, at the time was one of the top models available for residential use, and I was ready to put that sucker to the test with my dog hair problem. I waited like a giddy little kid for the UPS truck to show up at my front door.
When it arrived, I read the information packet that came in the box, charged it up and then put it to work. It came with two virtual walls, to keep it corralled in whichever room of the house I wanted to use it in. This was very handy, since I have two kids who don't always pick up things like headphones with those lovely long thin cords.
I watched it like a hawk. It's movements were entertaining and fascinating! Within an hour, my kitchen/dining area was dirt and dog hair free, and I didn't have to lift a finger! I loved it!
Cut to almost two years later. My love for the Roomba is still there, but has dwindled significantly. It's still a wonderful little machine, however, my particular model came with a remote that never worked. I didn't discover this until I'd already had the machine for about three months. I contacted customer support and they gave me a list of things to try, and yes, the first one was, "does the remote have batteries in it, and are they working batteries?". Okay, I tried not to take that too personally. After following all of the tips they gave me, the remote still never worked. Their solution, send it back to them and they'd send a new one. Now, I'd had the machine for three months, and the only reason I was even touching the remote, was because I finally remembered it actually came with a remote. I didn't need to use it, I was just going to try it out. So, no, going through that hassle for a new remote was not going to happen.
They suggest cleaning the brushes of the Roomba on a regular basis. This is a good thing to keep in mind, because if there is ANY kind of build-up of pet hair on the brush, and it goes across a rug or the edge of a carpet, it leaves a trail of balled up hair. I clean mine all the time. At least that's what it feels like. I don't know if it's just the type of hair my dog has, or what, but it gets stuck in all of the cracks and crevices of that machine! Every time I clean it, I take it all apart; brushes off, backing off, even the wheel housing has to be cleaned out. Within a week, I'm back to picking up little hair balls on my runners.
Then, about a month ago, I noticed that my Roomba was no longer staying within the confines of the kitchen. So, the first thing I did was replace the batteries in the virtual wall. Nope, that didn't work. I have two virtual walls, but only use one at a time, so I grabbed the other one and set up. Nope, that one didn't work either. It was like watching a little kid who is supposed to keep away from a campfire, but keeps running right for it as soon as you let go of their little hand. It was frustrating! This meant that I had to either find a way to block off the entrance to the family room, or I'd have to sit and watch the dang thing to make sure it didn't escape. Well, since the doorway is too wide for any of the child gates I still had, two of my kitchen chairs laid on their sides became my new walls every morning.
Due to this little issue, I contacted customer support. While I was waiting for them to respond, I realized that three days that week I had found my Roomba in the middle of the kitchen floor, just sitting there. Not in its docking station, charging like it should've been. Weird.
When I finally heard back from customer support they had me do the same little tricks they suggested two years ago for the non-functioning remote. This didn't work, my Roomba still blew right past the virtual walls and I, once again, was using my kitchen chairs to block off that doorway. So, when I emailed back, letting them know that their tips did not produce the outcome we were both hoping for, I mentioned that my machine was now not docking at all. Their response was the one I was dreading. My Roomba's little optic sensor, the little eye that sees the beam of light put out by the virtual walls telling it to turn around, and the one within the docking station that guides it back home to charge, was dead. Yep, in just under two years, my Roomba was blind. Their suggestion; buy a new Roomba.
Now, I don't know if you've priced a Roomba, but I'm guessing if you're looking online for someone else's experience and opinion on if a Roomba is worth the price, I bet you have. They're not cheap! It took me quite a while to save up for that little beast. Replacing it isn't really an option at the moment.
So, would I buy another Roomba, knowing that I could potentially be facing the same outcome in less than two years? I'm not so sure. It is handy, and it does make keeping my kitchen floor clean so much easier, but I'm not convinced that the cost of the machine, not to mention me having to remember to block the doorway and track it down to place it back on the docking station to charge are worth it. It's kind of gone from a convenience to a burden.