Cleaning a 1st or 2nd Generation Roomba





Introduction: Cleaning a 1st or 2nd Generation Roomba

About: Engineer making renewable energy products for African entrepreneurs.

A clean robot is a happy robot!

Step 1: Background

Dust and debris are big problems for our automated friends. Auto does not mean maintenance free my friends. This particular robot was rescued - off to the landfill it was. It's last owners abused this robot, we almost called Children and Robot Protective Services to make sure no other robots were in the house.

Naturally, the first thing I discovered was the robot's diagnostic mode... this was before I knew such a mode existed. Here's information on Diagnostic Mode for the older generation. Pay close attention to over current warnings as these will cause damage in the long run.

Below you'll see the classic Roomba spiral footprint on my ugly apartment carpet.

iRobot recommends cleaning every 2-3 cycles (the original manual says 5-10 cycles I think). Die hard Roomba owners clean their brushes every use. Not to worry though, it takes a few minutes - much less time than vacuuming would. Cleaning keeps everything running more efficiently, cooler and thus allows a longer robot life.

Step 2: Begin Cleaning

Remove your particle bin. Grasp the small clip, squeeze and pull. Empty if necessary (don't forget the filter) and set aside.

Now, flip your Roomba on its backside.

Step 3: Remove the Vacuum Service Cover

Using your finger - pry at the notch at the back of the robot. The cover should pop off.

Remove any dust inside and set the cover aside.

Notice the interesting eddy patterns caused by the spinning motor and dust slowly clogging from one side.

Step 4: Remove Brush Grille

At the back of the grille you should notice two tabs. Starting with either one, press in on the tab and pop that section of the grille out. Repeat on the second side. It may take some pushing to get it out - but with practice it will become second nature.

Now remove the top middle section and then press in on the sides to remove the left and right section.

The grille should now be out. Clean as necessary and set aside.

Step 5: Remove Cleaning Brushes and Bearing Carrier

On the right side of the brushes you should see a small screw. Carefully unscrew - there's a ring behind it to prevent it from coming out - so unscrew until it stops backing out.

Now, gently pull up the the bearing carrier. The brushes should come up with it. Lift it out of the robot and pull to the right to remove the brushes from the driven side of the robot.

Step 6: Cleaning the Brushes Et. Al.

Originally, the Roomba came with a brush comb. I don't have said comb, but I do have some digits that can do wonders. So, go ahead and use your fingers to pull out any caught hair, fuzz, etc. Once done, I rinsed my brushes under cold water and then dried.

Now remove any tangled bits around the brass bearings and clean off any dirt/debris that may be inside the carrier. Do the same for the driven side of the robot (see picture).

This is also a good time to remove anything that may be caught in the spinning whip brush. This can be removed for cleaning, but I'm not going to do so often because the screw strip easily.

Step 7: Cleaning House

Now, using a moist paper towel or sponge, clean off any dust and small particles. Get in all the nooks and hiding places.

When done, take a peek inside through the particle bin hole. If you see any fuzz or anything, pull it out. Having a toothpick handy helps.

You may also want to peel back the wheel treads and looks for anything hiding in there.

Finally, I used a canned air duster. I sprayed into the particle bin gap under the brush housing etc. The idea is to push everything out the leading edge of the cleaning portion of the robot. Be careful, because this can cause more damage than good - especially if large clumps of dust attach themselves to the motors (which may cause overheating).

Step 8: Front Wheel and Lubrication and Reassembly

Using a razor blade or similar tool, cut out any hair or other debris in the front wheel. It should turn freely.

The mfr says nothing about oiling. But Volkswagen also says my gearbox is oiled for life (oil testing proves otherwise). We're going to oil some friction components with a mineral oil - like sewing machine oil.

Apply some oil the the bearings and bearing carrier. Where moving parts come near stationary parts. Apply a drop around the whip brush. Apply a drop or two into the front wheel. Apply wherever you think it is necessary. Just don't apply too much that it will damage your floors :P

When done, reassemble reverse of assembly. If you had any over current warnings before - check again. A good cleaning typically resolves that problem.



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    how good exactly are these roombas? I figured they were just a gimmick when they first came out.

    1 reply

    The new ones are better (I'm told quieter too) but.... Don't think of it as a deep cleaning vacuum - it's not. Think of it more like a "dust buster" vacuum of sorts. So, give it a mess and one chance - you'll hate it, but that's not what it's for. If you start off with a good vacuum with a traditional vacuum, then send the roomba off every day, or every other day (even every three days depending on traffic), and it will work wonders :D Just be sure to clean it semi frequently (which only takes a few minutes). It's the sort of thing that once you get used to it, you wonder why you didn't start earlier (or how you lived without it :p).

    I get roomba parts from the iRobot store. Is the ebay site cheaper? New wheels at iRobot are less than $10 (plus shipping). jj

    Very useful! We have to do this after every run, but then we probably don't vacuum frequently enough and I've got long hair.

    3 replies

    Apparently they have one's that you can schedule now :P Crazy stuff :P

    Yes, but you have to clean up before letting Roomba run! We don't live in such a state on a regular basis.

    We don't live in such a state on a regular basis.

    You'd feel right at home here then :P Part of my reasoning for keeping the thing is to maintain some form of neatness.... Company likes neatness - never mind the creative chaos I thrive in :P

    Mister master of Roomba knowledge, you wouldn't just so happen to know where to get spare Roomba wheels would you? But of the ones on mine ripped and now it doesn't move at all. That the only reason why I stopped using mine.

    1 reply

    Haha, I'm no master ;) I've had the thing less than a week - long enough to find it's weak points and relish how great it can be. Like a dishwasher or cloths washing machine, one of those things that some people really don't want to live without :P

    I would contact "RECON_SUPPLY_STORE" over on the Roomba Review's Forum. S/he has an eBay store and sells genuine Roomba replacement parts :)

    Alternatively, you could probably use stick on rubber feet as long as they are short enough :P

    To be honest, It was luck finding it... It didn't come with the virtual wall though... Nothing a 2x4 won't fix :P