I picked up a Roomba I7 last year with the automatic emptying Clean Base, and have very much enjoyed having it take care of some light vacuuming regularly to take care of the house. In general it has worked very well, and I’ve appreciated the automation, but recently there have more frequently been errors where the Roomba will go back to the base after cleaning, but it won’t automatically empty.
iRobot’s support article about this issue recommend cleaning the base, cleaning the front of the Roomba, taking the Roomba away from the base and manually sending it home, and finally rebooting the base and the Roomba. Unfortunately none of the above reliably fixed the issue for me.
I found the article from iRobot about re-attaching the front bumper if it gets dislodged, and thought it would give me a good idea on detaching the front bumper. From there I could get a better look at the sensors and see if I could find what the problem was.
I’ll note that this may void the warranty. I’m not entirely sure where the line is, as a fair portion of this is following the instructions iRobot provides, but here’s your fair warning.
First is removing the edge brush, and then the 5 screws holding on the bottom cover.
Then the bottom cover pops right off without any trouble. Now that the cover is off, we can unfasten the 10 screws holding on the bottom lip of the front bumper. You can also remove the battery if you prefer. I did. Just note that if you remove the battery, the Roomba will not wake up on it’s own, you’ll need to put it on the charging base for it to start up again.
At this point with the bottom lip of the front bumper removed, the front bumper should be loose, but be careful not to just yank it off. There is a wire connecting the little circular IR sensor on the top.
Remove the two screws, and the sensor, clear plastic top bit, and the bumper will all separate from eachother. Don’t worry about the orientation of the clear plastic bit. It is keyed so it will only fit properly one way.
Now with the front bumper separated, we can get a look at the IR sensors on the front of the Roomba, give them a quick wipe with a cloth to get the dust off.
We can also see the inside of the front bumper is super dusty, and is certainly impacting the ability to communicate with the Clean Base. You could try cleaning this as-is, and I’m sure it would be fine.
I chose to remove the window plastic from the front of the bumper, by very carefully loosening the tabs marked. If you’re confident or experienced, this is fine. If you’re not confident, I’d hold off on separating the window from the bumper. Breaking one of the tabs is a possibility, so this is the riskiest part of the whole operation.
You can see it was quite dusty, and for me it was easier to clean as a separate piece.
Reassemble the robot in the reverse order we took it apart, stick it on the base so it boots up, and then give the automatic emptying another try. It worked great for me.