The Roomba line of vacuums from iRobot are touted as offering a hands-free clean on any kind of flooring. Its intelligent systems allow it to switch seamlessly from one floor type to the next without any input from the user. The question is, though, whether or not it can really handle any floor type you throw at it. Does Roomba work on a thick carpet — and if so, how well?
The answer to this question depends on both which model of the Roomba you have, and how thick your carpet actually is. To the first point, if you have thick carpet in your home, you’ll want to look for a Roomba from the 800 series or higher. There are two main reasons for this: the AeroForce 3-stage Cleaning System that comes standard with these versions of Roomba, and the tangle-free extractors which will prevent long carpet fibers from being sucked up into the vacuum.
You can track how well your Roomba is doing with the surface that it’s on by looking at the lights on the top of the device. If you see a blue starfish light, this means that the brush is running slower than expected. This is a normal indication to see when you’re using it on thick carpet, but if it doesn’t seem to be moving at all, you may want to stop it and see if there’s anything tangled in the brushes. The only carpet type that typically gives a Roomba serious trouble is shag carpeting, which is thick enough it may burn out the motor on the vacuum.
One point that’s worth making is that the answer to “Does Roomba work on thick carpets?” is sometimes “a bit too well.” There is an indicator light on the top of the vacuum that looks like a magnifying glass. When this is lit a solid blue, it means the Roomba is in intensive cleaning mode, and will start moving in either a fan shape or a spiral pattern over an area that’s about a yard square.
You are likely to see this a lot when using a Roomba on thick carpet, especially the first few times. You also may need to hover over the Roomba on the first few sessions to empty the canister. It may fill up as frequently as every 15-20 minutes with all the dust extracted from deep in the carpet, which less powerful vacuums can leave behind. This will typically stop happening after the Roomba’s gone over the area a couple of times.
Roomba models in the 800 series (including the 860, 870, and 880) will also come with Virtual Wall Lighthouses included, which can help you to better dictate a specific cleaning pattern to your Roomba. If you have a single room that uses shag carpeting, for example, you can use the Virtual Wall Lighthouses to block off this area so it doesn’t wander into them and damage itself during unsupervised cleaning sessions.
So does Roomba work on thick carpets? The answer is generally yes, in all but the most extreme cases. Buying the most powerful version of the Roomba that you can afford will be the best way to guarantee you have a model that can handle these tricky surfaces, especially if there is thick carpet in a large area of your home.
The best advice is to try the Roomba on the thick carpet in question when you’re there to watch it the first few times. This will let you keep an eye on it and make any necessary corrections, such as using the Virtual Wall Lighthouses to divide the area into smaller sections that won’t tax the motor. You may be surprised by how much dust these powerful little vacuums find between the fibers.