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Organizing Maintenance Tools - iRobot Roomba Vacuum Review

Services for Real Estate Pros with A Sense of Order - Organizing for the Home and Office

Organizing Maintenance Tools - iRobot Roomba Vacuum Review

My Roomba vacuum sitting on the docking station/charger.  It can also be charged by a direct plug-in.For many people, half the problem with staying organized is keeping up with the maintenance.  While I always advocate for my clients to be realistic about how many activities can fit into their schedule, there are times when all of us need a little help from time-saving gadgets.  One of these gadgets that I have had the opportunity to use is the iRobot Roomba Vacuum.

Since I bought my Roomba Discovery 4210 several years ago, this little machine has been a workhorse for me and has (knock on wood) performed faithfully without any major malfunctions or repairs needed.  I don't remember my exact purchase date - I am estimating it was sometime around 2003 or 2004. 

The first time that the rechargeable battery drained completely was by late 2006.  The vacuum sat in storage for 3 years after that, I recently bought a replacement battery at a local battery store and now it is back to work. 

I have spoken to others who say that they have had to purchase a new battery about once per year, but the real question is, how often is the machine used, and how much is the battery drained before it is recharged. One trick that I use is to always run the machine down to a dead stop before putting it back on the charger. This helps to keep the battery use at its maximum.

This vacuum is not for deep cleaning or large messes.  But is it great for regular maintenance, and it is fabulous for gathering crumbs, dust and pet hair.  Put it down in a room that was just vacuumed a couple of days ago and you will be amazed at what gets picked up. 

The virtual wall unitI love using this machine as a cleaning assistant.  It works well for me to put it into a smaller room, while I am cleaning in a larger room, or just to put it down in a different room each day or two for a regular pick-up.  (It's a great feeling to know that I am able to do work at the computer while my floor is being vacuumed in another room!)

The Roomba works by scanning the room and then criss-crossing in what appears to be a random pattern. When it has made enough passes over each area of the room, it will stop working and sing a little victory tune or park itself back into the docking station.  

It comes with a remote control, and "virtual walls" that project infrared beams.  These beams are read by the machine as a solid wall and will turn around after "bumping" into them.  These can be used in large areas that have no doors or other means to section off.  The virtual wall is not needed at the top of a staircase, though, as the machine will automatically sense the drop-off of the stair step and turn around.

The undercarriage of the RoombaThe one important point about the Roomba is that it requires more frequent attention than its full-size cousins.  The collection compartment is not very large, so it needs to be emptied after each use, along with the dust filter.  The rotating brush needs to be checked regularly and cleaned otherwise it will stop picking up so well.  It's not very difficult to clean though; use a supplied cutting tool that looks like a letter opener and a small comb to clean out all the debris.  Check for foreign objects that can get wedged in and keep things from rotating (I found a nickel in mine the other day after noticing that it was not rolling forward properly).

The first time you use your Roomba in each room, make sure all small objects are picked up from the floor, and all wires are removed or pushed securely into the base of the wall.  This machine does not like fringed rugs, so pick those up or just use a traditional vacuum in those areas.  Turn it on, and observe where it goes, and spots where it has a hard time navigating around furniture or turning around. Once you are familiar with how it moves you can make the necessary accommodations and won't worry that it will get stuck while you are gone.

The Roomba with the collection unit pulled outOne bonus with this vacuum is that is provides great entertainment value to kids and pets.  My cats love to sit and watch it, and follow it around.  One of them has decided it is not dangerous and doesn't even move out of the way anymore.  When the Roomba rolls up to the her, she "snuggles" with it while it turns around to go back the other way.

These machines are not cheap nor are the replacement batteries.  The current vacuum models range from $130 to well over $300 and the replacement batteries are about $55.  But in larger houses where vacuuming is one of the more time-consuming housecleaning tasks, it may actually make sense to invest in this "hired help". 

For those who have been considering the Roomba as an option, but were undecided about making this purchase, I can tell you as a Roomba owner that I love this machine and highly recommend it.  When my current machine finally says goodbye, I will definitely get another one!  To see all the available models, visit the iRobot website.


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Shanna Perino
Certified Professional Organizer and
Licensed Tennessee Realtor