How To Wear In New Roomba Extractors

New vacuum extractors causing your Roomba to constantly stop? Here's how to break them in.

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Roomba extractors brushes / rollers (which I'll refer to mostly as rollers here) are one of the most commonly replaced parts on Roomba vacuums. They're a normal wear and tear item and, depending on your flooring surface, will likely be replaced twice a year (or more if you run your Roomba a lot). For more on replacement parts, see Best Roomba Replacement Parts.

The Problem

Replacing the Roomba rollers is pretty easy, they just pop right in. But with new rollers you may notice that your Roomba keeps getting "stuck" all the time. The Roomba will report an error asking you to clean the brush cage as it thinks there is a clog. What's likely happening is that those new rollers aren't broken in yet and causing enough friction on the ground to cause the vacuum to think there is a jam when there isn't.

The most common scenario for this to occur is when your Roomba is on carpet (or a rug) and less likely to happen on a smooth surface like tile, linoleum, hardwood floors, and other smooth surfaces. An exception here is very rough / bumpy tile floors. With carpet and rugs, the problem can occur almost constantly which makes getting any value out of your Roomba virtually impossible as you have to get up and re-start the Roomba every couple of minutes for the first dozen runs or so.

Another trend we've noticed is that this happens more often with non-OEM rollers. Meaning, if you're buying the cheap knockoff rollers you're more likely to experience this issue. Be sure to find out which are the Best Roomba Replacement Parts and which are not.

The Solution

The easy solution when this happens is to go find the Roomba and pick it up off the ground to fool the sensors into thinking you really checked the brush cage. Of course, you should check the brush cage to make sure there really isn't a jam first! But this gets old and can literally happen every few seconds or minutes for the first dozen (or two, or three) runs.

The better solution is to "break in" the new rollers. This is done with them in the Roomba but requires you find a non-carpeted area to run the vacuum. Use a virtual wall or some chairs or boxes to keep it in an area without carpet or rugs. Now run the Roomba as usual and charge when it is done. Repeat this process at least three more times, though you may need even more runs with the cheaper non-OEM rollers.

If you don't have a hard flooring surface to do this on or want to speed up the process, try running the roomba on concrete. For example, a garage floor (that's relatively clean!), a patio, or sidewalk. These surfaces act like sandpaper to the rollers and wear them in fairly quick, possibly only requiring one or two runs.

A word of caution if you run your Roomba outside: Make sure the surface is dry, clean, free of things like bird poop, and not on a second story or higher (just to be safe). When done, rinse the rollers off in your sink and wipe down the Roomba's wheels. As always, do all of this at your own risk and running a Roomba outdoors likely voids any warranty you have left on it.
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Matt Anderson
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