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Mai Pham
December 30, 2023

Have you ever noticed your robot vacuum spinning around like it’s lost its sense of direction? This phenomenon, often described as the vacuum “going in circles,” can be both puzzling and frustrating for users who purchased the appliance for its promise of hassle-free automatic cleaning. In this guide, we aim to shed light on why your robot vacuum might be exhibiting this peculiar behavior and, more importantly, how you can rectify the issue. Understanding the common causes and fixes will put you back in control, ensuring your trusty robot assistant can resume its cleaning duties efficiently.

Why My Robot Vacuum Keeps Going in Circles and Backwards?

One of the most frequent causes for a robot vacuum to continuously move in circles is a stuck bumper. When the bumper becomes stuck, the vacuum may incorrectly perceive it as an obstacle, causing it to repeatedly back away and continue in an endless loop. A simple solution to this issue is to gently tap the bumper. This action often resolves the problem, allowing the vacuum to resume its normal operation.

Robot Vacuum Keeps Going in Circles and Backwards: Common Reasons

robot vacuum keeps going in circles

1. Stuck Bumper

A robot vacuum’s bumper is a critical component responsible for its navigation. Think of the bumper as a sensory organ of the robot vacuum, helping it detect objects in its path. When the bumper gets stuck, it can cause all sorts of orientation issues for the vacuum – like going around in circles, which we often encounter.

Let’s dive a little deeper into the ‘stuck bumper’ situation. The bumper works thanks to a sensor that detects when the bumper has been pushed in, signaling the robot vacuum to turn around or back away from an obstacle. If the bumper gets jammed and remains pressed in, the vacuum could assume it’s constantly hitting an obstruction and therefore keeps moving in a circle to avoid it.

Addressing a stuck bumper is typically straightforward. Start by inspecting the bumper carefully. If you notice it’s pressed in or jammed, try gently pushing it a few times. This action often helps to unstick it, allowing the robot vacuum to return to its normal operation. Remember, you should always refer to the manufacturer’s instructions or reach out to customer support for more complex bumper issues.

2. Dirty Sensors

Another common reason why your robot vacuum might be stuck in an endless circle could be due to dirty sensors. Sensors play a crucial role in guiding the vacuum’s movement and detecting obstacles. Over time, dust and debris can accumulate on these sensors, hampering their ability to function correctly. As a result, the vacuum may start moving in circles, appearing confused.

You can fix this issue by regularly cleaning the sensors of your robot vacuum. Turn off the vacuum first, then use a soft, clean cloth to gently wipe the sensors. Be careful not to apply too much pressure as it may damage the sensors.

3. Wheel Problems

Wheel problems can also make your robot vacuum go in circles. If one of the wheels is stuck or not spinning freely, it can cause the vacuum to move in a circular path. Check the wheels for any blockages like hair, dust, or small particles. If you find any, remove them carefully and make sure the wheels can rotate smoothly.

By understanding these common issues and their fixes, you can ensure that your robot vacuum operates efficiently, saving you time and effort.

4. Software Issues

Finally, another potential culprit behind your robot vacuum moving in circles could be software issues. Just like any smart device, a robot vacuum relies on its software for navigation and functionality. If this software experiences glitches or errors, it can disrupt the vacuum’s normal operation, leading it to behave erratically, such as moving in circles.

One way to address software issues is by performing a simple reset. This process varies by model, so refer to the user manual or contact the manufacturer’s customer support for advice tailored to your specific robot vacuum model.

In some instances, the software may need to be updated. Many modern robot vacuums come with the ability to receive software updates wirelessly, and these updates can fix bugs or enhance the vacuum’s overall performance. If your vacuum is acting up, check if there are any pending updates and install them.

Remember, if your efforts to fix the issue do not resolve the problem, it may be best to contact the manufacturer or a professional technician. They can provide further assistance and ensure that your robot vacuum gets back to its cleaning duties without going in circles.

How to Fix Robot Vacuum Going in Circles

1. Tap the Bumpers Gently

As detailed before, a simple tap on the bumper could rectify the issue if it’s due to the stuck bumper. This tap can help to unstick it, allowing the robot vacuum to regain its standard functioning and stop moving in circles. But remember, apply the tapping gently to avoid any potential damage.

2. Clean the Sensors

Sensors are the eyes of your robot vacuum, directing its movements and detecting obstacles. When these sensors get dirty due to the accumulation of dust and debris, they can malfunction. This issue might lead to your robot vacuum moving in circles. Regular cleaning of these sensors can prevent this from happening. Before cleaning, always ensure the vacuum is switched off. Use a soft, clean cloth for this, and remember to apply gentle pressure to avoid any damage.

3. Check and Clean the Wheels

The unhindered wheel movement is crucial for the normal operation of your robot vacuum. If there is any obstruction preventing free movement of the wheels, it can lead to your vacuum moving in a circular pattern. Regularly inspect the wheels for any blockages such as hair, dust, or small particles. If you find any, remove them carefully and ensure the wheels can rotate smoothly.

4. Reset or Update Software

Software issues can disrupt the standard operation of your robot vacuum, causing it to behave erratically, including moving in circles. You may choose to reset the software, but the process can vary from model to model. Always consult your user manual for the correct procedure to avoid causing any damage. Additionally, always keep your software up-to-date. Your robot vacuum might have the ability to receive wireless software updates, which can often fix bugs or enhance performance. If you notice your vacuum behaving unusually, check for any pending updates and install them.

Remember, if all else fails, consult with the manufacturer or a professional technician. They can provide further assistance to ensure your robot vacuum is back to its efficient cleaning duties without going in circles.

5. Clean the Bumper Sensors

Bumper sensors help the vacuum detect whether it’s about to bump into something. If these sensors are dirty or obstructed, they might cause the vacuum to think it’s about to hit an object, even when there isn’t any. As a result, it might start moving in circles to avoid an imaginary obstacle.

Cleaning these sensors can fix this issue. Make sure the vacuum is off before you begin. Use a soft, clean cloth to gently clean each sensor. Moreover, try not to apply too much pressure, as this could damage the sensors.

Just like the other sensors in your robot vacuum, it’s crucial to keep the bumper sensors clean. Regular cleaning can prevent the accumulation of dust and debris, ensuring the sensors can function correctly and guide the vacuum’s movement. This maintenance routine will help your robot vacuum operate efficiently and avoid moving in circles.

If cleaning the sensors doesn’t resolve the issue, it may be best to seek professional help. Reach out to the manufacturer or a professional technician who can diagnose the problem accurately and provide the appropriate solution. It’s important to ensure that your robot vacuum is operating optimally to maintain a clean and comfortable living space.

Why does a Roomba go in circles?

In case you are wondering why your Roomba specifically keeps going in circles, the most common cause is a stuck bumper. This bumper functions as a sensor that detects objects and obstacles, allowing the Roomba to navigate around them. When this bumper gets stuck due to dirt, hair, or debris, it can disrupt its normal functioning and cause the Roomba to move in circles.

How do you fix a Roomba going in circles?

To sum it up, to fix a Roomba going in circles, you can try the following steps:

  1. Tap the bumpers gently: As mentioned before, a gentle tap on the bumper can unstick it and allow the Roomba to resume normal operation.
  2. Clean the sensors: Dirt and debris can accumulate on the sensors, causing them to malfunction and leading to circular movements. Regularly cleaning them can prevent this issue.
  3. Check and clean the wheels: Obstructions on the wheels can impede their movement and cause circular patterns. Regular inspection and cleaning of the wheels can help avoid this problem.
  4. Reset or update software: Software issues, including bugs, can also cause a Roomba to go in circles. Try resetting or updating the software to resolve the issue.
  5. Clean bumper sensors: Bumper sensors can also get dirty, causing the Roomba to think it’s about to hit an obstacle and move in circles. Cleaning them can help fix this problem.

Robot vacuum moves backwards

When the front bumper is stuck, the robot vacuum will only move backwards as it thinks there is a wall in front of it and blocking its way. To fix it, just gently tap and pull out the front bumper. It should fix the issue in less than 1 minute!

Troubleshooting robot vacuums

7 Reasons Why Your Robot Vacuum Brush Is Not Spinning And How To Fix It 

Troubleshooting Robot Vacuum Cliff Sensors: Everything You Need To Know 


Why is my Bissell robot vacuum going in circles?

Like most robot vacuums, your Bissell device relies on sensors and wheels for navigation. If it’s going in circles, it could be due to dirty sensors, a stuck bumper, or obstructions in the wheels. Start by cleaning the sensors and the bumpers gently with a soft, clean cloth. You should also inspect the wheels for any debris and remove it. If these steps don’t resolve the issue, you might need to reset or update the device software.

Why does my Shark robot keep spinning in circles?

If your Shark robot vacuum is spinning in circles, the primary reasons could be dirty sensors, blocked wheels, or software glitches. Begin by cleaning all sensors, including bumper sensors, using a soft, clean cloth. Check the wheels for any obstructions like hair or dust and remove them. Also, ensure the bumper isn’t stuck or obstructed. If these steps don’t help, try updating the software as it could be a firmware issue. For persistent problems, consider seeking assistance from Shark’s customer service or a professional technician.

How do I reset my robot vacuum?

Resetting your robot vacuum generally involves pressing and holding specific buttons on the device for a certain period of time. However, the exact process can vary depending on the brand and model of your vacuum. Therefore, it’s best to refer to your user manual for precise instructions. If you cannot find your manual, try looking for information on the manufacturer’s website or contacting their customer service for guidance. Remember to turn off your robot vacuum before attempting any kind of reset to avoid any accidental damage.

Final thought

Robot vacuums have become a convenient and efficient household appliance, taking care of our cleaning needs with minimal effort. However, as with any other device, they can experience issues occasionally. If your robot vacuum keeps going in circles, try our recommended steps to fix the problem. Regular maintenance and keeping the sensors clean can help prevent this issue from occurring in the future.

About the Author

I am a working mother who more than often prefer to come home and rest rather than doing house chores. I am passionate about simplifying house chores to live and enjoy life more.

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