Ever since they appeared on the market a few years ago, Roomba vacuum cleaners have taken the world by storm. These gadgets are seemingly perfect — they are efficient and long-lasting, and, most importantly, they do all your work for you.
However, many people are still worried about Roombas’ loudness and neighbor complaints. To that end, I’ve decided to do a deep dive into these vacuums and how soundless they actually are. In addition, I’ll also discuss some handy tips you can try to make them quieter. Follow along!
Looking at the Numbers: How Loud Is a Roomba?
To calculate sound volume, experts use a measurement unit called decibel (dB). So, the more decibels of sounds an entity emits, the louder it is. This measurement unit can be used for just about anything, from animal noises and human speech to the sounds made by gadgets and appliances.
In order to give you some idea about what a certain number of decibels might sound like, I’ll offer a few examples. Something that emits 10 decibels of noise is as loud as leaves softly rustling in a breeze. So, not that loud at all.
Next, a fan whirring softly in the background is usually at around 20 to 30 decibels, just like a fridge or a humidifier. On the other hand, a regular conversation between human beings emits around 60 decibels of noise.
Finally, everything over 90 decibels is considered to be loud. The best examples include the audience at sporting events, construction machines, planes, trains, and so on.
Now, where does a Roomba fall on this scale? Well, it depends on the model. Generally speaking, these vacuums emit somewhere between 45 and 70 decibels of noise.
Of course, the amount of noise also depends on the Roomba’s size. So, larger models will usually be louder, while more compact ones will make less noise.
The Noise Doesn’t Only Come From the Roomba
Although the vacuum itself emits sound, many people forget one other source of noise. Namely, Roombas can hit random objects as they clean and make noise that way.
For instance, the Roomba could bump into a wall, a closet, table or chair legs, or some stairs. Moreover, the vacuum can beep if its battery is running low or if it gets stuck. In such cases, the noise from the impact can also disturb you, your family, or your downstairs neighbors.
Now, these noises aren’t necessarily loud. In fact, they usually don’t exceed 60 or 70 decibels. However, they are unexpected, which can make them both frightening and annoying.
How Loud Are Roombas Compared to Other Robot Vacuums?
If you’re looking to save some money and get a more affordable robot vacuum, you might have some issues with finding one quieter than a Roomba.
Namely, while there are many models that are just as efficient cleaners, few can compare to the soundlessness of Roombas. Most options cross the 90 decibels mark, making them just as loud as regular vacuums.
So, if you want a robot vacuum that will make as little noise as possible, Roombas are truly your best bet.
Does Loudness Depend on the Surface?
When discussing Roombas, most people want to know whether their loudness depends on the surface they’re on. The answer is a definite yes.
For example, a Roomba will be less noisy on a carpet than, say, a hardwood floor. The reasoning is simple: the fluffiness of the carpet will absorb some of the noise, making the entire vacuum quieter in the process.
Conversely, there is nothing to absorb that noise on a hardwood floor. Thus, the Roomba will be louder. And as already mentioned, which number of decibels it will reach depends on the model.
Since these vacuums are compatible with most flooring types, you can also use them on tiles, vinyl, stone, and laminate floors. As with hardwood floors, Roombas will be louder on these surfaces as well.
In this regard, tile and stone floors prove to be the loudest options for Roombas, mostly due to their hardness. So, if you have such floors, try to schedule cleaning when you aren’t home, or at least at times when the noise will be the least disturbing for you or your neighbors.
Will Your Downstairs Neighbors Hear Your Roomba?
This question isn’t that easy to answer, as it depends on several factors.
Firstly, it’s all up to the sound insulation in your apartment. If done right, your neighbors won’t hear your Roomba, even if it hits objects on the way or you have tile or stone floors.
However, if the walls and ceilings in your buildings are thin and the insulation is poor, your neighbors will most likely hear your Roomba. While the noise probably won’t be too loud, it’s still advisable to use the Roomba during the day. That way, the vacuum probably won’t disturb your neighbor’s sleep.
Secondly, the issue depends on which Roomba you have. Larger models — including the 880 and 980 — have more suction power and bigger brushes. As such, they are also noisier. So, If you have a similar model, chances are that your neighbors will hear it.
Is Excessive Noise in a Roomba Normal?
Although every Roomba has to emit at least some noise, the vacuum shouldn’t be too loud. In addition, it shouldn’t make any types of irregular sounds, including clicking, grinding, or popping.
If your Roomba makes any of these noises while on, it might be malfunctioning or faulty. In most cases, the sounds come from clogged extractors, dirty cleaning brushes, or charging station issues. We’ll go over all of them below.
The extractors or suction elements in your Roomba are responsible for most of the cleaning. They suction dirt and debris off your floor into the vacuum, effectively leaving the area clean.
Sometimes, these elements can get clogged with debris, dirt, pet or human hair, food, smaller toys, and so on. When that occurs, your Roomba will make loud noises as soon as you turn it on, and it might get louder as time goes by.
Luckily, cleaning your Roomba regularly and paying special attention to the suction elements should prevent any similar issues. It is best to do it after every cleaning session, or at least once a week.
Dirty Cleaning Brushes
Besides extractors, the underside of your Roomba can also feature a few cleaning brushes. They can get clogged just as easily as extractors, especially with hair strands and smaller objects (such as pet treats). If that occurs, the vacuum can make grinding and buzzing noises.
In most Roomba models, these brushes can be removed, so it is quite easy to clean them. If, by any chance, your model does not allow that, you can still clean these elements using a dry cloth or a separate cleaning brush.
Charging Station Issues
Lastly, your Roomba might also be noisier than usual due to some charging problems.
For instance, if the connection points in the charging station are dusty or dirty, the vacuum might not charge all the way or at all. As a result, it could click or pop as it works or charges, simply because its batteries are giving out.
So, make sure you clean your charging station just as often as your Roomba. That way, you’ll avoid any unwanted noises and keep your home peaceful and quiet.
How to Make Your Roomba Quieter: More Tips
Besides cleaning your Roomba and its charging station regularly, there are other tricks you can use to make the vacuum quieter. Here are some of them.
Keep Your Home’s Interior the Same
Since they are smart devices, Roombas can memorize entire rooms and floor plans. So, they learn where items in your home are located, from beds and chairs to walls and stairs. This feature makes them a lot more efficient, as it helps them stay on course and avoid hitting anything as they clean.
However, if you rearrange your furniture often, the Roomba will have a hard time adjusting. The same will occur if you don’t remove smaller obstacles from your floor before turning the vacuum on (such as scattered toys). As a result, your Roomba will make more noise either by bumping into items or by becoming stuck.
So, try to make the vacuum’s job a bit easier. Keep your furniture in the same spot every time, and make sure the unit has an unobstructed path as it works. That way, you’ll keep the noise to a minimum.
In Case of Beeping
Sometimes, Roombas beep to let you know something is amiss. They usually emit this sound in quick succession, either 5 or 9 times in a row.
In case you hear 5 beeps, the Roomba is most likely experiencing a sensor malfunction. For example, its cliff sensors could go off even if the vacuum isn’t near stairs or a balcony.
Generally speaking, giving the cliff sensors a good clean from time to time should help you avoid this issue. Oftentimes, they malfunction because of debris that accumulates on them, so wiping them should solve the beeping.
On the other hand, if your Roomba gives off 9 consecutive beeps, you might be dealing with bumper problems. Namely, bumpers can easily get dislodged, causing the vacuum to malfunction. Luckily, this issue also has an easy fix, as you can repair the bumper in just a few minutes.
Consider a Change of Flooring
As I already mentioned, Roombas are at their quietest while cleaning carpets. On the other hand, they will be even louder than usual on tile and stone floors.
So, if you have these flooring types and your neighbors constantly complain about the noise, updating your floors might be the best idea. Even just adding carpeting could help, as it would absorb much of the noise. Alternatively, you could clean the problematic floors on your own and let the Roomba handle other rooms.
Final Thoughts on Noisy Roombas
Roombas are quickly becoming everyone’s go-to solution for cleaning, and it is not difficult to see why. These robot vacuums are efficient and durable, and they keep your floors clean all by themselves.
Despite what most people think, Roombas are not as loud as regular vacuum cleaners. In fact, they rarely exceed 70 decibels, which is similar to the noise emitted by humans having a conversation. And if you also make sure your Roomba — and all its cleaning elements — are clean, you’ll minimize noise completely.
Thus, Roombas are indeed the quietest robot vacuums you can opt for. Care for them properly, give them space to work, and you’ll have a clean and, more importantly, quiet home every day.