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Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!): The Lowdown on the Roomba

Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!)

My goal here is to make your life easier, especially those who are in the unique situation of being a military spouse. Yes...I've been around...but in a good way...and hopefully can share those tips, tricks and shortcuts with you too. I've been on this military bus for over 40 years now. My goals in life are to have a well-run home, few money worries, well adjusted children, money socked away and whatever happiness I can scoop out of life.

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After life as an Army brat, being in the Army myself and marrying a soldier, I can honestly say I have a bucket full of life lessons I can share to help you make your everyday life easier and enlightening. Don't waste your time making unnecessary mistakes and benefit from others who have come before you on your journey through life.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Lowdown on the Roomba

It's been well over a year and a half relationship with our robot vacuum cleaning Roomba. Remember when these things first came out? They were such a novelty back then...did they even pick anything up when they first came out? Anyway, let me tell you about my Roomba. A Roomba is actually a floor sweeper and not a true vacuum cleaner, so let's get that straight from the get go.

The thing runs around your house, sweeping up crumbs, dust and debris. It doesn't know where it's been, but it has an embedded microchip, a computer really, that goes through some complex algorithm, going back and forth, along the wall, spinning and a variety of other behaviors. The company that manufactures the Roomba says that in a room of a certain size, using this algorithm, the Roomba will eventually hit every piece of floor. I'd say it's not perfect or even close, but the thing does have an uncanny ability to reach most areas, especially under your couch, where I rarely go. So, how does it do in the cleaning department and more importantly, how has it held up over the past year?

Let me rewind by saying we have two VERY hairy pets...a German Shepherd and a long haired cat. We can easily stuff two pillows from the hair that migrates from their coats to our floors and every other surface in our house. And that brings me to my first point. The Roomba truly does an excellent job of sweeping up the dirt and dust...yes, even dust! In addition to that stuff, the bin is also ALWAYS chock full of hair. This means, if you have pets, you will be emptying the bin AFTER EVERY USE. So it's not a "set it and forget it" device. I run mine every weekday and have to make myself a note to empty that bin every day.

The second thing...all those long hairs get wrapped around the front wheel, even the sidewheels and worst of all, the inner sweeper mechanisms. This means, not only do you have to empty the dustbin after every use, but you also have to take out the beater bars and unwind the hair or just rip it out. The front wheel is trickier, as the hair gets deep down in there, and the only way to get that out is to take a razorblade and cut it out! I do the razorblade trick at least once or twice a week. The two heavy-duty side wheels are almost impossible to access at their axles.

Performance after one year? Well, the Roomba still has a full dustbin after it does its little trek, BUT it has slowed WAY DOWN. When it hits the carpet, it slows almost to a crawl. I'm not sure if this is an issue with the motor or if it's a normal progression of things or if there is some wound-up hair in the sidewheels I cannot see. As I said, these are hard to access, and it is almost impossible to see down there. After I had the Roomba about two months, each of the clips holding up the brushguard broke off, a necessary item if you don't want to leave the brushes behind as it runs! This was quickly remedied with duct tape, but still, the clips were so brittle, it makes me think the brushguard had a manufacturing flaw.

In hindsight, was it a good purchase? I would say yes, only because I got it refurbished from Amazon for $100. This particular model, brand new, is still being sold today for just under $400, even though the company just came out with a newer model about six months ago. My Roomba did come with a remote, a quick charger and virtual walls to keep it out of certain areas. I've found these accessories work very well. The remote allows you to set your little sweeper to work on a schedule, and the virtual walls keep it out of the bathroom with the litterbox. I don't like the idea of a Roomba cleaning up litter and then running around the rest of the house...yuck. My suggestion to IRobot, the company that makes the Roomba...please think about making it more pet friendly and even more rugged. There is a supposed pet brush set that has wide ends (you can now buy it separately) to encourage hair to stay out of the wheels and inner mechanisms, but from what I've heard from others who have this set, it doesn't really keep the pethair completely out of the axles. You still have to cut that stuff out. Otherwise, it can be a useful product! I've enjoyed using it...even after vacuuming with a regular vacuum, the Roomba can still pick up dust and such...that's something, isn't it? Since we've had it, I can honestly say there are at least less dust bunnies around the house, and the dog gets a kick out of following it around.

What have you bought in the past that has been a real lifesaver? Or dud? Please share your ideas of what has helped you around the house.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

I always wondered if I should get one of those things. Thanks for sharing what it would be like to have it awhile. I only can find reviews where people just bought it.

February 13, 2008 at 4:33 PM  
Blogger Linda said...

I'm a total sucker for "as seen on TV" I've invested in more than a few "will change your life" products.

My Picks:

** The Swivel Sweeper. Same concept as the Roomba, but it's manual. Like the swiffer sweeper, except it actually PICKS UP STUFF. As with your roomba, it has rotating brushes that have to be cleaned of the hair and strings that get wound around them. But it is much easier to get to them; they even provide a "cleaning tool" (it is a stitch ripper - think about your middle school home ec class....). But it's effective. The different pieces come apart and can be cleaned of the dust and dirt that tend to accumulate. But it's great to have! I use it till the charge runs down, then plug it back in and charge it up again. It's great for stairs, too. Again, it's not a vacuum, so it doesn't do a DEEP SUCTION cleaning, but it is great for all crumbs and messes left in the living room by messy kids!
** The Vidalia Chop's great. Works just as advertised. Don't expect super long french fries, though...but it works. Even comes with a cleaning tool to get in the cracks of the grid!
** Debi Myers Green Bags. Yes, they do actually work! My grapes have been in the refrigerator for over 2 weeks and are as fresh as the day I bought them. Bananas are staying firmer for 5-7 more days...usually they have brown spots and get overripe in 2-3 days on the counter. These do have one issue - you have to be sure your produce is dry. And every time you take your stuff out, it's a good idea to dry the bag out, as moisture will form inside. CAN'T WAIT to try them on strawberries...they never make it more than 2 days in my fridge before they get all soft...ick!

February 13, 2008 at 9:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about a the Bissel Heavy Duty Steam Vac? I can't live without mine. We have 4 dogs! I can't imagine carpets without a steam cleaner. I obviously can't live without the cleaner or my doggies!

February 14, 2008 at 2:47 AM  

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