Will Robot Vacuums Fall Down Stairs?

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If you’ve finally decided to try robot vacuums to save the time and effort of vacuuming yourself, you may have plenty of questions about how they work. For instance, if you let the robot vacuum clean an area near the stairs, will it fall down, or will it somehow know not to go beyond a certain point?

Robot vacuums can’t fall down the stairs because they have sensors that detect gaps, preventing them from falling. Some models may not have these sensors or have faulty ones, which can cause them to fall. To keep a robot vacuum from falling, check its sensors or create barriers to stop it.

In the rest of this article, I will cover everything you need to know about how robot vacuums work when they encounter stairs or bumps on the floor. Let’s get started! 

Will Robot Vacuums Fall Down Stairs?

The most significant advantage of a robot vacuum cleaner is that you don’t have to operate it yourself. You can simply program it on, and allow it to do its job while you spend your time doing something else. However, you may wonder if your robot vacuum is smart enough to avoid falling down the stairs.

Thanks to a sensor located underneath them, modern robot vacuum cleaners typically don’t fall down the stairs. This sensor always ensures an optimal distance between the robot vacuum and the floor. When this distance is too large, the robot stops moving in that particular direction. 

How Does a Cliff Sensor Work?

A cliff sensor uses infrared lights that bounce back toward the robot when it’s on a flat surface. If there are stairs ahead, the infrared light doesn’t have a surface to bounce off of, which tells the robot vacuum cleaner to stop moving in the direction of the stairs.

All robot vacuums nowadays have these cliff sensors, so if you have a relatively recent model, it’s safe to say that falling down the stairs won’t be a problem. Current models, in particular, have sophisticated and incredibly accurate sensors, so you have nothing to worry about. 

However, some very old robot vacuum cleaner models might not have cliff sensors. Others might have early versions of this sensor, which are not very accurate. In such cases, you may need to worry about your vacuum robot falling down the stairs.

How Do I Stop My Robot Vacuum From Falling Down Stairs?

You can stop your robot vacuum from falling down the stairs by checking the cliff sensors. Clean them regularly, and repair them if they are broken. For robot vacuums with sensor issues, you can place a physical barrier near the stairs so that the robot will bump into it and avoid it. 

You can also use a virtual wall, which works similarly to a physical barrier — except it’s, well, virtual.

Dirt or other substances gathering on the cliff sensors can cause them to not work. It’s essential to clean the sensors once a month or so to make sure that your robot vacuum won’t fall down the stairs. If you see any signs of damage on the cliff sensors, you should replace or repair them. 

If your robot vacuum has no sensors or weak ones, you can put a physical barrier where the stairs start to go downwards. The robot will bump into it and immediately change direction. 

Does a Roomba Have a Warranty if It Falls Down Stairs and Breaks?

Roombas typically have a one-year warranty period. During this time, you can replace or repair your product at no charge if it’s defective. If your Roomba is broken after falling down the stairs, the chances of having it replaced or repaired for free are slim.

A Roomba does not have a warranty if it falls down the stairs and breaks because it’s considered negligence on your part. You may have a slim chance if you can prove that one of the cliff sensors was defective before your Roomba fell, but this would be very difficult. 

If your Roomba falls down the stairs, you will likely need to pay to have it repaired. 

Do Robot Vacuums Clean Stairs? 

Robot vacuums don’t clean stairs because they can’t climb or go down them. They are ideal for flat surfaces, where they can effortlessly glide back and forth. Roombas can’t navigate stairs in any way, and you should use a  regular vacuum to clean stairs.

Even though robot vacuums are smart and generally make life easier for their owners, the main downside to buying one is their inability to clean the stairs. If you have recently invested in a Roomba, it’s a good idea to keep your old vacuum cleaner to clean the stairs. 

Check out my other articles about potential issues and the kind of parts you need for vacuum cleaners. However, new technologies are being tested on vacuum robots, and it wouldn’t be surprising to find stair-cleaning models in the near future.  

Can Robot Vacuums Go Over Bumps (Like a Rug)?

Robot vacuums have no problem navigating flat surfaces, but your floor isn’t always a perfectly flat surface. There might be bumps and obstacles in the way, like a rug or a threshold. How well can a robot vacuum navigate around bumps?

Robot vacuums can easily go over bumps like a rug. The bumps can be as high as 5/8 inch or 1.6cm. If it encounters a bump higher than that, it will navigate around it. To clean surfaces with high bumps, you may create a ramp to help the robot go over it or simply move it yourself.


Robot vacuums can make your life incredibly easy, but navigating some areas can be tricky. Modern robot vacuums can avoid the stairs using cliff sensors, but some older models may tumble down the stairs if you don’t place a barrier to stop them.

These vacuum cleaners may also have trouble going over bumps on the floor, like rugs or thresholds, especially if they are too high. To help them navigate these bumps, you can create a ramp to make their movement easier or place them over the bump.

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