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Safety & security

Safety alert: This robotic vacuum can short circuit

Most of us have at least one or two smart devices in our homes. Those lights aren’t going to turn themselves off without a smart plug, after all.

Smart devices have revolutionized how we live and tackle everyday tasks, making them a popular choice for homeowners who want some help around the house. You can set smart lights to come on at certain times of the day, use a smart speaker to keep track of your schedule, or even use a smart mug to keep your coffee hot — all without lifting a finger. You can even make your home safer with a few smart devices.

But while smart devices will help us take care of tasks around the house, they are known to cause a few problems, too. We recently warned you about the potential for hackers to cause fires via your smart plugs, and now another popular smart device could cause serious safety issues, too. Let’s take a look.

Robot vacuum brings more than you bargained for

Are you using a Roomba vacuum to help clean dirt and pet hair off of the floors in your home? If so, you may want to pay attention to the safety warning issued this week by iRobot, the manufacturer behind Roomba products.

On Monday, the warning was sent out to some Roomba i7+ owners over concerns that this model can short circuit. The issue stems from the docking station, known as the Clean Base, which could malfunction if exposed to any liquids.

Roomba i7+ is built to pick up dry debris, dust and dirt. But if the floor is wet, the robot vacuum could inadvertently suck up liquids on the floor and deposit them onto the charging base. This may happen if Roomba sucks up liquid leftover from a spill or mopping or even a pet accident.

Related: Smart Home starter kit — which should you buy first?

What are the dangers involved?

If Roomba deposits liquid onto the charging base along with dirt and debris it picked up, that’s where the problems would come in. Liquid could not only short circuit and destroy the charging base, but it could also be a safety hazard for your home and family.

Short circuits are known to cause several issues, including circuit damage, overheating, fire or even an explosion — which makes this particular Roomba issue a serious one.

According to iRobot, the malfunction occurs sporadically and only when the Clean Base Automatic Dirt Disposal unit is exposed to liquids. iRobot believes that the issue could potentially impact about 222,000 units — and the majority of units were sold in North America.

The only units affected by this warning right now are the i7+, which was released in 2018. This model comes with a self-cleaning docking station that is causing issues.

iRobot is sending notifications to users who may be affected by this potential problem. If you own this model and believe your Roomba is part of the safety warning, the easiest way to confirm is by checking your email or opening the iRobot app to see if you’ve received a notification.

If you’re covered, iRobot will send replacement power cords or docking stations to Roomba owners with affected serial numbers to resolve the issue.

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