Roomba Virtual Wall Not Working (Real Solutions)

Disclaimer: There may be affiliate links, which means I’ll receive a commission if you purchase through the links, but there is no extra cost to you.

The Roomba robot vacuum is a handy device that cleans your entire home without you having to even lift a finger. Well, not entirely but the only effort that’s needed on your part is to switch the device off or on, either by hand on the unit or using the iRobot HOME smartphone app. And of course emptying the collected dirt and debris.

You can also block off particular areas of your home where you don’t want your Roomba to roam into using a nifty little thing called the virtual wall device. The Roomba virtual wall is a super portable and really handy device that uses infrared to produce a no-entry barrier for your Roomba – but naked to the human eye and harmless to humans.

While iRobot does have some info on their help page with how to use the devices, I found it lacking when diagnosing problems. I’ve collected my own list of potential issues, causes, and solutions with the virtual walls. Read on below for some troubleshooting tips and quick fixes if you are facing such issues with your virtual wall not working.

Causes of Issues

To be able to solve issues, we first need to diagnose what could potentially be causing the virtual wall device not working.

Using a Non-Compatible Virtual Wall Device

There are many different models of Roombas and there are 3 versions of the virtual wall device for Roomba users to choose from.

Which virtual wall device you choose will have to be based on which Roomba you own. Some virtual wall devices will not work with lower or higher-end models, so you might want to look into this and double-check the compatibility before you do anything else.

For example, these wall devices sold by a 3rd-party are made specifically for the Roomba 800 and 900 series models.

Whereas with this pack of devices made with authentic iRobot parts is compatible with pretty much all Roomba models – Roomba 600/700/800/900 Series models.

Virtual Wall is Not Switched On

As with electronic devices that are made to be sleek and stylish, it can be a little hard to tell if a little device such as the virtual wall is switched on or off.

The virtual wall, much like the Roomba emits a green light when it is switched on and will emit no light at all when it’s faulty or if the battery is dead.

Virtual Wall Placement is Wrong

Where you place your virtual wall device is also a huge factor in how effective it works. If you place your virtual wall device the wrong way, your Roomba will not see the infrared barrier and it will continue to run normally, potentially causing trouble for you in a room or area you planned to block the Roomba’s access too.

Be sure the device’s infrared beam is pointing in the right direction and not in the opposite direction or directly at a real wall.

Virtual Wall Mode is Set Incorrectly

There are two different modes that can be set in the Dual-mode virtual wall device and the Lighthouse virtual wall device.

One is a virtual wall mode where it emits an infrared barrier to block access via a straight line from where it is placed, and the other is a halo mode in which it emits a circular infrared barrier to block the Roomba’s access to a particular spot in the room (like a precious vase).

If you mix up these settings you will not be using the virtual wall device as effectively as you should.

How To Use a Virtual Wall Lighthouse | Roomba® 800 series | iRobot®

Virtual Wall Device – Solutions

Ensure first that your virtual wall device is the right one and is compatible with your Roomba. As a benchmark, anything from the 800 series and above will not work with the lowest tier of virtual wall devices – which is the Auto-on virtual wall.

The Virtual Wall Lighthouse version works only with the Roomba 581, 585, 780, 782, 785, 880 and 886.

For the newer, Dual-Mode Virtual Wall Device, however, it’s compatible with all models, but if you have a i7, i7+, s9, or s9+, these Roomba models have “Keep Out Zones” and advanced mapping, so they don’t need virtual walls.

If your virtual wall device isn’t turning on, check the batteries, and replace them if necessary. There should be a pulsing light emitting from the device. If nothing happens even after a battery change, contact iRobot customer service to see if they can assist.

How To Install Batteries in a Virtual Wall | Roomba® 800 series | iRobot®

Use the arrows on the top of your virtual wall device to direct where the infrared blocking beam is going to face. Also, note that other infrared devices such as remote controls may affect the effectiveness of the virtual wall device as these will interfere with the virtual wall beam and may confuse your Roomba.

Try and place the wall devices away from other infrared interferences, including the Home Base. Being too near the Home Base causes weak signals from the virtual walls sometimes for people, so it’s something to test out.

Make sure that your virtual wall device is set to the proper mode and that you are using Halo mode only when you want circular blocking and virtual wall mode when you want straight line blocking. You can choose between the modes by the toggle switch on the side of the virtual wall device.

How to Set up the Dual Mode Virtual Wall in Virtual Wall Mode | Roomba® 980 | iRobot®

Roomba Problems

Sometimes it could just be that your Roomba has an internal issue.

Remember that the virtual wall device’s infrared blocking capability is only good as long as the Roomba’s infrared sensors recognize it. The best way to refresh your Roomba’s internal circuitry is to restart the unit.

  • Simply press and hold both the DOCK and CLEAN buttons for about 10 seconds before letting them go.
  • The Roomba will turn off
  • Once you see the lights and beeps start happening again, that’s when your Roomba has been restarted.
  • Try testing both the virtual wall device and the Roomba again and see if it works after the restart.

You usually don’t need to reset the Roomba, but if the restart doesn’t work, the reset is one last attempt.


The virtual wall is a really handy tool to have around and it provides you the freedom to customize your Roomba’s cleaning right down to a particular area.

All electronic devices need a little love and maintenance. So be sure to keep the virtual wall device clean, avoid dropping it from high places, and change the batteries regularly to keep it in optimal condition.

I know troubleshooting issues can be frustrating. Just be glad that it’s a virtual wall device and not a Poopocalypse issue!

Photo of author

Written by:

Michael Hoyt
Michael Hoyt, a seasoned expert in smart home technology and robot vacuum specialist, is renowned for his contributions to home automation. With a deep-seated knowledge of smart devices, he has dedicated his career to enhancing living spaces with advanced technology. Michael's expertise extends from in-depth reviews and recommendations to practical advice on fully automating homes with smart home solutions.