Littermaid Repair 101

I’ve been a happy Littermaid owner for a couple of years now, but lately I’ve had some bad luck.
Littermaid
I came home from Thanksgiving last year and found the rake stuck in the middle, not moving at all. My warranty long-expired, I just bought a new one for $70 on sale on Amazon.

The other day I found it stuck again, this time almost in the way back. I emailed the company to get it replaced under warranty. They responded with some cryptic instructions on how to find the model number and date code on it.

While looking for these I discovered a few things:

1) My cats have been pissing ON TOP of the Littermaid, like on where the battery compartment is. I can understand being a little off in your aim, but 3 inches up?

2) When I put in the new unit, I used the old AC adapter. It turns out that the newer one is 1000 mA, not 500 mA. I’m sure it helps to have a little more power when pushing litter. Of course swapping these out did nothing.

3) There are two contacts inside the tracks for the rake, at the very end near the bin. When either of them make contact, the rake reverses and goes back. One one side of mine, there was litter lodged in there, forcing the contact down. I removed that, flipped the power and presto, the rake moved normally again.

Now I’m wondering if that was all that was wrong with my last one.

112 Comments

  1. I got a Litter Robot ( http://www.litter-robot.com ) a few weeks ago after scouring people’s reviews of automated litter boxes. So far it gets a huge thumbs up from me (it’s up there with Tivo and the Dyson vacuum as far as I’m concerned). While it does have a motor, it relies on gravity to filter clean litter from the clumps so there’s much less to gum up (and with 2 cats I only need to dump the collected clumps once a week). And when you do clean it, you can take it outside and hose it down (the litter-containing portion just sits on top of the motorized base). It’s expensive but it’s worth it.

  2. Hey Jeff, I have had 3 litter maids since last year. One was a classic and two were the larger models. So far two have burned out and the company replaced them. I decided not to use them at the present time.
    One problem is the low level of litter allowed in the pan(ends up being more work scraping it out than a regular litter box), then there is the the cat urine that solidifies in the bottom of the pan(burns out the motor), then there is the cat defecating and peeing around on the unit(not easy to clean all of that up all of the time and unless a urine-be-gone type of product is used, it gets worse), then there is the odor and the little flecks of cat litter that end up being dispersed throughout the litter pan(can spread disease since cats lick their feet), this also increases the odor around the litter box(the fancier model offers an ionizer for odor control, but that is like nothing as far as odors that the constant raking causes from the cat litter).
    The company is very helpful and cooperative and will replace the units within the warranty, no problem, but they will burn out again in my opinion(motor too weak and not double insulated). The wire rake on the newer model was a bit worse as far as motor stress, than the plastic rake on the cheaper model, and harder to keep clean.
    The only solutions offered for the mud(that I think is the reason that the motor burns out) that forms in the bottom of the pan, from the cat urine, was to spray the pan with silicone spray before filling, but that is just one of many problems with that machine.
    I am still looking for something so that I don’t have to get on my knees as much as I have to right now, to keep things clean. At least since I dont use the littermaid anymore, the house smells better and I feel that the cats are healthier.

  3. over the past couple of years I’ve own serveral littermaid pan. my first one lasted for many years. but recently in the last two year i have nothing but problems with them. the newer modles they are crape. i have had part fall off, motor stop working ;to the mechine just stop working. im looking for an new product. don’t weast your money and i mean that.

  4. Pingback: Jeff Boulter’s Blog » Littermaid Repair 201

  5. I have never had a problem with my littermaid up till now, but then, I have 2 cats and the littermaid system for over 10 years and I wouldn’t trade it for nothing. I guess I have gotten my money out of it and will be purchasing a new one again if need be, but as far as checking the sensors, thanks for that info as that is all I needed and now it is back to working like a charm. Maybe I will have it for another 10 years, but then I won’t hold my breath as things usually don’t last a lifetime.

  6. The problem with the sensors is the most common. Even if no litter comes into them, just the dust from the clay can make them not to conduce electricity and the rake will start making noises.
    Eventually, most LitterMaids I’ve seen end breaking the rake because the sensors do not send the signal to stop.
    How to prevent this? I use compressed air cans. Just blow the dust and litter from the contacts once every other month. Just enough.
    A self cleaning litter box does not means no maintenance at all, and some cleaning may prevent a lot of trouble.
    My original LM-500 still working. The LM-9000 working fine, also.

  7. I found a different solution for why the rake won’t stop going back and forth, assuming yours works the same as mine: When the roller goes back up into the housing, it presses on a metal flap that is supposed to depress a switch, and the switch is what stops the rake from going out for another pass. Mine wasn’t making good contact, but a piece of paper folded up into the gap and taped there, so that it is easier for the switch to be depressed, has solved the problem. Hope this can help some others!

  8. Thanks man! The rake quit working and I took the whole thing apart, put it back together and it worked once! I finally just said screw-it and used it as a manual box (I’m too cheap to throw it out! LOL!). Today, I checked this again, and i went down and pushed the switches all the way and then let them release all the way on their own about 10 times each and viola! It works like new again!

    Thank you!

  9. I cant tell you how thankful I am for your posting…I was so angry with it, it just stopped and well I take care of cats until I can find homes for strays, so needless to say, my house is a cat smelling hell!!! I have been without for a few months now, and after reading your blog, MINE WORKS AGAIN!!!!! THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!

  10. Jeff, your instructions just allowed me to fix my Littermaid box with a quick brush in a few seconds, instead of sending it back to the manufacturer. As a friend of mine often says, “Every once in a while, the Internet is a beautiful place,” and this is one of those times. I’m not quite sure what it says about our society that we now need tech support for our catboxes, but still.

    In appreciation, I’d be happy to send you a copy of my book, Why Software Sucks, with my compliments (autographed or undamaged, take your pick). Send me your snail addr using the contact form on the book’s web site http://www.whysoftwaresucks.com, and I’ll stick it in the mail.

  11. I purchased 3 litter maids a couple of years ago. One elite and two standard ones. Two burned out because of the cat litter gunk, mentioned by others.

    I shelved the replacements for a year and now I have developed a way to put an end to a lot of the problems that the litter maid system causes.

    My modified litter maid elite is not going to clog, has no odor issues and has no more motorn burnout issues.
    This modificaton can be done to any models of litter maid. It involves two changes in the litter maid system that most folks can do at home.

    I will be publishing more information on this modification that anyone can do with their litter maid on my website, http://marmay.net as soon as I have worked out some detail images and information(probably an ebook for a nominal fee). Please drop by, like I say, the information will be posted on my website soon.

    My website is about house and garden, I have a cat family and I rescue cats. I have recipes and other information that a visitor may find helpful.

  12. I have had my Litter Maid for one year now. The spring broke and I repaired it. However, I now have a problem with the unit not automatically starting after 10 minutes. Is there anything I can do to fix this problem? I have to turn the unit off and on so it can cycle through to clean the pan twice a day to keep it clean.

  13. I just purchased a second Mega Litter Maid.
    My four year old Mega scoops very well, but
    the new one doesn’t let the rake down deep
    enough in the litter. The rake is only raking an eighth of an inch of the litter. How can the rake be set to a deeper level to rake the litter properly? I use corn litter in my boxes.

    Don

    • We had the same problem! We just purchased our second littermaid and it simply doesn’t rake deep down as the first one we had. How can that be? I am about to call the manufacturer but wanted to check other people’s experiences first! Any help is appreciated

  14. Thanks to everyone that has signed up for being the first to know when the modified litter maid ebook will be published. It is nearing completion.

    Everyone that signs up for the soon to be published ebook will receive a bonus free ebook entitled, -having a constantly spring fresh yard even when you have goats, pigs, cows and elephants and of course cats and dogs-, this includes everyone that has signed up so far. Thanks Jeff for this site, I am putting a track back to your blog from mine.

  15. http://www.houseofbugs.com/weblog/?id=4254

    The free bonus ebook is completed and the litter maid modification ebook is nearing completion. Litter maid modification is an outline and both will be password protected html files for now. More extensive and illustrated documents are pending. Both files are copyrighted.

    I ask that all who sign up via the link posted above, to be sure to click the “verify” link that you get in email or you will not get the passwords for the ebooks. Please post a link back to my site http://marmay.net if you find this information as helpful as I do.

  16. I was digging through litter maid complaint websites tonight and I ran across an interesting post at the following website:

    http://www.littermaid-litter-box.com/littermaid-premium-clumping-cat-litter

    On that website it states that clay litter is not recommended to be used in the litter maid, only “premium litter”.

    So what is premium litter?

    All litter maids recommend premium cat litter to be used in the unit. That litter is corn based and costs 15.00 / 7lbs.

    My design enables a person to use a pine based litter that costs around 8.00-10.00/20 lbs.

    Basically you make the teeth wider.

    This can easily be accomplished on the litter maid mega by bending every other one of the rake teeth up, giving the pine litter enough room to pass through.

    The metal rake teeth have a small factory bend on the end of each one. So once they are all bent up, you can just slap a strip of duct tape over them to protect the cat from gouging itself. The teeth can be cut with a metal cutter once you decide if you like that modification or not. The bent teeth can be bent back down if you want to go back to the old way.

    On the standard litter maid, every other plastic rake tooth has to be cut so that the spaces will be wider between the rake teeth. This change is not reversible.

    This approach works for me and has been working for some time. I posted a link to sign up for the ebook above. I know that many of the litter maid owners have issues with the litter maid. The main reason being that the litter maid(per instructions) say to use premium clumping litter….their recommended clumping litter is the high priced corn litter that they sell. It is 15.00/7 lbs.

    I like the pine because it snuffs the pee odor and does not clump. It just degrades in the litter maid pan and basically turns into sawdust as it gets saturated with pee after a week or two. That sawdust is way easier to dispose of(put in trash or around shrubs in the yard) and way lighter. Pee soaked clay is heavy. The litter maid keeps the surface smooth and rakes any of the other waste into the bin. The motor is not strained to the point of burnout due to wet clay.

    Like I say, anyone that wants a copy of the ebook when I release it, with illustrated instructions, can sign up using the form link above.

  17. I have finished my litter maid modification illustrated ebook. It shows how to modify both the elite and the standard litter maids to use pine and other litters. It also offers a money saving alternative for litter without modifying the litter maid. The link to the webpage will be available on my homepage tomorrow.

  18. I have always used Arm and Hammers scooping litter. There were recomendations on litter types in the box when you buy it new.

    I have been also having problems with my LM900. The light comes on but the motor doesn’t go. My father and i took it apart cleaned it and it ran just fine when not on the tracks. Put it back together it worked a few times then I got it home and it didn’t work anymore.

    I gotta do something cuz I hate cleaning the litterbox. Any Ideas. Id rather not pay for any advice from a book it this economic crisis. If anyone has any ideas I’ll treasure them. I have had this littermaid for over 4 years And if the new ones suck I’m not gonna buy one.

    Such is life….. Thanks all!

  19. Hey All,
    I wanted to share my fix for my LM 500. I had one for many years that finally died. I wasn’t upset with it dying since it lasted so long. However I went out to get a new one (LM500) it wouldn’t stop going back and forth, even with no litter. After careful examination I noticed the switch along the side that should tell it to stop wasn’t getting getting good contact because of the way the rake hits the back of the plastic when it returns. Like one of the previous posters, I simply took a very small piece of wood, and taped it to the metal switch so that the rake didn’t need to travel quite so far to trigger it. It’s working like a champ now!

    This is a REALLY simple engineering mistake, its really surprising that that littermaid hasn’t fixed this. >.<

  20. I want to suggest another option for those that don’t want a “hands on” project. Check out Litterworks.com. They make cabinets for the littermaid and other manual litter boxes. The littermaid cabinet is made to use a plastic bag that is as big as needed. It comes with a receptical replacement that has a hole in the bottom that allows the litter to pass through. The cabinet has storage on one side for the litter and additional bags. It really is clever. For those that want a “hands on” project, check it out to see if you can ‘borrow’ their ideas.

  21. one other item to note for those that are using bags. I found this on Amazon… PERMA-lid & BAG-it Combo Waste Receptacle Replacement System for Littermaid Litter Box.

  22. I’ve owned no less than 7 Littermaid boxes because the older model USED to work well until the motor would break. The Elite is the worst one ever. Each new model is worse. Issues include: rake going off track so you have to hit it back or take apart, litter level line too low so when litter is kicked aside, rake gets stuck on too high litter or the waste stuck to the bare bottom. Rake then goes backwards, sweeping what it missed backward. It accumulates behind the rake and you have to manually clean behind the rake which stops too far from the rear. I’m so disappointed.

  23. addition: I found one reset “flipper metal thing” (that is the technical name) but only one at the left top where the controls are. Still doesn’t work. When it was plugged in, the sleep timer would switch on as I flipped it on and off…but the rake still didn’t budge.

  24. I gave up on the idea of this box working properly. Too many people have had too many problems for me to put stock in it anymore. Finally ended up switching to scoopfree (www.scoopfree.com) – it works similarly, except for one key difference: I havent had any problems with my scoopfree being defective! 🙂 Looks like my litter worries are finally over. Yay!

  25. Roy,
    I have always used the arm and hammer litter and it has always ran w/ no problems for almost 4 years. It runs fine when I take it apart. The motor go’s all the way and returns. Just doesn’t when I put it back together. Any idea’s?

  26. Nice tips… I had the unstopping going back and forth problem. It was definitely the contact point in the housing area. I ghetto fixed it with a piece of plastic and some masking tape. Hopefully it will hold for a while.

    Thanks!

  27. I just had my first problem our of my Littermaid, yesterday. The wife and I went to “SCarowinds” (Carowinds in Charlotte, NC)for halloween, and when we arrived back home I noticed that the Littermaid had not “made its rounds” since we had been in. I flipped the switch on it hoping to get it to run but nothing happened. I did hear the motor a little bit, but no motion. I took it apart and flipped the switch again and the gear was only moving in the “reverse” direction. I jumped onto the internet and Goggled “Littermaid quit working”, and it gave me the link to your blog. I put my unit back together after some lite cleaning (why not, I already had the thing torn down), and checked all 4 switches located on the track. Ater some inpection I noticed one of my switches had a small clump on it, preventing it from being tripped. I cleaned that, and now all is well.
    I’ve had this unit for 5 years and with 2 cats (one of those is a Highland Lynx who REALLY uses it, if you know what I mean). I’m so glad I found your blog……..I didn’t want to have to shell out another 85 bucks. Thanks, man!!!!!!!!!

  28. There are three basic types of littermaid litter that I know of.
    1. You can use the regular scooping litter.
    (Bad idea if you have a lot of use even though it is cheaper, with too much pee in the clumping litter it will eventually lead to motor burnout)

  29. My LitterMaid rake has gone all the way to the end where it is supposed to dump and is stuck there. Any suggestions on what to do to make it return??

    Just a comment on litter . . . I use the regular self-clumping clay litter and mix in some of the Arm and Hammer litter that is if I remember right a corn product. At any rate the mixture seems to work well for me. The Arm and Hammer makes the litter lighter weight so the litter box arm goes through it good and the Arm and Hammer has a really nice scent that helps cut odor.

  30. thanks for the countless tips about the sensors at the beginning and end of the track. This was my problem as well (Elite 5000). The back sensor was not making contact before the back of the unit would hit the casing. I too taped a small piece of wood in front of the sensor so that it would always make contact first. Works like a charm!

    In addition, I have a small fix for the bag issue. I put my littermaid on a small table, just slightly hanging off of the edge… I then placed a regular garabge can under the table and removed the waste bin. The result? The litter drops right into the garbage can. Works great and has for years. The only trick is to replace the garbage bag regularly as litter can be quite heavy!

    Hope this helps and thanks again for the sensor trick…

    -Shawn

  31. My littermaid works only if I manually push the switch. It does not work automatically. Any ideas? I wiped the sensor on the inside of the box and it still does not work. Am I going to have to take the thing apart to get to the interior of the sensor?

  32. I have an older littermaid that is about 7 years old and still working just fine. I recently purchased the new elite mega. It was a very expensive unit that lasted all of three months before the motor burnt out. Two weeks worth of attempts to reach littermaid have been unsuccesfull. All calls to the warranty department land in a voice mail box that results in no returned call. It would seem that they’re product quality is slipping. If you are in the market for an automatic litter box, don’t buy a littermaid.

  33. HELP!
    Ok, so, I’m like totally lucky because one of the other EMTs from our Fire Department gave me their LM-900 (or is it LM-500 – whatever, it’s the “mega”), when their Grandma’s cats went to a new home (and she to assisted living).
    So, it works ok but I hate using the batteries and they lost the AC adapter that originally came with it.
    One of your posts mentioned the 1000 mA adapter vs the 500 mA adapter, but how can I get a replacement adapter/
    I tried the ‘official’ LM web page but did not find anything about replacement parts.
    I would love to find a replacement AC adapter (prefferably the stronger one because of what you said above).
    I thought about getting an ‘after market’ one from “radio shack” or something but then I realized, I had no clue as to what the ‘poliarity’ should be or what V the adapter should be.
    Can you help me? I’m the first to admit it when I need a clue, and Brother I need a clue on this one.
    Thanks, 😉 JP

  34. My litter maid just quit. How do you clean it (re:Diane)? I don’t really feel it is broken, that if I knew what to do, it would work. I would like to tr y batteries, but that could be a waste of money–it it doesn’t work with electricity, how could it work with batteries? Any suggestions of anything I could try before dumping it in the dump???

  35. Jeff,
    I just bought a LME5500. It looks new but I got it on eBay and seller tells me its used. He also said it works, but it doesn’t. I plug in the AC adapter, press on button, nothing happens. No green light, nothing. I’ve tried about 8 different AC adapters (I have a lot of ’em!) and also different outlets in my house. Nothing. Is this a fixable problem? I’d rather fix this one than send it back.

  36. I have a Littermaid box which quit working. The wire broke between the back and the front. There isn’t a long enough piece to reattach it. Any suggestions where i can get the wire?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *