Why regular treadmill maintenance is needed? A treadmill is one of the most reliable pieces of workout equipment available. Better still, unlike other workout machines, it’s less strenuous to your body and easier to use. However, as you already know, this equipment is quite expensive. So, you should try and extend its life as much as possible. Unfortunately, with repeated use, its components will likely deteriorate due to wear & tear.
Apart from extending your treadmill’s longevity, maintenance will keep it functioning properly. Also, you don’t have to call in an expensive technician to repair your equipment.
In other words, knowing how to maintain a treadmill will come in handy in various ways, especially if you own one. In this guide, I’ll share every detail on how to maintain a treadmill. That way, you can keep it working effectively for longer!
How to Maintain a Treadmill: Step by step maintenance process
1. Wipe down the machine after every workout
Running or walking on a treadmill means that you’re going to sweat. This sweat will eventually drop on the machine. Similarly, any dirt from your running shoes will accumulate on the treadmill. As moisture and dirt start to accumulate, rust will eventually start to thrive on the belt and frame. Moreover, this will promote fungal as well as bacterial growth on the treadmill.
To avoid these challenges, make sure you wipe down your machine with a damp cloth after every workout. Using a soft brush, get rid of the dirt buildup on the treadmill belt. You can also use sanitizing wipes to remove sweat from the console, handlebars, and belt. Lastly, inspect and wipe the metal parts with a dry cloth.
2. Check for loose screws
Treadmills are held together by bold and screws. With heavy and repeated use, these screws and bolts will gradually loosen over time. For this reason, you should check and tighten any loose screws regularly.
On the same note, check and replace any corroded bolts and screws. If you don’t have replacement screws, buy them from the machine’s manufacturer. Otherwise, using the wrong bolts/ screw can damage your equipment.
3. Vacuum the space underneath
Dirt and dust tend to accumulate in the area underneath if you don’t clean it for too long. This build-up can add to the wear & tear of your machine. Moreover, it can interfere with your treadmill’s performance.
Therefore, it’s important to keep the floor area underneath your equipment clean. You can accomplish that is by vacuuming that area regularly. Use the vacuum cleaner’s hose attachment to remove as much dirt and dust as possible.
4. Clean the entire machine
Debris and dust will gather on your treadmill, regardless of whether you’re using it or not. You can use treadmill covers to keep dust away when storing the equipment. This dust will enter through small crevices and can even end up in the motor. As a result, this area will become clothed with dirt and dust. This will eventually cause damage to your workout machine. To prevent that, vacuum the entire machine at least once/ twice every month.
Cleaning the machine is an important part of the entire treadmill maintenance process. However, before you clean the machine, make sure the equipment is unplugged. Be careful when cleaning around the electrical parts to avoid any damage.
Moreover, read the manual before opening the motor compartment. This may provide extra details about cleaning the motor compartment. Next, carefully vacuum around the motor. As an alternative, you can wipe the area with a lint-free cloth. Close the compartment, plug in the machine, and turn it on for a minute after you’re done. Note, avoid using chemicals or liquids when cleaning the motor compartment.
Vacuuming should also be done around and in the treadmill belt and deck. Dust can accumulate around these areas, damaging or wearing down the belt.
5. Adjust the treadmill belt regularly
When functioning properly, the treadmill belt should be at the center of the deck. However, over time, the belt will start to slide off the treadmill’s center. As a result, the belt glides closer to 1 side of the deck when walking or running on the machine. Moreover, this may cause your machine to produce an unfamiliar sound.
· Why is my treadmill making a knocking noise?
Many factors can be causing your treadmill to produce a knocking noise. For instance, it may be resulting from a worn treadmill motor belt, loose roller pulley, or a fraying belt. However, the knocking sound may also be a result of a misaligned treadmill belt. This causes the belt to apply too much stress on the roller from one side to the other.
If you notice any of these issues, you need to align and tighten the belt. Belt alignment is not a difficult process. Most modern treadmills have 2 bolts on each side of the machine’s rear to help you with that. Simply turn the bolts anti-clockwise or clockwise until the belt is center-aligned. The movement will depend on the direction the belt is slipping from the treadmill’s center point.
If you’re unable to reset the belt, refer to the manufacturer’s manual. While adjusting the belt, make slight adjustments and monitor the progress.
Alignment balances the belt and reduces its chances of wearing down asymmetrically.
6. Maintain the belt tension
Most superior treadmills in the market have pre-adjusted belt tension. However, with repeated use, the treadmill belt tends to stretch out over time. As a result, the belt starts to loosen and slip off the deck. This can cause excessive wear & tear, both to the belt and deck. Once you notice the treadmill belt is slipping or loosening, you need to tighten its tension.
Modern treadmills come fitted with 2 tension bolts for tightening the belt. These bolts are usually located at the rear part of the machine. However, don’t make the belt too tight, as it can damage the rollers and motor.
Instead, use ¼ turn increments when tightening the tension bolts. After each adjustment, test out your treadmill at 3mph before you make proceed. This prevents over-tightening the belt by ensuring it has the ideal tension. Also, make sure you check the recommended belt tension on the manufacturer’s manual.
7. Regular treadmill lubrication
The treadmill belt is constantly moving when you’re walking or running on the machine. Also, the underside is consistently rubbing against components like rollers and motors. These movements generate friction, subjecting your equipment to premature wear & tear. Unwanted friction can also cause the treadmill to generate noise during use. To prevent these issues and ensure smooth movement, lubricate the moving parts regularly. Moreover, this will keep its components in excellent condition and extend their longevity.
Under normal circumstances, lubrication should be done after every 130 miles/ 3 months. But if you use your machine more intensely, inspect it more often to check if lubrication is needed.
Some modern treadmill models have self-lubricating features. But most models are still manual. What can you use to lubricate a treadmill? Most treadmill manufacturers recommend that you apply 100% silicone lube for the belt. Also, you should loosen the belt, apply the lubricant and re-tighten it once you’re done. Silicone is more durable and doesn’t harm your treadmill.
In general, there are 2 methods of lubricating the belt. The first method involves using a lubricant stick with a sponge pad and a handle. With this technique, you need to raise the belt on one end. Then stick the lubrication wand underneath the belt until it’s properly lubricated.
As an alternative, you can use a sponge or spray bottle to apply the treadmill oil underneath the belt. However, this technique may not be as reliable and effective as the first approach.
To learn more about treadmill maintenance lubrication, check out the step-by-step guide below!
· How to perform treadmill lubrication?
To check if your treadmill requires lubrication, loosen the running belt. But before you get there, make sure the treadmill is unplugged. This is a necessary precaution when you’re performing any type of maintenance. Next, loosen the tension bolts with a screwdriver/ an Allen wrench.
After loosening the belt, place your hand underneath it and retract your hand. If your hand comes out with some oil, lubrication is not necessary. But if the hand comes out dry, that’s an indication that you need to lubricate it! To accomplish that, move on with the following steps:
- Clean the treadmill deck with a lint-free cloth to remove dirt and dust under the treadmill belt.
- Slightly lift the belt with your hand and slide the lubricant underneath.
- Now, apply the treadmill oil, starting from the middle towards the belt edges. Then remove the lubricant bottle from beneath the treadmill belt.
- Plug in the cable and power the machine back on.
- Set the treadmill speed at a pace of about 3mph, and walk on it for about 4 minutes. This ensures that the lubricant is uniformly dispersed on the running belt.
- Unplug the equipment again and slip your hand under the belt to determine if it’s well lubricated.
- If your hand still feels dry, add more lubricant and test the machine again.
- Once the deck is properly lubricated, tighten the tension bolts one side at a time.
8. Replace the running belt
Whether you’ve got a superior or a low-quality treadmill, the belt will certainly wear out over time. Oiling the machine regularly will make it last longer. However, at some point, belt replacement will be needed.
To determine if your belt requires replacement, look for signs of wear after every 3 months. If it appears worn and rough, it’s good to ensure that it’s replaced. Otherwise, the belt’s roughness will make the deck wear out more rapidly. As a result, you’ll be forced to replace both the belt and the deck.
9. Treadmill servicing
The maintenance tips we’ve looked at so far, are quick and simple DIY tasks. I’m talking about things like lubricating the belt and cleaning. However, at some point, maintenance will not help you anymore. For instance, if the treadmill is broken, maintenance will not fix the problem.
The same case applies to other parts like rollers, belts, motor, and console are damage. The ideal action to take is to contact a technician or professional. Hiring a professional for more detailed work will help you solve the issue with ease. Alternatively, contact the manufacturer, especially if your machine is still under warranty. Just don’t try to fix the problem yourself since it can cause more damage.
How to Set Up Your Treadmill
· Install a surge protector
Most treadmills out there today use computer-controlled electronic consoles. Like any other electronic device, these consoles are vulnerable to power surges. So, ensure the plug will provide the required amount of power needed to operate it. Also, the AC outlet should be properly grounded. More importantly, it’s good to install a surge protector. This will safeguard the console and other electric components from unexpected power surges. Moreover, this will help you prevent short circuits in case of power irregularities.
As an alternative, always unplug the treadmill when you’re not using it. However, if you’ve installed a superior surge protector, this may not be necessary.
Still, on safeguarding the electrical components, inspect the power cables regularly. If your belt shows any signs of damage, it’s good to replace it right away. Dust buildup under the treadmill motor can also cause damage to electrical components.
· Use a treadmill mat
Although a mat isn't crucial, installing one under the treadmill is a good practice. First, it will protect the floor from unwanted damage and deliver a class look. It will prevent the base from chipping, denting, or scuffing the flooring material. Secondly, it will reduce the vibrations produced by the treadmill during use. As a result, the noise produce by the machine during a workout will reduce.
As for maintenance, the treadmill mat will protect your device from dirt, pet hair, and dust. As you know, such debris can damage your motor control board, leading to costly repairs. Best of all, It will make it easier to clean and vacuum the area under the treadmill.
· Keep the machine on a perfectly level ground
When setting up your treadmill, make sure that the floor area is perfectly level. This will keep the belt aligned, thus allowing the machine to run smoothly. Also, a level surface protects the deck and belt from wearing down rapidly.
Placing your equipment on an uneven area will encourage the belt to slide to one side. Moreover, it will cause wobbles and bumps, hence affecting its performance. Not to forget that the belt will break down faster as compared to when it’s on a flat surface.
To ensure your machine is perfectly level, use a spirit level when setting it up. This will enable you to adjust it accordingly until it levels off accurately. If you intend to place the treadmill on an area with an uneven surface, look for a model with adjustable level feet. That way, you can adjust the feet on the bottom of the treadmill deck until it levels off.
Treadmill Maintenance Kits
If you use your treadmill regularly, you need to lubricate it often to help it run smoothly. However, before you apply lubricant, you should clean it properly. This is where having the proper treadmill maintenance accessories comes in handy. You can use these accessories to dust the motor, deck, and belt.
In most cases, the treadmill maintenance kit comes with:
- Cleaning cloth. This absorbent cotton cloth helps to remove dirt, dust, and pet hair from the treadmill.
- Belt cleaner. This allows you to safely clean all the treadmill surfaces.
- Belt lubricant. Keeps the treadmill running smoothly by ensuring it’s properly lubricated.
- Replacement key. Helps to replace broken or lost keys. It includes a clothing clip as well as a safety tether.
- Surge protector. It safeguards your treadmill console and electrical components against voltage and current spikes.
Note, applying the wrong type of lubricant can make the belt lose its grip or make it too slippery. To prevent this, refer to the manufacturer’s manual and use a maintenance kit. Some manufacturers recommend their maintenance kit, instead of commercial kits.
Either way, the cleaning kit should be efficient, effective, and easy to use. Some kits include other accessories like a scrubbing brush, cleaning solution, and applicator. Overall, they help to extend the longevity of your machine’s running belt and motor. Even better, they significantly reduce the cost of repairing your treadmill over time.
Common Treadmill Problems
· Treadmill not working
Various reasons can make your treadmill refuse to turn. For instance, if you plug your machine into a faulty GFCI outlet, it will not power on. To fix this problem, reset the power outlet and turn on your workout equipment again.
Another common treadmill experience is the main console failing to function. In this case, the problem may be caused by the power cables. If the cables aren’t the issue, unplug the treadmill. Wait for about 1-2 minutes and plug it again. This will reset the circuit breaker, allowing the machine to function normally again.
If the power cables are not working, check for unattached wires and loose pin connections. Replace the faulty wires or cords and re-plug the machine.
· Burning smell
If you smell burning rubber, the treadmill motor may be having an issue. However, the smell could also be happening because of an over-tightened treadmill belt. As a result, unwanted friction is generated, thus causing the burning smell. To fix this problem, ensure that the belt has adequate treadmill oil.
But if that doesn’t solve the issue, check the motor. How to fix a treadmill motor? First, unplug your treadmill and remove the motor compartment. The smell may be coming from moving parts like pulleys and drive belts in the compartment. If that’s the case, replace the faulty parts right away.
Other things can be causing the burning smell in the motor area as well. This may include; short circuit, dirt/ dust buildup, and stuck items in the motor. Never ignore the burning smell when using a treadmill since it can result in a fire hazard. So, when you notice a burning smell, stop the machine instantly!
If dust build is causing the burning smell, vacuum the motor compartment. As for the stuck object, the machine should start functioning normally once you remove it. However, in the case of a short circuit, look for a treadmill repair service from a professional.
· Speed issues
Speed problems can either be caused by an electrical or mechanical error. To troubleshoot a mechanical problem, turn off the treadmill and walk on its belt. This will more difficult than when the motor is working. Nonetheless, the belt should still move even with the power turned off. To fix a mechanical problem, inspect the tension bolts or apply some treadmill oil to the belt. This can also be indicating that the belt requires replacement.
If the belt isn’t causing the speed problem, the issue may be coming from the motor. If you don’t know how to fix a treadmill motor, contact a technician to check the machine.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Can I use wd40 silicone on my treadmill?
Silicone spray and WD-40 contain petroleum distillates. Such contaminants can corrode and deteriorate various parts of your treadmill. Therefore, you should avoid using such products to lubricate your workout machine. Instead, look for the lubricant recommended by the manufacturer or use 100% silicone.
2. Do the Precor treadmill need lubrication?
Unlike manually lubricated workout equipment, Precor treadmills are self-lubricating. For that, they don’t need treadmill lubrication maintenance. However, they require basic care like cleaning the machine.
3. Do you have to wear shoes on a treadmill?
Treadmill running is a high-impact exercise. So, it’s important to wear shoes during a workout to avoid injury and ensure proper cushioning. Just make sure the shoes are clean to prevent transferring dust and dust to the belt and deck.
4. Can I use bleach to clean my treadmill?
Disinfecting or cleaning your treadmill with bleach can corrode your exercise equipment. Also, it can cause the plastic pieces to crack or fade away. So, avoid cleaning products with bleach or abrasive chemicals like ammonia and alcohol.
With proper treadmill maintenance practices, your treadmill can last longer. How long does a treadmill last in the first place? According to manufacturers, a treadmill can last for about 7 to 12 years. Thankfully, by lubricating its belt regularly and taking good care of it, it can last up to 15 years.
Apart from longevity, treadmill maintenance will considerably cut down the repair and maintenance costs in the long run. Better still, the tips I’ve listed above will prevent any potential challenges that may arise. So, make sure you maintain, lubricate, and clean your machine regularly. Moreover, I’d recommend you contact a professional to check the treadmill after every 8 to 10 months.