How to maintain your treadmill

We get this question asked daily, so here is a little insight:

All treadmills need regular maintenance.  To everyone’s surprise, this is what most salesmen never tell you at the time of purchase.   There are many reasons.  One is that manufacturers don’t want you to play with your treadmill because of risk of injury and lawsuits.  Another is you’re most likely to buy a machine that is advertised as maintenance free instead of one that requires periodic maintenance.  Finally, a lot of salespeople just don’t know any better.

Like any other machine with moving components all treadmills need periodic maintenance.  The frequency depends on the amount of use and quality of the treadmill.

In general you get what you pay for.  Therefore, assuming the amount of usage were the same, a better quality treadmill will need less maintenance than a cheap one because the overall components are more heavy duty.

 Dirt, dust and sweat are the enemies.  If not cleaned regularly, these elements work their way inside the treadmill’s components and cause premature wear and failure. 

  • Dirt gets under the walking belt and causes excess friction between the belt and deck, therefore putting more stress on the electronics.
  •  Dust gets inside the motor area and covers the motor and circuit boards like a blanket trapping heat and causes the electronics to run hot.
  • Sweat, which is essentially salt water gets onto surfaces and into any crevice and begins corroding anything it can.

Preventive maintenance  (aka: “PM”) on a treadmill involves 3 steps:

  1.  A proper cleaning inside and out.
  2.  Lubricating and adjustment of walk belt and drive belt.
  3. Test run, and re-calibration if necessary.

Please note:  there are mainly two types of lubricants used for walking belt lubrication: Silicone lube or Paraffin wax.   Make sure you know which lubricant your treadmill uses before application.

Additionally treadmills that are advertised as having a “maintenance-free belt & deck” can still be cleaned and lubricated to extend their lives.

The following intervals should be used as a guideline only.  Please refer to your owner’s manual for factory recommended service intervals.

For residential use:  (with residential grade treadmills)  If used daily, perform “PM” once a year.   On cheaper treadmills (under $1000) you will need to lube the belt more often – at least every 6 months. 

For commercial use: (with commercial grade treadmills)

  • If used up to 3 hours a day, perform PM once every 6 months.
  • If used up to 6 hours a day, perform PM once every 3 months.
  • If used up to 9 hours a day or more, perform PM once a month.

The best preventive maintenance is a daily wipe down with a damp cloth (just water, no cleaning agents or chemicals).  This alone can add a few years to the life of your treadmill.

Finally, for the more technical aspect of the PM service, if you’re not mechanically inclined, please leave this work to a professional.