Your treadmill, just like your car is a mechanical device with bearings, motors, and belts. Just like your car, your treadmill needs regular maintenance to keep running properly and to prevent a much larger repair bill or replacement down the road.
One of the questions that I always ask my customers is; “When is the last time that you lubed your running belt and deck?” It amazes me how often the answer is; “We’ve never lubed it.” Or, they may say that its been years.
Most treadmill service calls that result in belt and/or deck replacement, drive belt replacement, drive motor replacement, motor controller or motor control board replacement, and treadmill roller replacement could have been prevented if the owner would have maintained the lubrication and proper adjustment on the running belt, keeping it clean.
Dirt and the lack of proper lubrication between the belt and deck cause friction. This friction not only shortens the life of the belt and deck, it also puts a strain on the roller bearings, the drive motor and the motor control board. That and improper treadmill running belt adjustment are the primary causes of premature failure of the five most replaced items on a treadmill which accounts for the majority of treadmill service calls.
The six most replaced items are the treadmill running belt, or walking belt ($100-$170 range). The treadmill running deck ($200 range). The motor controller or motor control board ($150-$300 range). The treadmill drive motor ($200-$600 range) and the treadmill rollers ($80-$250 range each). All of these items are greatly affected by improper cleaning, lubrication, and adjustment of the treadmill walking belt.
You can refer to your treadmill owners manual for proper cleaning, lubrication and adjustment procedures, frequency and proper lubricant. You can also have your local treadmill service schedule regular maintenance for you.
I typically schedule this for my customers as a regular service. I recommend every three months for moderate to heavy use, and every six months for light use. This can greatly extend the life of your treadmill.
If you do not properly maintain your treadmill in this way you can expect a service call requiring the replacement of one or more of these items sooner than you would have liked. Often I need to replace several of these items all on the same call.
Just like part of the cost of an automobile is proper maintenance, treadmills are exactly the same. The cost of not maintaining either is eventually much higher, either due to the need for major repair or the need for replacement.
Here are some tips to extend the life of your treadmill:
1.) Lube the deck with the factory recommended lubricant at regular intervals. Friction is the number one cause or premature treadmill breakdowns.
2.) Either unplug the treadmill from the wall when not in use or turn off the main power switch at the base of the unit if one is present. Power surges caused by things like lightning can damage your treadmill.
3.) Stand on the side rails while starting the treadmill until you have reached at least walking speed (2-3 mph). Trying to get the drive motor to move your weight from a standstill puts a lot of stress on the drive motor. This is particularly important with lower end treadmills.
4.) Wipe down your treadmill after use and keep it free from dirt and perspiration. Perspiration can cause the metal components on your treadmill to rust. Dirt getting under the belt can cause premature wear and damage to the belt and deck.
5.) Do not use shoes that are used outdoors to run or walk on your treadmill. Impregnated sand and dirt can cause premature wear and damage your belt and deck.
6.) Unplug your treadmill, remove the motor cover and vacuum out any dirt or dust as annual maintenance. Be careful around the electronics so as not to bump or cause damage to the lower control board. Built up dirt and dust can cause motors and electronics to overheat and cause premature failure.
7.) Do not keep your treadmill in damp areas or areas where it may get wet such as outside, or in a damp or wet basement. If your basement has a potential for flooding, keep in mind that just a few inches of water can destroy the treadmill beyond its practical repair value.
8.) Make sure that the treadmill is level side to side. Treadmills placed on an unlevel surface can cause the walking belt to go off center and can damage the belt.
9.) Do not use a long extension cord to plug in your treadmill. If you cannot be reasonably close to an outlet it is wise to have an electrician install an outlet that is close to your treadmill. If an extension cord must be used then use one that is as short as possible and make sure that it is at least a 12 gauge wire. Light cords can overheat and in addition may not be able to provide the amps that your treadmill needs to run properly. A dedicated 20 amp circuit is recommended and even needed on some treadmills.
10.) Do not over tighten the walking belt. This can put stress on your roller bearings as well as stretch out your belt. There may be some guidelines for belt tensioning in your owners manual. As a general rule, with the treadmill off you should be able to deflect the belt two to three inches by inserting your hands palms up under both sides of the belt so that all four finders are under the belt about midway between the front and rear of the treadmill and lifting firmly.
Maine Treadmill Repair