Do Treadmills Require Maintenance? The Complete Guide

Treadmills Maintenance

So you have bought a brand new treadmill to begin your fitness journey. After investing a huge amount, the first question that hits your mind is how to take care of this beautiful machine? What is the right way to lubricate the treadmill and how to maintain it for a long period?

Don’t worry! We have got all covered for you. In this article, we have discussed all your queries related to treadmills, like proper maintenance of treadmills, complete lubrication process, and much more. Let’s begin!

Treadmill – A Blessing in Disguise!

Treadmills have been in existence for more than a century, providing us with the convenience of a challenging workout for our legs without having to leave the house. Originally powered by human beings, modern treadmills are sophisticated machines powered by a motor. There was a time when they were only found inside gyms or a handful of athletes’ and celebrities’ home gyms. They gradually found a place inside our homes as people became more aware of a regular cardio workout’s health benefits.

As treadmills are an investment, they should be treated as such. Hence, regular maintenance is essential to ensure the effectiveness, safety, and longevity of the machine. While this may sound like a difficult process to a beginner, it is anything but that. Most treadmills are similar on the inside despite having vastly different designs and features. That is for good reason as it allows home users to run maintenance on their machines themselves.

How Often Do You Need To Lubricate A Treadmill?

Industry professionals recommend an annual servicing for regular use and a semiannual maintenance for heavy use. An essential part of the maintenance procedure is lubrication.

It enables your machine to run smoothly, cutting down the friction by introducing and evenly applying fluid throughout the parts that keep the belt running. It also prevents the motor from overworking, ensuring your safety when using the treadmill and further prolonging its life and effectiveness.

So, let’s look at how you can find out whether your treadmill belt needs lubrication.

Warming Up On Treadmill

How Do I Know If My Treadmill Belt Needs Lubricant?

Although the lubrication schedule provided above should take care of this problem before it even arrives, it is also important to know when your treadmill belt needs lubricant as all machines may not operate in the same manner.

When another application is due, a good method of knowing is by conducting a thorough inspection of the deck surface under the belt.

  1. Reach your hand inside where your feet would come in constant contact with the belt.
  2. If you feel a waxy or an oily coating on the surface, it is residue from your last application, and it means you are in the clear.
  3. However, if that coating is absent, it is an indication that your belt needs more lubrication.

Other ways of knowing when lubrication is due would be the belt’s uneven movement and a creaking sound. Treadmills are loud machines in general but listen closely for any whirring sounds, too, as it might mean that the motor is being overworked.

While it is recommended to lubricate your treadmill once every three months, most professionals understand that the differential between light, regular, and heavy users may be quite large.

Hence, other metrics to keep track of are 150 miles in the distance, or perhaps every 40 hours of use. All of these are provided to ensure that that lubrication is done promptly.

The Best Treadmill

What Happens If You Don’t Lubricate A Treadmill?

Treadmill lubricant has a direct impact on the life of your running machine and the effectiveness of its components. If you do not have the time or the expertise to maintain your treadmill on your own, you may consider having a professional look at it instead.

Though this might be a costlier option, it will be peanuts compared to the costs of replacing components that may get damaged without regular lubrication. The first component to wear out without lubrication would be the belt, which can cost you upwards of $300 to replace.

As they are predominantly made from rubber, cotton, and polyester, belts can easily get damaged when used for a prolonged period. Much like a conveyor belt, they are powered by a motor and assisted by other components.

Thus, a generous and even application of the lubricant from time to time allows the belt to stay firm, move smoothly, and without added friction. Experts also recommend a light application when you are resuming using your treadmill after it being dormant for more than a couple of months.

Being the most expensive and crucial component of a treadmill, the drive motor comes in second place on this list. Not lubricating the belt will lead to friction and resistance, making the motor work harder than it should. This will set you back at least $350, and that’s without taking into account the spike in electricity bill, which will be inevitable given the condition.

Moreover, a treadmill houses various moving parts that also need the lubricant to run efficiently. A higher load demands more power, which leads to a rise in the internal temperature when provided by the motor.

The increased heat circulating across the motor control board goes one of two ways; either the machine will trigger a temperature overload and shut itself down or result in a component wearing out entirely. This often results in the motor not starting as a key component will have to be replaced by a professional, costing around that $300 ballpark.

Treadmill with Incline

On the other hand, as lubrication, because of its convenience, is the only maintenance procedure people are familiar with, there is a high chance of user error.

Lubricating your treadmill on time is important, but doing it too often or too liberally can result in various issues. The number one concern would be the belt becoming too slippery, rendering it unsafe to use.

This can result in serious injuries, so refrain from using the machine at high speed or incline after lubrication. It is recommended to use not more than an ounce of lubricant per application or three to five sprays on each side.

After lubricating the belt, a good practice is to turn on the machine and run it at a moderate walking speed for about five to six minutes. It will enable the lubricant to spread evenly throughout the belt and also cut down on any drippage.

That last part is actually important because the lubricant is very difficult to clean because of its consistency and fluidity. If there is excess lubricant leaking from the sides, it can be washed away with soap and water. Harder to clean stains to interior and carpeting would need the assistance of denatured alcohol or Formula 409.

Hence, instead of forking over upwards of $300 in repairs, remember to conduct regular checks and lubricate your running machine in a timely manner. Once that practice develops into a habit, it is quite certain that these issues won’t arise.

What Can I Use To Lubricate My Treadmill?

Most treadmill manufacturers recommend using a lubricant made from 100% silicone or a high percentage if the former is not easily available. Silicone or its products is available in a spray or liquid bottle and is the preferred lubricant as its consistency ensures it stays in the machine over time.

Other household oils or fluids cannot function as lubricants and are strictly prohibited by manufacturers as they would damage the machine and its moving parts. Teflon, a popular brand name from DuPont, is a silicone-based product that also works well with most treadmill belts.

Off-brand and cheaper options sold online do the job in the short run but often result in the belt wearing out faster. If there is a noticeable difference in the performance, do check under your belt. Perhaps even loosening the screws and adjusting it to ensure no damage has been done after using a cheaper alternative.

If you find a white substance creating a webbing of sorts, it indicates an inferior lubricant. Try wiping it off with a damp cloth and apply a generous amount of 100% silicone or silicone-based lubricant to replace it. If it is too late, however, you may just need to replace the belt. You can refer to the instruction manual or the official website to find the recommended lubricant for your treadmill.

On the flip side of things, you do have to be careful as not all treadmills require lubrication. Many of the newer models from popular brands such as NordicTrack come pre-coated with a high-performance lubricant. The manufacturers warn against the use of any sprays or liquids.

How Long Should A Treadmill Last?

Woman Running on Treadmill

Most of us would be familiar with the treadmills at our gyms that remain the same and stay unchanged for over a decade. There is no reason to change them, as upgrades are costly, and the advantages new models offer are incremental and not revolutionary.

Research suggests that a properly maintained treadmill can last anywhere from seven to twelve years. Take the median figure and you get a life of ten years. This does not mean that you have to get rid of your treadmill as soon as the clock strikes a decade.

You may not do that at twelve years either, given that your machine is running smoothly and is safe to use. It does mean that its parts might not easily be replaceable as they might have been discontinued.

Adding on, the maintenance of a treadmill isn’t all just about lubrication. A proper servicing would entail disassembling and removing parts to vacuum and clean areas where dust and debris may have been collected over time because of wear and tear. If left unchecked for a long duration, it can harm the drive motor, which is the most expensive component on a treadmill.

It is often difficult to repair or replace, costing upwards of one-third of the cost of the running machine itself.

It is a good idea to familiarize yourself with the user manual and the maintenance kit that comes with your machine. The kit includes some spare screws, nuts, and bolts that may get lost when you remove the hood exposing its working parts to service your machine.

Furthermore, the user manual would also list the name and specifications of every part of the machine if they ever need replacing. If you can’t find your instruction manual, there isn’t much to worry about as digital copies are often available online.

Just type in the model name of your treadmill on the official website of the manufacturer and you will get all the important information. If that option’s not available, just googling the same information would also return similar results.

While most treadmills are designed for self-maintenance, if you do not have the confidence, investing in a quarterly or biannual service would be a better idea. It will not only rid you from the worry of a botched job but also add years to the life of your treadmill.

Benny Laker

I am the owner of High Tech Fitness. I love testing any kind of exercise equipment and enjoy sharing my insights with you.

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