Saving Your Treadmill: Maintenance They Don't Want You to Know About
I've had my treadmill for over five years now. The only maintenance the user manual mentioned was keeping it clean, and keeping the floor under it dusted. I did that, and it lasted pretty well. I expected at some point that I would have to replace the motor or something else. It's a pretty basic model, so I didn't expect to replace any expensive computer parts.
The treadmill was sporadically used for the first couple of years. After that, it was used almost every day for 20-30 minutes. So when the motor couldn't seem to keep the treadmill belt moving anymore, I tried a few things. None of them worked. Finally, I decided that I had to do some research on which part to replace.
I checked You Tube for instructions on repairing treadmills. I expected to replace the motor, or at least the circuit board. However, the most relevant video that I found was not on repair, but on maintenance. It seems that there is a very convenient regular maintenance you can perform on your treadmill that will buy you a lot more use!
The principle of the treadmill is that the walking belt slips easily as it moves the length of the platform, and the motor turns one end to pull it forward at different regulated speeds. This means that the underside of the walking belt, between the belt and the platform, and the platform itself need to slide easily against each other. When I lifted the walking belt somewhat and looked at the platform under it, the platform was very smooth.
The contact surfaces between the walking belt and the platform need to not only be smooth, but to be slick. In short, the platform needs to be lubricated. The maintenance instructions that should be included with a treadmill would tell you that lubrication should happen every 6 months or every 150 miles, whichever comes first. (Of course, if your treadmill manufacturer is like my treadmill manufacturer, you won't know about this. Then you may think that you've worn it out, and will need to buy another treadmill.)
The lubricant is not petroleum-based. So be careful about that. Definitely don't use something like WD40. The lubricant is a silicone oil, and the purer the better. You can buy the oil by itself.
However, you'll also need some way to apply it, if you don't want to take your treadmill apart. I purchased a very handy kit, called a Lube-n-Walk kit. It includes a long wand that looks like a flexible plastic ruler, as well as 6 months of lubricant. The wand has a thin sponge glued the length of each side. Squeeze a month's worth of the lubricant the full length of the sponge on one side. Then slide the wand, lubricated side down, between the tread belt and the platform. Slide it back and forth a few times as far as you can along the length of the underside of the tread belt. After you've done that, run the treadmill without standing on it for several minutes so the lubricant will be spread evenly along the underside of the walking belt and to surface of the platform. Then it's ready to go.
By the time I discovered this maintenance, my treadmill would start, but it would only run for a few minutes before the walking belt would stop moving. The motor would continue to run, but it didn't have the power to pull the walking belt and to keep it moving. That would only make sense, as the belt would slide across the platform and, after a few minutes, would swell slightly with the heat from the friction. Then the walking belt would stop moving.
When the Lube-n-Walk kit arrived, I used it and found it worked very easily. And, better yet, the treadmill worked! The next time I used it, it worked for a while, then stopped again. I thought that the walking belt must be very, very dry after all those years of using it without lubricating it, and decided, that, for the next few times, I would use one application of lubricant to re-lube the walking belt before I used it.
That was successful. My treadmill is working very well now, and I won't soon forget to keep it lubricated.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.