Understanding how to care for your treadmill will extend the life of your most treasured new possession… the one machine that will restore your vitality and improve your heart health!
I’ve spoken to Noel, Cardiotech’s Operations & Service Manager and top treadmill technician for advice.
Did you know that walking belts tend to stretch slightly with use, and may need to be tightened occasionally?
Here are our five top tips for in-home treadmill maintenance.
When it comes to caring for your treadmill, the first few steps begin with setting up your machine properly.
Think about investing in a surge protector and make sure your power connection is safe.
We suggest your treadmill is placed on a level surface and you regularly clean your machine but don’t panic; we’re only talking 1-2 minutes.
On a regular basis, it’s just as important to undertake a few treadmill maintenance checks… they are surprisingly easy to do and by keeping on top of these you’ll ensure your treadmill stays in tip top condition.
Properly cleaning your treadmill will prolong its life and improve its performance overall.
As a general rule, remember to always unplug the treadmill before commencing any cleaning or servicing.
You can start by dusting the external/exposed part of the treadmill walking belt, as well as side rails. Use a slightly damp cloth which means you’ve squeezed all the water out before using, as the last thing you want is liquid inside the frame or underneath the walking belt.
Regularly vacuum around your treadmill to help minimize debris collected from the bottom of your shoes. It’s a good idea to also remove the motor cover and vacuum around the electrical components and motor once every six months, with caution.
While doing your six monthly clean, grab a large cloth or old towel and using a ruler or similar item, poke it through under the mat so you can grip the cloth on both sides. Move it back and forth under the walking belt, and from top to bottom, repeat two to three times. This will remove dust and debris that has accumulated over the six months.
This is a “major” clean and should be followed up with belt lubrication – the section below guides you through this process.
TOP TIP: For best performance, we recommend placing your treadmill on a treadmill mat to keep dust and debris away from your treadmill’s critical components and if you have timber floors, this is going to protect them from potential movement and avoid marks.
2. Belt Lubrication
According to Noel and his many years of troubleshooting treadmill issues, he says “it’s a pretty simple process to lubricate your treadmill deck, and when done regularly it really does make a difference to the life of your machine. It also makes running and walking feel smoother… more effortless.”
If you own a treadmill and have never done this… it’s probably well overdue!
Lubricate and check on the condition of your treadmill belt and deck.
The treadmill “deck” is the walking surface underneath the belt that may be affected by friction during use and requires periodic lubrication.
While your treadmill belt has been lubricated at the factory, because of shipping the treadmill deck may have dried. It’s best to lubricate with the small bottle of oil supplied, once you have unpacked your treadmill. Repeated lubrication will extend the life of your treadmill belt, board and electrical components.
Did you know that the more you use your treadmill, the more frequently you’ll need to lubricate the deck/belt?
To ensure you don’t over lubricate the treadmill belt… start off small.
Noel says, “100% silicon oil is best to use on your treadmill.” He goes on to explain that you can also use Nulon silicon spray, Lawn & Garden or professional silicone spray which can be purchased from your local hardware store.
Noel continues, “With silicone spray, you will have to use it more often. Possibly, every 20-30 hours of use depending on the weight of the person and climate conditions. Silicone spray will dissipate with extreme heat because it has repellent in the can, so home heaters, air conditioners and dry winds can all have an effect on the longevity of the spray on the deck.”
Depending on your geographic location, weather can also play a role in maintaining your treadmill. Tropical areas may have to lubricate the treadmill belt more often due to humidity.
Dust and heat can dry the deck out, so always check the lubrication of the deck if you haven’t used the treadmill in some time, best rule of thumb is to place your hand under the walking belt and feel the surface of the running deck – If your finger tips are dry then apply 3 applications of silicon spray, walking on the treadmill for approximately 30 seconds between each application.
TOP TIP: Noel tells us, depending on when the treadmill was lubricated last, you may need to lubricate from 1 to 5 times. “If you haven’t lubricated the treadmill in many months, it’s best to repeat lubrication 5 times and in-between each application take a quick 30-50 second walk on the treadmill to help distribute the lubrication oil between the mat and the deck.”
3. Belt Adjustment
Maintaining a safe treadmill may require some minor adjustments.
As we mentioned earlier, you may need to adjust your walking belt if it begins to stretch from continued use. You may also discover that the belt becomes off center to the left or right. This is normal and happens depending on the amount of force one foot exerts compared to the other.
The issue is fixed either by correcting the belt manually, or letting the belt fix itself while running with no one on the machine.
Here are a few ways you can tell if your treadmill belt needs to be adjusted:
1. If the belt tends to stop during use, while the motor continues to run, the belt may be too loose and needs tightening.
2. If the treadmill belt feels like it may be slipping when you plant your foot, the tension in the belt may need to be increased.
3. If the walking belt is slightly off-center, you will need to center it manually.
It is very easy to over tighten the treadmill belt. Be careful to avoid this, as a very tight belt can cause damage to the treadmill.
TOP TIP: How can you tell if your treadmill belt is properly adjusted?
When you can fit 3 fingers vertically under the edge of the walking belt, halfway down its length, you can be confident that it’s just right.
4. Belt Replacement
If your treadmill belt is damaged in any way, replace it. Unfortunately, not all treadmill belts are created equal. Size and model play a factor on whether your new belt will work on your existing machine. A difference in cost may also be involved. You can always call your treadmill supplier for professional maintenance to get advice on whether your warranty covers the replacement. It is recommended to have a treadmill technician install your new belt to keep your machine performing at its best.
TOP TIP: ALWAYS unplug your treadmill before any servicing or belt replacement and exercise caution when replacing anything yourself. Be aware, that sometimes servicing done from other parties, not coordinated by your retailer, may void your warranty.
5. Stay Aware
Regardless of the amount of times you use your treadmill, make sure to stay aware of the condition of your machine.
Continuously check for loose or missing nuts and bolts as well as wear and tear.
If there is ever anything seriously wrong on your treadmill or it becomes unsafe, please call a professional before continuing use. Your safety is number one!
Treadmill Maintenance Checklist
A good rule of thumb is to keep a monthly or yearly treadmill maintenance checklist for your machine.
Depending on how often you use your treadmill, it is important to keep up-to-date on how it’s performing and its overall safety. Keeping a checklist helps you maintain the value of your treadmill for years to come.
- Cleanse – Use a damp cloth to regularly clean any dirt or debris from the treadmill as well as vacuum around the motor and under the treadmill to reduce electrical wear and tear.
- Lubricate – Make sure to lubricate the treadmill belt to keep your treadmill running in top condition. You may have to lubricate as often as every 20-30 hours, depending on geographic location and how frequently you use the machine.
- Adjust – Owning a treadmill often requires slight adjustments made to the walking/running belt. To extend the life of your belt and to avoid slipping, adjust as soon as you notice any alignment issues.
- Observe – Take time before you start exercising to check over your treadmill. Keep a checklist of cleanliness and when you have altered the treadmill belt to refer to in future.
- Replace – Broken or worn parts can cause accidents and further damage. Call your manufacturer/retailer or a local treadmill technician to fix any issues without delay.
It is important to regularly perform maintenance on any electrical machine including your treadmill.
Remember to thoroughly read your Owner’s Manual before removing your treadmill from the box and continually refer to it for any questions.
Here is a link to a guide on lubricating and adjusting the belt.