Easy Home Treadmill Maintenance and Care

A home treadmill is a big investment that can help you maintain a regular fitness routine with ease and convenience. As such, it pays to do the simple maintenance to keep it running well for years to come. In this article, Dan Thompson of Huff-n-Puff Fitness Repair in the Chicago area shares tips to keep your home treadmill running efficiently for years to come.

Runner's feet on home treadmill
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Top 5 Things to Do to Maintain Your Treadmill

Maintaining your treadmill can be tedious, but it truly is the key to making sure you get the most out of your machine with as little trouble as possible. By regularly performing the following tasks, you can make sure your fitness routine remains consistent and uninterrupted.

Lubricate Your Treadmill

Your treadmill manufacturer will likely provide instructions for how to do this in the instruction manual for your specific machine. The process generally involves applying a silicone- or paraffin-based lubricant to the underside of the treadmill belt, especially in the area where your feet make the most contact. You'll want to be sure you don't apply it to the walking surface of the belt.

You may also have to loosen the belt before applying the lubricant and then retighten it after you're finished. Thompson recommends doing this once a year at a minimum. Depending on the frequency, amount of use, and the type of lubricant used, your treadmill may need to be lubed more often. Thompson warns against using WD-40 to lubricate your treadmill, as it can destroy a belt very quickly.

Vacuum Inside

Before removing the motor cover to vacuum inside the motor compartment, be sure to turn off and unplug the machine. Be very careful around all the delicate electrical components, making sure not to touch them with your vacuum nozzle. Thompson recommends doing this at least once a year.

Wipe Down the Treadmill After Every Use

Provided you are working up a sweat, this step is even more important. As moisture begins to build on the machine, it will promote rusting of its metal parts and will harbor bacterial and fungal growth. While a wet cloth can typically get the job done, you may want to purchase a home treadmill cleaning kit as well.

Keep the Walking Belt Centered and Aligned

Keeping the belt centered will help to ensure your treadmill is working efficiently. If you notice your treadmill is moving slowly and slowing down without you adjusting the speed, or you feel like you're slipping, a misaligned belt is likely the culprit. A crooked belt can also quickly become frayed and damaged, breaking down much faster than it otherwise should.

Install a Treadmill Mat Underneath the Machine

Using a mat under your machine is more to protect your treadmill's surroundings than the treadmill itself. A treadmill mat will keep your flooring from becoming damaged and help keep any noise at bay if your treadmill setup is in a second-story room. Having a mat in place can also help keep pet hair and excess dust from accumulating on your machine, as well as make it easier to vacuum the floor around it.

Regular Treadmill Maintenance

Pay attention to your treadmill with each use. If the machine is running rough or something is rubbing or scraping, discontinue use until you determine the problem. Each week, perform these simple maintenance checks:

  • Check the walking belt and deck. Check the walking belt and deck for signs of wear, along with making sure it's centered and straight. It does not need to be aligned perfectly, but this will ensure it is not scraping or rubbing on the sides. Be sure to also replace the belt once it is overly worn and rough to increase the lifespan of the treadmill as a whole.
  • Vacuum the area around the machine and underneath if possible. If you use your treadmill regularly, dust and debris will begin to accumulate at the rear of the machine. A small portion of it is from the walking belt, but the majority of it is from the soles of your shoes.

Try to keep the area around the machine as free of pet hair as possible. Treadmill mats are a great way to minimize the amount of pet hair, carpet fibers, dirt, and dust that get into the motor compartment. All that foreign debris can wreak havoc on your motor and motor control board, resulting in costly repairs.

About once a month, you should check the frame nuts and bolts to ensure they are tightened and that the uprights attaching the console to the frame are secure. According to Thompson, it is not uncommon for them to vibrate loose with regular use. A walking belt adjustment wrench should have been provided with your machine when it was purchased; otherwise, your owner's manual should list the size required.

You'll also want to regularly keep an eye out for any electrical problems. If you ever notice a burning smell while using your treadmill, you should stop using it immediately and unplug it from the wall before investigating what's causing it (dust under the motor, an object lodged under the belt, etc.). You should never ignore a burning smell, as it could quickly become a fire hazard.

You can also protect your treadmill's electronic components by plugging it into a surge protector, keeping your treadmill safe during power surges and outages. Check the machine's power cords regularly as well, observing for any damage or signs that they need to be replaced.

When to Call a Professional

Your treadmill user's manual likely covers common treadmill issues, along with troubleshooting solutions. Depending on your mechanical and electrical comfort levels, you can attempt maintenance yourself and get help with the calibration from your manufacturer's customer support line, Thompson says. TreadmillDoctor.com also has a comprehensive list of certified service providers around the U.S. and Canada.

If you remove your machine's motor cover and immediately think you are in too deep, it is probably best to call a professional. As with any other specialty piece of equipment, a professional repair technician will be able to spot problems that may not be immediately apparent. Treadmill repairs, diagnostic services, and replacement parts can be costly, so it's always best to try to resolve an issue before it evolves into a bigger problem.

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  1. Standing Desks and Treadmill Desks. How to lubricate a treadmill. Updated December 23, 2015.

  2. Durability Matters. How to maintain your treadmill—the complete guide. Updated September 22, 2019.