Maintaining your treadmill is essential in ensuring the prolonged life of your equipment. Unfortunately, people are often left misinformed following their purchase, and do little to maintain it’s useful life. I came across an example this past week, a friend of mine was clearing out his garage and I noticed a treadmill sitting stagnant, simulating the job of a clothes hanger. We decided to plug it in and see if the old girl had some life in her, she fired right up and we tested it out. After progressively increasing speed, and simultaneously running faster the belt began to slow until it sat motionless. I asked him, “when was the last time you lubricated the belt?”, “huh?” he replied, “I’ve never done anything like that!”. And here we have it, today’s topic focuses centrally upon, ‘treadmill troubleshooting’.
Troubleshooting – Typically a treadmill belt will stop running if excessive resistance is placed on it in order to avoid motor damage, and so checking that your treadmill is capable of handling your weight is a starting point in troubleshooting. To troubleshoot whether your treadmill’s motor is damaged allow the treadmill to run on a low speed, if it runs normally it is unlikely that the motor is at fault.
1. Fraying – If the belt has begun to fray, this can cause friction to it’s motion. Friction creates an increase in heat and as a precautionary measure to avoid further damage to the treadmill, it switches itself off. A treadmill with frictional and heat issues will require the motor to work harder in order to keep the belt moving at the same speed; causing overheating. An aggressive approach to correcting this issue is to replace the belt with a new belt of the same model number.
2. Adjustment – If the belt is loose, the use of an allen wrench/hex spanner can help tighten the tension bolts on the left and right rear of the treadmill. The belt may have stretched causing it to become loose, or as mentioned above the adjustable rear may have lost tension – a quarter turn clockwise can help readjust the belt. Do not tighten the rear bolts as tight as possible, the process should be performed gradually until the ideal tension has been attained – so to avoid further stretching the belt. Ensure both bolts are adjusted equally, as turning one more than the other will cause the belt to move off center.
3. Lubrication – A sticking belt will require lubrication – this should be performed with pure silicone spray. Place your hand between the belt and deck (under the belt) and feel the area in the center of the belt – this should feel slick and well lubricated. Lubrication is important to avoid deck ware and to keep your belt in pristine condition. Some treadmills have a fluid reservoir which routinely lubricates the treadmills, whilst others must be attended to manually. This involves spraying a good quality material silicon spray under the belt, evenly throughout and from both sides. Lubrication every 30 hours of use is recommended. Lubrication issues commonly occur for those that store their treadmills in the garage or in dusty/dirty areas of the house – dirt and debris is attracted to the belt wax, causing friction and damage to the walking deck. This is perhaps the most common issue amongst poorly performing treadmills which slow or bog down, in which the treadmill performs normally on it’s own and slows or stops as someone stands on it.
4. Power Source Problems – Whilst it’s seemingly obvious, people often overlook power source issues. Plugging the treadmill into another outlet to eliminate the current power outlet as an issue should be done firstly – preferably one on a different fuse circuit. As treadmills age the connections between the power adapter and your equipment can decay causing power issues – this is a relatively simple fix with a new adapter. Checking the prongs on the power plug is another issue to take note of for any distortions or bends.
5. Speed Sensor – The speed sensor ultimately controls the belt. If the belt is surging forward quickly or slowly, the sensor may be detached or dirty. Your owner’s manual should help you locate the exact location of your speed sensor for further inspection.
Always ensure you do not work on your treadmill whilst it is connected to an electrical outlet, so as to avoid sudden movement or electrocution. Opening the motor will void the equipment’s warranty, and should be attended to by the specialised hands of a technician.