How To Maintain A Treadmill – Steps To Keep It In Top Condition

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how to maintain a treadmillThe treadmill is an easy machine to maintain but still needs your attention to keep it running in tip top condition.

The following are some steps that you should take to ensure your treadmill keeps performing at the highest level:

How To Clean A Treadmill

Wipe surface areas

Each time you use your treadmill wipe it down with a damp cloth after you have finished. Take care to wipe all surface areas. Sanitizing wipes can be used to ensure that all sweat from handlebars, the belt, the main console screen is removed. This protects the buildup of germs and bacteria.

Vacuum the floor underneath

The floor area directly under the treadmill should be kept clean as it will gather dirt and dust if left too long without cleaning. The accumulation of this dust and dirt can interfere with the function of your treadmill and adds to the wear and tear of the machine.

The easiest way to keep this area clean is to vacuum under the treadmill regularly (at least once per week). Try and get the hose attachment of the vacuum underneath to remove as much dust and dirt as possible.


Keep the motor bay clean

You should vacuum inside the motor area of the treadmill once every few months. This area can become clogged with dust, dirt and hair which can eventually take its toll on your exercise machine.

You first must unplug the treadmill from the wall.

Then get a screwdriver and remove the two screws either side of the hood, follow the manufacturer’s guidelines on how to remove the cover safely.

Using the smallest attachment carefully vacuum all the areas that you can reach, but be careful not to directly touch any of the electronics.

You could also use a dry cloth to brush away dust, or use a can of compressed air to blow dust away. Don’t use any liquids or chemicals when cleaning around the motor area.

Regular removal of dirt and dust from under the treadmill, under the belt, in and around the motor and directly underneath the treadmill will ensure your exercise machine operates at the top level.

How to Lubricate A Treadmill

You must care for the belt and deck of your treadmill to keep the belt running smoothly for safe, comfortable running. This involves oil lubrication, every 150 miles (or 3-6 months if the treadmill is not being used very often) so the belt will not wear out.

Loosen the belt

The best way to do this is use an allen key/wrench to loosen the bolts at the back of treadmill, turning them anti-clockwise. This will loosen up the belt so you can lift it at the sides easily.

Apply the lubricant

Next lift the belt and apply 1 ounce (28g) of silicone lubricant spray, liquid or wax to the top of the running deck.

This ensures the smooth workings of the belt (causes no friction) when you’re running fast or jogging.

Tighten up the belt again

As you loosened the belt to get the lubricant underneath, you will now need to use the allen key to tighten up the belt again. You can make sure the oil is evenly distributed by walking on the treadmill for a few minutes once the belt is tightened.

Tip: Do not wax or spray the actual belt or use any kind of cleaning product on it, as this will cause a slippery and unsafe running surface.

Adjusting the treadmill belt

You will occasionally need to tighten or adjust the belt to maintain good strong tension. This must be done when the belt is getting slack or isn’t perfectly aligned. You may notice it slipping when running or walking on the treadmill. A belt that needs alignment or tension tightening might also cause an unfamiliar noise from your machine that you want to get rid of.

Tightening the belt

Almost all treadmills will have two bolts at the rear end of the machines running belt. Get a small wrench or allen key and tighten them both by turning the bolts clockwise.

There’s no set time frame for when you should tighten the tread belt – just do it when you feel it’s necessary. Once you notice the belt is slacking or moving, this is the time to do it.

Aligning the belt

The tread belt can become stretched or it can begin to slide of the centre of the treadmill. If it begins to slide, then you need to realign it.

The realignment process is not too difficult. Almost all treadmills have the two screws at the rear of the tread belt which you can adjust to reset the belt alignment. You must turn the screws either clockwise or anti-clockwise depending on which way the tread belt is slipping from the centre point of your treadmill.

Here’s a video that demonstrates how to do it:

Checking and fixing the alignment is very important as it prevents the tread belt from wearing on one side keeping it even and properly balanced.

Proper Treadmill Setup

Make sure it is on a level surface

Use your treadmill on a level surface, to keep the tread belt aligned. This is the best way to protect your machine and keep it running smoothly.

The level surface area is vital for the proper workings of your treadmill. The machine will operate without any bumps or wobbles, which is also good to keep the tread belt remaining in place as it was designed.

To ensure the treadmill is on a level accurate floor surface lay a spirit level across it. This will give you a clear indication if you need to adjust the machine to get it fully levelled off.

Use a surge protector

Plug your treadmill into an outlet which has a power surge protector. At times we leave the machine plugged in, so if we encounter unexpected power surges or power irregularities, we can prevent short circuits. The idea is to protect the electronics of the equipment.

Many people will just unplug the machine when it’s not in use, which is probably the safest option. This will protect the computer mechanism in the treadmill.

Invest in a treadmill mat

A good treadmill mat can help to control and minimise vibrations. By placing the mat underneath the treadmill, you will protect it from dust and dirt (and protect your flooring too).

The other key use of the mat will minimise the vibrational effects while the treadmill is in motion. It will always reduce the noise. So, for about 15-30 dollars outlay you will add more protection.

Addressing Common Treadmill Problems

Speed problems

Your focus should fall on the tread belt movement if the speed is erratic. If the treadmill starts to show erratic speed, try and slow it down, and check the belt for hitching. As time goes by, no matter how well you maintain the treadmill, the running belt will wear down. You may notice the speed changes without you changing any of the settings. When this happens its highly likely the belt is hitching meaning its time to change the belt.

New belts are available from the same manufacturer where you originally bought the treadmill. Alternatively, search online for the same make and model of your treadmill.

It may not be the tread belt which causes the erratic and changing speed – instead it might be the actual motor itself. If it’s the main motor, then you need a technician to examine the machine. The technician will determine if it can be fixed.

Burning smell

Unplug the treadmill in event of any burning smell. If you smell any burning while running on the treadmill, you should stop the machine immediately.

The burning smell could mean a few things, an object stuck in the motor, dust or dirt lodged in the motor or a short circuit. Do not ignore as a burning smell could become a fire hazard.

If the burning smell is from dust or dirt, you can simply vacuum the motor. If it’s a lodged object, remove it immediately and the friction will stop. The machine should return to normal working order.

A short circuit is more serious and will need a professional maintenance person to repair the fault.

Main Console Display Not Working

If the main console display is not working but the tread belt is, you should check the power cords. If power cords are good, then unplug the machine wait for a minute or two then re-plug. This will allow the circuit breaker to kick in and machine should work as normal again.


It’s easy to neglect your treadmill and keep using it until something goes wrong, but by occasionally spending a little time on cleaning and maintenance you can avoid any potential problems that might arise. By looking after your exercise machine it will almost certainly save you money and prolong the life of your treadmill in the long run.




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