By Simon Gould
When you buy a treadmill for your home it is a large investment sometimes costing thousands of dollars. It’s great that you can exercise in the home and you may do it regularly. If this is the case and to protect your investment you need to make sure your treadmill is properly maintained, and that includes lubrication of the belt.
What lubricant to use
Lubricants you may have in your home are usually WD-40 or other greasy materials. What you need to have are silicone based lubricants for a treadmill belt. Proper treadmill lubricants* are available from Amazon for a cheap price and these are exactly what you need for most treadmills you can buy. A lot of them have special applicators which are desgined for lubricating belts.
You may want to check with the manufacturer in case they make or have a lubricant especially for their products. The reason is that you want to make sure a manufacturer has no excuse to invalidate a warranty and the wrong lubricant or one that they haven’t made may just do that. It doesn’t take long to find out and the cost is low.
How to lubricate the belt
Turn off the treadmill and unplug the power cord. You need to loosen the belt in order to apply/squirt lubricant between the deck and belt. Hopefully you’ve kept the manual of your treadmill because this will show you exactly what to do to loosen the belt of your particular make of treadmill. There are usually screws on each side of the belt that you loosen with an Allen wrench.
Lift the belt so you can apply the lubricant below it. Squirt or spray it along the whole of the width of the belt and make sure you wipe any excess so as to not stain your floor. Applying it along the width means that when you start the treadmill the lubricant will travel to all parts of the deck and motor where it’s needed. Before you start it, tighten the belt using the original screws you used to loosen it.
But don’t tighten the screws too much. There should be 3 inches of give when you lift the belt up with your hand. If it’s too tight you could damage the belt and deck. If it’s too loose the belt will move side to side and make the treadmill difficult to use. After a while you’ll get used to how hard they should be for your particular treadmill. Always check with the manual for any further guidelines.
When the screws are tightened once more, plug in and turn on the treadmill. Then allow the belt to run for 3 minutes at 3 mph. When it’s done you’re finished with this part of the maintenance! Remember to do this every 6 months or 150 miles which ever is sooner. It’s best to do it slightly too often than too little as too much friction on the belt wears down the motor as it has to work harder.
4 Benefits from lubricating your treadmill
1. Extend the lifespan of the treadmill
This goes with all maintenance. A treadmill can last for up to 12 years if it’s well maintained. Lubricating the belt regularly is part of this. Belts can cost up to $300 to be replaced. So when you lubricate it, check for signs of any wear like frayed edges or the seam coming apart. Check the whole length and not just part of it.
2. Your exercise will be smoother
A belt that has too much friction will affect how you run as it may move unpredictably beneath you. If you don’t lubricate the treadmill regularly, this may be the first thing you notice. If this is the case, then you’ve left it too long, you should have done it before. Make a note every time you’ve lubricated the belt so you know when it needs it in future.
3. Prevents noise
Treadmills are noisy as it is. An unlubricated belt will squeak and rub against the deck. You may not notice a sharp decrease in decibel level. But any strange noises could be resolved by lubricating the belt. It’s another benefit you get from doing it and why it’s essential. You could always pay a technician to come out and do these maintenance tasks every 6 months.
4. Prevents wear on other parts of the treadmill
The motor is strained if it’s trying to push an unlubricated belt around the deck. It will use more electricity if it has to work harder. Plus it won’t last if it’s constantly under stress. The motor already has the user making it work, it doesn’t need to treadmill itself causing it problems. The deck may get damaged if the belt can’t smoothly rotate around it.
Lubricating the belt is easy and only takes 5 to 10 minutes. The lubricant costs up to $15 so there’s no excuse not to get this task done. The benefits far outweigh the mild inconvenience of doing it. You only need an Allen wrench and this comes with the treadmill when you buy it. If you don’t have it, you can buy them cheaply from Amazon.
Thinking of buying a treadmill? Here’s my favorite, I always recommend it when asked.