Purchasing a treadmill can be a significant investment so it is important to perform regular maintenance to keep it running smoothly and should greatly extend its lifespan.
One of the most important components of a treadmill is the running belt which can wear down rather quickly if not properly maintained.
The treadmill belt will need to be lubricated periodically, and today we'll teach you how to do just that.
What Is a Treadmill Belt?
The belt on a treadmill is also known as the running belt. This is one of the most important parts of the treadmill, as it's what you run on.
The belt on a treadmill forms a continuous loop that you walk or run on as you exercise, and they’re usually made of rubber or PVC.
One problem all treadmills suffer from is friction. That belt sits on top of a deck which it constantly rubs against, and this can cause some serious issues in the long run.
As is the case with all moving components that touch each other, lubricating the belt is very important.
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Why Do Treadmill Belts Need to be Lubricated?
Most people don't realise that there are actually a few big reasons why treadmill belts require lubrication, so let's find out what they are.
Preventing Basic Wear
Some treadmill belt materials can start to wear out, dry, and crack over time. Keeping the belt lubricated will prevent it from drying out, and therefore preserve its integrity. This is no different than maintaining other materials such as leather.
Related: Home Treadmill Maintenance Guide
A treadmill belt sits on top of a deck. The deck is simply the piece of hardware underneath the belt. If the belt isn't well lubricated, it will cause friction. This causes the motor to have to work harder to move the belt.
Therefore, an unlubricated belt causes the motor to work harder and ultimately makes the motor burn out faster.
Moving smoothly is another big benefit of keeping your treadmill belt lubricated. You don't want a treadmill belt halting and jerking every time you try to run on it.
If a belt doesn't move smoothly, you might end up tripping or just being uncomfortable.
An unlubricated treadmill belt, especially if it's rubbing against the deck, can be really noisy. At the very least, this becomes quite annoying.
Another important point to keep in mind is that if the treadmill belt rubs against the deck too much, it can cause heat buildup.
This in turn can damage the belt, the deck, and other components. If the treadmill becomes too hot, it might just shut down.
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How to Lubricate a Treadmill Belt – Step by Step
Now that we know why lubricating your treadmill’s belt is so important, let's go through a step-by-step process on how to do just that.
Before you start taking apart your treadmill, read the manufacturer’s instructions.
You want to take a close look at that owner’s manual for any instructions on how to lubricate the belt.
Although we can give you general instructions, exactly how to do this may depend on the treadmill model in question.
Different treadmills may also need different types of lubricants and may also need to be lubricated more or less frequently.
For example, NordicTrack recommends lubricating a treadmill belt after 130 miles or 3 months.
Before you can start, you'll also need to get a screwdriver, most likely a Phillips head.
You'll also need some paper towels or a clean cloth, and the specific type of treadmill lubricant recommended by the manufacturer of your treadmill.
Step 1: Make Sure You’re Being Safe
First and foremost, always make sure that the treadmill is completely powered down.
Next, make sure that it is unplugged. You do not want any electricity running through the unit as you try to work on it.
At the same time, the treadmill should be on a totally level surface so that the risk of an accident is minimal.
Needless to say, if you are not confident in your abilities to work on such a complex machine, it may be best to hire a professional to service it for you.
Step 2: Remove the Cover
For most treadmills, the running belts edges are completely covered by protective guards. So you will have to remove the cover over the motor, and sometimes other parts, to access the deck and the belt.
Most likely, you'll need a screwdriver, usually a Phillips head, to remove the screws that are holding the cover in place.
That said, always make sure to follow your owner’s manual to avoid breaking any vital components. Whatever the exact procedure is, you'll need access to the belt.
Step 3: Clean the Components
You never just want to put lubricant onto dirty parts. If you put lubricant onto the deck and belt when there is dust and debris on them, you might actually make the situation worse.
Pouring lubricant onto dirt and debris may actually increase the amount of friction between the belt and deck.
You'll need some paper towels, clean cloth, or an old rag to wipe away any debris, dust, and other objects on the deck and belt.
If necessary, you may need to use some moisture or an appropriate cleaning solution, in the event that there is old grease or stuck on dirt.
Once you're done cleaning, if the surface is wet, dry it. Lubricants won't adhere well to the belt or deck if they’re wet.
Step 4: Apply the Lubricant
Once again, make sure that the belt and deck are both clean and dry before applying lubricant. Furthermore, just double check to see that your lubricant is approved by the owner’s manual for your specific machine.
You'll also want to read the directions on the lubricant itself to see exactly how to use it.
All things aside, take the lubricant and place a healthy amount of it across the width of the belt. Just don't apply too much, because there is always such a thing as too much of a good thing as there needs to be some friction between the roller being driven by the motor and the running belt.
Although some machines may differ, the lubricant should usually be applied underneath the belt, where it touches the deck.
You'll need to spread the lubricant out as well. Some bottles will come with a special applicator or wand. If not, you'll need to use a fine brush, a rag, or even your hand. Manually move the belt of full rotation around the rollers to make sure that the lubricant is evenly spread.
Step 5: Reassemble and Test
With the machine lubricated, reassemble it in the exact opposite order as you disassembled it. Put the cover back on and screw it into place.
If necessary, you might also have to adjust the tension on the belt, although this is a totally separate issue. But there will be instructions on how to adjust the belts tension in the owners manual. Alternatively, take a look at our guide - how to adjust a treadmill belt
With everything reassembled, turn the treadmill on and see how well it functions.
Put the treadmill on the lowest setting just to spread the lubricant around as much as possible. Don't use it for the first few minutes and let it run empty.
Step 6: Clean Up Any Excess
If you apply too much lubricant, you might see some of it on the belt or deck. If so, use a paper towel or rag to wipe away any access.
If you follow all of the steps as provided above, lubricating your treadmill belt shouldn't be a problem.
Remember that this is something you want to do on a regular basis, especially if you use the treadmill daily.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Often Should I Lubricate My Treadmill Belt?
To determine how often you need to lubricate your treadmill belt, you should refer to the owner's manual.
As we mentioned above, NordicTrack recommends lubricating the belt every 130 or every 3 months.
But it will also depend on the environment in which you use your treadmill. If it is dusty, then you will likely need to lubricate the belt more often.
What Type of Lubricant Should I Use?
We recommend reading the owner's manual to see what lubricant they specify must be used on your treadmill as it can vary for different manufacturers.
Normally the recommendation is a silicone-based lubricant. Avoid using petroleum-based lubricants as they can cause damage to the components of your treadmill.
Can I Use WD-40 to Lubricate My Treadmill Belt?
No, WD-40 is 60% - 70% petroleum distillates and we recommend avoiding petroleum lubricants as it can cause damage to the belt and deck.
It is important to use the lubricant recommended by the manufacturer to ensure you get the best results.
How Do I Know if My Treadmill Belt Needs Lubrication?
If your treadmill is making excessive noise such as squeaking, then it might be time to lubricate the belt. You may also notice the running belt sticking which is another tell tale sign it needs some lubricant.