How to Lubricate A Treadmill
Like most reviews sites, our editorial staff and laboratory testing expenses are partially offset by earning small commissions (at no cost to you) when you purchase something through those links. Learn More
Why You Should Lubricate Your Office Treadmill
Does your treadmill belt hesitate a little bit with every step? Is the belt making more noise than it did when the treadmill was new? If you’re experiencing these symptoms your treadmill is most assuredly overdue for lubrication.
The consequences of not keeping your treadmill well lubricated can be very costly. Too much friction can lead to motor or controller board burnout, premature degradation of the treadmill belt and/or delamination of the board, and dramatically higher energy consumption. Not to mention the discomfiting belt hesitation, which will worsen over time.
How Often Should You Lubricate Your Office Treadmill?
Treadmill bases used in walking workstations require lubrication far more frequently than is generally recommended for running treadmills since they tend to get used for many more hours per week. If you found this article in a Google search you probably already noticed that there are as many different recommendations for frequency of lubrication as there are treadmill manufacturers. We did some deep research on this subject to come up with some basic guidelines you can count on for keeping your treadmill at optimal performance.
Common advice ranges from iMovR‘s and LifeSpan‘s recommendation for lubricating your treadmill every 40 hours of use, or 3 months, whichever comes first, to Steelcase‘s advice that once a year is good enough if the treadmill is used under 10 hours per week or twice a year if it’s used over 10 hours per week.
The factories that manufacture the iMovR and LifeSpan treadmill bases produce several hundred thousand treadmills per year, whereas Steelcase is a furniture maker that OEMs the base used in the WalkStation Treadmill Desk – so right there you can bet the latter’s recommendation is going to be less reliable. In fact, we seriously challenge Steelcase’s advice based on our own expert staff’s many years of treadmill design experience and our own laboratory tests, and suggest following the 40 hour rule at a minimum.
At WorkWhileWalking, we’ve developed our own definitive methodology for determining the ideal frequency of lubrication for our office treadmill desks. We use a simple, inexpensive Kill-A-Watt meter to measure the power consumption of our treadmills and as soon as we see a change in electricity usage of more than 10%, we lubricate. This can be as frequently as weekly with shared workstations that see a lot of miles daily or as infrequently as every three to five weeks for dedicated user workstations.
Results will vary based on environmental cleanliness and the wear condition of the belt and board, weight of the user(s) and other factors, so there’s nothing more definitive than a wattage reading to tell you when it’s time. See our article on Top Five Tips for Keeping your Treadmill Desk Green to learn how – it’s really pretty easy!
Office Treadmill Lubricant Options
There are several different brands of lubricant, but they can all be divvied up into three categories: silicone spray, silicon squeeze-tube, and wax sticks. iMovR’s EasySpray Treadmill Lubricant falls under the first category, together LifeSpan’s Treadmill Lubricant and TreadmillDoctor’s Treadmill Lubricant. Horizon’s treadmill lubricant comes in a squeeze tube and has a viscosity specifically recommended for Horizon treadmills. The third kind of lubricant is a wax stick, with Lube-N-Walk being the maker of this product. Despite their marketing pitch that Lube-N-Walk is the “best treadmill lubricant in the world,” we think the silicone spray is much easier to handle and makes less of a mess, but if you really want to use a wax stick, it’s your choice. Keep in mind that you’ll want to warm up the treadmill board by walking on it for 20 minutes before applying the wax.
Our expert staff strongly recommends using iMovR’s EasySpray Lubricant as it is compatible with 95%+ of treadmills brands and because it is not petroleum-based and contains no harmful solvents, petroleum distillates or propellants which can degrade the effectiveness of the lubricant.
While most every treadmill desk vendor supplies their house brand of silicone spray lubricant (with the odd exception of TreadDesk) they’re all basically the same 100% silicone solution. The top-selling brand for use on a treadmill desk is iMovR’s 100% Silicone Spray, and it works with all iMovR Thermotread GT and Unsit models, Lifespan Fitness, Steelcase, TreadDesk, Exerpeutic, ProForm, NordicTrack, RebelDesk and Signature treadmill desk models. This brand features the best bottle design (lubricant shoots out in a pinpoint stream instead of a mist that goes everywhere and leaves you with a slipper deck), and the best multi-viscosity formulation for low walking speeds.
How to Lubricate Your Office Treadmill
Most treadmill manufacturers provide information on lubrication in their instruction manuals, so if you have yours handy it’s always a good idea to follow the manufacturer’s own specific guidelines – excluding Steelcase, per above. To find your manufacturer’s lubrication instructions easily see TreadmillLubrication.com. To help you out further, though, we put together the following video that shows a good method to lubricate your treadmill so you can keep walking.
Instructions: You’ll want to apply the lubricant in the area where your feet make the most contact with the belt. On Lifespan treadmills use a spatula or putty tool to life the edge of the belt up so you can get your fingers underneath to lift it. On iMovR Thermotread GT and iMovR Unsit treadmill bases you can just lift the belt with your fingers.
Apply the silicone to the underside of the running belt. Draw a line from the center of the board out towards you. Repeat the same on the other side of the treadmill. Do not apply to the walking surface of the belt. When done, take a stroll on your treadmill for a few minutes to help spread the lubricant around.
In some cases you’ll need to loosen the belt (follow your treadmill’s instruction manual) in order to sufficiently lift up the belt, and then re-tighten the belt after application. Belts shift and expand over time so it’s always a good idea to check the tensioning of the belt each time you lubricate.