Troubleshooting Squeaking, Scraping, or Hesitating Treadmill Bases

March 16, 2021
Squeaking, Scraping Treadmill Bases
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Having dealt with hundreds of treadmill desk customers over the years we’ve had our fair share of experiences in dealing with the rare, but occasional problems that can come up both when installing a new treadmill base or working with one that has seen some miles. Our treadmill technical experts have put together this quick list of easy fixes and issues they see most often while treadmill troubleshooting:

New Treadmills: Level the Feet | Belt is Scraping the Edges

Used Treadmills: Easy Peasy, Silicone Squeezy | Belt is Slipping

For more information about treadmills, check our in-depth reviews of treadmill desks and treadmill desk bases, as well as our DIY treadmill desk guide.

Troubleshooting New Treadmills

We get the occasional call from a user who has just received their treadmill base and are convinced they got a “lemon.” Usually this is because they hear squeaking when they walk on it, or the belt is scraping the edge. Treadmill equipment is tested and calibrated at the factory to exacting standards, so actual lemons are exceedingly rare. In every single case (so far) the culprit has always been an uneven floor… at least when talking about top-quality treadmill brands that use heavy gauge steel in their frames, like iMovR or LifeSpan (we wish we could say the same for brands like Steelcase, TreadDesk or RebelDesk. See our reviews for details). Because of this, our first step is treadmill troubleshooting is always to check that the unit is level. Treadmills have adjustable feet on all four corners since floors are rarely perfectly even, whether in residential, industrial or office settings.

Level the Feet

Getting the feet level on a treadmill is essential to the health of the equipment, and to the user’s experience. An uneven treadmill will flex more than it’s designed to, which may result in squeaking from the frame as the user walks on it. Over time this unevenness may exert excessive shear stress on the deck, causing premature delamination. Premature delamination in turn leads to increased friction; faster wear on the belt, deck and motor; and higher energy consumption. Keeping your treadmill level is one of the easiest and cheapest way to lengthen the life of your treadmill.

Belt is Scraping the Edges

Another telltale sign of an unlevel treadmill is when the belt slips left or right and starts to scrape the edges. Again, annoying noise, but it’s also not good for the components to keep running the treadmill this way. Leveling the treadmill often does the trick.

On high quality treadmills the rear roller is “crowned,” meaning it is tapered at the ends to encourage the belt to ride down the middle of the treadmill. If your belt is scraping an edge make sure the frame is level, then run the treadmill with no one on it for a few minutes, at top speed. This should re-center the belt. If it doesn’t then you will likely need to adjust the rear roller. Follow the instructions that came with your treadmill for doing so. It’s not hard but it may take a little trial and error to get the belt to center consistently. Anyone can learn how with just a little patience, and avoid an expensive technician call.

Troubleshooting Used Treadmills

The vast majority of the issues we see with treadmills that start hesitating, snorting, or grunting have to do with leveling issues as discussed above. So, like with new treadmills, we’d start treadmill troubleshooting there. If leveling doesn’t solve the issue, it may be that your treadmill is in need of lubrication. People tend to forget that their treadmills need silicone lubrication just like their cars’ engines need regular oil changes. The early signs are belt hesitation, extreme power consumption (do your lights dim every time you step on the belt?), and an assortment of noises.

Easy Peasy, Silicone Squeezy

The solution is incredibly simple. See the video on the home page of treadmilllubrication.com for everything you need to know about lubricating your walking treadmill. Rule of thumb: A walking treadmill should be lubricated with 100% silicone oil after every 40 hours of use. For most people this will be somewhere between weekly and monthly, depending on how many people are sharing the workstation. See our easy-to-follow guidance on how to properly lubricate a treadmill.

Belt is Slipping

As belts get used they stretch, so the rollers may need to be adjusted from time to time to compensate for the lengthening of the belt. The easy way to test for belt slippage is to run the treadmill at a safe speed, like 1 to 2 mph. Then stand with your feet on the landing strips to either side of the belt. Lift one foot and stomp down onto the belt with it while thrusting it forward. The motion is similar to a golf club that misses and gets stuck in the earth beneath the tee. If the belt slips, you’ll know it. Be careful doing this, and have a friend nearby to catch you if you lose footing.

Follow the instructions in your treadmill’s manual for tightening the belt (it usually involves adjusting the rear roller) but be careful not to overdo it. If you go too far you may stretch the belt out more and damage its integrity, or induce too much tension on the roller bearings, and so forth. Make small adjustments to the roller tension and test patiently.

If these treadmill troubleshooting steps didn’t fix your issue, be sure to respond in the comments.

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22 Comments

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  • Gideon Marcus June 24, 2021

    For me, the issue is the hissing sound as the treadmill goes. Is that normal? It’s an Ego Fit Walker Pro.

    • admin June 25, 2021

      Is this a new sound or did it always make this sound? If it’s a new sound you may just need to lubricate the deck (see https://www.workwhilewalking.com/treadmill-lubrication). If it came this way you will want to return it to the vendor if you still can… scraping noise is a sign of high friction between the belt and the deck, and that means a short component life for the motor, belt, deck, etc.

      Thank you for alerting us to this new product, we have actually never heard of it before. Their positioning of it as a treadmill desk is specious given the deck is at least 15″ too short for most American users, but we have added it to our review queue.

  • Rose June 21, 2021

    My treadmill belt felt like it was sticking 5 minutes into my workout. We have probably over lubricated and also checked and adjusted the belt alignment. Now it’s shaking and I’m afraid to get on it at all. It’s less than a month old. Any suggestions? Going to try to fix it again tomorrow.

    • admin June 23, 2021

      You didn’t mention what brand of treadmill desk you are using? In general it is best to contact the manufacturer’s support line directly. If this is a running treadmill that is outside the scope of what we deal with.

  • Blanco Lesley williams May 12, 2021

    My xterra 200 is changing speeds unexpectedly — sometimes up a little and sometimes down a little. It’s disconcerting and could possibly cause me to stumble and fall. Any ideas?

    • admin May 12, 2021

      It sounds like the lower controller board requires tuning by a qualified technician as the speed control is out of calibration. Recommend calling a local treadmill repair shop.

  • Aud April 17, 2021

    Like Jackie recently commented, I also have a Costway Superfit treadmill that’s brand new. I’m a small light person but when I run on it at any running speed, the whole treadmill creaks very loud with every step, like a plastic-sounding creak. I have lubricated the belt just in case, but the issue still persists and seems to be when there’s any bouncing movement.

  • Jackie February 23, 2021

    I have a costway superfit treadmill. The belt has a deviation. There is a gap on the left side of the belt. I have tried to move the bolts in the back but it doesn’t seem to be closing the gap. Also, there is a click on the left side and I just lubricated it and it is still there. Any suggestions? TIA.

  • Chris January 20, 2021

    I have a brand new Nordic Track 1750. When I am running at higher speeds (> 7 mph), I hear a screeching sound whenever my feet impact the deck. However, it sounds fine at those speeds when there is no impact on the deck, or when I am walking on it at lower speeds. Any thoughts on what could be wrong? Thanks.

    • admin January 26, 2021

      Maybe switch lubricant brand? You want to make sure to focus that lubricant in the footfall area and then “walk it out” after application to spread it around the deck more evenly.

  • Jame January 14, 2021

    Can’t stop the belt from slipping on my Precor 835 treadmill!! I’ve called Precor and they had me do some diagnostics in the settings. Said my belt was fine (9 out 10 integrity). They told me to just keep tightening the belt until it stops slipping. Well…i’ve tightened it to the full stop now and it’s still slipping. The belt and deck have no real imperfections at all or anything thats shows there’s an issue. I’ve replaced the motor belt thinking that might be it…nope. It won’t slip when I first start out on the treadmill…but after about 15 or 20 minutes on it….the slipping starts and won’t go away. I feel like it’s super dangerous to get on it now. Does ANYONE out there have some thoughts to help???

  • Moses December 16, 2020

    Got a horizon 7.8at leveled the treadmill and aligned the belt. There is a very loud creaking sound when stepping on the right side of the deck. Starting from the mid right of the treadmill and progressively gets louder as I walk further to the top right of the treadmill. I put the tread in the upright position and applied pressure on the ride side mid to the top of the tread deck and noticed the sound. The sound isn’t coming from any bolts or joist. It’s only when pressure is applied on the mid right to top right of the tread.

    • Ryan January 1, 2021

      I just got a horizon at treadmill and have the same problem on the upper left side.

      • Wade March 21, 2021

        Same, on a 7.8 AT, but like Ryan, it appears to be more from the left side and I can’t replicate the sound while folded up.

        Lubricated all pivots with silicone spray lube with no effect on the noise.

        • Kathryn March 25, 2021

          Following. Having the same issue on my ProForm2000 that just started. Was hoping to get some insight on a DIY fix!! Going to relubricate and tighten any loose bolts. But the creaking is definitely more pronounced with each left foot strike in the mid to upper part of the platform.

        • Max July 2, 2021

          I have the same issue on the upper right. Had anyone figured this out yet?

  • Tara B November 22, 2020

    Just had delivered a brand new horizon treadmill. I had a true treadmill for 15 yrs. Not happy with this new one.. belt does not lay flat on deck, even though tight on rollers. Therefore when walking foot touches belt then presses down on deck.. almost like walking in sand. Any ideas, gonna call company Monday account onmy had 2 days. You can literally feel the gap from belt to deck when off also.

  • Margie November 3, 2020

    I hear a scratching noise when using treadmill, but it’s not rubbing on either side

    • admin November 5, 2020

      Sounds like a lack of lubrication. Easily solved. In some cases depending on the age of the treadmill and how long this condition has persisted it may be necessary to replace the deck to restore a smooth belt action and keep power consumption and noise down. But the easy thing to do first is to just lubricate. See https://www.workwhilewalking.com/treadmill-lubrication

  • Sharon Floyd October 30, 2020

    My treadmill when walking on the deck i hear a clunking noise why?

    • admin November 5, 2020

      That would depend on the brand of treadmill, could be a number of reasons. We’d recommending contacting the service department for your brand.

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