Troubleshooting Squeaking, Scraping, or Hesitating Treadmill Bases
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:
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.
If you want to get a personal feel for using a treadmill to make sure it will work for you, you should read our article on guidance to see how you can test one out for yourself.