Troubleshooting Squeaking, Scraping, or Hesitating Treadmill Bases

July 12, 2020
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 for the most common issues they see.

Troubleshooting New Treadmill Installations

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). 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.

If The Belt is Scraping the Left or Right Side of the Treadmill…

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 recenter 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 Treadmills That Have Been Used For a While

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. 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.

If the 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.

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8 Comments

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  • 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.

  • 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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