Sportsmith Blog

Keeping your Treadmills Clean

In most gyms, the equipment that sees the most use are usually the cardio machines, in particular, the treadmills. These machines are expensive, and require some regular basic maintenance and cleaning to keep running properly. Treadmills, more than almost any other piece of equipment, absorb a LOT of wear and tear. Just a bit of caution and common sense will keep your machine in top form (while it keeps you in top form!), and prevent you from having to buy expensive replacement parts, or even worse, a  new treadmill.

Whether your treadmill is in a gym or at the home, your best friend is going to be the operation manual. Whether in booklet form or on-line, make sure to read it thoroughly and see what the manufacturer recommends for regular maintenance and cleaning. If in doubt, either visit the company's website or give them a call for further information.

The cleaning supplies you'll need are simple. Some soft rags, a cleaning solution of some kind (mild, non-acid soap is best), some Isopropyl alcohol, and a vacuum with a hose attachment. That's pretty much it. Remember to observe proper safety. Turn off and unplug the machine before doing ANY cleaning to it.

Give your machine a wipe down after each workout. This keeps your body oils and sweat off the machine, which can corrode certain parts. A clean rag or equipment wipes will do the trick. Once a week, give it a more thorough cleaning, especially if it's in a gym environment. Take a mild soap and water solution and apply to a rag. Give it a once over, paying attention to the areas that are touched the most, such as the hand rails, the heart monitor grips, and the control console. Be sure the rag is damp, not dripping wet.

Dirt and dust are also a big issue with treadmills. The deck that the belt runs over needs a smooth surface to run correctly, and even small particles of dust collecting underneath the belt can cause big damage to the deck. To prevent this, all you need is a simple vacuum cleaner. If equipped, periodically raise the elevation, pop on the hose attachment and vacuum underneath the machine.  Hand dust any places the hose won't reach. Also, lift the motor cover and vacuum the exposed area. If the treadmill is in a gym, make sure that your patrons don't wear the shoes they came in off the street with on the treadmill. Proper workout shoes will keep the grime and dirt off the treadmill and decrease your maintenance issues.

The deck is one of the most expensive parts of any treadmill, and you want to keep it in good working order. Some decks require waxing. Depending on the machine, the wax is either applied automatically from an internal reservoir or the deck needs to be waxed by the user. Either way, make sure you do this! Keep the reservoir full, and make sure you have wax on hand if you have to do it yourself. Keep the surfaces of the deck clean from grime, and give it a good wipe down with a soft cloth once a week.

Cleaning the heart monitor grips is important, too, especially in a gym. Many people rely on these to check their heart rates during workouts, and since the grips are touched by many, many different hands, they can get dirty very fast. Combat this with a little Isopropyl alcohol or use a disinfecting wipe. Apply Isopropyl alcohol to rag and wipe down. Even if it doesn't look dirty, it probably is. Cleaning these grips once a week will keep them working like new.

Belt slippage is a common problem with most treadmills, but it's an easy one to fix if you know how. If you notice that the belt on your machine looks or feels  slippery, it probably needs to be tightened. At the rear part of the machine, there will be two large adjustment bolts. Find where these are using your manual. After getting the proper sized socket and wrench (something you should have in case of maintenance issues anyway), give them a quarter turn clockwise, then get on the treadmill and check if it still feels the same. Keep turning the bolts a quarter turn then checking until it no longer slips.

A treadmill is like any other machine. It needs a little TLC from time to time. Keeping it clean and maintained will make sure that it lasts you a long time.


Routine Treadmill Maintenance Protects Your Investment and Keeps Your Exercisers Happy

Your treadmills are among the most popular pieces of cardio equipment and require maintenance on a daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly basis.  Establishing an ongoing maintenance schedule assures proper and safe operation, prevents downtime and extends product life.  The essential tools for treadmill maintenance are a small shop vacuum, an all purpose non-corrosive alcohol-free cleaner, a lubing agent, such as WD40, and clean cotton towels.  Before performing any maintenance always, remove the equipment from its power source.

Daily Maintenance: includes wiping down the console, handrails, shrouds and heart rate grips with an alcohol-free cleaner.  Inspect power cords for nicks, cuts or fraying and replace if needed.  Progressive facilities are increasingly aware of member health concerns and promote the use of equipment cleaners or wipes. Exercisers help with daily maintenance by cleaning the console, handrails and heart rate grips as a courtesy to others.  Choose equipment cleaners or wipes that contain an antimicrobial agent that will help disinfect the equipment from common bacteria. Do not use alcohol based or corrosive cleaners as they may cause the console to turn opaque or white.

Weekly Maintenance: wipe down the treadmill frame, striding belt and stop button.  Inspect the striding belt for proper alignment, tension and fraying at the seam and edges.  If fraying exists, replace the striding belt immediately.  The striding belt also needs replacement when the under side of the belt feels hard and has a glazed appearance.  Normal striding belt backing should be somewhat soft and smooth feeling.  Also, raise the treadmill to maximum elevation and vacuum any loose debris or dust.  Treadmills on carpeted areas should be placed on rubber mats to reduce static electricity build-up and help prevent dust and debris from accumulating on the striding belt, rollers and electronics.

Monthly Maintenance: includes inspecting the treadmill console for cracks, punctures, and overlays or keypads peeling up from the console base.  Check that console functions are working properly. Inspect the handrails, foot rails, rear roller guard and tighten any loose bolts or screws.  Replace any cracked, punctured, peeling, or damaged parts.  Routine part replacements promote optimal performance and prevent costly breakdowns.  Also inspect, clean and lubricate the elevation screws.  This will help the treadmill operate at incline and decline more smoothly. Always remove any foreign debris from areas that move or rotate.  Check owner's manual for elevation screw locations.

Quarterly Maintenance: includes lubing the striding belt and deck. Any increase in amps or breakers tripping could mean these items are not properly lubed.  With the increasing number of manufacturers there is no longer standard striding belt and deck lube types.  Some models have auto wax, while others may need to be lubed once a month or every three months.  Striding belt and deck maintenance has the biggest impact on treadmill performance and will determine the longevity of the rollers, motors and electronics.  Always refer to your owner’s manual for the correct lube type and instructions. Remove the front shroud or cover and check for any loose cables or connections, vacuum loose debris, and check the drive belt for any cracks or wear. Check the drive belt for proper tension and the front roller for any wax build up and debris around the shaft or axle. Watch for debris such as hair, threads, or loose roller bearings, which are common treadmill malfunction culprits. Owner’s manuals provide a guide through this process.