One of the most common questions we get from treadmill owners is about lubricating their treadmill. 99% of the questions take the form of one of 3 “W’s”. When should I lube the machine, where should I lube the treadmill, and why should I lube the tread? We will cover each of these “W’s” in depth.
When – Many people don’t know they should lubricate their treadmill until they start having problems. As we have said repeatedly, if you want to reduce future service, keep the treadmill clean and lubricate the walking belt regularly. The big questions are when should I lube the machine and how often should I repeat? The answer depends upon which treadmill you bought. Most of the home companies use a water based silicone. NEVER use silicone from a can. 99% of can silicone are petroleum based and ruin a belt. Water based silicone is great for a treadmill but it’s shortcoming is that since it is water based, it evaporates. Some factories claim you need to re-lube once a month, but with silicone if you can put your hand under the belt and feel moisture, you don’t need to re-lube.
For silicone and Performant lube systems (which is another synthetic lube), we developed our World Famous lube in order to overcome the constant re-lube requirements created by the evaporation issue. Our World Famous lube only requires re-lubing once every 12 to 18 months and once you re-lube about 4-5 times, the lube accumulates and you might never need to lube again.
Some treadmills in the past used a wax system. Almost no one uses wax any longer but our World Famous lube can be used in place of a wax system too.
Many companies are now using a Permalube belt which is a unit that claims to never need lubricating again until it wears out. This sounds like a silver bullet until you experience the belt over the long pull and realize that it makes a promise that, in our experience, it just doesn’t keep. The idea is using a time release lube that will do its own job of relubing the belt. In practice, we have seen premature wear of the belt- this would make sense because the belt maker sells you on “no maintenance” but then they sell more belts down the road. Our advice is to stick with the maintenance schedule and you will have fewer motor, electronics, and belt problems over the long pull.
Where – This is a common question and it requires a bit of explanation. The motor area does not require any lubrication. The rollers typically used sealed bearings so these never require lube either. The area between the walking belt and the deck is the only area that requires lubing. NEVER lube the top of the walking belt. I’ve seen a few people get confused and do this and you will end up looking like George Jetson if you aren’t careful.
Why – The elephant in the room is why. We have already explained that lack of lube will create issues with the motor, electronics, and belt but it also can create issues with the rollers, drive belt, and deck surface. The reason for this is that the higher the friction between the belt and deck, the more electricity has to be drawn from the wall to run the machine. When you have more electricity, it puts more wear on the motor brushes, the armature of the motor, and the electronic circuits that feed the motor and electronics. Rollers have more torque forces against the bearings and drive belt and the deck surface wears quicker with more friction and the heat that it causes. All of this also contributes to premature belt failure. This is why you should lube your machine. Regardless if the factory claims “no maintenance” or a permanently lubed belt you will replace parts and the belt quicker by not lubing than by properly lubricating your machine.