How to Tell if a Treadmill Belt is Worn Out

Treadmill accidents may not actually be all that common. In fact, some statistics suggest that a nine-year period between 2003 and 2012 only had 30 total deaths from treadmill accidents.

But while fatal accidents may not be the first thing on everyone’s mind, accidents at gyms are always a top priority. After all, your customers are specifically visiting your business to physically exert themselves.

While you may have every rule and cautionary sign under the sun displayed in full view, faulty equipment can still turn from inconvenient to fatal in a second.

That’s why making sure your treadmill belt is fully functional and free of flaws is so important. Let’s take a look at how you can check it out for yourself!

Take Complaints Seriously

Before you even know to get treadmill belt replacements, you’ve probably heard complaints from customers.

It doesn’t matter if you’re serving Shia LaBeouf or John Schmoe down the street, it’s important to acknowledge your customer’s complaints. Chances are that you aren’t personally using the treadmill in question. Therefore, you need to rely on customer feedback, and even the smallest details could be indicative of a problem.

For example, if customers complain that a treadmill seems to drag, waver, or slip too easily then it may be more than just a nitpicky comment.

Visually Inspect Your Treadmill Belt

If you’ve received complaints or feedback on a particular treadmill, or if you simply know it’s getting old, it’s time to inspect the treadmill belt yourself. It may sound overly simplistic, but simply inspecting a treadmill in person may tell you a lot of what you need to know.

Start by turning the machine on and running it automatically at the slowest speed possible. Pay attention to the edges of the belt; make sure they aren’t curling or frayed.

Pay careful attention to the seam of the belt, also making sure that it isn’t coming undone. This is a particularly vulnerable area of the belt and can easily be the source of many problems.

Get Under the Hood

A simple visual inspection can make quick work of determining whether or not you need a replacement treadmill belt, but sometimes you need to go deeper.

Treadmills are more complex than just the belt your feet hit. In particular, a treadmill belt runs around steel rollers. Within the belt is a deck, consisting of a board that’s coated in wax.

You may need to check and make sure there are no issues underneath the belt.

1. Check for Slippage

Sometimes, a treadmill belt may slip or not seem tight enough.

If that’s the case, make sure the treadmill is turned off and lift up the belt from the deck. There should be a few inches of play.

If there’s more than that, you simply need to tighten the belt.

Using a wrench – most likely an Allen wrench – tighten the screws at the back end of the treadmill. Start by tightening only half a turn on each side.

Give the belt another tug to make sure there is only about a few inches of play.

Also, test the treadmill out yourself on a slow speed to see if it’s slipping or not. If so, repeat by tightening each screw about a half turn more until the belt seems tight enough.

2. Check for Lubrication

As stated before, a belt needs to be properly lubricated in order to slide easily while a user is running. This can potentially be an easy fix.

You have two options here:

  1. Lift the belt up by hand
  2. Unfasten the steel rollers to lift the belt entirely

Lifting the belt up by hand can be a very easy way to inspect for proper lubrication, but unfastening the steel rollers would be more thorough. There can be a lot of damage underneath if the wax has been dry for too long, and it might be important to see it for yourself.

A flashlight can help you see more clearly if you’re uncomfortable unscrewing anything and just want to look yourself.

Regardless of how you go about it, make sure to run your hands along the deck. Is it dry? Does it feel slightly greasy or slick?

If it’s dry, then you may only need to lubricate the deck for a quick fix. On the other hand, has this degraded the underside of the belt?

Check for grooves, marks, or scarring on either the deck or the belt. When the coating has worn off, if it’s not cared for immediately, problems will only get exponentially worse.

3. Check for Smoothness

Fraying or tearing is an obvious sign that you should be replacing the treadmill belt, but you should also inspect for smoothness.

Again, loosen the belt with an appropriate wrench on the roller of the back end of the treadmill, so you can pull the belt up enough. Run your hand along the underside and top to check for signs of excessive wear.

This may come in the form of discoloration or extreme smoothness. Discoloration for most treadmill belts will seem dark, almost black. And if some areas are too smooth, then it may be a sign that you need a treadmill belt replacement.

4. Flip the Deck

As stated, sometimes the deck itself may be a problem – not the belt. If so, many treadmill decks are designed to be flipped over for more usage.

While not always the case, consult the literature for your particular treadmill and see if flipping the deck can give your treadmill more life. However, a cracked deck will make it useless, in which case flipping will do you no good.

Replacing a Treadmill Belt

Letting your gym equipment go unchecked is a dangerous road to travel. While your customers exercise and expect to do so safely, a faulty treadmill belt could be the difference between a healthy jog and a fractured skull.

Thankfully, inspecting a treadmill belt is rather easy and most treadmill parts are replaceable. If you need a treadmill belt replacement, take a look at our inventory or contact us if you have more questions or concerns!

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