I Feel Like a Genius — I Fixed My Treadmill!

(Post 81 of 233. Thanks again to those who participated in the Fundrazr!)

I can’t remember when I bought my treadmill, but it feels like it’s always been here. I use it a lot. I’m probably on it an hour a day on average (while watching TV). Last night, it turned on, but the belt would not move and I got an error message indicating that the problem was related to a voltage spike. Dang, there was a Mexico-wide problem on Monday that could maybe explain that, but I’d used the treadmill without any problems Monday night. Very curious.

I opened the casing where all the guts of the treadmill are located. It was very much temple from the start of Raiders of the Lost Ark in there, lots of cobwebs and dust.

The light on the circuit board indicated that it was getting power. With the cover off, I tried to start the treadmill and was able to determine there was no evidence that the motor for the belt was getting a signal. I did some digging and found a YouTube video explaining what the various blinking patterns of a treadmill circuit board mean. I was getting a steady blink, which the video said meant a problem powering the belt motor, so that confirmed my diagnosis (and that the video was relevant even to my off-brand cheapie treadmill!). poked around and found corrosion and a loose connection to the belt motor. I cleaned that up and tightened the connection, then tried to start the treadmill again. This time, I heard a “click” that told me that the motor was getting the instruction to move the belt, but the belt still wasn’t working. I went further in the video and there was a blinking code for “the motor is seized up.” I wasn’t getting that blinking pattern, but it did give me a nudge towards the next thing to try. So I decided to try to move the belt manually. Sure enough, it was stuck. Once I got it moving manually, I tried again to start it and, well:

But what a noise! Turns out that I should have been lubricating my treadmill. Oh, dear. Am I glad I learned this lesson on a cheap treadmill that was forgiving and not on a fancy expensive one! I found out that there is treadmill-specific silicone-based lubricant out there. I didn’t want to wait for days to get some online, so I called a gym and asked them if they knew where I could find such a product. I was told to try Decathlon, a full-service sports and recreation department store just north of me. I’ve been wanting to check it out for eons, but never had a reason to. Well, I finally did!

I head up there this morning and the store was wonderful to go through, kind of like MEC “light.” There were tons of deals, so I picked up a new workout wardrobe of several pairs of moisture-wicking leggings and tee shirts as well as some bits for making yoga more pleasant. Once I’d explored to my heart’s content (the store was nearly empty), I found an attendant who showed me where the lubricant is and even made sure I knew how to use it.

So that’s my project for tonight, cleaning up the treadmill guts and then lubricating it. Hopefully that little bit of attention will keep it serving me well. I’m virtually walking the Appalachian Trail, am 10% of the way there, and highly motivated to stay on schedule, so an equipment failure would be devastating!

My years tinkering with the RV really served me well. If I hadn’t changed out the converter in Miranda and made all those other electrical upgrades, I would never have had the confidence (or skill) to tackle the treadmill repair!