Working out on a treadmill at home is more convenient for many compared to going to the gym. However, with convenience comes some extra responsibility -- you will need to maintain, troubleshoot and service your treadmill to keep it running well. One common treadmill issue is the walking belt slipping or skipping. In many cases, you can troubleshoot this problem yourself before calling an authorized service center.
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The belt is the moving surface on a treadmill that wraps around the running deck. The top layer of a treadmill belt is often mistaken for rubber, but it is actually PVC, which is more durable than rubber. The back side of the belt, the part that is in contact with the running deck, is usually made of a cotton polyester blend, monofilament or urethane.
There are several reasons your treadmill belt may be slipping or skipping. Depending on the age, brand and condition of your treadmill and the belt, some may be more complicated to repair than others. The first factor to consider is lubrication. According to the Treadmill Doctor website, the belt can slip if there is too much friction between it and the running deck. If this is the case, first try lubricating the belt. Check your owner's manual before doing this, as some models are lubricated at the factory and do not require any subsequent applications; you may damage the belt if you lubricate when it is not necessary.
Horizon Fitness states that you should tension the belt if it drifts or slips. The belt may be too loose and require tightening. Test the belt tension by lifting the middle of one side of the belt. It should lift 2 to 3 inches off the running deck. If it doesn't lift this high, it is too loose. Refer to your owner's manual for instructions on how to adjust the belt tension. You will need a hex key or Allen wrench to adjust the rear roller bolts on the back end of the treadmill. This adjustment tool usually comes with the treadmill.
Follow the directions in your owner's manual when tightening the belt. Do not overtighten it. The Treadmill Doctor website cautions that if the belt is too tight, it may raise the amp draw of your treadmill or cause the belt seam to separate. This can result in damage to the motor or to the belt.
The drive belt is the belt between the motor and the front roller. This belt is found under the motor hood cover. Your running belt may be slipping because the drive belt is slipping. It is possible to tighten the drive belt yourself, but check your owner's manual before performing any service under the motor hood cover. Some manufacturers explicitly state not to remove the hood cover unless advised to do so by an authorized service center. You risk voiding your warranty if you perform any maintenance not recommended by the manufacturer.