Last Updated on May 24, 2021 by JP
If you’ve noticed a burning smell coming from your treadmill during your last workout, then you should immediately discontinue its use and unplug it until you can figure out the source of the problem. If not, you risk entirely ruining the treadmill and setting it on fire.
Before you go taking your treadmill apart to look for the cause, though, make sure to follow your treadmill’s troubleshooting instructions. If they come to no avail, then you can start trying other things.
Possible Origins of the Burning Smell
The walking belt and deck or the treadmill’s electrical components, like the motor, console, and wiring are usually the main cause of the burning smell. Check each in the following order till you come across the origin of the problem:
Due to Lack of Lubrication
When you don’t clean and lubricate your belt and deck, they rub against each other furiously, and this extreme friction leads to a rise in heat. The heat may burn through the rubber, leading to the burning smell. This much friction could also create static electricity, which may cause a shortage in the treadmill’s electrical components.
Most treadmills should be lubricated about once or twice a year. Some treadmill manufacturers don’t recommend applying lubricants on their models as they already come with a lubricant coating. A few examples of this are the NordicTrack c990 and c 700 treadmills as well as the proform performance 300i treadmill.
So make sure to check your treadmill’s manual before proceeding and place your treadmill on a mat to absorb any excess static electricity. Also, be sure to replace your belt or deck if you see any signs of wear and tear on them.
It goes without saying that with more use, the more wear the treadmill experiences, and the more maintenance it will require. So if you use your treadmill for more than 3 hours a day, make sure to increase your maintenance procedures.
Another thing that can cause the burning smell is if you load your treadmill beyond its maximum capacity. If you ignore the manufacturer’s set weight limit, you put more pressure on the motor, and it ends up requiring more power. The power board tries to supply this, which eventually leads to it heating up and melting, hence the burning smell.
That’s why we made sure to include each treadmill’s weight limit in our articles, like our Proform 505 CST treadmill review and Weslo treadmill reviews, so that you don’t unknowingly exceed the maximum weight.
Due to Obstruction
When the motor and its cooling fans become clogged with dust and hair over time, it starts to overheat and cause a burning smell.
To avoid this, you have to clean your motor at least twice a year regularly, especially if you have pets that shed hair or if you leave your treadmill uncovered. Use compressed air or a small vacuum to remove all the debris in and around the motor to prevent future damage.
If the drive motor’s belt heats up sufficiently from immense friction, it can burn through the core of the motor if it’s made out of cardboard. This is usually found in cheap treadmills, and once it happens, the whole motor has to be replaced.
Due to a Shortage
If the core is fine and you’ve thoroughly cleaned your motor, but can still notice a burning smell coming from it, then there may be a shortage somewhere in it.
The Console and Wiring
The final thing to check is the presence of an electrical short in the console or the wiring. This is more likely to happen if the treadmill is made with cheap parts that can easily overheat.
You may be able to identify it if you see a blown fuse, scorched components, melted wires, or hear a popping sound when it’s on.
To Sum Up
Three conditions can lead to a burning smell; excessive friction and heat generation, lack of cooling, or a shortage in an electrical component. They can originate in various parts of the treadmill, so make sure to check each piece until you can determine the source.
If you still can’t get rid of the burning smell, make sure to get help from a professional.