Can a Treadmill Get Wet? What Can Go Wrong?


Treadmills are popular gym equipment used for cardio exercises. These important training devices feature a belt that moves backward, requiring users to either run or walk to remain on top. Although these useful machines are designed to take a beating and last, can they withstand excessive wetness? 

A treadmill can get slightly wet but cannot become drenched in moisture. Since it contains electronic components, allowing a treadmill to get soaked can lead to malfunctions and permanent damage. Owners should always clean and dry spills immediately after they occur to avoid irreparable damages.

Read on for an in-depth guide on using and maintaining treadmills, and what to do if yours accidentally gets wet. 

How Wet Can a Treadmill Get? 

Allowing a treadmill to get extra wet is not advisable. Though its electronic components are shielded by the belt, they can still get damaged when water enters the internal system. While treadmills are designed to handle sweat, exposure to rain, high humidity, or spills could cause serious problems. 

Below is a brief discussion of different types of wetness and how to handle them when they occur. 

Sweat 

Sweating is a normal part of exercising. Since treadmills are primarily meant for cardio exercises, they’re usually designed to take in a lot of sweat without getting damaged. This is because sweating is inevitable when running or walking on a treadmill and is  factored in at the time of manufacturing. 

So, can excess sweat damage a treadmill? Fortunately, treadmills come with strategic designs that often shield or protect the internal components. This helps ensure that sweat doesn’t reach the highly sensitive electric parts. However, it is still advisable to dress light when exercising on a treadmill to avoid soaking the device with sweat. 

If you’re a heavy sweater, keep a little towel nearby so you can wipe down any excess liquids.

Rain

As a rule, treadmills should never be kept outside and exposed to dust and rain. While some might insist on placing covers over treadmills in outdoor locations, the risk is too much and will most likely leave owners counting losses. 

Allowing a treadmill to stay out in the rain is a sure recipe for disaster since the devices aren’t designed to take in a high amount of wetness. When moving a treadmill to a different location, it’s best to transport it when fully sealed as a safety measure in case of rain. Either way, you should try as much as possible to keep your treadmill away from the rain.

Humidity

Using a treadmill in a humid environment won’t damage the device. However, it can reduce the treadmill’s lifespan, especially if placed in a highly humid location. The trick to prolonging a treadmill’s durability is by drying it up frequently. This will help prevent condensed droplets from seeping through the belt and into the sensitive areas. 

Suggested: Can you keep an elliptical trainer in the garage?

Spills 

It’s practically impossible to use a treadmill without spilling water (or a cooling drink) at some point. And although treadmills are designed to handle sweat and occasional spills, excessive spillage can lead to serious problems. 

Spilling negligible amounts of fluids won’t do much harm to your treadmill. However, the problem comes in when you spill a large amount of water when cleaning either the treadmill or other equipment in your home gym. 

As a good rule of thumb, you should always wipe spills immediately when they occur. Allowing a spill to soak isn’t recommended as the droplets might end up inside the belt and damage the motors and other electrical parts. 

You should also remove any standing water to eliminate the risk of droplets entering the sensitive parts of the treadmill. Put simply, you shouldn’t allow any water to sit next to the treadmill. 

Suggested: 12 tips for buying a second hand treadmill

What Problems Can Occur When Treadmills Get Wet?

Although a treadmill might not get damaged immediately when it’s exposed to excess water and moisture, it may wear out at a faster rate than normal. Dry rot, motor damage, reduced or inconsistent performance, and a voided warranty are a few of the possible consequences of getting your treadmill wet.

Let’s break down some of the problems that can occur when treadmills get wet. 

Dry Rot

Water exposure can lead to dry rot on the walking belt, consequently damaging the belt. A belt with dry rot will not move as expected due to high friction load, which will gradually reduce the treadmill’s performance. The rear and front rollers will have to work harder for the machine to keep moving, which also leads to premature wear and tear. 

Suggested: How much does a treadmill belt replacement cost?

Motor Damage

The more the friction load increases, the more the motors will have to work to manage the load and keep the belt moving. This also has a negative effect on the motor control board as more power will be needed to run the entire system. The increased power needs will lead to heat buildup on the board, thereby increasing the chances of damaging other components like the circuit breaker and power switch. 

Suggested: How much does a treadmill motor replacement cost?

Reduced Performance

While a treadmill can survive light spills and high humid levels, excessive exposure to water will gradually lead to reduced performance. The motors and rollers will have to do more work to keep the belt moving, leading to significantly reduced performance levels. Failure to replace the damaged parts means that other parts will be overworked and start to wear and tear at faster than normal rates. 

Null Warranty

Most high-quality treadmills come with friendly warranties that justify the often high initial cost of investment. For instance, the NordicTrack T Series Treadmill from Amazon.com comes with a 10-year frame warranty, one-year labor warranty, and two years parts warranty. 

Suggested: Treadmill warranties. Which is best?

However, for the warranty to remain valid, owners must not subject the treadmill to poor treatment. Incidents like exposure to water or chemical spills will make a warranty null and void, meaning you’ll need to dig deep in your pocket to make repairs and replacements. 

Inconsistent Performance

If you notice that a treadmill is no longer responding to keyed-in instructions, then chances are some internal components were exposed to water. The problem usually gets worse with time, which can even lead to the malfunction of the touchscreen. As a result, you should consult an expert once you notice that your treadmill isn’t working as expected. 

What To Do When a Treadmill Gets Wet

Treadmills are bound to get wet every now and then since, after all, they’re usually kept in areas that need regular cleaning. 

Here’s what to do when a treadmill gets wet:

  1. Unplug the treadmill.
  2. Wipe out the spill. 
  3. Examine the internal parts.
  4. Allow the treadmill enough time to dry. 

1. Unplug the Treadmill.

If you happen to spill something on the treadmill or accidentally spill water on the floor, the first step to take should be turning the device off. Turning it off will prevent the belt from moving the moisture or droplets to the inner parts of the device. 

2. Wipe Out the Spill.

Once you’ve turned off the treadmill, the next step to take should be drying out the fluids or water on the surface of the device. The faster you dry out the water, the higher your chances of saving the treadmill from damage.

It is advisable to use a dry towel to soak up the water. However, if you spilled a lot of water, then it’s best to switch to another towel once the first soaks up. Use as many towels or dry clothes as possible until you have dried the treadmill completely. 

3. Examine the Internal Parts.

This step should apply if you’re knowledgeable about treadmills. However, if you’re relatively green about how treadmills work, then it’s best to reach out to an expert. Point to note, though, you shouldn’t open the treadmill if you dried out the spill before it penetrated the seams. 

But if you’re certain the water, chemical or drink made its way inside the treadmill, then it’s best to open it carefully to examine the inner parts. Take out the user’s manual and use a screwdriver to loosen the screws. Examine the motors to see if they’re compromised. Some motors might need to be dried up before being placed back, while in some cases, you might need to change the motors altogether.

Pro tip: Opening the treadmill might lead to warranty void. Therefore, consult with your manual to learn the terms and conditions before proceeding. 

4. Allow the Treadmill Enough Time To Dry.

While it might be tempting to plug the treadmill in to see if it’s working after a spill, allowing it enough time to dry internally is highly recommended. For minor spills that you managed to dry on time, you won’t need to wait for too long before powering and using the device again. 

However, if the treadmill gets alarmingly wet, it’s best to wait for several hours, say over 12 hours, before using it. Giving your treadmill a bit of time to recover will prevent issues such as short circuits.   

How To Care for a Treadmill 

Treadmills are durable devices that can serve you for years if well maintained. However, poor maintenance practices might leave you counting losses sooner than expected. 

Suggested: Treadmill maintenance guide

Here’s how you can care for a treadmill and increase its lifespan:

  1. Clean the treadmill after every use.
  2. Vacuum the treadmill regularly. 
  3. Lubricate the deck regularly.
  4. Invest in a treadmill mat.
  5. Perform regular maintenance. 

1. Clean the Treadmill After Every Use.

It is highly advisable to wipe your treadmill with a soft, damp cloth after putting it to use. Wiping down the surfaces will allow you to remove sweat, which is notorious for corroding a treadmill’s surface areas. When cleaning, be sure to wring out excess water to ensure no droplets leak to the inner parts. You should also use a soft microfiber cloth that won’t be too harsh on the surfaces. 

2. Vacuum the Treadmill Regularly.

Treadmills tend to wear down faster when exposed to dust and dirt build-up. As a result, treadmill owners are often advised to keep the immediate environment clean. And since treadmills are heavy and impossible to move every now and then, it’s best to vacuum the areas under. You should also vacuum around the motor to keep dirt and dust from around the crucial components.

3. Lubricate the Deck Regularly.

The importance of regularly lubricating your treadmill cannot be overstated. Frequently used treadmills need to be lubricated to reduce friction between the belt and deck. To lubricate the deck, you’ll need to loosen the treadmill’s bolts and lift the belt. 

After loosening the belt, apply a generous amount of your preferred lubricant on the running deck, ensuring that no lubricant gets on the top of the belt. Consider going for high-quality lubricants like the Treadmill Belt Lubricant from Amazon.com that’s ideal for full belt lubrication. 

4. Invest in a Treadmill Mat.

If you want to prolong the useful life of your treadmill, then it’s best to place a high-quality mat underneath it. Not only does a treadmill mat protect the machine from dirt and dust, but it also helps minimize vibrations that increase the rate of wear and tear. It can even reduce some noise that gets to the neighbors.

Suggested: Do you need a mat under your treadmill?

5. Perform Regular Maintenance.

Unfortunately, your treadmill will start to wear over time, especially if frequently used. The good news is that you can replace worn-out parts like belts and mortars. When buying a replacement belt, be sure to check if it’s the right fit for the type of treadmill you own. 

You should also vacuum the internal components every once in a while, ensuring you replace parts like motors and rollers if they’re worn out. While changing components like belts and mortars shouldn’t prove too hard, it’s best to leave the tasks to the experts if unsure about your ability. 

Wrapping Up

A treadmill is designed to accommodate heavy thuds and steps. And while the device can withstand small amounts of wetness, too much exposure to fluids can ruin the internal electrical components. As a result, it is highly advisable to dry your treadmill whenever spills occur. 

You should also take up a habit of cleaning the device whenever you’re done to prevent sweat from gradually corroding the surfaces. Try as much as possible to place your treadmill on a high-quality mat to prevent dirt buildup, trap dust and most importantly, prevent the lower parts from wearing out quickly. 

Favorite Cardio Machine Accessories

Check out these accessories that improve a home cardio workout:

  • Equipment mat: All cardio equipment should be put on an equipment mat. The Rubber-Cal mat (Amazon) is an affordable yet very high quality choice.
  • Tablet holder: Cardio can be boring. With this tablet holder (Amazon) you can follow along with on-demand workouts or just watch a movie on any cardio machine.
  • Heart rate monitor: Monitoring your heart rate is very important while doing cardio. The Polar H10 (Amazon) connects to almost anything you can imagine and is very accurate.

To find which cardio machines I recommend for home gyms, click here.

Sources

Matt

Hey, I'm Matt. Welcome to HomeGymResource.com. I've been going to the gym for about 15 years and am now looking to build my own. In the process I've learned many things I'd like to share with you.

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