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Troubleshooting a Treadmill That Won't Turn On

A treadmill can be a fantastic addition to your home gym, but what do you do when your treadmill won't turn on? You may be left scratching your head, asking yourself, "Why won't my treadmill turn on?" “Why won’t the walking belt move?” “Why won’t this damn treadmill start?” Treadmill malfunctions can be frustrating, but with some basic troubleshooting, you can often identify the problem and fix it yourself. In this comprehensive guide, we'll discuss how to troubleshoot and resolve the issue of your treadmill not turning on. We'll cover the most common causes, potential solutions, and preventative maintenance tips to keep your treadmill running smoothly.

Testing the Wall Outlet

Hey there! It's The Treadmill Doctor here, ready to help you out with your power outlet problem. We will get you fixed when you have a treadmill not turning on. Usually it is a simple problem that is causing the machine to not turn on so let’s address these in order.

 First off, let's start with how to check a power outlet without a multimeter. One simple way is to use a voltage tester. This is a small device that you can plug into the outlet and it will tell you if there is power flowing through it. You can also use a lamp, hairdryer, wood chipper, or other electrical device to see if it turns on when plugged into the outlet.

Now, if you do have a multimeter, checking a power outlet becomes even easier. Start by setting your multimeter to measure AC voltage. Then, insert one probe into the hot slot of the outlet (the smaller slot on the right), and the other probe into the neutral slot (the wider slot on the left). Do not use the ground hole (semi-moon shaped hole at the bottom). Your multimeter should then display the voltage of the outlet. In the USA, the voltage should read around 120 volts.

Just remember, if you're not comfortable working with electricity, it's always best to call in a professional at Treadmill doctor repair help to handle any electrical issues. Safety first!

If the outlet tests out to be OK, move on to the next step and check the treadmill cord.

Testing the Power Cord

You may be an electrical novice or professional…or somewhere in-between! The Treadmill Doctor will help you test your power cord. Testing your power cord is an essential step in ensuring that your treadmill is working correctly and safely. You would be shocked if you had seen as many power cords as we have in our career that are pinched, crimped, loose, have missing or cut insulation, or simply do not work. It is one of the most common repairs needed on a treadmill….and NEVER use a regular extension cord with your treadmill. That will you’re your treadmill for sure! Here's what you need to do:

First, unplug the power cord from the outlet. Visually inspect the cord for any visible damage, such as cuts, frayed wires, or kinks. If you find any damage, do NOT use this cord and replace it immediately. You can find a treadmill power cord.

If the visual inspection checks out, take a multimeter and set it to measure the resistance (ohms). Connect the two probes of the multimeter to the two prongs of the power cord's plug. You should see a resistance reading between 0.1 and 0.5 ohms. If the resistance is higher than this range, it indicates that there may be a break in the wire, and you should replace the cord.

If you do not have a multimeter and if the house breaker is tripping when you try to turn the treadmill on, you can disconnect the power cord from the treadmill and then plug in the cord into the wall outlet. If the house breaker still trips, you have a dead short in the power cord and it must be replaced.

Finally, you can also use a circuit tester to check if the power cord is carrying an electric current. Plug the circuit tester into the outlet and then insert the power cord plug into the circuit tester. The circuit tester should light up, indicating that the power cord is functioning correctly.

Remember to always prioritize safety when dealing with electricity. If you are unsure or uncomfortable with any part of the testing process, seek the assistance of a professional. Stay safe, and happy exercising!

Check the On/Off Switch 

If the wall outlet and the power cord check out, The Treadmill Doctor will guide you on how to test your treadmill's on/off switch.

Next, locate the on/off switch of your treadmill. This switch is usually located near the front of the machine, usually at the base of the frame. Also, usually where the power cord goes into the machine.

Unplug the treadmill if you are going to use a multimeter to test. Set the multimeter to the continuity test mode, which will check if the switch is allowing electrical current to flow through it.

With the multimeter set to the continuity test mode, place the probes on the two terminals of the switch. Then, press or flip the switch to turn it on. If the multimeter beeps or shows a low resistance reading, it means that the switch is functioning properly and is allowing the current to flow through it.

Conversely, if the multimeter doesn't beep or shows a high resistance reading, it means that the switch is faulty and needs to be replaced.

So, there you have it, my friends! That's how you can test your treadmill's on/off switch like a pro. Stay safe and happy exercising! Click here to search our catalog for your new on/off switch

Testing the Circuit Breaker

Alright, you've got your treadmill there and you’ve tested the wall outlet, the power cord, and the on/off switch. A tripped circuit breaker is a common issue. First, we need to explore the reasons why a circuit breaker might trip.

A.Overloaded Circuit: The first and most common reason is simply an overloaded circuit. Treadmills draw a significant amount of power and more importantly, have a significant amp draw which is like the pressure you might experience in plumbing pipes. If you've got other appliances on the same circuit, it may just be too much for it to handle. Most factories recommend using a treadmill on a dedicated circuit (meaning, no other devices on the same circuit- not just the outlet- it may need its own breaker.)

B.Worn Out Breaker: Sometimes, a breaker gets tired. Just like us after a long run, it just can't take it anymore. Frequent tripping can cause wear and tear on the breaker itself, causing it to trip at lower power levels. If this is the case, you might need to replace it.

C.Faulty Wiring or Outlet: If the wiring to the treadmill or the outlet itself is faulty, it could cause the circuit breaker to trip. You will know by now if it is a problem with the outlet so if that is checked out and the house breaker does not trip, you can be reasonably certain that the wiring and outlet are OK.

D. Belt/Deck Friction Issues: The most common reason a breaker starts tripping is because the belt is worn or the deck has cracks or grooves on the wear surface. With today’s modern belts, many times you cannot see wear on the belt but the key will be to take an DC amp reading both with someone walking and no one walking on the belt. If there is a huge delta between the numbers, you know the belt is worn out. For tips on how to center the belt, refer to the "How to Center Treadmill Belt"article.

E. Motor Issues: If your treadmill's motor is on its way out, it could start drawing more power than it should. That could easily trip the circuit breaker. If everything else is working fine, you might want to have a look at the motor. A resistance test on the motor is the best way to see if this is what is causing the breaker to exceed its amp load.

F.Static Electricity: You'd be surprised, but sometimes static electricity buildup can cause a trip. This is especially common in dry areas or in the winter. An anti-static treadmill mat under your treadmill can help mitigate this.

G.Short Circuit or Ground Fault: If there's a short circuit in the treadmill itself or a ground fault, it could trip the breaker. These can be dangerous situations, so if you suspect this is the case, be careful in your testing or consult a professional.

Alright, here's how you test a treadmill's circuit breaker. First, you're going to need a multimeter. This is a handy device that can test electrical continuity. You can pick one up at your local hardware store if you don't have one on hand.

  1. Unplug the treadmill: Your first step, always, is to unplug the treadmill from its power source. Safety, safety, safety.

  2. Locate the Circuit Breaker: Usually, it's somewhere near the power cord's connection to the treadmill. It often looks like a switch that can be flipped or a button that can be pressed. Refer to your treadmill's manual if you can't locate it.

  3. Set your multimeter: The multimeter needs to be set to test resistance, not voltage. Look for a setting that says "Ohms" or shows the Greek letter Omega.

  4. Test the Circuit Breaker: Attach the multimeter probes to the circuit breaker's terminals. It doesn't matter which probe goes on which terminal.

  5. Analyze the Results:

    • If the multimeter shows a reading close to zero (which indicates very low resistance), the circuit breaker is working as it should be. It's a "closed" or "on" circuit.

    • If the multimeter shows a reading of infinity or "OL" (which stands for over limit, indicating very high resistance), the circuit breaker is an "open" or "off" circuit.

    • Sometimes, the multimeter has a speaker and if the breaker is good, it should have a constant tone when the breaker is reset.

 For a good circuit breaker, you should see a change in the reading when you toggle the circuit breaker switch. If the reading remains the same regardless of the breaker's position, the breaker might be faulty and needs replacing.

Testing the Safety Key and Safety Switch

The Treadmill Doctor is here and ready to walk you through the process of testing the safety key for treadmill and the associated safety switch on your treadmill. These are critical components of your machine, ensuring that it can be immediately shut off should an emergency occur. Let's get to it!

  1. Safety Key:First, make sure the safety key is present. All treadmills since the mid-80’s had an emergency safety key. The safety key should fit securely into the console. Let's test this by ensuring it doesn't wiggle around when you place it in. If it does, you could risk having it dislodge during your workout, which would cause the treadmill to stop unexpectedly. Some of the modern keys work simply using a magnet so these can move all around so they usually have a wide latitude of area where it can work but these are the easiest to dislodge.

  2. Safety Key Tug Test: Give the safety key a gentle tug. It should remain firmly in place. If it pops out easily, it's not doing its job properly and might need to be replaced. This is particularly important if you clip the safety key onto your clothing during your workout, as it should only dislodge with a bit of force if you pull away from the treadmill console.

  3. Safety Switch Functionality: With the safety key in place, turn on your treadmill and start it at a slow speed. Now, remove the safety key. Your treadmill should come to a safe, immediate stop. If it continues running, your safety switch isn't functioning properly and needs to be addressed.

  4. Safety Switch Connectivity: If the treadmill did not stop when you removed the safety key, we'll need to test the safety switch itself. You'll likely need a multimeter for this part. Disconnect the treadmill from power, then locate the two wires connected to the safety switch. Disconnect these and connect them to your multimeter. The multimeter should read open when the key is removed and closed when the key is inserted. If the switch is not functioning as described, it's time for a replacement.

  5. Safety Switch Failure: Remember that the switch can fail and still operate…this is a BIG piece of advice to keep in mind. I ALWAYS disconnect the safety key before starting a workout because just like the safety switch can fail and not allow the circuit to complete and the treadmill to start up, it can also fail closed and when the key is removed, the treadmill keeps running. You don’t want to look like George Jetson or have a fall!

How to Avoid Having the Problem of Your Treadmill Not Turning On in the Future

You might ask, “is it possible to absolutely guarantee that my treadmill will not have this problem of not turning on in the future?” The answer is, there are no guarantees in life except death and taxes, but you can eliminate all of the variables within the treadmill that might cause it to be the source of your problems in the future.

There is a 5-step process to, as much as possible, virtually guarantee that you will never have this problem again.

  1. Make sure the treadmill is on a dedicated circuit. Make sure that only your treadmill is on the wire coming from your home’s breaker box to the treadmill. I can’t tell you how many times in my nearly 35 years of repairing treadmills I’ve seen someone have their treadmill on the same circuit as another high-electricity-demanding appliance and the owner wonders why the treadmill is messed up. It’s no secret to the veteran treadmill repair person.

  2.  Make sure to install a single outlet surge suppressor between the treadmill’s AC line cord and the wall outlet. I’ve seen it time and time again where a power surge, lightning storm, short in the wiring, or the like has caused the treadmill’s electronics to get smoked. Let’s just say you don’t want your treadmill’s electronics to be smoking. Just like with people, smoking electronics have a shorter life than non-smoking.

  3. At a minimum, turn off the main power switch on your treadmill in-between uses. I have done this with my personal treadmill at home and other than keeping the treadmill clean and lubricating the walking belt every 12-18 months with our World Famous Treadmill Lube, that’s all I’ve done to it in over 12 years of flawless operation. If you are unable to do this or if your treadmill does not have a separate power toggle switch to turn it on and off, unplug the machine from the wall outlet when not in use.  For detailed instructions on how to transport heavy machine, refer to the How to Move a Treadmill guide.

  4.  Become a treadmill “clean freak.” If you keep the area around, underneath, and especially the operating areas of the treadmill spotless, you will save yourself much of the need for a Treadmill Doctor! We are not trying to put ourselves out of business, but the truth is for every disciple we have converted to being a treadmill clean freak, there are a million more people who treat their treadmill like a garbage dump. Once a year, unplug the treadmill and remove the motor cover and either use compressed air (the recommended method) to clean out the treadmill control board area or vacuum the area out, being careful to not hit components in that area or pulling wires loose. Each time before use, use a clean cloth to wipe the areas adjacent to the walking belt clean so the dirt and dust particles don’t get pulled underneath the belt. The plus to using our World Famous Treadmill Lube is you can eliminate this step and only wipe up dirt when you notice it is building up. Our lube contains an ingredient that repels dirt so it cannot get caught up under the belt.

  5.  Lubricate the walking belt on a regular schedule. If you use silicone (what most factories use), it needs to be lubricated much more often than if you are using a full synthetic like our World Famous Treadmill Lube. The treadmill replacement belt is the major source of stress on the electronic system of a treadmill. If everything else is healthy, the friction between the belt and treadmill deck surface will cause the motor to pull more amps which loads the electronics, electrical devices, and wiring. This is what creates a cascading series of events that eventually lead to failure. Our lube will greatly elongate the life of the motor, electronics, and electrical system, as well as the life of the belt and deck. You can essentially buy a lifetime supply of the lube you will need for a single treadmill with the World Famous Lube – Bulk Pack. It contains 8 applications of lube and even though my personal treadmill is 12 years old, I haven’t even used all 8 applications yet. It is cumulative over time and won’t evaporate like silicone, so I’m figuring that this supply will keep my supplied for 20 years! You can find more replacement lubricants & cleaners at Treadmill lubricant catalogue.

We hope this helps you with your issues and if you still have any problems, can’t figure it out, or need someone to make a house call, let us know by calling us at 800-750-4766, email us at doc@treadmilldoctor.com or chat with us online.