Treadmills aren’t just cumbersome equipment, it can be pretty noisy too if you don’t know how to maintain it. The impact of your feet and the noise from the motor can easily fill a small apartment. Worse, your neighbors will not be fond of the sound machine. To help you out, I discussed here some ways on how to reduce treadmill noise in an apartment and the potential culprits behind the screeching.
What causes a noisy treadmill?
As a complicated piece of equipment, the noise coming from your treadmill can be due to a lot of things. It can be bearings, belt, or the motor itself. The following are some of the most common causes of treadmill noise:
Fraying belt. A frayed belt can cause noise even if no one is running on the treadmill. Check the seams of the belt and look for any fraying or curled parts. A heavily damaged treadmill belt will need a replacement to stop the bothersome noise.
Misaligned parts. A screeching noise can be due to a misaligned belt. If the treadmill belt leans to one side, it will rub on the plastic trim and produce a screeching sound. An adjustment using an Allen key will fix the issue.
Loose bearings. Just like in any machine, loose bearings will cause other components to move. And when there’s movement, there would be sound.
Worn out motor belt. Aside from the treadmill, there’s another smaller belt inside the motor. When this gets worn out, the motor will produce a screeching noise. A replacement will solve the issue.
Lack of lubrication. A treadmill is a machine that will dry out of lubrication after frequent use. You need to lubricate the belt using a dedicated treadmill lubricant to resolve the problem.
The running motion. It’s normal for treadmills to produce noise. The faster you run, the more noise it will make. Don’t fret because you can do something to lessen the annoying sound so your workouts will be enjoyable again.
How to reduce treadmill noise in an apartment
If your treadmill is becoming a noise machine, you can do the following steps to reduce the sound:
One of the tricks in lessening the noise that comes from your treadmill is by positioning it away from the wall. Although corners and sides are more convenient, placing the treadmill against the wall will only amplify the noise.
What happens is that the sound coming off your equipment will bounce from the wall and appear louder than it really is. Also, your next-door neighbor will not be happy to hear the noise closely.
But what if you really don’t have a choice? In this case, your best bet is installing sound panels. Acoustic panels absorb the sound instead of bouncing it off inside the room. It will serve as a ‘cushion’ to the noise pollution so it will be contained to where it comes from. You can purchase sound panels or improvise with some home supplies.
Some use egg cartons to defeat the sound, but this is only effective to some extent. Also, sound panels are only ideal in reducing the noise. It will not, in any way, fix the internal issues happening in your treadmill.
Use a mat
One of the simplest ways to reduce the noise of your treadmill is to place it on top of a sound absorber. In this case, a thick mat will help a lot. The mat will absorb not just the sound but also the force coming from your feet.
As you run, your feet pound the belt, which will produce sound. And if something in the treadmill mechanism is defective, the noise would be much worse.
The only way to kill the noise is to use something to absorb it. Use the thickest mat possible; the softer, the better. If you don’t have a mat, you can use any soft material to cushion the blow of your running. Just make sure that it’s an even surface.
Another option that you have is to move the treadmill in a carpeted area. The carpet will help absorb the noise without compromising your safety while running.
A mat or carpet will also extend the lifespan of your treadmill since it reduces impact and wear and tear. It will also prevent the treadmill from slipping while you’re running.
Install isolation pads
If a mat isn’t doing the trick, the best option is to use isolation pads on each foot of your treadmill. Isolation pads were first used on recording studios to dampen the vibration and to improve sound quality.
This function applies the same to your treadmill. Isolation pads are made of a rubber blend for a non-skid and firm texture. It absorbs the shock from the equipment and neutralizes it for less noise.
Moreover, isolation pads are way better than fabric mats and carpet in reducing noise that’s coming from a treadmill. It also prevents damages on hardwood or laminated floors.
There’s no special tool required to install the isolation pads. You simply have to lift your treadmill and place one pad on each foot that’s in contact with the floor. For heavier treadmills, you may need to ask someone to help in the lifting.
Isolation pads are cheap and can be bought online. You can also use the pads marketed for washing machines since it serves the same purpose anyway. If you have other exercise equipment, you can use more isolation pads to reduce its noise and impact on the floor.
Keep it lubricated
One of the common causes of treadmill noise is poor maintenance. The rule of thumb is to lubricate the belt for every 40 hours of use or every 3 months, whichever comes first. If you’re only using the treadmill for less than 10 hours a week, it can get by with annual lubrication.
For lubrication, avoid using lubricants like WD-40. This isn’t a true lubricant, and it can damage your treadmill in the long run. Settle for a silicone-based lubricant instead.
To oil the treadmill belt, you must loosen it first. You should have at least a 4-inch gap between the belt and the treadmill. After applying the lubricant, turn the treadmill on for 20 seconds to spread the solution. You can re-apply the lubricant as necessary.
Aside from keeping your treadmill belt well-oiled, you should also check the belt tension, alignment, and tracking of the belt to prevent excessive noise. You should also check for worn out or loose bearings that could be producing clunking noises.
We also recommend checking the user manual for any semi-annual maintenance needs of the treadmill. Aside from preventing noise, it will also increase the lifespan of your equipment.
Use more incline
If possible, consider walking or running on an incline. In an inclined position, a portion of the treadmill is raised, and the pounding will not go directly to the floor.
Nevertheless, we recognize that this isn’t always possible, especially for those with post-op conditions and mobility issues. But if you’re perfectly healthy, an additional incline will help beat plateaus on your workout, and it will also make you healthier.
The extra incline will put more stress on your muscles for a better workout. However, you must never go beyond your physical limits since it can cause injuries.
You can also run at lower speeds, so your body weight doesn’t pound the treadmill too much. However, this is still a fitness issue and a matter of personal preference.
Wear the right shoes
You may not notice it, but the shoes you wear may also contribute to the noise your treadmill produces. As much as your treadmill needs isolation pads, your feet need it, too.
A pair of shock-absorbing running shoes help in reducing the pounding noise on your treadmill. It’s also healthier since it reduces the impact of running on your knees.
You should always consider your routines when buying a pair of treadmill shoes. Walking is very difficult from running since the latter has more impact. Also, if you’re running in an incline, you need a pair of shoes with excellent traction.
Some individuals discovered that running barefoot on their treadmill will help reduce the noise. As much as it works in combatting the noise pollution in your apartment, it punishes your knees and feet.
Soundproof your apartment
Are your neighbors still complaining about the noise at this point? If that’s the case, you may need to soundproof your apartment. Most soundproofing methods work both ways – your neighbors won’t hear your noise, and you won’t hear theirs.
First, look for the weakest spots in your wall, which is usually the thinnest portions. The spots in your walls with the piping usually amplify noise, much like how the body of a guitar works. You can drape soundproofing curtains all over these walls to reduce the noise by up to 40%.
If you can’t find soundproofing curtains, you can use mass-loaded vinyl instead. These are great noise neutralizers for almost every airborne sound in your apartment.
Moreover, holes on the wall will let the sound exit from your apartment. Glue such holes or caulk it if possible.
If you’re willing to exhaust all means to reduce the noise coming off your treadmill, you can also use soundproofing paint. It’s not a magic product, but it helps to some extent.
Consider a quieter treadmill
If all else fails, you can consider getting a quieter treadmill for your apartment. These treadmills have built-in shock absorbers that will cushion the force coming from your body.
An old treadmill usually makes more noise due to the worn-out parts. Most treadmills can be of service for up to 12 years or more, depending on the frequency and intensity of use.
Although the budget will be a factor, a quieter treadmill will pacify your neighbors. You can still do your routines without overthinking about the amount of noise your equipment produces.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Where am I supposed to place a treadmill in an apartment?
A: If you have a small apartment, you have nothing else to place the treadmill but in your living room. You can also use a spare bedroom if possible. If space is an issue, you can get a foldable treadmill instead. However, this has limitations as compared to a standard model.
Q: Why is a treadmill making a knocking noise?
A: A knocking noise from a treadmill is a tell-tale sign that the rollers are already defective. In rare occasions, the knocking noise may come from the belt that’s applying too much force on the roller. You can adjust the tension of the belt and see if the knocking noise will be gone.
Q: Why does my treadmill have a burning smell accompanied by noise?
A: A burning smell is a guaranteed sign of a problematic motor. The motor could be overheating due to the accumulation of dust and dirt. Excessive friction can also lead to a burning smell among cheap treadmills. Take note that a burning smell should be considered serious as it may cause a fire if not addressed right away.
Q: Will my treadmill become noisier if I’m too heavy for it?
A: Excessive user weight can also contribute to more noise. The heavier the foot pounding is, the louder the thud would be. Aside from that, a treadmill that can’t support your weight will overheat fast and will fail eventually.
Q: My neighbors are complaining about the noise of my treadmill, what should I do?
A: If your neighbors are starting to complain, you must find ways to reduce the noise from your treadmill. You can perform the tips I listed above to lessen the annoying sound. You should also talk to the affected neighbors to discuss the best time for your workout.
Knowing how to reduce treadmill noise in an apartment will stop the complaints from your neighbors. You can finally exercise in peace without limiting your routines. Most of all, it will extend the lifespan of your equipment since the majority of the causes of the noise are maintenance-related.