Treadmill tripping breakers


Old 03-03-11, 02:22 PM
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Location: Chicago
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Treadmill tripping breakers

TheWife's treadmill suddenly started blowing the breaker in the room it is plugged into - we've tried a few different rooms with a 14g ext cord and those still tripped as soon as it was plugged in. Actualy got sparks from the outlet last night.

1) should I worry about replacing the outlets where the unit was plugged in (see my comments about the sparks) as this is also our kids' playroom. if the outlets were damaged in any way, I'd just assume get rid of them and outlets are cheap.
1a) can I replce the reg outlets with GFCIs?

2) any suggestions on the treadmill itself? I was going to pop the cover and see if there is a breaker on the motor or in the unit itself. Don't really have a great urge to drop $2k on a new treadmill if I don't have to and I'm willing to get my hands dirty. If you think it's cashed, then so be it but I'd like to give it a shot. TheWife is a marathoner so it gets lots of use - this one gets probably 6 hrs a week for the last ten years.

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Old 03-03-11, 03:31 PM
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Originally Posted by TheWkndr View Post
we've tried a few different rooms with a 14g ext cord and those still tripped as soon as it was plugged in. Actualy got sparks from the outlet last night.
Were the other rooms you tried on different breakers or the same breaker? Do other appliances work normally on these circuits? More specifically does a standard incandescent table lamp or reading lamp have the proper brightness with no flickering?

if the outlets were damaged in any way, I'd just assume get rid of them and outlets are cheap.
1a) can I replce the reg outlets with GFCIs?
If you can see or smell damage, I would replace. Yes you can add GFCI and a new technology called TR (tamper resistant) which makes it harder for children to stick stuff into the slots. You only need one GFCI per circuit if you connect the LINE and LOAD terminals in the correct sequence.

any suggestions on the treadmill itself?
If the electrical system seems otherwise normal (my first questions), I would say it is a problem with the treadmill. It is not just an internal fuse or breaker as that would make the treadmill dead (no sparks or breaker tripping). It would certainly be worth contacting the mfr. about repair options before buying a new one at full price. A motor component or circuit board replacement, assuming parts are available, would be quite a bit cheaper than $2k. I would lean more towards a circuit board issue because a motor issue wouldn't be evident until you actually start operating the machine, not when it is first plugged in.

A very simple thing to check for externally and internally to the machine is frayed cords or stripped wiring maybe from rubbing on a metal component. That could cause a quick breaker trip and would be a very easy repair.
Old 03-03-11, 07:17 PM
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any suggestions on the treadmill itself?
I've seen this a few times. Have your wife start the treadmill and run on it while you have an amprobe connected to the circuit and see what amperage the motor is pulling, I'm sure it will be surprisingly high. Remove the belt and inspect the back side of it, it is probably very worn and needs to be replaced. There generally are no pulleys (or few pulleys) for the belt to ride in, the belt slides across the running board and the curved ends. As the belt wears, additional friction puts more load on the motor and eventually will overload the circuit. There could also be a problem with the motor as well. OOOPPPS I missed the part where the breaker was tripping immediately. I think I'll change my opinion to controls and/or control board within the unit or the motor is locked up.
Old 03-03-11, 08:23 PM
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Location: Cressona, Pa, USA
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we've tried a few different rooms with a 14g ext cord and those still tripped as soon as it was plugged in.
The 14 awg extension cord seems small, as the ones in my school have 20A moulded plugs with a 12/3 cord from the factory. That would not be causing instant trip, though.

The instant tripping breaker seems to be a locked rotor, bad windings, or cut wire insulation. Good thing these things get grounded.
Old 03-05-11, 07:30 AM
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: usa
Posts: 6
Treadmill fix

I know itís a pain, but have you tried moving the treadmill to a another location in the house where you can plug it into a different circuit? Donít use an extension cord during this test.

If you or your friends are good handymen you might be able to fix it yourself and save a bunch of money. If you are not reasonably skilled at mechanical and electrical repair I would recommend staying out of the workings of the machine.

I have fixed a few of these problems for friends with good success. Assuming there is an internal problem with the treadmill, I agree with member CasualJoe that the belt and motor drive system could be frozen. This is not an electrical problem. In order to isolate the problem: mechanical vs. electrical, unplug the cord and open up the belt platform housing to gain access to the motor. Most drive designs use a serpentine belt similar to cars.

Temporarily remove the motor drive belt to unload the motor. Plug in a try the controls. If the motor runs unplug again and turn the driven pulley with a glove on your hand to determine if there is abnormal resistance to rotation. If it is hard to rotate you are going to have to chase down the offending bearing or belt. Try to turn the motor as well. It could have bad bearings. These motor are usually permanence magnet designs so you will feel a little cogging as the pulley is rotated by hand.

If the motor did not run the first thing to do (with cord disconnected) is simply to go through the entire machine and look for loose connections, wires frayed to ground, or burned components. Smell the circuit boards. If one has a burned component it will be noticeable. Another area of possible circuit overload is treadmills have a safety feature that prevents a person standing on the belt from starting the machine with the speed setting on turned up. The older units had a potentiometer or rotary knob that had to be set to zero speed before the motor would start. Unfortunately the newer machine use an up/down button control. In both instances the electronic controls ultimately result in a relay or motor speed control circuit board being activated that forces a zero speed startup. This circuit can lock up. The high amperage needed to drive the motor comes through this zero speed start circuit. It would be a very likely area to look at if the breaker in the house is tripping. The motor speed is usually controlled by a circuit board using SCRís or PWM power transistors. If one of these has shorted then you are deep into electronic repair.

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