A stepper can help you stay active in a functional way, but just like any other piece of fitness equipment, they require regular maintenance to stay in good working condition.
Follow this guide to keep your stepper running optimally and to fix simple problems that commonly affect stepper machines.
What to Do Before Working on the Stepper
Unplug the Unit
Before you start working on your stepper, unplug the unit to prevent electrical shock. Never work on a stepper that is still plugged into the mains.
Clear the Area
If you’re going to inspect your machine, make sure that the area around is free and clear of clutter. A clear space will give you the room to work without worrying about tripping over things.
Grab Your Owner’s Manual
Every stepper machine is different, so it’s important to have your owner’s manual on hand for reference and guidance when working on or inspecting your machine.
If you don’t have it, you can search for it online and most likely find a pdf version of it, or contact the brand’s customer support and ask them to send a digital copy. More on reaching customer support at the bottom of the guide.
What Regular Maintenance is Needed?
Performing routine inspections will help you find issues early on and ensure that your stepper is in safe working condition. Fixing a problem before it progresses into a major issue will save you money and extend the longevity of your machine.
When performing inspections, check the following:
- Drive cables for signs of wear and tear. Cables should be replaced every six to eight months.
- Pivot points to make sure they are properly lubricated.
- Steps to make sure they are stable.
- Bolts and screws for signs of wear and tear.
- The display to make sure it’s working properly.
- Check pedals and belts for any signs of damage.
- Any external signs of wear and tear.
Over time, screws can come loose, especially with daily use. If they become too loose, they can fall out and make the stepper dangerous to use.
Every few weeks, check and tighten any loose screws. Depending on the type of stepper you have, you may need the following tools:
- #2 Phillips head screwdriver
- Allen wrenches
- Adjustable wrench
To keep your stepper running smoothly, you may need to lubricate joints and other parts on a quarterly or yearly basis.
Make sure that you’re using the right type of lubricant for your machine. The owner’s manual should have detailed information on:
- What type of lubricant to use
- How often to lubricate
- Which parts to lubricate
Don’t skip this important step in preventative maintenance. Proper lubrication will ensure that all parts move smoothly and properly.
Like any other fitness equipment, steppers should be cleaned regularly. You don’t necessarily have to clean after every use (although that’s ideal), but you should clean your machine once a week or every other week.
Dust and dirt can affect the stepper’s performance, so make sure that you wipe down the machine regularly.
- Use a clean cotton towel.
- Never spray cleaner directly onto the machine.
- Only use enough cleaner to make the towel damp. Excessive moisture can cause a short circuit in the machine.
Make it a point to keep the area around and under the stepper clean and dust-free.
Change Monitor Batteries
If your monitor is powered by batteries, you may need to replace the batteries a few times a year, depending on how often you use the machine.
Many monitors take D size batteries. Some mini steppers may need to be plugged in for a few hours to recharge.
Troubleshooting Guide – Most Common Stepper Issues
Quality steppers are well-built and should give you years of use without any issues. However, just like any other piece of equipment, problems may arise even if you take good care of your machine.
It’s important to note that you should never use any piece of fitness equipment that is broken, worn or damaged in any way.
Some of the most common issues that affect steppers include:
Monitor Isn’t Working
One of the most common problems with mini and full-size steppers is a broken monitor. The monitor may stop working suddenly, even when batteries are changed, or it may work intermittently.
If your monitor stops working, try changing the batteries first. Even if you recently installed new batteries, change them anyway. The batteries you recently installed may have been faulty.
If a battery change doesn’t fix the problem, it could be an issue with the monitor’s wires or connections. Make sure that the machine is unplugged before checking any wires or connections.
Damage to the connections or internal electrical components of the monitor can cause it to stop working properly or entirely. In this case, you may need to replace the monitor. Contact your stepper’s manufacturer and explain the problem. There’s a chance that it may be covered under the warranty. If not, you may be able to purchase a replacement monitor.
Machine is Squeaking
If you use your stepper on a regular basis, you may start hearing a squeaking noise after a while. There are many potential causes for squeaking, but the most common cause is typically lubrication.
Lubricating joints, tracks and other applicable parts of the machine can help reduce or eliminate the squeaking.
Because every stepper machine is different, it’s important to check your user manual for instructions on lubricating the machine. The manual will tell you which parts to lubricate and what type of lubrication to use.
Stepper is Wobbly
No matter whether you’re using a mini stepper or a full-size machine, wobbling is cause for concern. It poses a safety risk and can make you feel uneasy when using the machine.
Fortunately, this problem is usually pretty easy to fix.
If you’re using your stepper on carpeting, move it to hard flooring. Floors that are rigid and made of hard materials are ideal. If this isn’t possible, try placing a piece of plywood under the machine. This should create a more stable surface for your machine and stop the wobbling problem.
Another option is to adjust the feet at the base of the stepper. Some steppers have adjustable feet that allow you to raise or lower the machine for stability.
If none of these solutions are working, check the bolts on the frame of the machine. Bolts can come loose over time, especially with heavy use.
If all else fails, you can always bolt the machine to the floor. Just keep in mind that you won’t be able to move the stepper if you do this.
If the stepper’s pedals feel wobbly or unstable during use, it’s important to stop using the machine until you resolve the problem. Unstable pedals can make it unsafe to use the stepper.
A few things can make stepper pedals unstable, but the most common issue is loose screws. Check any screws or bolts that are holding the pedals in place. If any are loose, tighten them with a screwdriver or Allen wrench.
Pulse Monitor Isn’t Working
If your stepper has a pulse monitor, you may find that it’s fickle or just doesn’t work properly. Unfortunately, pulse monitors are often unreliable or just tend to fizzle out pretty quickly.
Start by cleaning the pulse sensors, which are normally located on the handles of the machine. Use a gentle cleaner, and don’t spray the sensors directly. Excess moisture can cause the sensors to stop working properly.
Cleaning the sensors will help get rid of sweat, oil and dirt build-up that may be affecting its function.
If cleaning doesn’t work, then you may be out of luck. A repair technician may be able to fix the problem for you, but pulse sensors can be tricky to repair on your own.
A Grinding Noise
If your machine is making a grinding noise, stop using it and don’t start using it again until the problem is resolved.
A few issues can cause a grinding noise, but common culprits include:
- Bad roller bearings
- Bad motor bearings
If either of these issues are the cause, replacement is the only solution. Motor replacement may be costly and will require the help of a trained technician. Roller replacement should also be carried out by a trained technician.
When to Call Customer Support or a Technician
Some stepper problems are just too complicated or dangerous to repair on your own. That’s where repair technicians and customer support teams come into play.
When to Call Customer Support
- Can’t find a solution in the owner’s manual
- Need a replacement part
- Want to resolve an issue that’s covered by the manufacturer’s warranty
When to Call a Technician
- The machine has stopped working entirely
- It’s too dangerous to make a repair on your own
- You can’t figure out the problem
- An internal component is damaged or broken, and you need expert help to fix it
If your stepper isn’t working properly and you just can’t figure out the issue, a repair technician should be able to help. Just make sure that they have experience working on your stepper make and model.
Customer support may be able to troubleshoot the problem, or they may simply recommend calling a repair technician. They may be able to recommend local services to assist with your repair.