Recycling our Broken Treadmill

About seven years ago, our family was given a secondhand treadmill as a gift – thanks Amie! – and I am so grateful for it. This treadmill made me believe that I could run, which was a new concept in my life. I ran and ran and ran. I learned that if I ran at least once every three days – ran my brains out – I would not get terrible headaches anymore. So while many people are motivated to exercise by staying healthy or keeping thin, I am motivated to run away from headaches. This treadmill helped me feel healthy, it helped me retain my Weight Watchers goal weight. Thank you treadmill.

But then it slowly became less reliable. Bob and I took apart the area around the motor and it was clear oil was coming out in ways it should not. We searched the web for ideas, and nothing. The consensus on the web was that treadmills are not worth fixing after a certain age. A technician would cost more than the treadmill was worth.

So we decided to take apart our treadmill. It would be our own little “Maker Camp.” We would see what was inside and try to find a way to recycle as many of the components as possible. Some pieces would go to landfill.

Armed with screwdrivers and flashlights, we told the kids to remove any screw. Start wherever. Let’s just take this thing apart.

Nora taking off the top of the treadmill

Nora taking off the top of the treadmill

It took us about three hours to take it apart. The kids lasted a really long time. Nora would loosen screws for Russell, and let him finish the job.

Russell undoing screws from treadmill

Russell undoing screws from treadmill

We were listening to music, so Nora pretended her screwdriver was a microphone.

Nora singing with screwdriver microphone

Nora singing with screwdriver microphone

 

Bob and Russell laying down on the job

Bob and Russell laying down on the job

One highlight was when we took apart the top and found the motherboard.

Looking at the motherboard of the treadmill

Looking at the motherboard of the treadmill

This was Nora’s favorite part and she spent a long time taking out the very tiny screws that held it together.

Nora removes the tiny pieces of the motherboard

Nora removes the tiny pieces of the motherboard

So when we were done, here’s what the components looked like:

All the parts of the treadmill, taken apart

All the parts of the treadmill, taken apart

We decided to throw out the large plastic panels because they take up a lot of space and we were pretty sure we could not find a good recycling option.

The metal pieces – I’m going to offer them on Freecycle to see if anyone needs some very strong metal legs for some amazingly cool structure. And if there are no takers, we’ll drive them to the metal recycling.

Metal pieces from inside the treadmill

Metal pieces from inside the treadmill

 

So will I get a new treadmill? If another secondhand one came along, I would be interested, for certain. I can’t bring myself to buy one new. I made a promise to myself that as long as I keep running every three days, I will not buy a treadmill. So far it’s going great. I learned how to run outside for the first time, and I have found many fun routes in our area. I even run to Weight Watchers every Saturday morning. And on days when it is too hot, I have been staying after work to run at the treadmill there. I have lost more than 10 pounds since the treadmill gave out, so I think I’m doing okay!

3 thoughts on “Recycling our Broken Treadmill

  1. Nancy on

    This is a great story! Want another treadmill? We are located in CT.

    • Carla Brown on

      One time was enough – thank you! And I live at least 6 hours away. How about you give it a try yourself? 🙂

  2. Neil on

    Our home treadmill broke recently and came across this looking for options. Love the story and how you involved your kids, what a great way for family time! Kudos.