My Rowing Machine Has Stopped Working


There is nothing less motivating than getting all geared up for a workout and then discovering your rowing machine doesn't work. A functional rowing machine, sometimes called a rower, is popular piece of exercise equipment. It works as a calorie-burning crosstrainer that challenges your upper and lower body together--and you don't even have to know how to swim.


Something as simple as dirt can cause problems with your rowing machine. Dirt, dust and sweat should be cleaned off regularly. For general maintenance, you can simply wipe off the machine with a dry cloth. For more serious cleaning, the NordicTrack's Total-Body Rowing System Owner's Guide advises taking a damp cloth with a small bit of detergent on it and cleaning the machine with that. Do not get the cloth too damp though and ensure that the moving parts do not get wet. Wipe the rails too, but keep a wet cloth away from the monitor.

Loose Parts

Loose bolts and nuts will negatively impact your machine's performance, not to mention create a safety hazard. The Welso manual suggests checking for loose parts and tightening them before every workout. If the machine isn't working, examine every single part and determine if they are tight and not showing wear.


The failure of your machine to give you resistance when rowing may indicate a problem with the flywheel. The Sears Lifestyler 2700 owner's manual suggests turning the machine onto its side and checking that the resistance strap is still on the flywheel. If it has slipped off, just slip it back on. Putting the rowing machine on its side will not damage the machine. The Lifestyler manual suggests storing the rowing machine this way to save space.

Another issue involving the flywheel is stuff jamming the grooves. You can fix this by taking a piece of folded sandpaper and sticking it between the flywheel and drag strips. Then, row for five to 10 minutes, remove the sandpaper and wipe off the flywheel, as suggested by the NordicRow TBX by NordicTrack assembly manual.

Drag Strip

If the rowing machine is not working, the drag strip may be the culprit. There are three things you can do to fix this. One, remove and clean the drag strip. Clean the drag strip by holding it by the ends and pulling it tightly many times in a row as if it were a rubber band so that dust comes off. Two, flip the drag strip over to extend its life. If neither of these two things work, replace the drag strip completely, which is suggested by the NordicRow manual.

Part Replacement

If parts break down or wear, the rowing machine may not work until you replace the parts. Examine the cords for signs of fraying. The NordicRow TBX by NordicTrack manual recommends consulting the customer department immediately if you observe tears on the cords. The Proform 980 ZLW user's manual says that replacing the batteries usually fixes a nonoperational console.