How to Maintain a Chainsaw

If you want to get the best out of your chainsaw and have it working hard for you for many years it is a wise move to carry out some simple maintenance every now and then.

Most Faults are found by Visual Inspections

The very first step you should take is to perform a visual inspection of your chainsaw as PAT test professionals say 90% of power tool faults are found by a visual inspection.

A visual inspection may seem obvious but it shouldn’t be neglected because it can prevent serious problems early on and stop the chainsaw from becoming more seriously damaged or even worse potentially dangerous for the user.

No abnormality should stand out at you when you look at it, you should look for broken or cracked parts, loose or damaged cables, loose looking or feeling screws and nuts, and leaking oil or fuel.

Sprocket, Chain, and Bar

The next step is to check the business end of the chainsaw, this consists of the chain, the guide bar, and the drive sprocket.

how to maintain a chainsaw

The chain is the part that receives the most stress and does most of the work so the teeth should be checked for wear and tear regularly making sure they all look similar and there are not a high number of bent or damaged teeth.

Another important check is to make sure the chain is properly sharpened and tensioned as running the chainsaw without out these being properly set up can damage the chain.

As a general rule you are only supposed to sharpen your chain a maximum of 3-5 times but his differs slightly from chain to chain so you should look in the manufacturer’s user and maintenance manual for the exact maximum amount of times you can resharpen your chain cutting teeth.

You can find the manufacturer’s exact maintenance protocols that are specific to your make and model chainsaw in your instruction manual and most of the time online if you haven’t got one.

If you are a heavy user or your chainsaw is quite old you should also check the sprocket and make sure the that is not worn, if it is it will need to be replaced.

As for the guide bar, you must also check the wear of the groove and rails and, if necessary, file and/or turn the chain guide bar over to obtain even wear.

Chainsaw Oil and Fuel Checks

One of the most important checks are the fuel and oil systems, it will be necessary to check the levels of the oils and fuel in the different tanks of the machine.

You will need to prepare the fuel mixture according to the manufacturer’s directions paying close attention to the measurements required.

Go steady when you are filling the fuel tank so as not to soak the other parts of the machine.

The lubricating oil tank for the cutting device is the second tank to be filled up.

Use a good quality oil and one that is recommended by the manufacturer for use with the chainsaw to prevent the oil from freezing and to prevent the tank and hoses from becoming clogged up and preventing the lubrication of all the moving parts of the chainsaw that are vital to your chainsaw running nicely.

Clean the drips with a cloth if they have overflowed during filling. Once the correct levels have been reached, carefully check that there are no leaks in any of the supply lines. If there are, do not use your chainsaw and have it repaired by a competent mechanic or power tool repair shop.

Chainsaw Fuel Filter and Air filter

These should be checked every time the chainsaw hasn’t been used for a long time and also regularly when being used often.

The fuel filter stops and foreign objects from entering the engine and causing serious damage.

The air filter has the same purpose and is more likely to get clogged up.

Luckily it is an easy fix. Remove the filter, clean it the best you can, and put it back on.

After some time the air filter should be replaced to keep the optimum amount of air traveling through it so the engine can use it to mix with the fuel.

Your manufacturer’s instructions will give you some idea of the time periods of when it should be replaced.

Often a visual check can give you a good idea it needs changing as well.

The fuel filter is less likely to get clogged up because it is enclosed and can only be affected by the fuel that passes through it.

You can tell if the filter is partly blocked with any dust or debris by the performance of your chainsaw when in use as it will run very poorly and splutter.

This should be replaced every so often using the manufacturer’s guidelines for the time periods.

Fuel filters and air filters are normally very reasonably priced and don’t cost very much so there is no reason to not change them when they have deteriorated.

Chainsaw Spark Plugs

The spark plug is an integral part of the engine and if it has deteriorated your chainsaw will not run very well at all.

You will need to remove the cover with a screwdriver and use a spark plug wrench to remove it.

Look for blackening of the electrodes or deterioration. Spark plugs are not expensive and pay for themselves through the fuel economy so check your manual for the recommended change time periods.

Here is an example of a new spark plug and a bad one that has been in an engine with it being fuel and oil-rich caused by a lack of air.

Triggers and Switches

After that test the function of the various knobs, triggers, and levers. They should slide out smoothly and return to their original position or engage properly depending on their function.
Depending on the machine, these tests are carried out as follows:

  • The throttle trigger and possibly the locking button of the throttle
  • The choke lever
  • The priming pump
  • The chain brake
  • The buttons on the machine control panel (start, stop buttons)
  • The launcher, which must return to its initial position without any problem

Maintaining your Electric Chainsaw

The checks carried out for an electric chainsaw are pretty much the same as the steps for the petrol chainsaw apart from the fuel part.

Follow the steps above for the chain, sprocket, and bar part of the visual inspection and then check the oil is not leaking and is filled to the correct level.

You should really check the power cord is not damaged anywhere along its length whilst it is unplugged, looking for nicks in the cable, you can run the cable through your hand as well to feel for any damage or irregularities.

For the cordless models, you should charge your cordless chainsaw battery for the recommended time and check any power level indicators to make sure the battery is still in good condition and charging to 100%.

Cordless chainsaws use high-performing lithium batteries these days and although they perform better, charge quicker and last longer they will still fade with age and with heavy constant usage.

Chainsaw Storage

It is very important that you look after the chainsaw when it is not in use.

It shouldn’t be left out in the elements as this will quickly take its toll on all the exposed components causing rusting and all the moving parts to seize up.

Keep it in the case or at a minimum or in a waterproof bag if you haven’t got a case or can’t find one large enough and then store it in a cupboard of the ground.

This will help if the temperature drops and will prevent freezing up of any of the parts.

These simple checks will keep your chainsaw working right for years so you can keep on chopping away without expensive repairs or replacements, this is why all professionals maintain their equipment regularly as preventative maintenance work.

Chainsaw Safety

Always follow the safety laws designed to keep you safe when operating these tools as they are very dangerous if used incorrectly.

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