Chainsaw Troubleshooting

Chainsaw troubleshooting is an important skill to have, especially if you're working in a remote location. By carefully observing your chainsaw's operation, or lack thereof, you should quickly be able to narrow down the likely problem.

Chainsaw Troubleshooting: Symptoms And Causes

  • Chainsaw "chatters" - A loose chainsaw chain will produce a distinct chattering sound and must be tightened. To adjust the chain on your chainsaw, follow the instructions in your user's manual. The chainsaw chain should be tightened so that you are able to pull the chain ¼" away from the bar with moderate tension.
  • Chainsaw won't cut straight or cuts rough - Check the cutter links of the chainsaw chain. If the chain has hit material other then wood (stones, metal, etc.), the cutting edges may be blunted and need to be sharpened. If the depth gauge edge of the cutter links is blunted, they will have to be filed back into shape using a filing gauge.
  • Chainsaw pulls to one side - Inspect the chainsaw bar and sprocket for uneven wear. Replace the bar, if required. In general, the chainsaw bar should be replaced at the same time as every fourth chain replacement. The sprocket should be changed during every other chain replacement.
  • Engine dies or accelerates unevenly - Remove and inspect air and fuel filters. Tapping the air filter against a solid surface can help dislodge dirt and debris. Clogged fuel filters may need to be replaced.
  • Smell fuel while starting - If you've tried to start your chainsaw a few times and begin to smell fuel, your saw is most likely flooded. Set the chainsaw down and allow it to sit for 15 or 20 minutes and then try again. If the chainsaw still won't start, remove the sparkplug and look for moisture. If you see moisture, there is too much fuel in the engine. Drain fuel from the engine through the sparkplug hole. Wipe down the sparkplug hole and insert a fresh sparkplug.
  • Chainsaw won't fire on start - A fouled or badly gapped sparkplug could be the culprit. Remove and inspect the sparkplug. Clean a dirty plug with a stiff wire brush. Replace any sparkplug that is fouled with fuel. Check the gap on a clean plug using a sparkplug gauge-your owner's manual can tell you the proper gap distance.
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