What to do When Your Chainsaw Will Not Start

Scratching your head over what to do when your chainsaw will not start? A balky chainsaw can really ruin your day. Don't despair. A gas-powered chainsaw shares the same parts and mechanisms as other tools of this type, and troubleshooting is usually straightforward.

Why Won't My Chainsaw Start?
A gas-powered chainsaw needs several things to start-fuel, air and a spark to get things going. If your chainsaw will not start, the first thing to do is make sure it's getting what it needs. The following tips will point you in the right direction:

  • If this thing turned on? Sad but true: many times getting your chainsaw up and running is as simple as making sure it is turned on. Check the on/off switch, or your owner's manual if this concept puzzles you.
  • All mixed up. Make sure you're using the proper fuel mix. Most gas-powered chainsaws use a two-cycle motor that requires a mix of gasoline and oil. An improper mixture can keep your chainsaw from roaring to life. Also, make sure to discard any fuel mix left over from the previous year and start with fresh fuel.
  • After the flood. 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.
  • Clean filters? Remove and inspect the air and fuel filters on your chain saw. A dirty air filter may not be allowing enough air to enter the engine. A clogged fuel filter will block the flow of fuel, making starting impossible.
  • That old spark. 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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