7 Common Problems With Chainsaws And How To Resolve Them

A chainsaw is indispensable for arborists working on tree pruning or vegetation clearing. It’s also a handy tool for homeowners who prefer to be hands-on when it comes to their yard maintenance.  



Maintaining a chainsaw in good working order is crucial to ensure efficiency and prevent accidents. With this in mind, you need to be familiar with the usual problems you’re likely to encounter with chainsaws at some point. 

If you have one at home, you need to provide routine maintenance to ensure it stays efficient. Here are some of the common issues with chainsaws and how to manage them: 


  • Dull Chain 


One of the typical issues you’re likely to encounter is a dull chain. In most cases, it’s due to a thin or feathered cutting edge or pressing down on the file too hard. There are also instances in which a worn, misaligned, or incorrect pitch sprocket can cause the chain to deteriorate or wear out rapidly.  

As the chain becomes dull, you need to apply more force to the saw so the teeth can bite into the wood. However, it only increases fatigue while putting you at risk for injury. Additionally, it’s likely for chainsaw kickback to occur, which is responsible for most accidents involving the machine.  

You can keep the chain sharp by using a hand file, chainsaw sharpener, or taking it to a local hardware store for professional sharpening.  


  • Fails To Start  


There are various reasons why your chainsaw fails to start. It could stem from the spark plug, ignition coil, or carburetor.  

If the spark plug is defective, you need to remove and inspect if there’s a crack in the porcelain, damage to the electrode, or a significant buildup of carbon. In any of these circumstances, consider replacing the spark plug.  

A faulty ignition coil is another cause why your chainsaw fails to start. Make sure the spark plug is working before switching the ignition coil. 

It’s also likely that the carburetor has a blockage. If you leave the fuel for some time in the chainsaw, it can result in a blockage that can prevent the engine from starting correctly. You can clean the carburetor using a cleaning product or replace it with a new one.  


  • Stalling  


When your chainsaw is stalling, there might be an issue with the spark arrestor or air filter.  

You need to check the spark arrestor, which prevents the engine from producing sparks. In the long run, the buildup of soot can block the spark arrestor, causing your chainsaw to stall or operate roughly. Make sure to remove and thoroughly clean the spark arrestor using a wire brush or consider replacing it if necessary.  

If the air filter has a blockage, it can cause the engine to have excess fuel or little air, resulting in stalling. You need to inspect the air filter to determine if it’s clogged. If there’s a blockage, you need to clean it or consider replacing it with a new one.


  • Smoke From The Engine  


When you end up with a smoking chainsaw, the chain bar might be too hot or you’re using the incorrect type of fuel. If the smoke originates from the engine, consider it a red flag as it can cause severe damage. In most cases, using incorrectly mixed or contaminated fuel is the cause.  

Remember that the fuel you’ll use for a chainsaw is a combination of gasoline and oil. The ratio of the mixture will vary among various types of chainsaws. Other factors that can cause fuel contamination are dirt, water, or wood particles.  

If the smoke comes from the blade, the chainsaw bar likely lacks lubrication, or there’s an issue with the chain tension. Always make sure that there’s enough oil in the guide bar reservoir. If the problem stems from the chain tension, you need to ensure that it’s not too tight or loose. 


  • Clogged Air Filters  


Clogged air filters in your chainsaw significantly limit the amount of air that moves into the combustion chamber. The air filter is responsible for removing airborne contaminants and preventing them from entering the combustion chamber of the chainsaw. In the long run, it can negatively affect performance, cause sputtering, and even failure to start.  

Consider replacing the air filter if a blockage is likely. Make sure to locate the filter and inspect for any buildup.  


  • Chainsaw Doesn’t Have Enough Power  


You’re going to encounter a power issue with your chainsaw at some point. Thus, assess the piston, muffler, cylinder, or spark plug cylinder for signs of wear. There are cases where the spark arrestor, muffler, or cylinder exhaust port disrupts the exhaust gases from fully moving out of the engine, resulting in diminished engine power.  

If there is carbon blockage, a solution is to clean them. Replacement is also a consideration to ensure your chainsaw will function efficiently.  

The cylinder and piston function together to facilitate combustion in powering the chainsaw. The piston ring may eventually break off. If this occurs, its capability to produce the necessary compression diminishes. Consequently, the chainsaw will no longer be efficient and lack power. The best way to deal with this issue is to replace the ring or the piston and cylinder.


  • Clattering Chain  


Another issue of concern is when you find yourself with a clattering chainsaw after a tree pruning job. A clattering chain can be due to a worn chain, twisted chain bar, or problems with the tension.  

If you have a twisted chain bar, you can readily deal with it by getting a replacement. A dull chain might also cause clattering, which you can fix by sharpening it once it starts to dull or replacing it if damaged.  

You might also want to adjust the chain’s tension to stop the clattering. If the chain is too loose, it will sag below the bar. However, avoid tightening it too much. You’ll know the chain is tight when you cannot pull it away slightly from the guide bar. 

Final Thoughts  

Having a chainsaw will make tree pruning and yard clearing an easier task to handle. If you want to extend the life and efficiency of your chainsaw, you must perform periodic maintenance and be knowledgeable about common issues such as what to do if it fails to start or how to sharpen one. Knowing how to manage these common issues with your chainsaw will help keep it in good working order at all times.