Chainsaw Troubleshooting Guide


Chainsaw Troubleshooting Guide


It doesn’t matter which type of chainsaw you have. The reality of the matter is that there is going to be a time or two when it doesn’t perform as expected. Performing scheduled maintenance will ensure that any troubles are reduced and headaches are eliminated.

However there are still times when you will be forced to tackle more tricky problems. Whether using rechargeable or petrol power they are going to require a little input on your behalf from time to time.

Although everybody encounters problems with their chainsaw at some point in time, some of these problems can be handled at home with simple methods and a little time and knowledge.

When it comes to working, maintaining and repairing chainsaws you may be faced with a couple of problems from time to time. The majority of these problems don’t even need a service man or mechanics intervention, you can handle them yourself if you have the right tools and the knowhow to do so.

We thought that we should share some of the knowledge that we have gained over the years. We have to start by saying that if appropriate measures are taken, the majority of these problems can be managed or even avoided entirely.

In this Chainsaw Troubleshooting Guide, we are going to state some of the problems that you are likely to experience with the chainsaws, nicely sectioned off into before use, when using and after using your chainsaw. After that we will discuss ways to avoid some of these problems and how to fix others when they occur.

Great so you have got a chainsaw and you are about to launch into cutting some branches or maybe felling a tree using your trusty machine until….. Hey wait a second something not working;


Chainsaw Problems – Before Use


When you get your chainsaw from the store with the intentions of felling trees or even trimming branches, there are a couple of problems that you are likely to face especially if the chainsaw hasn’t been properly stored or maintained in the recent past. Some of these problems include:


Failure to Start (Gas/Petrol Chainsaws)


Although this problem may be as a result of many other issues, one of the reasons why a chainsaw won’t start is if the operator is starting it the wrong way. For this reason, you need to ensure that you are starting your chainsaw the right way. This problem is common with beginners, and the most likely reason being lack of knowledge on how to start it. This can lead to more advanced problems especially if you try to start the chainsaw several times repeatedly.

If you are a beginner and you don’t have the right knowhow on how to start the chainsaw, you are in the right place, we are now going to guide you on how to start your chainsaw.

  • Place the machine on a level ground such as a pavement. After this, remove the chain bar cover if you haven’t removed it already.
  • You now need to activate the chain brake which is found on the top handle. You can activate it by pushing it forward. This will ensure that the chain will not rotate before you are ready.
  • The next step is to engage the smart start Decompression. There are some of the chainsaw models that feature a decompression control which is known as Smart Start. The main purpose for this feature is to aid with the startup of your chainsaw. If the model you are using is equipped with this feature, then push in the decompression valve.
  • There are some other models that are equipped with a fuel pump or a primer bulb. If your model has this feature, press the button several times until you can visibly see the fuel in the bubble for easier start up with fewer pulls required to start the machine.
  • Now you are ready for the real task. First of all ensure that the machine is still secured on a flat surface. You can place the right foot on the rear handle of the chainsaw and at the same time hold the top handle firmly with your left hand. The other thing here is that you should be sure that the cutting attachment is not in contact with anything including the ground. If you are ready, use smooth, quick motions to pull the starter.
  • Push Throttle halfway and pull the starter rope until the machine is running. Once you notice that the engine is running, you can accelerate it to keep it active. If the engine starts and then dies right away, you may need to move the master level to open up the choke. Once the machine has started successfully, you need to touch the throttle button once again to reset it to normal settings. Warm the engine by revving it after it has started after which you should hear the machine idling nicely.


Other Factors That Can Cause Starting Problems


Cold Weather


This is one of the things that most chainsaw users don’t know. However, the reality of the matter is that if the engine is cold either because of the associated cold weather or if it is not properly stored, then you are likely to face startup problems. If you suspect this to be the reason why your machine won’t start, then find the choke and pull it out as much as possible.


Holding the Throttle Too Long


This is the reason why the engine is likely to stop few minutes after it has started. After you have successfully started the engine, you are supposed to hit the throttle briefly one time to achieve idle speed. If you hold the throttle for too long, then it is likely to stop the engine. If you suspect that this is the reason why the engine is dying seconds after starting, just repeat the procedure again but this time you should ensure that you don’t hold the throttle for too long right away.


Stubborn Starters


Sometimes it’s not your fault or that of the cold weather. There are some models of chainsaw that are stubborn starters. They require more effort to get them running. If you are using a bigger chainsaw, then you should expect that the starter will require more force to start. If this is the case, give it a few tries at pulling the starter before assuming that there is something wrong with the saw.

If you still can’t solve the problem, here are some of the things that can cause a gasoline/petrol chainsaw not to start.


The Spark Plugs


If the chainsaw cannot start correctly, this is the first place that you are supposed to check. The spark is responsible for initiating combustion inside a gas powered machine. If you haven’t used the chainsaw for a while, or indeed replace the spark plug, there’s a likelihood that the spark plugs have corroded over time.


The Ignition Coil


A defective ignition coil can also be the culprit when an engine fails to start. This is the coil that sends the voltage to the spark plugs. You can use an ignition coil tester to determine whether it is defective. Other places that you should check is the Fuel tank, Recoil starter or even check for a flooded Engine.


Chainsaw Problems – When In Use


It’s one thing getting a chainsaw to start, it’s another thing to ensure it runs correctly and doesn’t cut out while in use. Here are some of the most common reasons why a chainsaw will play up when in use.


A Chainsaw That Won’t Stay Running


The other problem that chainsaw users have to deal with is if the chainsaw starts but cuts out when in use. This is a common mistake with both Petrol powered chainsaws and the rechargeable chainsaw. There are several reasons for this. In case you are dealing with a petrol powered chainsaw, the below issues can be the reason for that.

  • Clogged Spark Arrester – On the Engines of petrol powered machines, there is a small mesh screen that serves to prevent sparks given off by the engine from causing fire. This is the spark arrester which is usually made of fiber glass. It is becomes clogged, then there’s likelihood that the machine won’t stay operational for long.
  • A problem with the chain – A chain may also have a problem that may hinder its functionality. One thing that you have to bear in mind is that just like other engine powered machines, a chainsaw is made up of several parts. If the saw’s line of function is compromised, then you can be sure the machine will not work as needed.
  • Fuel issues – Low fuel supply, dirty fuel or insufficient supply of fuel to the engine.
  • Incorrect Air/fuel mix or Idle Screw not adjusted correctly
  • In terms of Rechargeable Chainsaws – the most common reason for the saw cutting out during operation is either the integrated load prevention sensor or a battery that has been used up and needs charging.


The Engine Is Running But The Chain Isn’t Turning


This is another problem that many chainsaw users have to face. This may be a problem with the clutch pads. Check the clutch pad for wear. When the clutch pads have worn out from use, they do not engage the clutch drum that enables the chain to turn.

The other thing is if the stop level is not activated. To ensure that this is not the cause, be sure that it is disengaged. If the clutch pad is the main cause, then ensure that you have replaced the entire clutch assembly. Again the chain brake will also prevent the chain from moving so ensure that it isn’t engaged when you want to use the chainsaw.


Poor Engine Performance


We know you have never thought of this but the reality of the matter is that there are some instances when the chainsaw starts well but it doesn’t perform as needed. There are several experts that say the engine needs to be tuned. If you want to ensure that the engine will be fully functional, you need to stick to regular maintenance. If you replace the parts and stick to your regular maintenance and the engine still doesn’t function well, you just need to make small adjustments to the idle speed or even the fuel ratio on the carburetor, which requires using the correct process.


Engine Problems with Rechargeable Chainsaws


Similar issues may arise with Rechargeable Chainsaws. There are several reasons why the motor of a rechargeable chainsaw may not operate as normal. One of the reasons is if the battery is running low. As the name suggests, a rechargeable chainsaw operates on battery power. For this reason, you need to recharge that battery after every two to four hours depending on the type and amount of use. What this means is that the engine is likely to stop operating after the battery has run out.


Start Problems with Rechargeable Chainsaws


It is comparably much easier to start a rechargeable chainsaw when compared to a petrol powered chainsaw. However, rechargeable chainsaws can also have start problems. One of the reasons is a defaulted starting button. If there’s a problem with the start button, then the machine is unlikely to start the right way. For this reason, you have to ensure that the starter button is in the right condition and functioning correctly.


Chainsaw Tension Doesn’t work


There are several chainsaws that prevent over tensioning. If you have followed the right procedures when adjusting the chain, the likely cause is the tensioning screw may be damaged. In order to solve this problem, you have to take enough time to fix or replace the damaged chainsaw chain screw.


Chain Doesn’t Oil


There’s a tube that helps the oil to flow from the tank to the guide bar and the groove where the chain moves round the guide bar. If the chain doesn’t get an adequate supply of oil, and the oil reservoir is full, then there is a strong likelihood that the tube is clogged with wood shavings, dirt etc. Make sure that you have cleaned the chainsaw thoroughly after each use.


Chain Brake Failed


The chain brake ensures that the chain is not moving when not in use. There are several instances when the brake fails. If this is the case, you need to ensure that the problem is fixed by a professional.


Chainsaw Problems After Use


After use, some of the problems that relate to a chainsaw are touching a hot exhaust and burning your hand. If the chainsaw is hot and you cannot carry it to the store, you need to leave the machine to sit for some time to cool. After that, you can clean your machine and store it.


An Engine that doesn’t stop rotating when the throttle is released


If the chain doesn’t stop rotating, then there is likelihood that the engine is set to idle at too fast a speed. If this is the issue, you need to adjust the carburetor on your engine to slow down the idle speed.


Leaks and Seized Parts


It is very important to Clean Your Chainsaw Correctly after use. This will ensure you keep your storage area free from oil, dirt and sawdust. It will also ensure the machine won’t seize up when not in use and it will make it easier to diagnose potentially dangerous mechanical issues.


The Bottom Line


As we have already established, most of the chainsaw problems can be dealt with at home and don’t require an expert as long as you know what it is you are looking out for. However, some of the advanced engine problems should be dealt with by a professional mechanic. Ensure that every time you do decide to tackle the job yourself, you have the right tools at hand. You may need screw drivers, sharpening tools and many more.

Hopefully you find this Chainsaw Troubleshooting Guide useful. Of course that being said there are an infinite amount of issues that can cause a chainsaw to give trouble. We have listed some of the more common ones here so you can avoid them. Remember the best way to learn is to ask and do. So if you have any questions or indeed would like to share a comment please feel free to do so.

Check out the Rechargeable Chainsaw Blog page for more useful posts and leave a comment or feel free to share the post too.


Thanks Folks and Happy Cutting!