Regular Chainsaw Maintenance
As with any piece of outdoor power equipment, regular chainsaw maintenance will help keep your chainsaw running in mint condition for years to come. In this article you’ll read about a few tips and regular maintenance tasks that will help prolong the life of your chainsaw.
Let’s start this discussion with one of the most important things to keep your saw running: gas. Most gasoline sold these days contains ethanol, so it’s important to understand how ethanol affects small engines. Ethanol fuel can severely damage your small engine in a short period of time. The ethanol in the fuel absorbs moisture from the atmosphere, this ethanol-water mixture separates from the good fuel and sinks. This mixture corrodes the metal components of your small engine and gums up your carburetor. If you can still find ethanol free fuel, use it! There are still a small number of stations and service centers that sell ethanol free gasoline, view this resource to try and locate a place near you to purchase ethanol free fuel. If you’re going to use fuel with ethanol we recommend using a fuel stabilizer.
It can be difficult to know what kind of oil to use in your chainsaw, because sometimes engines require oil to be mixed with fuel and sometimes there’s a separate reservoir. It’s important to use the correct gas-to-oil mixture. You’ll want to refer to your owner’s manual for the correct mixture for your saw. Using an incorrect mixture can cause your engine to run rich or to over-heat both can cause harm to your saws engine. If you’re using an electric saw, you won’t have to worry about using any gas-to-fuel mixtures.
Both electric and gas powered chainsaws use a special bar and chain lubrication oil. It is important not to let your saw run out of this bar and chain oil while in use. Letting this happen can cause serious damage to your saw.
Don’t buy cheap oil! You’ll quickly learn that buying cheap bar and chain oil or 2-cycle oil doesn’t provide the same lubrication that high quality oil will. High quality oils provide better viscosity, they last longer in-between fillings, and provide better lubrication.
Tips from the mechanics: It’s a good idea to get into the habit of refilling both the gas and bar oil reservoirs each time you use the saw. This helps ensure that your saw won’t run out of lubricating oil while being used.
We recommend reading your owner’s manual for specific maintenance instructions for your saw. That being said, there are general maintenance tasks that should be performed each time you use your saw. You’ll want to inspect your guide bar for signs of wear. After closing your choke, you’ll want to remove and clean the air filter. Closing your choke before removing your air filter will help prevent debris from entering your carburetor. If your air filter is extremely dirty we recommend replacing it instead of trying to clean it. You’ll also want to check the muffler and spark arrestor to make sure neither is clogged. A clogged muffler or spark arrestor will prevent exhaust from leaving the motor which can prevent it from running.
Performing a black/gray check before starting your saw is very important. A black/gray check is the process of checking the condition and function of all black or gray fasteners, switches and handles on your saw. These are important to check as all the safety features on your saw will be black or gray, this process checks to insure that they are functioning properly.
This is also a good time to check the guide bar’s chain groove and remove any debris. You’ll want to remove your saws chain to inspect the guide bar’s chain groove. Once cleared of all debris you’ll want to put the chain back on and make sure it’s properly tightened. It’s very important to make sure your saw’s chain is correctly tensioned and not too loose.
Tips from the mechanics: Your saw’s chain should have no visible slack, should give approximately an eighth of an inch when you pull/stretch it and should snap back into place.
After finishing your quick inspection, you’ll want to give the saw a general once over, making sure everything is fastened well and correctly installed. It’s important to make sure nothing is too loose or incorrectly installed as this may cause damage to your saw or could create a hazardous operating condition. Once you’ve finished your inspection and are ready to put your saw to good use, we recommend reviewing proper chainsaw safety to brush up on safe chainsaw use tips provided by the pros!
After you use your saw for about a day, we recommend removing the chain and flipping the guide bar of your saw (this doesn’t apply to the newer “anti-kickback” bars that have distinctive prow-shaped noses). Doing this promotes even wearing of the saw’s guide bar. It also gives us another good opportunity to make sure our guide bar’s chain groove is clear of debris.
If you notice your chain chattering, producing saw dust rather than chips, or making curved cuts it’s time to sharpen it! It’s important to maintain a sharp chain for your saw. A dull chain puts more strain on your chainsaw engine and can lead to problems down the road if the chain isn’t replaced or sharpened. A dull chain also increases the risk of kickback, a dangerous occurrence that happens when a saw’s chain makes contact with a solid object or is pinched. The energy from the cutting force of the chain causes the saw to “kickback” in the opposite direction of the chains movement, typically towards the sawyer.
A chainsaw is a complex piece of outdoor power equipment, but after building these regular maintenance habits it won’t take a specialist to keep your saw running in peak condition for years to come.