Chainsaw Inspection and Cleaning Steps

Inspecting and cleaning chainsaws are very important part of chainsaw ownership. Without doing these regularly and properly, your chainsaw could stop functioning and even cause injury to yourself or others.

How Do You Inspect A Chainsaw?

Inspecting the chainsaw is the first step to keeping it in good working order. Checking for loose nuts and bolts allows you to fix anything that may potentially cause problems with the saw. A missing or loose bolt on a chainsaw could lead to dangerous accidents. Cleaning your chainsaw will remove any dirt or grime that could cause it to wear out sooner.

Inspecting a chainsaw only requires attention to detail, decent vision, and a clear workspace to accomplish.

Here’s what to inspect:

  • The chain
  • The bar
  • The underside
  • The starter button (if electric)
  • Starter cord
  • Chain drive sprocket
  • Chain brake band
  • Lubricant feeder hole
  • All screws
  • The gas cap

The cutting chain should be tight and free of oil, dirt, or debris. Check the tracks for build up of oil, dirt, and debris. Clean as needed. Look for too much wear on the bars and chains. Replace these if necessary.

Also check that all screws are tight and tighten them if they are lose. Check For any fuel or oil leakage as well.

How Do You Clean A Chainsaw?

Chainsaw Wood Pile

Cleaning a chainsaw is crucial as wood splinters and grime can build up rendering it non-functional after a certain ammount of use. Fortunately, chainsaws are pretty simple and easy to maintain.

It is a good idea to follow both a daily, weekly, and monthly checklist for chainsaw maintenence. This is especially true if you use it often or work as a cutting professional.

For example, a chainsaw maintenence checklist can the following steps:

  1. Clean the outside of the chainsaw for any grime or dirt.
  2. Close the butterfly valve to keep dirt out while you clean the carburator filter.
  3. Test the chain brake band.
  4. Remove the chain, clutch cover, and bar and inspect underneath.
  5. Clean the lubricant feeder hole that supplies oil to the bar.
  6. Lubricate the bar groove sprocket tip.
  7. Flip over the chain bar and reattach to wear it evenly.
  8. Inspect the chainsaw for visible cracks or loose nuts and bolts.
  9. Clean the spark plug
  10. Make sure the chain is not stiff or worn out.
  11. Sharpen the chain if it is dull.
  12. Replace the chain drive socket if it is worn down.
  13. Clean the air filter and carburetor air intake port.
  14. Check for any fuel leaks (the engine, tank, or fuel lines).
  15. Make sure the chain has proper tension and adjust it if necessary. It should be able to lift 3/8″ above the top of the bar and freely move by hand.
  16. Make sure the stop switch works properly
  17. Clean the fuel tank if any dust is inside while it is empty. Flush it with mineral spirits.

What Can I Use To Clean My Chainsaw?

Cleaning a chainsaw does not require any hard to find cleaning products. However, it might take some patience and removal of certain components. Here is a list of the best cleaning products and tools for your chainsaw:

  • Chainsaw
  • Ammonia
  • Mineral spirits
  • Warm water
  • White distilled vinegar
  • One or two buckets (one with soapy water)
  • Wire brush
  • Small paint brush (1″ or 2″)
  • Wrench
  • Putty knife, or bar groove cleaning tool
  • Small flathead screwdriver or pick
  • Cloth rag or towel
  • Work bench, table or counter top.

Use Wd40 To Clean A Chainsaw?

You can certainly use Wd40 on a chainsaw. ‘Wd40′ stands for “water displacement 40th formula’ and was created in 1953 at the San Diego Rocket Chemical Company. Since then, it has become popular in many households and garages.

WD40 is a great lubricant and degreaser. It can be used to slightly clean a chainsaw, but is not recommended to do a thorough cleaning. It is best as a lubricant of chainsaw parts and components. It is also great for adding a protective coating to chainsaw parts to prevent rust from forming.

How Do I Know If My Chainsaw Is Bad?

A chainsaw can wear out to the point of not being useable. It may also need some repair work to get it running again.

A common issue is the chainsaw starts to struggle regularly. There could be several causes of this, including:

  • The chain or chain tensioner has something wrong.
  • The braking system is lacking enough oil.
  • The brake and flywheel is blocked by debris.

A bad chainsaw may simply need a good cleaning and some maintenence. Taking it to a professional chainsaw repairman will help you diagnose the issue.

How Do You Test A Used Chainsaw?

Used chainsaws can be great for those looking to save money or to purchase a preferred model. However, this requires making sure they work properly. You can follow the steps below to test a used chainsaw.

1. Check for fluid leaks around the engine, bar, and fuel reservoirs.

2. Remove any visible debris such as dirt, twigs or rust from the exterior surfaces with a dry rag or stiff wire brush.

3. Inspect bar and chain for issues, such as looseness or broken links.

4. Check to see if the starter button works, or pull cord is frayed.

5. Bench test the chainsaw coil by making sure sparks jump between the spark plug tips.

The chainsaw coil will need to be replaced if no sparks are jumping between the tips of the spark plug.

Do I Need To Clean The Chainsaw Chain?

The chainsaw chain faces many difficult tasks during its operation. This can result in poor performance through dulling or breaking. This is because sawdust, dirt and other debris can accumulate on the surface of the chainsaw chain while it is being used for cutting wood.

So, do you need to clean the chainsaw chain? The answer is Yes. The chainsaw chain should be cleaned or wiped down after each day’s work. A chain full of debris and gunk can cause it to stick or become jammed and not cut smoothly.

How To Maintain A Chainsaw

Maintaining a chainsaw is not too difficult and very necessary to keep it running properly (and safely).

When performing a chainsaw inspection, make sure to check both the inside and outside components of the chainsaw. Each part can accumulate dirt, grime and other debris through regular use which can prevent them from operating.

Do not let the chainsaw go too long without being inspected and cared for. Follow the recommended inspection and cleaning steps above to maintain your chainsaw and keep it running for the long haul.

How Often Should A Chainsaw Be Serviced?

Servicing requirements of chainsaw vary based on how they are used and what materials they are cutting. The harder the timber being cut, the more often the chainsaw will need servicing.

If the chainsaw faces dirt, sand, or nails, the chain will need replacing or sharpening sooner. However, cutting soft wood will eventually dull the chain. A professional chain saw operator may need to sharpen their chain between refuels.

Pressing down hard on a chainsaw while cutting hard materials will both wear out the chain and motor faster. If you are a homeowner that only uses your chainsaw sparingly, it might only require servicing once every month or two .

How Long Should A Chainsaw Last?

A well-cared for chainsaw that is maintained and given the proper fuel and lubrication can last 10 years or more. In fact, good quality chainsaws can last several decades of use.

This also depends on the model and brand. A poorly made and treated chainsaw may not last even a year before breaking.

Are Old Chainsaws Safe?

Yes, old chainsaws are safe if they are functioning properly and the user knows how to handle them. A person should not use an old chainsaw that has broken parts or lacks proper lubrication.

Older chainsaw models include safety features such as manual and automatic shut off mechanisms. Chainsaw manufacturers make new models each year to satisfy consumer tastes, but this does not necessarily mean older models are no longer safe to use.

How Do You Get Rust Off Of A Chainsaw?

Removing rust from a chainsaw is done the same way rust if removed from other metal tools. It first requires removing any parts that block access to the rusted area.

Dip any chainsaw parts in white distilled vinegar for 24 hours in a plastic or glass jar.

Use a scrub pad (such as a dish scrubber) to wipe away any additional rust. Afterwards, you can apply 3-in-1 oil or Wd40 to lubricate and protect it from rust from forming. Reattach these parts and check that the chainsaw functions.

Can You Leave Chain Oil In A Chainsaw?

Yes, chainsaw chain oil can be left inside a chainsaw for weeks or even months if not used often. However, an old chainsaw will run better if the chain oil is changed out, as grime or dirt particles may have settled in the reservoir or chain links.

If the chainsaw is struggling to run, the chain oil may be old or low and need refilling.

Is A Rusted Chainsaw Dangerous?

Rust is dangerous in any form if it gets inside the skin through a scrape or cut. However a chainsaw with minor ammounts of rust on the outside (screw tips, nuts, crevices) is not dangerous if used carefully.

What Do You Soak A Chain In To Remove Rust?

Cleaning a chainsaw chain of rust is not difficult. It requires a plastic bucket and some white vinegar, preferrably one gallon.

Soak the chainsaw chain in the vinegar for 24 hours (or overnight) and a rinse with water. You can also spray or soak the chain in Wd40 to help protect if from further rusting.

Is A Rusted Chainsaw Chain Dangerous?

Yes, a rusted chainsaw chain is very dangerous. If the chain cuts the person’s skin during an accident, the rust can get inside the flesh and cause serious health problems. It is best to avoid using a chainsaw chain that is rusted.

The chain could also have damage to it in the rusted areas (links) and need replacing.

How Often Does A Chainsaw Need Chain Oil?

Chainsaws always need chain oil to operate, and they do so with a self-lubricating mechanism in the oil tank. It is recommended to refill the chain oil each time the gas is refilled (if using a gas chainsaw). Electric chainsaws need chain oil refilled whenever it is needed. It is best to always inspect your chain oil reservoir prior to each use.

Is It Bad To Run A Chainsaw Without Chain Oil?

Yes, it is bad. You should never run a chainsaw without chain oil for the following reasons:

  • Causes mechanical problems
  • Dulls the chain
  • Causes kickback
  • Stresses the motor

If you notice your chainsaw is running low on chain and bar oil, stop immediately and fill up the reservoir.

Can I Use 5w30 In My Chainsaw?

5w30 motor oil is a temporary substitute for chain oil. However it should never be used for the fuel mixture, unless made explicit by the manufacturer.

In general, you should never use car or lawn mower engine oil in the chainsaw fuel mixture. Doing so can cause damage to the chainsaw (fuel lines, gaskets, pistons) and decrease the lifespan of the engine.

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Nick Klamecki, Author
About Nick Klamecki, Author

Nick Klamecki is a certified Fire and Workplace Safety expert with 15 years experience in product research and testing. He has a degree from U.C. Davis, is an active outdoorsman and spent years ensuring the safety of special needs children. Nick researches and tests workplace, industrial and safety products and provides advice on their safe use. Learn more about Nick here or connect with him on LinkedIn | Medium