How Long Does a Chainsaw Last?

Chainsaws are made for rugged cutting jobs and tough environments. However, like all machines, eventually they wear out with time and use. So, how long does a chainsaw last? Find out below.

How Long Does A Gas Powered Chainsaw Last?

Gas powered chainsaws can last a very long time when well-maintained. However, like all power tools, gas powered chainsaws are prone to having their life shortened by accidents and negligence. If you take the time to care for your gas powered chainsaw, then it should last 10 years (or longer if only used occasionally).

Some well-treated, high quality gas chainsaws can last 20 years or more of somewhat regular use.

Professional grade chainsaws that are used every day will not last as long as those used by homeowners with much less run time.

Factors determining gas powered chainsaw lifespan include:

  • The manufacturer
  • Maintenence level
  • How it is used
  • Ammount of time it is used
  • Gas and oil quality
  • Storage method

Each manufacturer uses different materials production methods that impact the quality and lifespan of the chainsaw.

How Long Does An Electric Chainsaw Last?

Chainsaw Chain Cutting

Just like their gas powered cousins, electric chainsaws can last a longtime when treated well. The main factor in determining how long an electric chainsaw lasts is what type of work it does.

A homeowner using electric chainsaws to do small branch trimming will get much more work time out of the battery than a worker who uses them for commercial pruning or felling trees.

An electric chainsaw can be repaired if it breaks, just like a gas chainsaw. What limits the lifespan of an electric chainsaw is usually the L-ion battery lifespan. The battery is more likely to wear out before the chainsaw does.

How Do I Know If My Chainsaw Needs Replacing?

Chainsaws will wear out with continued use. You will start to notice that your chainsaw doesn’t cut as well or it becomes more difficult for you to get the job done.  

When the bar of the chainsaw has been replaced several times and needs constant adjustments, then it’s probably time to consider replacing the chainsaw instead.  A spark plug that constantly needs replacement is another tell-tale.

The chainsaw itself may not need replacing. However certain components might, such as the:

  • Sprocket
  • Bar
  • Chain
  • Chain brake
  • Pull cord / start button

The chainsaw may also need a thorough cleaning and replacement of oil and fuel as well. Stuck dirt, grime, and rust could cause the chain and motor to not function well, or at all.

How Long Will A Chainsaw Chain Last?

Chainsaw chains have alternating edges designed to make even and balanced cuts. However, these can become dull rather easily.

How long a chainsaw lasts depends on a number of factors. These include:

  • The type of chain
  • The manufacturer and quality
  • The number of trees cut
  • The hardness or dryness of the wood being cut
  • The duration of each cut
  • Frequency of use

Generally, a chainsaw chain will last 5-10 years if it is well care for. This will also require sharpening of the chain.

There are some things you can do to extend the life of your chainsaw chain. These include:

  • Replace or sharpen the chain as soon as it becomes dull or damaged (missing teeth, rust, chipped, etc.)
  • Avoid hitting nails or rocks
  • Do not cut ice ior frozen wood (in the wintertime)
  • Oil the chain frequently to avoid rust
  • Store the chainsaw and chain seperately in their own compartments.

If a chainsaw chain hits rock or ice and becomes chipped or breaks, it may not be repairable, even by a professional. This means it will need to replaced.

Signs A Chainsaw Chain Is Worn Out

Chainsaw chains will not wear out on their own from sitting around, unless they become extremely rusted. So, they essentially have no expiration date.

There are some tell-tale signs the chainsaw chain is worn out and needs to be replaced. These include:

  • The chainsaw requires extra pressure to get through the cut.
  • The chain has little metal left to sharpen.
  • The cut is not as smoothe or fast.
  • Smoke and a burning smell appears while cutting.
  • The chain’s teeth are dented, bent, or missing.
  • The chain cannot hold enough tension.
  • Cuts are uneven and unbalanced.
  • Cutting produces fine sawdust instead of wood chips.

How Long Will A Sharpened Chainsaw Chain Last?

A chainsaw chain that is sharpened, and not replaced, will eventually wear out completely and need replaceing. But how long?

A chainsaw chain should be sharpened each time the teeth are worn down. But there is a limit to how many times a chainsaw chain can be sharpened.

Generally, a chainsaw chain can be sharpened 3-5 times during its entire lifespan. This will happen sooner rather than later if you use the chainsaw more often.

To be sure the chainsaw can still be sharpened, follow the small safety lines stamped on the chain that indicate how much is left. Do not sharpen the chain past these or it could lead to chain failure and possible injury.

If you suspect the chain is worn out or damaged, then stop cutting and repair it or replace it immediately. A damaged chainsaw chain can be very dangerous to both the chainsaw and the user. Remember, nothing lasts forever, so be on the lookout for any signs the chain or chainsaw is worn out or needs fixing.

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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