clean a chainsaw

How to Clean a Chainsaw and Why it is important?

The way we clean a chainsaw and how we could do it through the easiest way matters. There are many people who has never thought of cleaning their chainsaws but through this article, you will learn why it is important to clean it. Before we go into the nitty gritty of how to keep your chainsaw clean, we shall discuss first what are the issues that could prevent a chainsaw from running properly. 

Though a chainsaw works like a simple machine, there are a lot of things that are going on inside which you will not discover unless you take it apart. A chainsaw works when, as it digs into the wood, a cutting tooth digs into a wood and is carved out of small chips of material which comes along with tiny powder like sawdust. When the sawdust and wooden chip flies off, some of it, sometimes get stuck into the spaces between each chain link. Also, sometimes moisture and bar oil accumulates into semi-solid substance and this combination would sometimes prevent the chain from being lubricated which could lead to overheating up your chain. Another reason why your chainsaw could get damaged is when the saw dust and wooden chips scrape the bar rails this could cause a burr on the edge of the bar of your chainsaw which could prevent you from cutting straight. Another problem is the safety issues. If your chainsaw is not properly cleaned or maintained, sharp metals could go flying at 60mph. 

Furthermore, if sawdust, grease and other unwanted substance/s accumulate and gets stuck, this could lead to clogging your oiler holes which could definitely affect the performance of your chainsaw. Moreover, if there are too much gunk around the chain, this could eventually break the mechanism of your chain. This could cause a slip on your inertial brake and if that happens, you will not be able to stop your chainsaw in case of emergencies. 

Another thing that could affect the performance of your chainsaw is when saw dust and wooden chips accumulate in between your cooling fins on the cylinder head. When this happens it could restrict the airflow which will reduce the cooling performance. This will in return make the engine heat up which could eventually damage the piston, cylinder of your internal motor. Also, the air filter will not be able to get enough amount of air which will produce higher RPMs which could eventually prevent the chainsaw from starting again. 

We also suggest that you inspect the spark plug for carbon accumulation. Once your spark plug gets damaged, there will be incomplete combustion of fuel which means, you will not get sufficient power and if you do not have sufficient power, your machine will not start. Hence, it is wise to replace an old spark plug with a new one every 100 service hours.

Tools you need to clean a chain saw:

  • Warm water


Take note that you do not need to have all the tools mentioned in our list. There are few of them that are optional. The optional portion are for those who has many chainsaws and would need to clean them all together. If you are a DIYer, do not worry, you do not need to own a pressure washer or a shop vacuum. However, on the other hand, if you have a workshop, you might probably need some of the tools listed above as this would make it easier for you to maintain your chainsaw. Also, instead of a universal cleaner, you could use simple household ammonia solution or kerosene to clean your machine.

Step 1 – Removing the bar and chain

The first step in cleaning your chainsaw is to take it apart. This way, you will be able to clean all the different parts of the chainsaw. 

You will need something flat and something that has a stable surface. Also, you would need a workbench or a table. Ensure that your tools are easily reachable and are near you. Plug off from the power source your chainsaw, in case you are using an electric chainsaw. On the other hand, if you are using a cordless chainsaw, take out all its batteries. Gas chainsaws? Drain all its fluids. 

The next step is to locate the two nuts on the side cover of your chainsaw. Loosen the nuts from the bar studs through the use of your hexagonal part of your scrench. Make sure that the anti-kickback chain brake is disengaged before you remove the clutch cover.

Step 2 – Cleaning the bar

Once your bar and chain have been separated from the powerhead, you could do the following:

  • take the chain out
  • put it aside
  • use warm soapy water and cloth rag to clean all the dirt and grime 
  • use wire brush and scrape away all the sawdust and hardened dirt from the bar.
  • Use the bar groove cleaner tool or putty wife to clean all the gunk stuck in the bar rails.
  • Take a pick and try to take out all the debris that could be blocking your oiler hole. Take note there are two oiler holes on each bar. 
  • If you have air compressor and steam clear, you could use these too.
  • To get out dried resin, use your simple green pro HD heavy duty cleaner. This will remove all dirty and grime. Take not that the concentrate should be 1:3 rate. 
  • Once cleaned and dried, on the bar spray a light coat of WD40. Let it set for half an hour
  • Wipe with a rag
  • Check the edges to ensure there are nothing left to clean

Step 3 – Cleaning the chain

  • Clean the chain by soaking it in turpentine or ammonia and water for 10 to 20 minutes. 
  • Take out all the grease and resins out of the links of the chain
  • Take your wire brush and scrape clean the sawdust

Another method:

  • Use a household lye
  • Mix it with half a bucket of water
  • Wear gloves and eye protection
  • Put the chain in the solution
  • Soak for 20 minutes 
  • Take the chain out after 20 minutes. Do not let it soak for more than 20 minutes. This could cause some rusting. Do not also use your hands in getting the chain out 
  • Wash the chain with water
  • Once it is dry, take the chain back and wipe it clean with multiple paper towels.

Take note that you have to dip your chain in bar oil and wipe off the excess oil before you put it back. Coat it as well with a bar oil before reassembling it.

Step 4- Cleaning the powerhead

  • Use a 1” soft tip paint brush
  • Clean all the dirt around the crankcase area
  • Use the pick to access tight spots
  • Scrape all the sawdust around the clutch drum and bar studs
  • Ensure that the oiler port does not have any debris. 
  • Remove the top cover 
  • Check you air filter 
  • If it has dust in it, gently clean it with a soft tip paintbrush
  • Use a clean rag to stuff the air intake of the carburetor. This will ensure that there will be no objects falling inside.
  • If you wish to use an air compressor, set it to low pressure. 
  • If the air filter is dirty, rinse it user a running water or clean it from inside out
  • Rinse the filter 
  • Let it dry completely
  • Inspect the spaces between the cooling fins and cylinder head
  • Use a screwdriver or bar cleaner to take out all the gunk between the cooling fins. 
  • Take out the grill cover 
  • Brush all the sawdust away 
  • Remove the spark plug and check it
  • Check the gap between the electrodes, if it is dark black or covered with baked on dirt, you would need to replace it. 
  • Recommended gap: 0.02 inches for NGK CMR6H and Bosch USR4AC spark plugs. 

Step 5 – Putting it all back together

  • Reattach the engine cover, starter cord cover
  • Remount the dried up chain to the bar
  • Ensure that the chain ins mounted correctly 
  • Mount the bar back on the studs
  • Connect the clutch cover
  • Tighten the nuts
  • Hold up the bar by the tip of the nose
  • Adjust the tensioning screw 
  • Do not over tighten it
  • Once your chain is mounted, scrench and tighten the bar nuts

Now you could cut wood. But, do not forget to refill the gas and bar oil. 


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