How to Maintain a Chainsaw

Simple chainsaw maintenance will keep your chainsaw engine healthy and long-lasting

chainsaw maintenance

Keep your chainsaw running smoothly with a simple maintenance routine

Chainsaws make heavy-duty yard tasks a breeze. Routine maintenance will keep your gas-powered, electric or cordless chainsaws running properly and safely while also extending their life.

Tip: Protect your work space from oil and gas splashes by covering it with papers or a towel you don’t mind getting dirty.

Safety: Always wear proper protection for your eyes, ears and hands while operating a chainsaw. When inspecting your chainsaw, turn off the engine.

What You Need


To ensure you remain safe while using your chainsaw, perform these quick maintenance checks before revving the engine.

Check the chain brake

In the event of kickback, the chain brake should instantly engage to stop the chain from rotating around the guide bar. It is one of the most import safety features on your chainsaw, so regularly checking its functionality is crucial.

• Place the saw on a stable surface, release the chain brake and start the saw.
• Squeeze the throttle to a high speed and with your hand firmly gripping the top handle, jerk your wrist forward to engage the chain brake.
• If the brake seems late to engage or doesn’t engage at all, do not use the chainsaw as it is unsafe. Refer to your owner’s manual for repair and replacement instructions.

Check the lubrication system

While the chainsaw is running, also check that the lubrication system is working properly and that oil is being fed to the chain.

• Place a sheet of white paper down and rev the saw’s engine.
• You should see oil spray marks on the paper. If not, clean the oil reservoir and replace the filter.

Check the chain tension

Safety: Make sure the saw is turned off before completing the remaining maintenance tasks. Always wear heavy duty gloves when handling the chain to avoid injury.

With the saw off, check the chain tension around the guide bar. If it’s sagging or loose, consult your owner’s manual for instructions on adjusting the chain.


Keep your chainsaw running smoothly by spending an extra minute or two before and after each use to inspect your chainsaw.

• Clean the chainsaw bar after each use by scraping out any debris inside the track.
• Inspect the air intake vent for debris in the slots, as this could prevent much-needed air from entering and cooling the engine.
• Finish the exterior inspection by checking that all nuts, bolts, and screws are tight.


Perform these more in-depth inspections at the start of each spring to ensure your chainsaw will run in tip-top shape all year. If you use your chainsaw year-round, perform these checks every few months.

Check the air filter

A clogged air filter can lead to restricted air flow and cause the engine to overheat. Remove the cylinder cover to access the air filter. You can remove the filter and use a can of compressed air, spraying from the inside out, to remove light dust and debris.

If a good cleaning doesn’t remove all the debris, replacing the air filter is a simple and inexpensive fix.

Check the fuel and oil filters

For gas-powered chainsaws, the fuel filter is located under the fuel cap – look for a small cylinder attached to the end of a tube. If this filter becomes clogged with dust, it can make the engine hard to start and run roughly. Simply remove the filter from the tube and insert the new filter to replace.

No matter the power source, all chainsaws have an oil filter located under the cap of the bar lubricating tank. Fish the filter out and inspect it for dust. If clogged, it will restrict the flow of oil needed to keep the guide bar and chain lubricated. Clean with gasoline or replace as necessary.

Check the spark plug

Periodically remove the spark plug and measure the gap, which should be gapped to the manufacturer’s specifications. Adjust as needed.


At the end of the season, or if you don’t plan on using the chainsaw for more than two months, drain the gasoline or add a fuel stabilizer.

Condensation will build in the fuel tank and this moisture will make starting the saw difficult the next time you use it.