Keeping a Chainsaw Chain Clean

Lead Image
  • 1-2 hours
  • Beginner
  • 25-50
What You'll Need
Guide bar cleaner
Air compressor
Safety goggles
Bristle brush
Garden hose
Spray nozzle

Chainsaws can be a very useful tool for yard and home projects, and many see frequent use. For that reason, it’s important to maintain these powerful machines well. Cleaning removes buildup of debris including oil, dirt, sawdust, and sap. These substances can get in the way of a chainsaw running as it should, lessen the life of the equipment, and even pose significant potential danger to users.

hands using chainsaw to cut a log in the forest

Step 1 - Secure Your Chainsaw

First, place your chainsaw on a flat surface with ample room around your chainsaw so it’s not touching anything else. Disconnect the chainsaw from all power sources.

Step 2 - Remove the Chain

Adjust the knob that controls the slack of the chainsaw’s chain so the chain loosens enough to be taken off its guide. After you place the chain to the side for this process, clean the guide bar thoroughly. This is best done with a cleaner designed for the purpose in conjunction with an air compressor.

Step 3 - Soak the Chain

In order to loosen the debris settled on the chain, soak it in ammonia mixed with water for twenty minutes. Do this in an airy area of your home or outside due to the ammonia fumes. Combine a gallon of water and a cup of ammonia as the cleaning solution. During this step, use safety goggles and don’t let the ammonia make contact with your skin or eyes.

loose chainsaw chain

Step 4 - Clean the Chain

Use a bristle brush to clean the chain after it’s soaked. This will rid the chain of debris such as grease and caked on dirt.

Step 5 - Rinse the Chain

To get the ammonia off the chain, rinse it thoroughly. This can be easily done with a garden hose that has a spray nozzle attached. Dry the chain with a rag or towel and hang it up to air dry completely.

Step 6 - Lubricate the Chain

Pour chainsaw oil into a container so that you can dip the chain in it. Douse the chain in oil for a few moments, then hanging it up so that excess oil can drip off. During this step, place a rag or newspaper under the chain to capture excess oil. This is an important step as a well-lubricated chainsaw will extend the life of the power tool and will help it work more effectively.

Step 7 - Reattach the Chain

Reattach the chain to the guide bar of the chainsaw. After the chain is in place, use the knob to tighten the chain.

Other Chainsaw Maintenance Tips

Follow a few other important steps to keep your chainsaw in mint condition.

hands cleaning chainsaw with screwdriver

Tighten Loose Parts

Due to the constant vibration by an operable chainsaw, parts such as screws, nuts, or bolts may become loose over time. Before each use, check your chainsaw for loose parts and tighten them accordingly.

Monitor Safety Features

The safety features on your chainsaw are vital and should be checked regularly. Keep the chain brake clean, check the chain catcher for damage, and check the throttle trigger lockout to verify that it’s working. Tend to any damaged features before continuing use of the power tool.

Rotate the Bar

Turn the chainsaw bar before each use and clean the bar groove after each use. This will prevent unnecessary wear on the device. Also inspect the lubrication hole to prevent clogs. Clogs or a lack of adequate lubrication will cause friction, leading to undo damage to the bar and chain.

Regularly Check the Filter

Check your saw’s air filter checked before each use. If it’s dirty, clean it with warm, soapy water. Allow the filter to dry completely before replacing it and using your saw. If your filter is excessively dirty, replace it completely before operating your chainsaw.

Following these maintenance procedures and tips will allow you to get the maximum power and life out of your chainsaw.