Chainsaws are a highly versatile tool. They are able to be used in different environments and climates and are a truly reliable power tool. However, the time will come where your trustworthy saw will need a tune up. Cleaning your chainsaw keeps the engine and chain mechanism functioning properly. Chainsaws are expensive pieces of equipment and the goal is to make sure they last as long as possible with regular maintenance.
How To Clean Your Chainsaw
Step 1: Place Your Saw on Your Workbench
Before you begin working on your chainsaw, you should place it on a solid, stable surface like your workbench. The area should be free of debris.
Ideally, you should have an empty container or bucket to hold any screws or parts that you remove.
Step 2: Clean the Spark Plugs
Gas chainsaws use a 2-stroke combustion engine, meaning they use a spark plug to ignite the gas mixture. A dirty spark plug will prevent your motor from functioning efficiently.
Pull the spark plug boot from the spark plug. Then remove the spark plug from its socket by using a spark plug wrench. Examine the spark plug and check for any build up of carbon. If there is an excessive amount of dry, black deposits on the electrodes then the carburetor needs to be adjusted to deliver a leaner fuel mixture (more oxygen).
Remove the carbon build up with a stiff bristled brush or file. If the build up is severe, consider replacing the spark plug as they are rather inexpensive.
Step 3: The Fuel Tank
If you use your chainsaw frequently, and use fresh fuel you can skip this step.
Gasoline doesn’t age well. If your chainsaw has been idle for a month then you will want to drain and refill with fresh fuel.
If it has been idle for more than three months then you will want to drain the fuel and clean it. Liquid in the gas will begin to evaporate and leave behind a sticky goo. You can do this by removing the fuel filter and putting it in a strong solvent. It also may be necessary to clean inside the gas tank with a solvent like sodium hydroxide.
Step 4: Cleaning the Guide Bar
The next thing to clean is the chainsaw’s guide bar.
Start by removing the side plate. You will need a socket wrench or chainsaw T-wrench to remove the two nuts that hold the crank case together. Once removed, push the guide bar towards the chainsaw to remove the chain. Once the chain is off, pull away from the chainsaw to remove the guide bar. Once the bar is off you can clean it more effectively.
The most important thing to clean is the smaller oiler hole that allows you to put bar oil in. There should be on on either side of the bar. Ensure these are clean and free of debris first.
Then with your bar groove cleaner, remove debris from inside the bar by dragging it along the groove to remove dirt and debris. It’s important to remove this material as it can absorb the bar oil which will prevent the chain from using it. If you have an air compressor or compressed air cans, you can remove the remaining debris with them.
Lastly, using a rag, wipe away any surface debris on both sides of the bar.
Once complete you can move on to step 5 which involves cleaning the chain.
Step 5: Cleaning the Chain
Since you already removed your guide bar, you can also clean your chain. The best way to clean a chain is to allow it to soak for 20-30 minutes in a solution of 1 gallon of water and 1 cup of ammonia.
Note: When working with ammonia, do so in a well ventilated area.
Once the time has elapsed, scrub the chain with a stiff bristled brush and rinse it thoroughly and then dry it with a towel or rag.
After the chain is dry you need to lubricate the chain. Dip it in chain oil and allow it to hang and drip the excess off. We suggest placing newspaper below the drip station to prevent messes.
Step 6: The Carburetor
The carburetor is a small device that supplies vaporized fuel and air to the engine. Its main function is to accurately supply extremely tiny amounts of fuel and mix it with the air entering the engine so that the engine combusts properly.
If you have a gummed up carburetor, cleaning it out is a very simple; just clean the carburetor’s air filter, air intake, diaphragm and its cover plate, and needle valves.
Check the carburetor and look for a gummy gold or brown residue. You can clean this quite easily with an air compressor. You can also use a small brush to thoroughly clean the outside of the carburetor.
Once the outside is clean, you can remove the needle valves, the diaphragm and its cover plate, and place all of them in a solution of 1 gallon of water and 1 cup of ammonia for 20-30 minutes.
You now have the exposed carburetor body.
Spray the compressed air into all the carburetor’s body holes and under the diaphragm and needle valves. You also need to spray through the air intake to clean the carburetor’s throttle as well. Make sure it the body is cleaned thoroughly and no debris is visible.
Go back to your cleaning solution and scrub the pieces with a stiff bristled brush. Rinse thoroughly and dry well in order to avoid rusting.
Step 7: Clean the Air Filter
The air filter prevents particles from reaching the engine. If it’s too dirty it can restrict the airflow and negatively impact performance.
Remove the air filter and wash it in a solution of warm water and dish soap. Rinse the filter and then allow it to dry before reinstalling.
If the filter is too dirty, it’s recommended to buy a new one. They are relatively inexpensive so it won’t break the bank.
Step 8: Clean the Spark Arrestor
The spark arrestor is a fine mesh screen that prevents combustion byproducts from escaping the combustion chamber. The screen is positioned behind the muffler and overtime it can become clogged and will require cleaning.
To clean the spark arrestor, start by unscrewing the muffler cover and removing it. You may be able to simply pull it off, however there may be a screw that secures it in place.
If the spark arrestor is clogged, use a wire brush to clean the deposits. Once the deposits are removed, reinstall it and then reattach the muffler cover.
Chainsaws can truly take a beating and are a reliable power tool. However just like everything else in life, eventually it will need a bit of love. Your chainsaw will thank you by operating longer and making even cleaner, efficient cuts.