Maintenance Shop: Check off chainsaw maintenance

Chainsaw (Photo: Husqvarna)
Chainsaw (Photo: Husqvarna)
Chainsaw (Photo: Husqvarna)
Peak performance Maintenance helps reduce downtime and save companies money. (Photo: Husqvarna)

More productive equipment, less downtime in the maintenance shop and longer-lasting equipment are just a few benefits of properly maintaining gas-powered chainsaws, according to John Allen, product manager with Stihl.

Ben McDermott, senior brand manager for professional chainsaws and cutting equipment for Husqvarna, agrees.

“Maintenance ensures your equipment is operating as designed,” McDermott says. “Proper maintenance will ensure peak performance and reduce the risk of any costly repairs or engine maintenance.”

Allen and McDermott lay out a checklist for what types of maintenance landscape pros should be performing on their chainsaws.

Before you cut

  • Use high-quality fuel and oil mix. Fuel should be ethanol free. Be sure to use a high-quality two-stroke engine oil when mixing.
  • Ensure cutting equipment is properly lubricated and the chain is sharp. Also, be sure the chain tension is correct based on the user’s manual, and bar nuts are tightened.
  • Ensure the chain break is working and that there is no oil on the handles.
  • Check to make sure the operator is wearing all necessary personal protective equipment, such as pants/chaps, gloves, eye protection, hearing protection and a helmet with a face shield when felling or pruning trees or limbs above his or her head.
  • Ensure the chain break is on when not cutting.
  • Don’t drop start the chainsaw.
Chainsaw (Photo: Stihl)
Maintenance musts Performing maintenance ensures safe chainsaw operation. (Photo: Stihl)

After each use

  • Clean all external parts of the chainsaw with a soft brush or rag. Remove as much debris as possible to prevent buildup.
  • Be sure the trigger and throttle lockout are working properly.
  • Inspect antivibrating damping features to ensure they’re functioning properly and not obstructed.
  • Clean and check the chain break. Check the chain catcher to ensure it’s securely mounted to the saw.
  • On guide bars, make sure oil channels are not blocked; inspect the edges for burrs and remove with a file if necessary; remove debris from the guide bar groove; replace the bar if the groove is damaged or worn out (it should be V-shaped instead of a square channel); examine the tip and make sure the sprocket moves freely. Turn or flip the guide bar after each use to extend the life of the bar.
  • On the chain, inspect for cracks in rivets, links and cutters, and replace them if necessary; make sure the chain is flexible and easy to manipulate; sharpen the chain after each use. A dull chain requires more force to cut. Don’t wait until the saw chain is completely dull to resharpen.
  • Use a round file and file guides when sharpening cutters. Improper filing can increase the force of kickback.
  • Maintain proper cutting height using a depth gauge and flat file.
  • Replace the chain when a cutting tooth is worn; this is usually highlighted by an indicator mark on the chain.
  • If the chainsaw doesn’t rotate in idle, it may require a carburetor adjustment. Check drive sprocket for wear and tear; clean the air intake on the starter and inspect the muffler to ensure it’s not damaged.

Weekly maintenance

  • Clean cooling system.
  • Remove the starter housing and cylinder cover and remove saw dust and debris from internal components using a soft brush.
  • Lubricate the bar and bearings as specified by owner’s manuals.
  • Clean the carburetor area.
  • Clean or replace the air filter. Always put the unit in choke when replacing the air filter. If it’s dry or dusty, users will have to change it more often.
  • Clean the spark arrestor mesh on the muffler.

Monthly maintenance

  • Clean and check the break band on the chain break.
  • Clean and replace spark plug.
  • Check fuel filter and hose and replace if necessary.
  • Check all cables and connectors.
  • Empty fuel and oil tanks and replace with fresh fuel and oil.

Sarah Webb

Sarah Webb

Sarah Webb is Landscape Management's former managing editor. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Wittenberg University, where she studied journalism and Spanish. Prior to her role at LM, Sarah was an intern for Cleveland Magazine and a writing tutor.

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