How to Fix A Chainsaw That Won’t Start


The majestic hum of a chainsaw, a testament to a DIYer’s will, can be music to the ears – until one day, the silence hits. That dreaded moment when your trusty chainsaw offers nothing more than a muted cough.

If you’ve landed here, chances are you’re staring down a chainsaw that’s refusing its primal call, leaving you amidst towering trees and uncut logs.

Every chainsaw owner, whether a seasoned lumberjack or a backyard gardener, knows that sometimes, tools have a mind of their own. But is it a minor hiccup or a sign of a larger underlying issue?

Quick Checklist:

  1. Fuel: Check level and freshness.
  2. Spark Plug: Inspect and test.
  3. Air Filter: Examine for dirt.
  4. Carburetor: Check choke.
  5. Starter: Inspect cord.
  6. Chain Brake: Ensure disengaged.
  7. Primer Bulb: Look for damage.
  8. Fuel Lines: Check for clogs.
  9. Compression: Test pull resistance.
  10. Switch: Confirm “ON” position.

Understanding Chainsaw Components

Husqvarna 550 XP Chainsaw

When dealing with a chainsaw that won’t start, it’s important to have a solid understanding of the major components. This will help you diagnose and fix the problem effectively.

The engine is the heart of your chainsaw, providing the power needed to cut through wood. It consists of several major components, including the carburetor, ignition coil, and air filter.

The air filter is responsible for ensuring clean air enters the engine, while the carburetor mixes this air with fuel to create the right balance for combustion. The ignition coil delivers the spark necessary to ignite the fuel-air mixture and drive the engine.

Fuel is supplied from the gas tank through the fuel filter, which removes debris, preventing it from clogging the carburetor.

The primer bulb – commonly found on gas chainsaws – aids in starting by ensuring the carburetor has the proper amount of fuel during cold starts. The choke is another fuel system component that helps in starting by controlling the air-fuel mixture.

For the chainsaw to start, the starter rope must be pulled, engaging the recoil starter. This cranks the engine, turning over the spark plug wire and ultimately igniting the fuel mixture.

The recoil starter assembly sits near the gas tank and consists of a pulley, spring, and the starter rope.

The chain brake is a safety feature that stops the chain from rotating in case of a kickback or if the operator loses control. In close relation to the chain brake is the clutch.

The clutch engages and disengages the chain when the engine is running at different speeds. The clutch pads are part of the clutch and grip onto the clutch drum to initiate the chain movement.

The spark arrestor is a small screen that prevents sparks from leaving the exhaust and potentially causing a fire. In electric chainsaws, instead of a gas engine, an electric motor powers the saw.

These chainsaws have fewer components compared to their gas-powered counterparts and offer quieter, cleaner operation.

Recognizing Common Chainsaw Problems

When your chainsaw won’t start, there are a few common problems that might be the cause.

Being able to identify these issues can help you quickly diagnose and fix the problem, ensuring that your chainsaw is back up and running in no time.

Old Fuel: One of the most common reasons for a chainsaw not starting is using old or contaminated fuel. If you find your chainsaw refusing to start, check the fuel in the tank. If it’s been sitting for an extended period, it may have become stale or contaminated with water. Empty the tank and replace the fuel with fresh gas.

Clogged or Dirty Components: Dirt and debris can cause several problems with your chainsaw. A clogged air filter can impede the flow of air, making it difficult for your engine to breathe and ultimately causing it to not start. Similarly, a plugged spark arrestor can prevent the chainsaw from starting by restricting the flow of exhaust gases. Regular cleaning of these components can help prevent issues from arising.

Damaged or Broken Rewind Spring: The rewind spring is responsible for maintaining tension on the pull cord. If this spring is damaged or broken, it can prevent your chainsaw from starting. Check your rewind spring for signs of damage and replace it if necessary.

Cold Weather Complications: If you’re trying to start your chainsaw in cold weather, you might face some issues. Cold temperatures can thicken the fuel and oil in your engine, making it more challenging to start. In this case, warming up your chainsaw by keeping it in a warmer environment before attempting to start it can greatly increase your chances of success.

Flooded Engine: Sometimes, an engine can become flooded with too much fuel, making it difficult to start. If you’ve attempted to start your chainsaw multiple times without success, there’s a chance the engine is flooded. To fix this, remove and dry the spark plug before attempting to start your chainsaw again.

Issues with Compression: A faulty or damaged piston or piston ring can lower your chainsaw engine’s compression, making it difficult or impossible to start. If you suspect this is the issue, you’ll need to rebuild or replace the affected parts.

Defective Ignition Components: A defective ignition module or bad spark plug may also cause your chainsaw to not start. Check for sparks at the spark plug. If there are none, replace the spark plug and examine the ignition module to ensure proper functionality.

Prioritizing Essential Maintenance

Chainsaw Oil

To fix a chainsaw that won’t start, it’s crucial to prioritize essential maintenance tasks.

First, ensure you’re using fresh fuel, as old or contaminated fuel can cause starting problems.

A mix of fresh gas and the correct engine oil is ideal for optimum performance. Additionally, using fuel without ethanol can prevent damage to your fuel pump.

Regularly clean or replace the air filter. A dirty air filter restricts airflow and results in poor engine performance. Cleaning it can be as simple as tapping off accumulated dirt or using compressed air.

However, if it’s too dirty or damaged, it’s best to replace it with a new one.

Inspect the spark plug for any signs of wear or damage. A bad spark plug can prevent your chainsaw from starting. If necessary, clean the electrode with a small wire brush and adjust the gap according to the manufacturer’s specifications. If the spark plug is in poor condition, replace it with a new one.

Check the fuel filter for any signs of clogging, as this can restrict fuel flow and cause starting issues. To clean the fuel filter, remove it from the chainsaw and rinse it in a container of clean fuel. If the filter appears damaged or heavily clogged, it’s best to replace it.

In colder conditions, a cold engine can make starting your chainsaw more difficult. Before attempting to start the chainsaw, place it in a warm environment for a short period to allow the engine to warm up slightly.

Troubleshooting and Fixing Not Starting Issue

When your chainsaw won’t start, the first step is to troubleshoot the issue. Follow these steps to identify and resolve the problem.

Check the on/off switch and battery: First, ensure the on/off switch is in the correct position. If your chainsaw has a battery, check its voltage to ensure it’s charged. Replace the battery if necessary.

Inspect the spark plug: Remove the spark plug and check for any signs of wear or damage. A burnt electrode could indicate a malfunctioning plug. Replace the spark plug if needed, and remember to follow safety precautions while handling it. To do a spark plug check, follow these steps:

  1. Switch off the chainsaw.
  2. Remove the spark plug.
  3. Check for signs of wear or damage.
  4. Replace the spark plug if necessary.

Assess the choke setting: A wrong choke setting might be the culprit behind a chainsaw not starting. Make sure the choke setting is correct for the starting conditions. Adjust it accordingly.

Examine the carburetor: A dirty or clogged carburetor could prevent your chainsaw from starting. Clean the carburetor thoroughly following the manufacturer’s instructions, or consult a professional if you’re unsure how to do this.

When troubleshooting, always prioritize safety. Switch off the chainsaw, disconnect the battery, and wear protective gear when handling parts.

If you’re unable to resolve the issue yourself, consult a professional to ensure your chainsaw is fixed correctly.

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Consulting Professional Help When Required

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, you might be unable to identify the cause of your chainsaw’s issues or resolve the problem yourself.

In these cases, it’s crucial to seek assistance from a professional. A professional technician has the experience and knowledge required to diagnose and repair your chainsaw, ensuring its safe operation.

Don’t hesitate to contact a professional repair service or your chainsaw’s manufacturer for help. Attempting to fix your chainsaw without the proper expertise can not only be frustrating but also potentially dangerous. Utilizing professional help can save you time, reduce the risk of further damage to your chainsaw, and, most importantly, keep you safe.

Many repair shops offer diagnostic services, where they can troubleshoot the issue and provide you with an estimate for the repair costs. When selecting a repair shop, choose one with positive reviews and a good reputation for reliable and efficient service.

Providing the chainsaw’s make and model and a brief description of the issue when contacting the repair shop can help them better understand the situation and prepare for the necessary repairs.

Remember, it’s always better to consult professional help when required rather than attempting to fix a chainsaw issue on your own.

A well-maintained chainsaw will ensure your safety and extend the life of your equipment, which ultimately saves you both time and money in the long run.

Last update on 2024-02-23 / Affiliate links / Somes Images and Data from Amazon Product Advertising API

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