How To Troubleshoot A Chainsaw That Won't Start

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Chainsaw letdown is real. There's nothing like the feeling of being all fired up, ready to cut some stuff, only to pull back that chain and realize your saw won't start. Before you scrap the chainsaw or send it somewhere for expensive repairs, first try these common fixes to troubleshoot your tool.


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Safety First

First, always operate under the assumption that your chainsaw could start at any time, even when it seems like it never will. Take the same safety precautions that you would if it were on – keep it away from people and baggy clothing, keep both hands on the saw and beware of sudden kickback.


Pay Attention to Conditions

Chainsaws can be affected by the surrounding conditions, particularly weather. If you've had a cold spell, give your chainsaw a chance to warm up and try again.

Start it Correctly

All chainsaws are a little different. If you haven't used a chainsaw many times before or are new to a certain brand or model, it's worth checking to make sure you have the hang of starting this particular tool. Some models might have a stubborn starter, for instance, and others may require that you hold the throttle longer than you do on other chainsaws. Look online or in your user manual for tips on starting your particular model.


Check Your Fuel

It seems like an obvious step, but make sure you have enough fuel in your chainsaw to get it started. What might be less obvious is that too much fuel can flood your engine and prevent your chainsaw from starting. If you think you have too much, let the engine run for 20 minutes to evaporate some of the excess. Give it another 20 minutes to cool down and then try again to start it.


Old fuel could also be a problem. If you haven't used the chainsaw in a few months, you might want to drain the old fuel and put in fresh fuel.

Additionally, a hot engine or a dirty fuel filter could be restricting the flow of fuel, leading to a clogged carburetor. Make sure that your fuel filter is clean, up to date and allowing for an easy fuel flow. If you see any thick substances around or near the carburetor, make sure to carefully clean it using carburetor cleaner.


Be Sure There Are Sparks

The spark plug is a critical part of starting your chain saw since it ignites the fuel that drives the engine. There are two main reasons your spark plug might not be working. It could be corroded, which is common after frequent use. Or, the spark plug could have an improper gap in it. Check your owner's manual or an online guide to make sure your plug has the correct gap. Then, if it still doesn't give off a spark, try cleaning it with a steel brush to get rid of any corrosion. If that doesn't work, replace the spark plug.


Check the Starter

Several issues with your recoil starter, also referred to as the pull cord or chainsaw rope, can lead to your chainsaw not starting. The most common issue is that the spring inside isn't operating correctly, meaning that it won't push the other parts of the chainsaw into motion as it's pulled and released. If the spring seems faulty, you may need to replace it with new rewind springs or purchase a new recoil starter assembly.

The chainsaw is a tool with many moving parts, and all must be in working order to start sawing. With a careful look throughout your tool, it's often possible to identify the problem, fix it and get back to your job in no time.