How to Troubleshoot a Homelite Chain Saw

Hunker may earn compensation through affiliate links in this story.

Things You'll Need

  • Leather work gloves

  • Diesel fuel

  • Toothbrush

  • Screwdriver

  • Spark plug wrench

  • Starter fluid

  • Carburetor Cleaner


A majority of a saw's problems are connected to a dirty, broken or old carburetor. Storing saws for a long period of time will cause stale gasoline to dry up in the carburetor, which will need to be cleaned for the saw to run properly. If the saw still isn't working after completing these tests, you likely have something more serious going on inside the engine, such as a broken piston or cracked engine block, which will require a professional to fix.


Always use caution when working around gasoline and sparks. Only perform maintenance on saws in a well-ventilated area.

Image Credit: Hemera Technologies/ Images

A Homelite chain saw has a wide array of different parts that are all required for the saw to run efficiently and properly. If anyone of these parts is broken or damaged, the entire Homelite chain saw can malfunction and be dangerous to operate. Maintaining a saw is a difficult job sometimes but understanding that a Homelite saw, like all two cycle engines, require three basic things to run: fuel, spark and compression. Troubleshooting these three basic components will allow you to easily isolate the problem on your Homelite chain saw.

Basic Checks

Step 1

Make sure the chain moves freely around the bar. Ensure there are no woodchips or burs on the bar that will stop the chain from spinning properly.

Step 2

Remove any old, stale gasoline from the gas tank if it has been sitting in the chainsaw for more than a week. Empty out the entire gas tank and use carburetor cleaner, a toothbrush and rag to remove any old gas deposits from the tank.

Step 3

Refill the tank with fresh gas. Make sure you use a 50:1 gas-oil mixture. Fill the bar oil reservoir with oil.

Step 4

Ensure the starter is pushed to the right setting. Make sure the chain brake is off. Try starting the saw. If the saw won't start, try pushing the starter so the carburetor is open halfway. If the engine is flooded, let the saw sit for awhile to release the fuel from the engine.

Step 5

Remove and clean the air filter. Pour a little gasoline onto the filter and clean it with a toothbrush. Scrape off all of the dirt and woodchips from the metal filter. Wipe down all of the filter's parts with a clean rag. Replace the filter if it looks old or is too dirty to clean.

Spark Test

Step 1

Remove the rubber plug that is attached to the spark plug. Use the spark plug wrench to unscrew the spark plug and remove it from the saw.

Step 2

Clean the spark plug. Use the toothbrush to brush off dirt, grime and other particles that may be covering the spark plug. Pay special attention to the spark plug's gap and make sure that it is totally free of any debris. Wipe off the gas and dirt with a rag.

Step 3

Put the spark plug back into the rubber plug. Don't attach the rubber plug back to the saw's engine. Let the plug and the spark plug hang loose about a half inch away from a metal part on the saw's engine block.

Step 4

Pull the starter cord and look for a spark in between the spark plug and the metal on the engine. This test is easiest when done in dim light.

Step 5

Replace the spark plug if there is no spark across the two metal points. Perform the test again. If there is still no spark, check to make sure the spark plug's connecting plug and wires aren't damaged or cracked. Replace any damaged wires and check the starter's coil to make sure it is also functioning.

Fuel Check

Step 1

Remove the saw's air filter to gain access to the carburetor. Depress the trigger to open the carburetor (the little metal flap that opens and closes when you squeeze the trigger). Squirt a little starter fluid into the open hole.

Step 2

Restart the saw. If the saw starts but dies automatically, repeat step one, except spray carburetor cleaner into the carburetor's opening at the exact moment the saw starts.

Step 3

Try restarting the saw again. If it starts, let it idle for a few minutes before pressing the throttle to clean out the carburetor. When you squeeze the trigger you will see a lot of smoke come out of the muffler, this is normal and is from all of the caked on fuel deposits getting burnt out of the carburetor and engine.

Step 4

Replace the fuel filter and fuel lines if they are dirty, damaged, cracked or don't allow fuel to flow smoothly from the tank to the carburetor.

Step 5

Remove, disassemble and clean the entire carburetor if the saw still doesn't start. Use carburetor cleaner and let the parts soak overnight in the cleaner. If the saw still doesn't start after cleaning the carburetor you will need to buy a new carburetor.


Eric Blankenburg

Currently based in Minneapolis, Minn., Eric Blankenburg has been a freelance journalist since 2000. His articles have appeared in "Outside Missoula, Outside Bozeman," "Hello Chengdu" and online at and various other websites. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in creative writing from the University of Montana.