Leaks are never welcome, whether it's a pool of oil under your car in your driveway or unexplained water under your kitchen cabinet. But when you notice your chainsaw is leaking oil, it can be an even bigger puzzle. Just because you own and use a chainsaw, doesn't mean you know how to take it apart and work on it. Fortunately, there are a few simple steps you can take to troubleshoot any leaks before you start dismantling your favorite power tool.
Identify the Source
Before you do any repair work on your chainsaw, you should take extra safety precautions. Wear gloves and protective eyewear and make sure the engine is off and the chain has completely stopped. If you notice leaking fuel, do not use your chainsaw until you've remedied the problem. Unless you are completely comfortable working on your chainsaw, have a certified technician repair any issues for your own safety.
If you notice signs of a significant leak, it's important not to use your chainsaw until you've identified the issue. It's normal, however, to see a small amount of oil under the saw after you shut it off. This doesn't necessarily mean there's an issue. Take a look at the oil level in the tank and see if it has gone down noticeably. If so, you likely have a problem.
But if your oil tank remains at the same level and the leak is slight, it's likely a normal part of the chainsaw's operation. A small amount of oil seeps onto the bar and chain during operation, and it's natural for this to drop to the ground during and after operation. There's no seal to capture this oil, so gravity will naturally take its course.
There are several possible causes of an oil leak, each with its own symptoms. One of the simplest is that your oil tank is building up pressure during use. Remedying this problem is only a matter of unscrewing and re-screwing the oil cap. If that doesn't do it, take a close look at the rubber ring between the oil reservoir and the chain. If it appears to have damage or to have shrunk due to heat exposure over time, replacing it can be an easy fix.
If neither of those things resolves the leak, there could be a crack in the oil tank itself. Empty it of oil and clean it, then fill it with thin oil or water to see if you can identify where the liquid is leaking out. You can either repair any cracks in the tank or replace the entire tank with a new one. Lastly, if the leak only happens while the chainsaw is in storage, it could simply be a matter of the way you're storing it. By placing cardboard underneath it the next time you store it, you can identify exactly which part of the tool is leaking to make it easier to fix it.
An oil leak in a chainsaw could be a simple issue or one that is more complex. Fortunately, most of the causes of an oil leak in a chainsaw are fairly simple to fix. Even if an oil tank or rubber part needs replacement, you can manage it yourself in a few minutes.
Stephanie Faris is a novelist and freelance writer whose work has appeared on the websites of Pacific Standard, the New York Post, the Intuit Small Business Blog, and many others. She is the Simon & Schuster author of eight children’s novels, including the Piper Morgan series.