One of the most common problems faced by most chainsaw users is how to start a chainsaw especially when it’s cold. In this comprehensive guide, we look at the different tips and tricks that come in handy when your chainsaw fails to start. We will also discuss how to start chainsaws from various manufacturers.
20 Tricks and Tips to Get your chainsaw started
We will begin by discussing the top 20 tips and tricks that you could use to make sure that your chainsaw starts. These tips and tricks come from our understanding of how the chainsaw works. Knowing how it works helps you to identify components that for one reason or another, are not functioning properly. Once a faulty component gets identified, you either repair it or replace to restore functionality.
- Spark Plugs
The spark plug is one of the first parts that you should check if your chainsaw won’t start. The spark plug produces the spark that ignites the air-fuel mixture which then burns in the combustion chamber. The electric spark occurs when an electric current jumps across the spark plug gap. If the there is any dirt such as soot between the points of the spark plug where the spark occurs, the electric current will not flow across the small spark plug gap. The voltage created by the induction coil is not sufficient to overcome a thick layer of soot or dirt.
To fix it, unscrew it out, check to see if the spark points are clean. If there is soot, clean the spark plug points with a wire brush. Connect it with its cable, and then ground it by touching the body of the chainsaw. Crank the chainsaw and see if a spark occurs. If it does not, then the spark plug is faulty and you should replace it.
Fuel can prevent a chainsaw or any other engine from starting. If you leave the fuel in the fuel tank for a long time, it will get chemically altered. Some of its light and highly flammable components will evaporate or get chemically separated from heavier and denser elements of the fuel. When that happens, the fuel-air mixture will not ignite, and if it does, it will burn poorly. That will cause the chainsaw to stall or not start at all.
What you need to do is always start with fresh fuel anytime that you have had the chainsaw in storage for a couple of weeks or just for a long time. If it’s cold and you are trying to start your power saw with fuel that has been in your tank for a while, apart from the chainsaw failing to start, you will be fouling the spark plug. Therefore, ensure that you use only fresh fuel.
- Clutch Pads
The clutch transmits power from the engine’s crankshaft to the gears rotating the chain. If the clutch pads are worn out, they will not be able to attach properly to the crankshaft’s flywheel and transfer the power to the gear assembly. You will notice that the chain is turning slowly even though the chainsaw engine is running at maximum speed.
What you need to do is to change the clutch plate. The clutch pads come already mounted on the clutch plate. If you need to replace them, then you need to replace the whole clutch plate.
- Fuel Filters
Sometimes the Chainsaw won’t start because of a clogged oil fuel filter. What happens is that the fuel filter after being used for a while traps so much dirt that it gets clogged and can only pass just a little amount of fuel or none. When that happens, the chainsaw will not start. You should change the fuel filter after a certain number of hours of use. The manufacturer indicates the numbers of hours after which you should replace the filter in the operation manual of your chainsaw.
Using the chainsaw without a fuel filter will allow dirt to get into the fuel passages of the carburetor. That will cause blockage of those passages, and that can happen within minutes or seconds of turning it on. You will need to have the carburetor opened and cleaned for the chainsaw to work again. After that, you will then need to replace the fuel filter for the chainsaw to work without stalling.
- Fuel Tank
You need to make sure that there is enough fuel in the fuel tank. You also need to make sure that the tank is clean and that the fuel mixture in the tank is the right one. There are cases where you may buy fuel that is mixed with other chemicals such as ethanol. You must not use such fuel because it breaks down after a while to form corrosive acidic by-products.
- Flooded Engine
The engine can get flooded when you try to start it by pushing the fuel pump as a means to get it started easily. The same happens when you push the primer bulb excessively. What happens is that a richer fuel-air mixture gets delivered into the combustion chamber. If the engine fails to start, that fuel remains in there. While the air can escape via the exhaust valve, the fuel will not.
To correct the engine flooding, unscrew the spark plug. Make sure the hole is facing away from you when the plug comes out. Drain out the fuel from the fuel tank. Set the choke’s control lever back to its normal position. While the engine is still fully un-choked, crank it about eight times. Clean the plug and screw it back. Fill the tank with fresh fuel if the fuel the fuel had been in the tank for several weeks or months. Try and start the chainsaw again.
- Recoil Starter
The recoil starter is made of three main components: the magneto assembly which consists of a magnet and electromagnet windings, the starter recoil pulley, and the rewind spring. Out of these three components, it is the pulley assembly and the recoil spring that is most susceptible to fail.
The starter pulley is supposed to let go the rope smoothly as you pull it out. That allows the magneto assembly to develop enough electric current for the ignition coil to use. The recoil spring is also supposed to recoil and pull back the rope once you release it. A faulty recoil starter will prevent the above actions from happening and therefore the engine will not start.
The carburetor does the job of drawing in the fuel to mix it with air before delivering it to the engine cylinder’s combustion chamber. If the carburetor fuel passages are blocked because of suspended particles in the incoming air or fuel, then it will fail to function properly. That means it will not deliver the right air-fuel mixture ratios or it will simply not deliver enough air-fuel mixture. Whichever it is, it’s not good for the engine and will cause the chainsaw not to start.
The solution is to clean the carburetor passages and ensure that both the fuel and air filters are working properly, and not clogged. You should also ensure that the fuel tank is clean and the fuel in use is fresh fuel. If you have cleaned it and still that does not help, you should consider replacing it. That is if you have established other components discussed in these guide are functioning properly.
- Air Filters
The air filter can prevent the engine from starting if you do not replace it on a regular basis. Air forms the bigger portion of the air-fuel mixture; dirty air will easily cause the combustion chamber to be filled with thick layers of soot. The layers of soot will be formed from partially burnt components that were in the dirty air-fuel mixture. It could also be formed when fuel does not burn completely. That means you need to keep the air filters clean to avoid soot formation in the engine’s combustion chamber.
- Spark Arrestor
The spark arrestor is required by law to prevent fires. What happens is that during the dry season, sparks from the engine’s exhaust system were found to be able to set on fire the atmospherics’ suspended fuels. The spark arrestor stops that from happening by trapping hot exhaust particles. After a while, the spark arrestor gets clogged. That causes it to create a backpressure that prevents the exhaust fumes from escaping fast enough. That leads to build up of exhaust gasses in the chainsaw’s combustion chamber and prevents the fresh air-fuel mixture from burning properly.
To prevent that from happening, you need to change the spark arrestor after every 24 hours of operation. Alternatively, you could clean it with a wire brush to get rid of any trapped particles.
- Ignition Coil
The ignition cold is the component that converts the low voltage current generated by the flywheel magneto into a high voltage current to force it to jump across the spark plug gap, creating an electric spark. If the Ignition coil is faulty because of a short circuit, or lack of continuity in the wire winding, it will not provide a high voltage current.
You can use a multi-meter or ignition coil tester to check for continuity in its circuit windings. If you find that it has a shot or its windings are not continuous, then you should replace it. Without it, the chainsaw won’t start.
- Compression Rings
The compression rings are found on the upper section of the piston head. They are used to create a compression zone above the piston head. If they are worn-out, they will allow the air-fuel mixture to escape during compression. That will cause the remaining mixture not to gain enough heat from the compression process to combust when the spark occurs. The worn-out rings will also allow oil to pass into the combustion chamber and foul the spark plug.
You can change the rings if you notice that the exhaust gasses are bluish. That happens after you have been using the chainsaw for a while. You can also check to see how fast the spark plug gets soot deposits. That is usually an indication that the piston rings are leaking.
- Fresh Fuel
As we have discussed above, fuel does disintegrate with time. Some of the additives that have been added to fuel to make it burn evenly get separated. That lowers the quality of the fuel and makes it difficult to turn on the chainsaw. Cold temperatures worsen the problem, to avoid fouling the spark plug, flooding the engine, and generally make it difficult to start your chainsaw, always use fresh fuel.
- No idling engine for Long
Avoid letting the engine run idle for long periods. Idling is known to increase the buildup of soot because the fuel burning is slightly richer although it’s burning in smaller in quantities.
- Service all parts
Just like all machines, regular servicing of all the chainsaw components will help it to work optimally. Servicing should be done after every 25 hours of use. At most, you should not use your chainsaw for more than forty hours without servicing it.
- Oil Change
During the service, you should change the oil and the oil filters. The continuous wear of the metallic parts causes the metal powder generated to get deposited in the oil. The oil after some time passes the recommended suspension volume of the waste metal powder. You need to then change it for the engine to benefit from the fresh oil’s cleaning and lubricating properties.
Once you are done with the power saw, you need to store it in a clean and dry place. That will save it from damage caused when it’s stored in a dump places.
- Don’t Touch the Chain
You need to avoid touching the chain when you are attempting to start the chainsaw. You may be tempted to do so when the clutch pads are worn-out and you see the chain turning slowly. If you do, you risk getting your flesh sawed off if the chain suddenly increases its speed. That can happen due to intermittent friction between the chainsaw’s clutch plate and the crankshaft’s flywheel.
- Original Spare Parts
You need to make sure that you use only original spare parts that have been optimized to work with your particular model of your chainsaw. If you do not, it is possible to find yourself using parts that will wear out faster and in the process make the other parts to fail as well. Such parts include fuel filters, air filters, spark plug, starter assembly, and the ignition coil.
- Replace Parts Exposed to Wear
Parts such as the chain get exposed to lots of wear and tear; you need to replace them if you notice a drop in performance of the chainsaw. The same applies to the clutch plate; you need to replace it as soon as the clutch pads become worn-out.