Chainsaw Maintenance 101 – Complete Guide

| Last Updated: February 8, 2021

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Chainsaws can be expensive tools but can last for years if taken care of properly with regular maintenance.

In the article below, we'll explain what type of maintenance to carry out daily, weekly, or seasonally. 

Tools or Items That May Come in Handy

If you're looking to maintain your chainsaw, there are a few required tools to gain access to the chainsaw's internal components. There are also materials used to service the exterior of the chainsaw. 


  • Flathead and Phillips Head Screwdriver - To gain access to internal parts.
  • Combination Socket Wrench - Some parts of your chainsaw can only be accessed by removing bolts.
  • Carburetor Screwdriver - Various carburetors will require different screwdrivers to make adjustments.
  • Depth Gauge and Files - Round files, flat files, and a file guide are all useful in keeping your chain sharp and bar edges straight.

Other Materials 

  • Bar and Chain Oil - Lubrication is important for cooling and the smooth running of these components. 
  • Pressurized Air - This can often remove dirt or dust from small, hard to reach spaces; a simple blast can quickly and effectively clean chainsaw parts
  • Fuel Filter - Fuel filters stop any particles like dirt or grime from entering your engine. 
  • Air Filter - The air filter stops dust, dirt, and chippings from entering the internal parts of your chainsaw. 
  • Cloth - A simple cloth to wipe down any dirt or grime. 

How to Maintain a Chainsaw

There are various maintenance tasks to carry out when ensuring the quality of your chainsaw over many years. However, what exactly should you be maintaining or inspecting, and how often? Below, we've got some answers for you. 

Chainsaw Bar Maintenance

Remove the tightening screw and clutch cover; you'll then want to take the chain off the bar and then remove the bar from the chainsaw. Use the pointed edge of a screwdriver to clean any grime or dirt from the bar grooves and around where the bar is attached. 

You can then use a cloth to wipe down the bar until clean. You then want to inspect the bar and identify any warps, uneven edges, and cracks. If you use the chainsaw every day, you should check once every two weeks. 

How Much Bar Oil Should a Chainsaw Use?

Oil reservoirs on most chainsaws tend to be a small 1l tank; if you look inside after taking the cap off, there should be a marker indicating the suitable filling level. If your tank is too full, then it can often leak from the chainsaw, at which point it should be switched off. 

How Often Should I Change My Bar Oil?

The general rule of thumb is that you should be replacing or topping up your lubricating oil with every fuel change for your chainsaw. 

Chainsaw Chain Maintenance

Maintaining your chain is relatively easy as it doesn't take much effort. The first step is ensuring that oil is reaching the chain to provide effective protection from constant friction. 

The tension is also important; if it's too tight, it could snap or stretch the chain, ensuring that it's loose enough to pull slightly from the bar. 

Make sure to keep the chain edges sharp using a file; there's a line on each tooth, which indicates how far down you can file. 

How Often Should I Sharpen My Chainsaw?

Before sharpening, you just need to inspect the chain to see if it requires any additional filing. You want the chain to be evenly sharp. You should be checking the sharpness of the chain before each use. 

How To Clean a Chainsaw Carburetor

Firstly, you'll need to remove the bar and chain, which can be done by using your combination wrench and screwdriver to remove any bolts or screws. You can then remove the air filter, which tends to sit in front of your carburetor. 

While operating your chainsaw with one hand, add pressure to the throttle and spray a blast of carburetor cleaner in the area the filter was placed; the carburetor cleaner will flow through the valves and dissolve any grime buildup. Two sprays should do the trick, keep the chainsaw running until the cleaner is no longer visible. 

Chainsaw Tune-Up Tips

Sometimes it can be hard to keep track of what tasks you should be doing on a daily, weekly, or seasonal/monthly basis. Below, we've outlined what maintenance tasks need to be completed within these timeframes. 

Daily Maintenance Before Each Use

  • Before each use, you should be checking the sharpness of the chain's teeth as well as the tension, ensuring it's not too tight or too slack. 
  • Test the throttle out and ensure the engine runs smoothly.
  • Check the bar and chain oil levels along with the fuel if it's a gas chainsaw.
  • Wipe down the chainsaw and remove and clogged debris from any grooves or spaces.
  • Inspect the starting cord for any sign of ripping. 
  • Test out the chain brake to make sure it works; there might also be some cleaning required around this area. 
  • If you plan to use the chainsaw on a daily basis, think about turning the bar around to give you an even wear. 

Weekly Maintenance 

  • Blast the carburetor with a carburetor cleaning spray once or twice to dissolve any grime.
  • Clean or replace the muffler screen. 
  • Ensure the oiling mechanism is working smoothly. 
  • Check the air intake valve and clean if it's beginning to clog. 
  • Take a look at the spark plugs; if they need adjusting, it should be a gap of 0.5mm. 

Monthly or Seasonal Maintenance

  • Remove the outer housing and clean as much of the internal parts as possible. 
  • Remove the carburetor and break it down as much as possible for a deep clean. 
  • Check and clean the fuel tank as well as the oil tank.
  • Check and change the fuel filter if worn. 
  • Any cables, wires, and threads you can see should be checked for wear and tear. 


Owning a tool as intricate and delicate as a chainsaw comes with a lot of responsibility. Maintenance never stops if you're using it on a daily basis. Although, everything we've mentioned above is what you need to do to keep your chainsaw running smoothly.

People Also Ask

All of the information above is what you'll need to know in order to properly maintain your chainsaw. However, we've compiled and answered some common questions regarding chainsaw maintenance below. 

How Much Compression Should A Chainsaw Have?

A standard 50cc engine should have a compression level between 140 and 150 PSI. In contrast, a 60cc engine is ideally between 150 and 160 PSI. 

How Often Should I Service My Chainsaw?

Ideally, you should be inspecting any safety parts before each use to ensure your own safety. Most maintenance of the external components should be carried out on a weekly basis. Anything on the inside should be dealt with monthly. 

What Kind of Oil For Chainsaw?

You can't put in standard motor oil; you'll have to use 2 stroke oil built specifically for the task. 

What Gas Oil Ratio For a Chainsaw? 

This depends on the type of chainsaw. Older chainsaws run on a 30:1, Stihl and others run on a 50:1, while most standard chainsaws operate a 40:1 ratio. You should check your user manual for this information. 

How Often Should I Change Spark Plugs In Chainsaw?

You'll begin to notice wear around the 100-hour mark, so keep an eye on your spark plug and replace it at a maximum of 100 hours of use.