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How To Clean A Cordless Chainsaw. 9 Things You Should Know

Do you wish to avoid a clogged chainsaw? Are you looking for an easy way to clean a cordless chainsaw effectively? Do you wish to know why it matters? It is safe to assume that a lot of people never think or understand the importance of cleaning their cordless chainsaws. In the rest of this article, not only will you learn about the benefits of cleaning your cordless chainsaw, but you would also find answers to your questions.

To clean your cordless chainsaw you should follow these 5 steps:

  • Step 1: Remove the bar and chain
  • Step 2: Clean the bar
  • Step 3: Clean the chain
  • Step 4: Clean the powerhead
  • Step 5: Put all the parts back together

Why does my Chainsaw get so dirty?

To many, a chainsaw may seem like a straightforward tool on the surface. Still, several types of reactions and activities are going on underneath, which may not be visible until the covers have been removed, and the entire tool is taken apart. Normally, when the cutting blade on the chainsaw digs into the wood during the sawing process, it expels some of the wooden materials like small chips as well as other tiny powder-like specks of sawdust. When this occurs, the momentum of the moving chain transports all these particles unto the groove of the bar on which the chain rides. Some of these wooden chips and sawdust may also be blown into the spaces between the chain links and may end up combining with the atmospheric moisture as well as the bar oil, which may form a highly sticky paste that gradually absorbs the new bar oil, thereby preventing it from properly lubricating the chain. If this happens, your chainsaw will begin to run hot, and it will also scrape against the bar rails more often, which will cause the formation of a burr on both edges of the bar. Now, in this case, not only will the chain begin to run hot, but it will also cause more friction, which will also cause the chain to bounce off the uneven edge on the bar. This will increase vibration and prevent you from cutting accurately. If a chain is not well lubricated, it will quickly fail, hence reducing the life span of your tool. Besides, the last thing anyone wants is sharp metal links flying into their faces or causing injury.

How to prevent clogging your oil holes?

Before we proceed to mention the tools and equipment required for cleaning your chainsaw, let us first look into some of the things that can prevent a clogged and dirty chainsaw from cutting properly. Besides piling up in the chainsaw link and preventing proper cutting, sawdust, wooden chips, saps, grease, and other unwanted substances also tend to accumulate underneath the clutch cover, which is on the side of the chainsaw. This accumulation will ultimately cause clogging of the oil holes from which the bar oil is secreted into the chainsaw bar. Clogging of these holes can reduce the effective performance, and the reliability of the chain saw parts. For instance, if too much grime or dirt accumulates around the brake mechanism of the chain, it can cause the brake to become stuck, which may be quite dangerous, especially when you need to stop the chainsaw in case of an emergency. Also, sawdust and dirt are often sucked in through the grill located beneath the starter rope at the other side of the chainsaw. Normally, what this grill does is that it sucks in the air to cool the tool and prevent the engine from overheating. However, it also sucks in the chips that are ejected when you cut wood.

Now, as they are being sucked in, these sawdust and wood chips will gradually accumulate in between the cooling fins located on the cylinder head, restricting the easy flow of air and reducing the cooling performance of the fin. As a result of this, the engine of your chainsaw will become hotter than usual, and if this persists, it may eventually result in damage to the engine and internal system of the motor. Normally an air filter is a part of the chainsaw that allows its engine to be ventilated or to ‘breathe,’ but when the source of airflow is clogged; it is only normal that the carburetor will stop getting sufficient air, and this will affect the engine performance especially at higher RPMs. In some cases, if the air filter is extremely dirty, the chainsaw may not start or respond.

In these situations, a thorough inspection is very critical even before you begin the cleaning process. It is important for you to carefully inspect the spark plug for traces of carbon accumulation because if the spark plug is faulty, it will result in an air mixture and a loss of power. A faulty spark plug may also prevent the engine of your chainsaw from starting. Some experts recommend that you should change your old spark plug to a new one every 100 service hours to avoid damage. Certainly, there are several designs and types of spark plugs available on the market. You may check the owner’s manual to ensure that you are purchasing the proper model.

Now that you have understood the significance of cleaning your chainsaw, let us proceed to discuss the tools required and the step by step procedure for cleaning your cordless chainsaw.

Tools Needed to Clean a Cordless Chainsaw

  • A wire brush or a 1” or 2” paintbrush with a soft tip
  • A grease gun spray (preferably a simple push-type spray)- this will serve as either a lubricant or a degreaser for easy removal
  • A universal detergent, soap, or cleaner of some sort
  • A cleaning tool for your bar groove (probably a folded business card or a putty knife, or pretty much any hard material that is flat and can easily fit in between the bar grooves)
  • A flat hand file
  • A pick– to clean the oiler hole (you may also use a small flathead screwdriver, or pretty much anything that can pick out debris)
  • Warm water
  • A shop vacuum, an air compressor, or a pressure washer (optional)

All the tools on the list are tools that you need to achieve better results. However, not all these tools are needed, especially by simple chainsaw owners. The tools that are in the optional category are mainly for users who own several chainsaws and need to clean at least 4 or 5 of them at the same time. So if you are not an expert/professional logger, a workshop owner, or a DIYer, then you wouldn’t need a pressure washer for cleaning. However, if perhaps you have a workshop, then it is safe to assume that you probably have all or most of the tools listed above, and this is certainly going to make your cordless chainsaw cleaning experience much more easy and enjoyable. Also, a universal cleaner may not be necessary for the job. Many experienced chainsaw users often look to the normal household ammonia solution to clean the debris and grime off their chainsaw bars and chains. On the other hand, if you are someone that likes to do a quick cleanup between your cutting sessions, then a scrunch and a cleaning brush are all you need to make this work.

Here are simple DIY steps to follow to clean your cordless chainsaw:

●Step 1: Remove the Bar and Chain:

When you want to clean the various parts of your cordless chainsaw, the first and important thing is to take the tool apart to gain easier access to your tool’s interior. To do this, you should get a work surface or any stable flat surface. A workstation, a workbench, or a flat table would be an ideal option for this. Before you begin, always make sure that all the tools required are kept close to you to avoid unnecessary stress. For cordless chainsaws, please take out the battery on which it runs before you begin to clean. If cleaning a cordless chainsaw, always make sure that it is disconnected from the power outlet, then if it is a gas chainsaw, make sure you drain all the fluids like gas and bar oil in the tool before you proceed to clean.

Once you have observed the above, you can begin. There are two nuts on the side cover of the bar which keeps it mounted to the powerhead. Now locate those two nuts and loosen each of them from the bar studs by using the hexagonal wrench part of the scrunch. Also, make sure that the anti-kickback chain brake that comes with your chainsaw is first disengaged before you proceed to remove the clutch cover. There are some chainsaw models that come with covers that cannot be removed while the brake is still engaged, however, on other models, you might be able to remove the cover, but fixing it back will be somehow impossible. Once you’ve removed the bar, you can proceed to step 2.

●Step 2: Clean the Bar:

Now that you have separated the bar and chain from the powerhead, the next thing to do is, remove the chain and set it aside. If the bar is extremely dirty, you might need to use a degreaser or solvent to dissolve it. However, if the chainsaw has just been used to split up a couple of wooden logs over the weekend, then some warm soapy water and a cloth rag should be able to get all the dirt and grime off without too much stress. Next, take the wire brush and scrape off all the sawdust and hardened dirt accumulated over time from the bar. Then, with a bar groove cleaning tool or a putty knife, remove all the grime accumulated within the bar rails.

After you have cleaned the bar’s groove, use a screwdriver or any pick to remove all the debris blocking the oiler hole. Note that there are two different oiler holes on each bar, and each of them lies on either side of the bottom end (that is, the end that connects to the powerhead). If you are cleaning more than two chainsaws together, you may use an air compressor to blow away all stubborn debris that has been stuck. Also, if you happen to have a steam cleaner in your workshop, you should use it. Steam set at about 300°F works perfectly well.

If you use your cordless chainsaw occasionally, like on weekends, to cut some logs and firewood, then hot soapy water works great for cleaning up. However, if you are an expert that makes use of the chainsaw daily, for either felling trees in the woods or cutting down tree branches that are 70 feet above the ground, then an air compressor and steam at high pressure are the ideal options to clean out the dirtiest of chainsaw guide bars thoroughly. But since many people don’t always own a steam cleaner or an air compressor, then there is a sort of neat trick in removing the pitch and dried-up resin from your chainsaw bar.

You can use a simple model of a heavy-duty cleaner to get the job done effectively. This cleaner is non-corrosive, it is biodegradable, and serves multiple purposes. First, this cleaner acts as a solvent and degreaser to dissolve all the stubborn grime and dirt accumulated. Just mix the concentrate in a ratio of 1 to 3 with some water, then pour the solution into a bucket until it is filled up. Next, immerse the bar into the bucket containing the solution, together with the clutch cover. Please leave it to soak and dissolve for about 10 minutes. After you are sure that the grime has dissolved, use the wire brush to scrub off the dirt. Allow the bar to dry off for some minutes, coat it lightly with a spray, and leave it for about 30 minutes or more before wiping it off with a cloth rag.

Once you have successfully taken these steps, your bar is almost ready for installation back into the cordless chainsaw. First, carefully check the edges of the bar to be sure that there is no mushrooming happening around the bar rails. Next, carefully run your nails around the edges of the bar rail, and if your nails click on a sharp metal or are disrupted by a burr that is extruding out of the rail, then it is time to use your hand file to make a few passes on the bar. The reason for this is to make sure that the bar edges are smooth and flat so that the chain can ride easily without obstruction. Another great tool for getting rid of burrs and uneven edges from the guide bar is the redresser tool; it works in such a way that it resets the rails to an angle of 90° and removes all burrs at the same time. Hence making the chain function properly.

●Step 3: Clean the chain:

To clean the chain, you need some turpentine or a solution of household ammonia with some water. Soak your chain in this solution for about 10 to 20 minutes. The purpose of this is to remove all the grease and resins that have accumulated within the chain links and to dissolve a great amount of the caked-up sawdust in the chain links. After dissolving, use the wire brush and scrape the chain clean of any dirt. If you are cleaning with an ammonia solution, you must avoid contact with your skin and eyes and stay in a well-ventilated area to prevent accidents. Also, use hand gloves and safety goggles to stay safe. If the dirt on the chain is not very much, you can scrape it off using a brush, then wipe it clean with a cloth rag.

Aside from this method, there is another method of cleaning the chain, especially when it is engulfed in pith and caked-up sawdust. Still, this method is only recommended for those with enough experience with the chainsaw, or if you are a professional logger- that is probably the only way your cordless chainsaw would get that dirty anyway. Now, take some household lye which is often used to open up drains, pour out some pellets of the lye into the cap of the container, then pour it into about a half bucket of water and mix it. Ensure that you are wearing a thick glove and some eye protection while doing this. Do not let the pellets of the lye come in contact with your skin or eyes.

Once you have prepared the solution, dip the chain into it and allow it to soak for about 20 minutes or more, depending on how dirty the chain is. But make sure it doesn’t take too long because the chain may begin to rust. Once it is well soaked, take out the chain with any hooked tool or material. Do not use your hands to take out the chain from the solution even if you are wearing gloves. Once you take out the chain, throw it on the ground in an open space outside and let all the excess solution runoff.  Hose it down thoroughly with enough water and allow it to dry. Once dried, take the chain back inside and wipe it clean with enough paper towels until all the dirt is removed.

Pro tip: Always ensure to dip the freshly cleaned chain in some bar oil, then wipe off the excess oil before putting it in storage. The purpose of this is to prevent corrosion. Also, make sure you coat the chain with some bar oil before you reassemble it with the guide bar.

Step 4: Clean the Powerhead:

To clean the powerhead, a 1-inch soft tip paintbrush should be used to remove all the dirt and grime that have settled down around the crankcase area. You can also use a pick or scrunch to get to the tight areas, then carefully scrape away any bit of sawdust that has accumulated around the clutch drum and bar studs. Also, ensure that the oiler port is free of debris and dirt. You may also want to use compressed air to clean the powerhead; however, using a pressure washer is not recommended. It can cause damage to the air filter and other electronic systems of the powerhead.

Once you are done, take out the top cover of the tool to easily access both the air filter and the spark plug. First, thoroughly inspect the air filter to check for dirt. If the spark plug is covered with a light or moderate amount of dust, take a soft tip paintbrush and carefully clean out the filter medium. When doing this, you must fill the air intake of the carburetor with a clean rag of wool to prevent foreign objects from falling inside during cleaning. Better still, you can turn the choke to a “closed” position to seal off the carburetor from the inside. That way, no foreign material will fall through.

Another cleaning method you can use is compressed air. However, when using compressed air, make sure the compressor is set at low pressure to blow a hole and damage the air filter. If you want to rinse the air filter under running water, we recommend a non-inflammable, non-oil-based cleaner for this. If your air filter is very dirty, use some warm soapy water to clean it from the inside out (usually, water flows from the clean part of the filter to the dirty part). After cleaning with the soap solution, carefully rinse the air filter with clean water and allow it to dry off completely before you reattach it to the head.

Next, carefully inspect the spaces between the cooling fins located on the cylinder head; using a screwdriver, the bar cleaner tool, or anything made from a soft metal, clean out all the dirt formed between the cooling fins. This method will help improve the cooling of the engine and also increase its lifespan. Finally, don’t forget to take out the grill cover used for the starting cord and brush off all the sawdust that has settled around the crankcase.

Once done, take out the spark plug and thoroughly inspect it for any signs of degradation. To check for degradation, check the color of the electrodes. If the color is coffee brown, then nothing should be wrong. Also, check the space between the electrodes to know if it is too large or too small. The wrong gap size prevents the spark plug from working effectively.

If the spark plug’s tip appears to be black or is covered with some permanent dirt, then it is probably time for you to replace it. You can always refer to the owner’s manual to get the correct replacement part number. Also, check the space between the electrodes because some spark plugs may not be gapped from the factory. A gap of 0.02 inches or 0.5mm is often used for spark plugs. But be sure that it fits your saw correctly to avoid any issue.

Step 5: Put All the Parts Back Together:

Once you have completed the cleaning process, the next and final step is to re-attach all the parts. First, attach the engine cover that you previously took out, attach the starter cord cover, and re-mount the clean and dried-up chain to the bar. Now, this part is very crucial because if wrongly attached or attached in the wrong direction, the saw will not run and it may also cause damage (check out our article on how to replace a chain in the correct direction). Make sure you mount the chain in the CORRECT direction. Next, mount the bar on the studs, and connect the clutch cover before tightening the nuts with your hands. Then hold up the bar by the tip and carefully attach the tensioning screw in such a way that the part of the chain on the bottom side of the bar isn’t loose that it sags. At the same time, you should not make the screws too tight so that they can move freely during use.

Once you have properly mounted the chain, use the scrunch to tighten the bar nuts. Once you have completed this, your cordless chainsaw should be ready to run and cut properly. All you need to do is refill it with gas and apply the bar oil. We often like to emphasize safety as this is paramount. Always make sure that you use safety gloves and eye protection where applicable, and be careful when handling the chain blade.

Final Remarks

As garden tool experts, we always advise you to keep your mechanical tools clean and well-maintained. Getting rid of debris stuck in the chain and the bar ensures a smooth operation. We hope that these DIY procedures will make your cleaning experience a simple one. Good luck!

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  1. Erica Castro says:

    I found it interesting that the air filter needs cleaning, I never thought of that. Could a dirty filter affect performance?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you for your comment, Erica! A dirty air filter can definitely affect performance by restricting airflow to the engine. Regular cleaning is crucial for optimal chainsaw performance.

  2. Kurt Wood says:

    What are the signs that a chainsaw is overdue for cleaning?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thanks for your question, Kurt! Signs you need to clean your chainsaw include reduced performance, overheating, and excessive vibration. Regular cleaning can prevent these issues and keep your chainsaw running smoothly.

  3. Alexa Herrera says:

    Is it recommended to clean the chainsaw after every use, or is there a specific frequency?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      It is recommended to clean your cordless chainsaw after every use to prevent clogging and maintain optimal performance. Follow the 5 steps outlined in the article for effective cleaning.

  4. Tommy Gonzalez says:

    Do you always need to remove the bar and chain to clean the chainsaw?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Yes, it is important to remove the bar and chain from your chainsaw for a thorough cleaning. This ensures that all parts are properly cleaned and maintained.

  5. Timmothy Wallace says:

    How can you tell if the spark plug needs to be replaced?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      You should inspect the spark plug for carbon buildup. If it’s black or dirty, it may need to be replaced. Check the owner’s manual for the correct replacement.

  6. Leta Miller says:

    Thank you for the detailed steps on cleaning a chainsaw. This will be very helpful for maintaining my equipment.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you for your kind words, Leta. I’m glad you found the steps helpful for maintaining your chainsaw. Happy cleaning and safe cutting!

  7. Virgil Torres says:

    How should I dispose of the cleaning materials after cleaning the chainsaw?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      To dispose of cleaning materials after cleaning your chainsaw, make sure to check your local waste disposal regulations. Some materials can be thrown in the trash, while others may need special disposal.

  8. Sarah Carroll says:

    Should I wear any specific protective gear while cleaning the chainsaw?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      When cleaning your chainsaw, it is recommended to wear protective gloves and safety goggles to prevent injuries. Stay safe while maintaining your tool!

  9. Robert Soto says:

    Is it possible to overclean a chainsaw and damage it?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Overcleaning a chainsaw can potentially damage it. Make sure to follow the steps outlined in the blog post to clean your cordless chainsaw effectively without causing any harm.

  10. Clyde Pierce says:

    How often should we clean the chainsaw for optimal performance?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      To optimize performance, clean your chainsaw after each use to prevent clogs. Follow the 5-step process outlined in the blog post for best results. Happy sawing!

  11. Lesa Patterson says:

    This article is unnecessarily long-winded and fails to get to the point. The title promises information on cleaning a chainsaw, yet the reader is forced to wade through irrelevant details.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you for your feedback! We appreciate your input and will strive to make our content more concise for our readers.

  12. Rose Hunter says:

    How long should you let the chain soak in cleaning solution?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Soak the chain in the cleaning solution for 10-20 minutes for the best results. Make sure to follow steps carefully for a clean cordless chainsaw.

  13. Vivan Fisher says:

    Can a poorly cleaned chainsaw cause safety hazards?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Yes, a poorly cleaned chainsaw can definitely cause safety hazards due to clogging and reduced performance. Follow the steps outlined to clean your cordless chainsaw effectively and prevent potential accidents.

  14. Christopher Pierce says:

    Should I consult a professional for chainsaw cleaning if I’m unsure?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Yes, it’s best to consult a professional for chainsaw cleaning if you’re unsure. The process can be intricate and requires specific tools for proper maintenance.

  15. Eleanor Perkins says:

    Is it important to clean the powerhead regularly?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Yes, it’s crucial to clean the powerhead regularly to prevent clogging and ensure optimal performance. Following the 5 steps outlined in the article will help maintain your cordless chainsaw effectively.

  16. Candice Powell says:

    What are some common mistakes people make when cleaning their chainsaws?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thanks for your question, Candice! One common mistake is not cleaning the oil holes, causing clogs. Make sure to keep them clear to prevent issues with your chainsaw.

  17. Ella Carpenter says:

    What should I do if the chainsaw is not cutting properly even after cleaning?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      I suggest checking the chain tension and sharpening the blades. If the issue persists, consult a professional for further assistance.

  18. Norma Wallace says:

    I never knew the impact of sawdust accumulation on a chainsaw. Is there a way to prevent it effectively?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you for your comment, Norma! To prevent sawdust accumulation on a chainsaw, regularly clean the bar, chain, and powerhead. Follow the steps outlined in the blog post for effective cleaning.

  19. Glenda Richardson says:

    Is it safe to use household items like ammonia to clean the chainsaw?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Yes, it is safe to clean your chainsaw with household items like ammonia. Follow the steps outlined in the blog post for effective cleaning. Stay safe!

  20. Lucas Garza says:

    Are there any specific tips for maintaining the chain after cleaning?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you for your question, Lucas! After cleaning, remember to apply a light coat of bar oil to the chain to keep it lubricated and running smoothly.

  21. Jill Scott says:

    Can you recommend a specific brand of cleaner for chainsaws?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      To effectively clean your chainsaw, consider using a universal cleaner or a simple ammonia solution with warm water. Be sure to follow the steps outlined in the blog post for best results.