Skip to Content

Knowing When and How to Replace Your Chainsaw Chain

If you do use your chainsaw often, there comes a time when you might have to brush off the dust and put your chainsaw to use. More often than not you might notice that it does not work as it should, more sluggish than usual. This usually makes cutting more time-consuming and strenuous. Chainsaws can do a pretty good job if they are well-maintained, it is also a good idea to look through the manufacturers’ manual to know better ways to keep your chainsaw functional.

These are the signs that your chainsaw chain needs to be replaced:

  • Tension Problems
  • Look For Signs of a Dull Blade
  • Missing Teeth
  • Reduced Performance
  • Seeing Smoke During Cuts
  • The Chainsaw Feels Unbalanced
  • You have to force the Chainsaw into the Wood
  • Rust
  • Past The Safety Lines

The chainsaw chain needs to function effectively, and sometimes no matter how well you have it maintained, there will come a time when you have to replace it. If your chainsaw chain is dull or you find yourself struggling to cut through wood, it might be time to replace it. You might not need to replace your chainsaw if you can sharpen the chainsaw. However, it is best to figure out when the right time to do so is so that you can carry out sawing without a struggle.

Scroll down to read more in detail about the know-hows of chainsaw’s chain replacement.

What are the Signs That a Chainsaw Chain Needs to be Replaced?

● Tension Problems:

If you find yourself constantly adjusting your chainsaw and it keeps getting loose, you should replace the chain immediately. When there is too much tension, it becomes too hard to cut, over time the chainsaw chain will force you to use excess force just to complete basic tasks. The straps become loose, which makes it hard for the teeth to stay connected to the bar. Having a loose chain is dangerous. There are chances of kickback scenarios or snaps, which could lead to injuries. In case you are straining to tighten a chainsaw chain, then replacing it would be a better option to avoid further problems.

● Look For Signs of a Dull Blade:

One of the indicators that your chainsaw chain is due for replacement is if it is still dull even after sharpening. These are the signs you to look for:

  • Cutting a tree: Are you forcing the chainsaw onto the tree? Any dull chain will not cut well when you try to cut the tree.
  • Sawdust during cutting: If you see sawdust whenever you are making split or crosscuts. A dull chain will form sawdust instead of coarse strands, so get a replacement.
  • Direction specific chain: If your chainsaw chain direction is specific, and you can only run it in one direction, be sure to replace it. This is because it does not offer the flexibility required when using it. Instead of continually sharpening it, replacing it would be the best course of action to take.

● Missing Teeth:

Another way to know your chainsaw chain needs replacement and not just the regular sharpening is if there are missing or uneven teeth. Most of the time, this happens if the chainsaw hits an embedded nail or a rock, and sometimes you might not notice the damage until it is too late. Missing and uneven teeth lead to uneven cuts that affect your work.

● Reduced Performance:

If your chainsaw chain finds it hard to slice through wood, you need to take serious action. This involves replacing the chainsaw chain so that you can cut through wood easily. You should pay attention to how the chainsaw chain feels as you cut through the wood so that any underlying problem is noticed and fixed.

In case it bounces back and prevents you from getting an accurate cut, you should consider replacing it. A shaky chainsaw chain causes poor performance and uneven cuts. This is usually a result of a worn-out chain. You will notice that the cuts appear deeper on one side, making it hard to achieve the expected results.

● Seeing Smoke During Cuts:

Smoke is an indicator that your chainsaw is not operating as it ought to and could be wearing against the wood instead of cutting. You will see fine dust instead of chips, this is an indicator that the cut is not as perfect as you want.

Although there is a lot of friction during the cutting process, your chainsaw should be strong enough to withstand it. The smoke shows that the teeth are dull due to too much friction. This usually leads to heat build-up. It not only affects the performance but also causes damage to the tool if used quite often while in the same state.

● The Chainsaw Feels Unbalanced:

If you notice that no matter how well you adjust your chainsaw, it still fails to operate the way you would want it to, you might want to get down to the root of the issue. If you’re experiencing struggles when cutting trees or find it hard to get past the trunks. You should search for a different type of chainsaw chain. The right one would help to improve your cutting technique, make it easy for you to finish the job.

● You have to Force the Chainsaw into the Wood:

Chainsaws are designed in such a way that you do not have to force them into the wood continuously. However, if you find yourself having to do so, it means that it is no longer effective. Your chainsaw is trying to let you know that it needs a new chain so that you can carry out your job effortlessly.

If your cuts are crooked, and you are finding it difficult to have a clean-cut, it is time to change the chain. If you also find that you are wasting too much of your time trying to cut through wood and sharpening no longer helps the tool to stay effective, then a replacement sounds like a perfect plan.

● Rust:

In most cases, you will only have rust in your chainsaw chain if you have not been properly oiling and cleaning your chainsaw. If you are fond of storing your chainsaw in damp or moist places, be ready to say hello to some rust. We recommended that you keep the tools in a conducive place to increase their longevity. However, in the case of rusts, chainsaw replacement is essential.

● Are You Past The Safety Lines?

Every chainsaw has safety lines to show how far the chain should be polished. Going past those limits could cause the chain to fall apart, and that puts you and anyone else using it at risk. Once you notice that you are past your safety line limits, you should replace the chainsaw chain.

Replacing Your Chainsaw Chain

When you visit the stores to buy a chainsaw chain, we, assume your goal is to take home the best chainsaw chains available. It is advisable to have a few chains that you can swap often, this will increase performance and not slow your work down. To know how to choose the right chains, follow these guidelines:

● Drive Links:

The length of the chain is not only determined by the inches but a combination of drive links and pitch. You can match the drive link number of the new chain with that of the old one so that you get an accurate swap. In case you are unsure of the drive links, count them, the numbers are listed on the manufacturer’s manual.

● Gauge:

You should know the width of the drive links that will fit in the guide bar. Most companies display the measurements at the top of the bar so that it is not too hard to find.

FAQs on Chainsaw Chain Replacement

●1 How Do I Know The Chain’s Size?

The best way to know the right size of the chain is to look at the pitch, the pitch refers to the chain size. Measure the distance between the three rivets and divide them by two. Also, the seller can help you to get the right chain.

●2 Can I Swap Chainsaw Chain Brands?

It is okay to mix different brands but make sure that they are original. Find a professional and reputable dealer known to offer quality chainsaw chains to their clients.

●3 When Should I Sharpen my Chainsaw Chain?

The best way to extend your chainsaw’s life expectancy is by sharpening it. However, you need to know that these tools can only be sharpened a few times before they need replacement. There is no set number of times for sharpening a chainsaw, but on average, it is about four to five times. This depends on the operating conditions, usage, and maintenance processes.

Final Remarks

Before you decide to replace your chainsaw chain, you should have noticed some decrease in power delivery and cutting efficiency. Although sharpening your chainsaw chain might increase life expectancy, it doesn’t have an infinite life, you will have to replace it eventually. Handling chainsaw chain issues on time will help you to carry out all your tasks with more convenience.

There are lots of great manufacturers that supply incredible chains that would allow you to get back to work. Most of them have reliable and cost-effective chains, Once you see any of the signs listed above, it is time to purchase a new chain, Make sure your chains are lubricated all the time, this increases the lifespan of your tools. If possible, avoid hitting rocks and nails as they reduce the durability of your machine.

Leave a comment

We try to answer each comment, but please read our comment rules first here. Use an existing and correct email address as you will receive an verification email. Your email address will not be published. All fields are required.

  1. Lawrence Montgomery says:

    Is there a specific way to dispose of old chainsaw chains?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      To dispose of old chainsaw chains, you can check local recycling centers or scrap metal facilities for proper disposal methods. Avoid throwing them in the trash.

  2. Pamela Harris says:

    What are some common mistakes to avoid when replacing the chainsaw chain?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Hi Pamela, signs to look for when replacing your chainsaw chain include tension problems, dull blade, missing teeth, reduced performance, smoke during cuts, unbalanced feel, difficult wood penetration, rust, and crossing safety lines.

  3. Cory Morgan says:

    How can I prevent rust from forming on the chainsaw chain?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      To prevent rust on your chainsaw chain, make sure to clean and oil it regularly. Store your chainsaw in a dry place to avoid moisture. Happy sawing, Cory!

  4. Ida Fisher says:

    How often should I replace the chainsaw chain?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Hi Ida, based on the signs mentioned in the blog post like tension problems, dull blade, missing teeth, and reduced performance, it’s time to replace your chainsaw chain. Best of luck with your future cutting tasks!

  5. Nathan Steward says:

    Can I sharpen the chainsaw chain myself?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Yes, you can sharpen the chainsaw chain yourself if it is not too damaged. Make sure to follow the recommendations in the manufacturer’s manual for best results.

  6. Leona Lee says:

    Are there any specific maintenance tips to keep the chainsaw chain in good condition?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Regularly sharpen your chainsaw chain to maintain its blade, replace if dull. Check for tension problems, dull blade signs, missing teeth, unbalanced feeling, having to force into wood, smoke during cuts, rust, and being past safety lines.

  7. Perry Medina says:

    Where can I find affordable replacement chainsaw chains?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      You can find affordable replacement chainsaw chains at your local hardware store or online retailers like Amazon or eBay. Make sure to check the specifications to ensure it fits your chainsaw model.

  8. Martha Howell says:

    How do I know if my chainsaw chain is compatible with my chainsaw model?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Hi Martha, signs your chainsaw chain needs replacement include tension issues, dull blade, missing teeth, reduced performance, smoke during cuts, unbalanced feel, forced cutting, rust, and safety line limits. Keep an eye out for these indicators!

  9. Tonya Barnes says:

    What is the average lifespan of a chainsaw chain?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      The average lifespan of a chainsaw chain is around 5 to 10 hours of cutting time, but signs like dullness, missing teeth, and reduced performance indicate it’s time to replace it.

  10. June Mccoy says:

    What safety measures should I take when replacing the chainsaw chain?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      To replace your chainsaw chain, ensure you have the right size and gauge. Look out for signs of a dull blade, missing teeth, reduced performance, smoke during cuts, unbalanced feel, and rust. Stay safe!