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Why Chainsaw Chains Keep Coming Off and How to Fix It

Is a slipping chainsaw chain causing you unnecessary downtime? We’re here to help. With our expertise, you’ll understand the root cause and learn how to fix it effectively, saving you time and frustration.

Why Chainsaw Chains Keep Coming Off and How to Fix It:

Chainsaw chains come off the bar due to worn-out bars, worn-out sprockets, and wrongly set tension. You should also note that with continued use, chains lose their pressure and are more likely to come off the bar when you least expect it. When it comes to fixing loose chainsaw chains, there are many approaches to getting your machine back to its optimal work output.

Does your chainsaw chain keep coming off, leaving you perplexed? You’re not alone. We’ve compiled a comprehensive guide explaining why this happens and how to fix it. Stay tuned to transform your chainsaw experience.


Reasons Why The Chainsaw Chain Is Coming Off

If you are a homesteader, a commercial woodworker, or forest service personnel who uses chainsaws most of the time, this post is for you.

While you can quickly snap back the chain into alignment with the cutting chain, the fact that it keeps coming off presents a trickier situation, especially to a novice who does not know much about this powerful machine.

Dive in with us as we explore, among other things, reasons why a chainsaw chain may keep coming off and how to fix it.

Most importantly, it would be best if you became an expert DIYer at the end of this post, someone who can fix tools like chainsaws whenever glitches like loose chains become an everyday problem.

Maintaining a chainsaw requires more than just routine checks. One unique yet often overlooked tip is to regularly clean the groove in the bar with a small piece of wire to remove any accumulated dirt or sawdust. This simple practice can significantly enhance the longevity of your chainsaw and prevent the chain from coming off.

Before we dig deeper, a question everyone should be asking at this point is why your chainsaw chains come off.

You can also rephrase the question: Why do chainsaw chains jump off the guiding bar? From our end of the bargain, we would say it happens for many reasons. We did some homework on these issues and found out the following:

● Your Chainsaw Chain and the Worn-Out Drive Sprocket

You may have put the chainsaw chain back into position, but here is something we found out. The drive sprocket could be the likely culprit due to wear and tear, causing the chain to come off often.

Because it is the drive sprocket that engineers the propulsion of the chains on your chain, chances are high that they will soon become worn out. Over time, worn-out drive sprockets in chainsaws can no longer maintain an ideal tensile strength of the chain, let alone hold the chain in position.

With that, you should expect the blade to continuously throw the chain off the groove whenever you work in a warm environment in the woods.

You can find Chainsaw Drive Sprockets here.

● Bar Heel May Be Worn-Out

 While most people will quickly adjust the chain tension whenever it loses grip on the guiding blade, it is never a long-term solution. The issue could be more profound, requiring the involvement of a professional chainsaw repair shop.

When researching the problem of chainsaw chains that keep coming off, we also discovered that worn-out bar heels are a very likely culprit. But what is a bar heel, if anyone may ask? The bar heel is a component of your chainsaw situated closest to the machine’s drive sprocket.

When the bar heel wears out, it lengthens a chain’s distance because the grooves become less effective. With increased space, you should expect the chain to start jumping off the guiding bar.

We will, later on, look at how to tighten a chainsaw and fix some of these problems that cause blades to come off. But before that, you need to understand why your chainsaw chain keeps coming loose.

Here, you can find Chainsaw Bars.

● Wrongly Set Chain Tension

You may have probably thought that with more tension comes the excellent performance of a chainsaw, especially when ripping firewood at full throttle.

However, it turns out that over-tightening a chainsaw blade is not the right thing to do; neither is having it too loose to establish an ideal grip on the guiding bar. This kind of problem can lead to issues with the performance of your chainsaw.

The catch here is that if your chainsaw chain keeps coming off, you should check the tension of your chain and ask this question: Is it correctly or improperly set? Pressure plays a crucial role in the functioning of your chainsaw.

Let’s state that with the correct chain tension, productivity and lifespan of the bar, motor, and chain increase. It is also noteworthy that if the chain has too much slack, chances are high that it will come off. So, we asked what the next step is if that is the case.

There are several ways of testing chain tension, the most suitable one being the dime method. This is a primary method to tighten a chainsaw chain.

Here, you can find Chainsaw Chain tensioners and related products. But don’t forget to check the condition of your chain before making a purchase.

● The Bar Rails May Be In Poor Condition

The problem with chains that keep coming off does not end with improper chain tension, worn-out drive sprocket, or bar heel. There is a real chance that the chainsaw blade keeps coming off because the bar rails are in poor condition. This is an internal issue that needs to be addressed.

Let’s start by admitting that of all the components of your chainsaw, the bar rails take a severe beating throughout the productive lifespan of your machine, especially when you are out in the woods sawing.

Among other things that threaten the lifespan of the bar rail is working at full-throttle, in which case the chain spins at a very high speed.

There is always a high possibility of accidentally cutting into the earth. If the chain is looser than it should be, you need to tighten your chainsaw. Remember, a chain that’s looser than necessary can cause problems.

Based on the above possible reasons why the chainsaw blade keeps coming off, you should fix the problem before proceeding with sawing wood.

It is also noteworthy that there are many other causes of the pain. They include a loose guide bar, improper application of chainsaw lubricant, and disengaged adjuster.

Here, you can find Chainsaw Bars.

How Do You Tighten Loose Chainsaw Blade?

With a loose chainsaw blade that keeps coming off, an even more important question arises. How do you tighten loose chains? Apart from applying the dime method we mentioned earlier, there are other ways of fixing the glitch.

When adjusting tension, the dime method involves putting a dime between the bar and the chain. We researched how to improve loose blades, and as a result, we discovered exciting ways of realizing proper tension on the chain.

But before we can dig deeper, let’s state that when using your chainsaw, the chains will inevitably stretch, becoming loose after some time. We bet you don’t want to end up sawing wood with a loose chain because it often spells danger to a woodworker.

You should, therefore, check the chain’s tension every often to determine if it needs a fix.

Most importantly, note that you cannot fix the problem if you know nothing about proper tension. A lack of knowledge on this vital aspect of your machine means you may end up with a chain that is too tight or too loose to do anything.

Now, let’s quickly walk you through chain tension and what a proper one looks like.

● Bad/Improper tension

You can determine if a chain is loose by pulling it off the guide bar. A chain that comes off the bar efficiently needs tightening right away. You should also check the drive links. If they are disengaged, then it is time you adjust the chain’s tension.

● Good/proper tension

In the case of good or proper tension, pull the chain and take note of the drive links. Everything is set and ready for sawing if the drive links remain intact. In layman’s language, it is all good when you pull off the chain from the guiding bar and notice a tiny gap in between.

However, it would be best to note that the gap should not be too big as that would mean improper tension. Chains that are too tight to move will not rip wood effectively, even if you power your machine at full throttle. The danger of the chain snapping is always lurking.

Fixing Chainsaw Blade That Keeps Coming Off: Vital Steps to Follow

Properly tensioning the chain in your chainsaw means you must follow specific steps. If you do it correctly, only a minute or less is enough for you to get back working at full throttle.

Facing a challenge with a chainsaw chain coming off during a complex woodcutting task, I discovered the root cause to be a worn-out sprocket. The resolution was straightforward yet crucial – replacing the sprocket. This experience underscores the importance of regular equipment maintenance and problem-solving in woodworking.

Note that when setting the proper chain tension, skipping a step would affect the appropriate functioning of your machine. To get started, therefore, you need a screw wrench, and the good news is that most chainsaws come with one.

You can also check local homesteading stores or shop online for the best chainsaw screw wrench.

● Step one:

The first step is to loosen the chain and guide bar before properly adjusting them to the correct tension. In cases where the chainsaw brake is attached to the two components on the side panel, start by unscrewing the brake before removing the side panel.

● Step two:

Now, it is time to adjust the tension screw found on the side of the guiding bars. When you tighten it, the tension on the chain will increase. On the contrary, loosening the screw releases pressure on the chain so that it becomes loose.

● Step three:

The third and final step is tightening the guiding bar and nuts on the side panel. Most importantly, lifting the chainsaw nose at this stage would be best to ensure the chain has a uniform tension all around the bar. Any object between the chain and the bar will affect the desired chain tension during this process.

If you follow the above steps to the letter, you should start working again without risking an accident. Your chainsaw chain will not come off again, not any time soon.

However, if the problem persists, you may have to consider replacing the chain or the chain altogether. But first, check the grooves and the links to ascertain which one between them is worn out.

When it becomes necessary that you buy a replacement chainsaw chain, consider the length of the original one. You don’t want to end up with something shorter or longer than the original, as it could mean you spend more money solving a problem that should cost only a few bucks.

When we checked eCommerce stores for available chainsaw chains, our attention was particularly drawn to 8TEN 16-inches, Upstart 20-inches, and Husqvarna 16-inches chain. The best chains are easy to find, especially if you look right.

Here, you can find Chainsaw chains.

What to Do If Chainsaw Chains Fails To Tighten

While fixing a chainsaw chain that keeps coming off should be easy, sometimes the problem could be more profound. It means you must dig deeper, diagnosing something that could be more than worn-on bar heels.

Thus, another question that comes to mind is, what if nothing works despite fixing loose blades/chains?

After following all the above steps to the letter, diagnose your machine further for other mechanical hitches and glitches if the chain fails to move. Some possible reasons why the chain won’t tighten include the following:

  • Threads: There is a possibility that threads in the chainsaw case are stripped. The threads serve the purpose of holding a screw for adjusting tension in place. They cease to function if stripped.
  • Tension adjustment screws: If the tension adjustment screw keeps turning, chances are high that it is stripped. If that is the case, replacing it with a new one is the best solution. Here you can find Tension Adjustment Screws.
  • Guide bar: You should also check to ensure the right guiding bar is installed correctly, especially if it is new. The catch is that guiding bars come in different sizes, and installing the wrong one will affect the chain’s tension. Here, you can find Chainsaw Guide Bars.
  • Wrong chain: It is also possible that you may have installed a bad chain. With chains in chainsaws, you should always install one with a proper length for your machine to avoid trouble. Here, you can find Chainsaw Chains.

What Is The Solution For Chains That Won’t Tighten?

After troubleshooting your machine for the above problems, it is time to do the fixing. When a chainsaw chain doesn’t tighten to the proper tension despite coming off very often, we recommend doing the following:

● Remove a chain link

When you tighten a chainsaw blade/chain but nothing happens, removing a link or more can solve the problem. However, it is not something you should do without prior knowledge of the master link. Most chainsaws have a master link to make it easy for you to remove other links.

Using a screw with a flat head, open it, then use a pair of pliers to remove the end link attached to the master link. While at it, and depending on how many links you intend to remove, keep testing the chain’s tension.  Most importantly, stay safe. 

From my extensive knowledge, it’s crucial to know the signs that a chainsaw chain might come off soon. These signs include the chain sagging away from the bar, the chainsaw cutting crooked, or the chainsaw producing excessive sawdust. Being mindful of these indicators can prevent potential accidents and ensure efficient operation.

Chainsaw Chain: Determining the Right Length for Your Machine

With a chainsaw chain that keeps coming off, you would also want to think beyond fixing the problem. Thus, a question of chainsaw chain length comes to mind. How do you determine the correct length for the bar? Also, do manufacturers sell universal chains or come in different sizes? 

Well, let’s start by answering the second question. Chains are not universal. Depending on the type of chainsaw you have, length varies, hence the need to measure one before fitting to your machine.

However, you can buy a chain from a different manufacturer, say STHL, and do it into your Honda chainsaw, provided the length fits onto the bar.

Calculating Chain Length by Counting Pitch Numbers and Drive Links

Now, when it comes to finding the right chain length for your machine, it is imperative that a woodworker factor in the measurement of the bar. However, that is not the only way of going about it. There are other ways of determining the right fit for your chainsaw, and they include:

  • Drive links: You can also determine the ideal chain length you need for your machine by stretching the loose chain on a flat surface. It would be best if you located drive links/lungs, usually on the inner side of the chain. With the number of drive links a chainsaw has at the back of your mind, you should comfortably buy a replacement/new chain without worrying about the right fit.
  • The distance between the casing and tip of the chainsaw: Using a tape measure, wrap it around the chain from the point it enters the casing of your machine to the tip. It would be best if you always rounded up the figure to every number nearest the measurement you take. Usually, the most common sizes for the guide measure are 20, 16, and 18 inches. The bigger the figure, the longer the chain you will need.
  • Chain length: Another way of determining chain length is by counting pitch numbers and driving links. Adding the two values should give you the correct chain length, making ordering a replacement easier even without going to a nearby homesteading store to shop for one.
  • Chain pitch: Another method of determining the right chain length that would fit the guide bar on your machine is by considering the distance between rivets. Rivets hold the chain together, and any measurement between three consecutive rivets should give you an ideal chain length determination. Now, the correct pitch is taken by dividing your measurement by two.

The Importance of Accurate Chain Length Measurement

Now that you know how to measure chain length, anyone can come up with an accurate measurement even without a tape measure. Most importantly, having this information means you will not risk purchasing something that will not fit the bar.

Because loose chains pose a danger to a woodworker or anyone who uses a chainsaw, you must always take suitable precautionary measures.

We implore you to seek help from a professional service center, primarily if you use these tools. Moreover, ensure the spark plug is off when handling a chainsaw. Accidental starts are not isolated cases when using saws.

You risk becoming a victim of chainsaw accidents if you do not follow instructions on product labels. It is equally important to take precautionary measures when using chainsaws or when they are idling.

Here, you can find a large selection of Chainsaw Chains.

Precautionary Measures to Take When Chainsaw Chains Keeps Coming Off

First, every woodworker using a chainsaw whose blade keeps coming off should worry about their safety. It is because there is a real risk of losing your hand or even leg should the chain snap or come off unexpectedly.

Therefore, being aware of the problem puts you ahead of it, and it becomes easier to seek a lasting solution. Another question then arises. How can one avoid danger besides replacing or fixing a loose chain?

Over the past two decades, chainsaw technology has seen significant advancements. The introduction of improved chain tensioning systems has simplified the process of adjusting chain tension, reducing the risk of the chain coming off. Furthermore, using superior materials for chains, bars, and sprockets has enhanced their longevity and performance.

Well, several rules should govern your conduct when using these powerful machines. The rules apply whether you have a gasoline-powered or electric chainsaw.  Always take note of the following:

  • Keep it firmly: You should always focus when sawing by keeping your eyes on the bar and both hands on the saw.
  • Plan the cut: We recommend planning an amount so the bar does not exit the endpoint, catching you unawares. There is a real danger when a chainsaw bar exits the endpoint because it could cut your foot or leg.
  • Kickback: Take note of the kickback zone so you don’t dig the chainsaw bar into it.
  • Protective gear: We always emphasize the importance of wearing protective equipment and clothing. No part of your body should remain exposed when using these machines, from gloves, chaps, goggles, and ear muffs to boots. Things could get worse if the blade keeps coming off.
  • Reduced kickback: For a novice woodworker, you would instead use chainsaws with reduced kickbacks to minimize the risk of harm. While you must bear with their slow-cutting action, you would rather be safe than sorry.
  • Cutting action: Always note the cutting action of your saw, significantly when cutting from the top and bottom. A pull action should not catch you unawares when sawing wood from the bottom. Sawing from the top always triggers a push action, and the more you are aware of it, the better it is for your safety.
  • Posture: Assume the correct posture when sawing. If you are right-handed, the best and most stable stance is having your left foot in front, usually at 45 degrees. Your right foot should be slightly behind. Your feet should be parted to match the width of your shoulder (boxer stance) with the knees slightly bent.

Should The Chain Move In A Specific Direction?

A question arises if you replace a chain that keeps coming off the bar. Does it have to move in a specific direction? The truth is that chains must move in a specified order for your saw to function.

Apart from the machine being ineffective in cases where the chain takes the opposite direction, the risk of getting hurt lurks.

Check whether it rotates as desired from the top, front, sides, and bottom. Usually, chainsaws should rotate in a clockwise direction.

However, please note that viewing the rotation from the top is not the same as looking at it from the bottom. The latter is always the opposite; hence, it should not be a cause for alarm.

Final Thoughts

Thus far, having a chainsaw is one thing, but ensuring it functions correctly is different. While professional woodworkers will always find it easy to fix problems such as loose chains and blades that keep coming off the guide bar, a novice woodworker risks causing further damage.

If you are unsure how to fix the problem at home, seek help from a service center. In some cases, the best option would be to contact the seller of your saw and ask for a replacement. It should be cheaper if your machine’s lifespan is still within the warranty period.

You have also learned that when it comes to fixing chains that keep coming off, stay out of danger. While removing a chain link should be a quick fix, you must ask whether you end up with the correct tension.

– Recap: Key Takeaways from Chainsaw Maintenance

Also, does your saw function optimally after fixing the problem? In a nutshell, when the chain on your chainsaw comes off every often, straightaway diagnoses the bar rails and bar heels for wear and tear.

Also, check the chain sprocket and tension to ensure they work optimally before determining the proper fix.

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  1. Marian Walker says:

    How important is regular maintenance for chainsaw chains?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Regular maintenance of chainsaw chains is crucial to prevent downtime. Check tension, sprockets, and bars for wear and adjust as needed. This will save you time and frustration in the long run.

  2. Nellie Pearson says:

    What kind of protective gear should be worn when using a chainsaw?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Always wear protective gear like gloves, goggles, ear muffs, and chaps when using a chainsaw to prevent accidents. Stay safe while fixing the issue!

  3. Andrea Torres says:

    Is it necessary to consult a professional for chainsaw chain issues?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Yes, consulting a professional for chainsaw chain issues is necessary to ensure the problem is accurately diagnosed and effectively fixed, saving you time and frustration.

  4. Wendy Armstrong says:

    The safety precautions mentioned here are crucial for anyone using a chainsaw.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you for highlighting the importance of safety precautions when using a chainsaw. Proper maintenance and care are crucial for maintaining efficiency and preventing accidents. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

  5. Alfredo Jenkins says:

    What is the best way to diagnose the issue?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      To diagnose the issue of your chainsaw chain slipping off, check for worn-out bars, sprockets, and chain tension. Addressing these can prevent future issues.

  6. Elmer Brown says:

    Is it common for chainsaw chains to become loose with use?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Hey Elmer, chainsaw chains can become loose due to worn-out bars, sprockets, or improper tension. Check out our post for detailed fixes and tips to keep your chainsaw running smoothly. Hope this helps!

  7. Beverly Douglas says:

    How can improper chain tension affect the performance of a chainsaw?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Improper chain tension can cause the chainsaw chain to come off the guide bar frequently. Adjusting the tension properly can help improve the performance of your chainsaw.

  8. Allan Neal says:

    Is it easy to fix a chainsaw chain that keeps coming off?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you for your comment, Allan! Fixing a chainsaw chain that keeps coming off can be challenging, but with expert advice and guidance, it becomes more manageable. Stay tuned for more tips and tricks!

  9. Cory Gray says:

    This post made me feel more confident about handling chainsaw problems on my own.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Glad to hear that, Cory! Feel free to reach out if you need any further assistance with your chainsaw. Happy to help you out.

  10. Gabe Elliott says:

    Why does the chain keep coming off?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Hey Gabe, chainsaw chains can come off due to worn-out bars, sprockets, and incorrect tension. Check out our blog post for tips on how to fix it effectively and save time and frustration.

  11. Marcia Jackson says:

    This article was really informative and helpful for new chainsaw users.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you, Marcia! We’re glad you found the article informative. If you’re a new chainsaw user, feel free to reach out if you encounter any issues while using your chainsaw. Happy sawing!

  12. Luis Carpenter says:

    Thank you for sharing such valuable information about chainsaw maintenance.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you for your kind words, Luis! We’re glad you found the information on chainsaw maintenance valuable. If you ever have more questions or need help, feel free to reach out. Happy sawing!

  13. Edward Fuller says:

    Great tips on how to avoid accidents when using chainsaws!

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you, Edward! We’re glad you found the tips helpful in preventing chainsaw accidents. Stay safe and happy woodworking!

  14. Vicki Berry says:

    I will definitely be more cautious when using my chainsaw after reading this article.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you for reading! Remember to always put safety first when using your chainsaw. We’re glad the article was helpful in making you more cautious.

  15. Scarlett Chambers says:

    I learned a lot about the importance of chain tension and proper maintenance from this article.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      “Thank you for sharing your feedback, Scarlett! We’re glad you found the article informative. Understanding chain tension and proper maintenance is crucial for optimum chainsaw performance.”

  16. Naomi Torres says:

    I appreciate the detailed explanations on how to fix chainsaw chain issues.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you, Naomi Torres! I’m glad you found the explanations helpful in resolving your chainsaw chain issues. Happy sawing!

  17. Martha Long says:

    Why is it important to check the chain tension frequently?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      It’s important to check chain tension frequently to prevent your chainsaw chain from coming off easily. Proper tension improves performance and safety. Keep on sawing!

  18. Anna Brooks says:

    Can a loose chainsaw chain be dangerous?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Hi Anna, a loose chainsaw chain can indeed be dangerous. Check out our blog post for tips on how to fix this issue effectively. Stay safe!

  19. Russell Byrd says:

    The step-by-step guide on fixing loose chainsaw chains was very helpful.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you, Russell! I’m glad you found the guide helpful. Keep those chainsaws running smoothly!

  20. Serenity Miller says:

    I never realized the importance of checking chain tension until reading this post.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you for your comment, Serenity. I’m glad you found the information on chain tension helpful. It’s a crucial aspect of chainsaw maintenance that many people overlook. Let me know if you have any more questions.