Chainsaw Won’t Start – Now What?

Chainsaw Fuel Line

The chainsaw is a useful tool to have at the cottage, so it must remain in good working order. When the chainsaw won’t start, we need to know why.

As with most 2-stroke engines that get a heavy workout, the chainsaw requires constant maintenance. Even when we take care of all the basics to try to keep it in good operating shape, things can still go wrong.

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Why won’t the chainsaw start?

This is a question many cottagers ask themselves every year. It might be the first time we try to fire up the chainsaw in the spring or it could simply stop working in the middle of the season after the chainsaw has been running perfectly for weeks.

Let’s take a look at the first steps to follow when trying to figure out why the chainsaw isn’t operating properly.

Flip the kill switch

First, you have to check the safety switch or kill switch to make sure it isn’t in the off position. Hopefully this is the problem and you are off to the races.

Check the fuel level

The second step involves making sure you have fuel. If there is fuel, the problem could be moisture. Replace the fuel with a fresh batch.

Remember that you have to mix the gas with 2-stroke oil at the proper ratio before adding the fuel to the chainsaw.

Inspect the spark plug

Check the spark plug to make sure it is clean and firing properly, If not, change it. Automatically replacing the spark plug is generally a good preventative step each spring.

Check the air filter

Clean or change the air filter. This isn’t usually the reason the chainsaw won’t start, but a restriction in the airflow can keep it from running properly.

Is the fuel line broken?

This is where things start to get tricky. If all the above items are OK, there might be an issue with the fuel moving from the tank to the carburetor. A split fuel hose could be the culprit.

The way to check is to remove the weighted fuel filter from inside the fuel tank. It should be connected to the fuel hose. When the chainsaw is a few years old the hose will sometimes split where it fits on the filter.

That is what happened to us this spring. To fix the problem we simply went to a local chainsaw dealer and purchased about 12 inches of new fuel line and replaced the old one.

Clean the carburetor

The carburetor might be the problem if the fuel line is fine. Over the winter the fuel jet can get plugged if you didn’t add some stabilizer and run the chainsaw before putting it in storage.

If the carburetor needs to be removed and cleaned, it is best to take the chainsaw to the shop and bite the bullet on the repair fee. This isn’t a fun DIY project unless you really know what you are doing and have the proper tools, as well as the free time to spend on the project.

Need a new chainsaw for the cottage?

Check out our chainsaw 101 page for more beginner tips on how to use your chainsaw safely and efficiently at the cottage.

by Andrew Walker


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