Chainsaw chain and bar in action

When is it Time To Change A Chainsaw Chain?

For a wide variety of occupations, a chainsaw is an essential piece of equipment. Whether you’re a tree surgeon, a landscape gardener, or even just a keen amateur, there will always be work waiting for your handy chainsaw to tackle. But when is it time for chainsaw chain replacement?

Sadly, not all chainsaws are made equal. If you investigate different chainsaws, then you will quickly see there are options ranging across the price spectrum. From the very cheap to the extremely expensive, there are different benefits, specifications, and thoughts you have to consider when purchasing a chainsaw– and the difficulties don’t end there.

The problems of chainsaw maintenance

For the most part, your chainsaw will probably work as you expect it to, ready to jump into action any time you require its assistance. However, this will only be the case if you take the time to ensure proper maintenance.

Sharpening a chainsaw chain with a file

One of the most important aspects of chainsaw maintenance is sharpening. It’s sharpening that keeps your cutting crisp, protects the machine for long-term usage, and ensures you get the right results every time. If your chainsaw isn’t performing quite as well as it did when it was new, then a sharpener is an option. Both manual chainsaw files and electric sharpeners are available, both of which can ensure that your chainsaw is working as you’d expect.

However, there is a point where a chainsaw chain loop simply can’t be sharpened any more, or your sharpening efforts aren’t making the improvements you expect. At this point, you may find it more cost-effective and simple to order a new chain.

The signs that it’s time for chainsaw chain replacement

There are a few pointers you need to be aware of when it comes to your chainsaw; below is an overview of the harbingers that suggest a new chain purchase is imminent.

#1 – Difficulty with positioning

When set against a piece of wood, a chainsaw in good shape should remain stable. If your chain is in need of replacement, however, you’ll experience a bouncing or rattling sensation. This suggests that the chain is past its best, and it’s also a safety concern, so you’re going to want to investigate a new chain as soon as possible.

#2 – The chainsaw no longer pulls itself into the wood

One of the major benefits of chainsaws is that they are efficient workers that require a steady hand, rather than a forceful one, to operate them. If you find yourself having to manually compress the chainsaw to keep it stable, then this is a sign that the chain has lost its ability to draw itself into the wood. If this is the case, you’re being denied one of the major benefits of a chainsaw, which is that they are relatively effortless to use– so a new chain is definitely worth considering.

#3 – Smoking, even when lubrication is good and chain tension is correct

If your chainsaw is smoking when in use, and the usual causes for this issue can be discounted, such as lubrication, then suspect the health of your chain. Not only is it a safety priority to change the chain as soon as possible, it’s also a precision one – not even the most experienced chainsaw user can produce their best work with their view obscured by smoke.

It’s also worth pointing out that using a smoking chain is just one symptom of poor chainsaw maintenance and general disregard for safety. In the above image the user has no personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves, helmet and suitable clothing.

#4 – Crooked cuts

When a chain is reaching the end of its lifespan, the directions in which it cuts will become more jagged and crooked. If you experience this issue, it’s a sign that dull cutting teeth are preventing the chain from being able to cut a smooth, clean line. Sharpening may remedy this, but a new chain is usually the best option, especially if it has been some time since the chain was last replaced.

#5 – Missing or damaged teeth

When you sharpen your chain, take the opportunity to inspect the teeth for signs of wear and tear. Broken, damaged, or off-centre teeth are a bad sign, especially as there is no way of rectifying this problem with sharpening. When a tooth is compromised, it should be considered a potential hazard. All use of the chainsaw should cease until you have replaced the chain.

If you find missing teeth on the chain, this is not so hazardous, but it does mean that the chainsaw is nearing the end of its natural life. Chains in good working order do not lose teeth, so see missing sections as a sign a new purchase is required in the not-too-distant future.

In Conclusion

Rotatech chainsaw chain advisor

If you recognise any of the issues above, it’s time to change the chain on your chainsaw. Thankfully, there are many great manufacturers out there who supply reliable chains that will get you back to work in no time. The likes of Rotatech are cost effective and reliable chains; do your research, invest in a new chain, and your chainsaw should be back to its best in no time.

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