Why is my chainsaw smoking? 6 Causes & How to Fix Them

Chainsaws are handy and powerful tools, but they can also be dangerous if not properly maintained.

If you notice your chainsaw smoking, it could be a sign of a serious issue that needs to be addressed before further use.

Chainsaws are prone to overheating, and the smoke may be a result of too much dirt in the air filter, a clogged spark plug, or an issue with the carburetor.

Excessive oil in the fuel can also cause smoke and should be avoided.

In this article, we will discuss the potential causes of a smoking chainsaw and what you can do to troubleshoot and fix the issue so you can get back to work safely.

Chainsaws are handy and powerful tools, but they can be dangerous if not properly maintained.

If you notice your chainsaw smoking, it could be a sign of a serious issue that needs to be addressed before further use.

Chainsaws are prone to overheating, and the smoke may be a result of too much dirt in the air filter, a clogged spark plug, or an issue with the carburetor.

Excessive oil in the fuel can also cause smoke and should be avoided.

In this article, we will discuss the potential causes of a smoking chainsaw and what you can do to troubleshoot and fix the issue so you can get back to work safely.

Potential causes of a chainsaw smoking

Here are some common causes of chainsaw smoking to help you understand “why is my chainsaw smoking problem“:

Dirty Air Filter (Lack of Air Flow)

Why is my chainsaw smoking?

A dirty air filter can restrict airflow, causing the chainsaw to overheat and smoke.

It can happen due to engine misfiring, strange engine noises, decreased fuel efficiency, or a dirty engine filter.

How to Fix

To check for a dirty air filter, remove it and inspect it for dirt or debris.

If needed, replace the air filter with a clean one to prevent overheating.

If the air filter is clogged or dirty, it must be cleaned and replaced as soon as possible.

Engine Idle Speed

Why is my chainsaw smoking?

If you start the chainsaw and it causes smoke, then it is important to understand why this is happening before continuing to use it.

There’s a chance that the idle speed on your chainsaw is set wrong, making it run too fast and make smoke.

How to Fix?

To adjust the idle speed of your engine, find the speed adjustment screw.

Twist the screw 90 degrees clockwise till the speed slows down.

Once you have reached this point, twist the screw 90 degrees (anti-clockwise) and rinse the throttle to ensure that the engine speed accelerates smoothly.

Excess Oil in the oil-gasoline mixture

If you have too much oil in the oil-gasoline mixture, it can cause the chainsaw to smoke.

How to Fix?

First, empty the fuel tank of all the oil and fuel mixture before filling it with newly mixed oil and gasoline. Make sure to use the correct ratio of oil to gasoline when filling the tank, as mentioned in the owner’s manual.

Chain & Guide Bar

Why is my chainsaw smoking

If the smoke is coming from the chain or guide bar, it usually happens because of lubrication.

To check that the chain and bar are properly lubricated, simply lay a piece of paper flat on the ground. 

Now start the chainsaw and hold the tip of the guide bar over the paper.

If you can see oil drops coming out of the chain, then it is properly lubricated; if there are no oil drops, then you need to lubricate it with bar and chain oil.

How to Fix

If the chain is not properly lubricated, you will need to ensure that it is properly oiled.

To do this, you should use good-quality chainsaw bar oil. Be sure to fill the bar’s oil reservoir with the correct amount of oil before use.

Stop your chainsaw and check the guide-bar oil reserve.

If there is oil in the reservoir, run the test to see if the automatic oiler is working correctly.

If it isn’t, refill the reservoir with bar and chain oil.

Dull / Not Sharpened Chain

If the saw chain isn’t sharp enough, it can generate more heat and smoke.

If the saw chain is dull, sharpen it or replace it with a new one to reduce smoke.

How to Fix

You can sharpen the saw by sharpening its blades on the saw.

You can easily purchase saw sharpener kits online or at your local hardware store.

Chain is not Suitable for Type of Wood

Why is my chainsaw smoking

Using a chain that isn’t suitable for the type of wood can cause smoke.

Ensure you are using the right kind of chain before starting the chainsaw.

How to fix

Pick the best chainsaw chain for hardwood, softwood, or whatever type of wood you’re working with.

This will help reduce smoke and improve cutting efficiency.

Check the pitch, gauge, and length of the chain to determine if it is suitable for the type of wood.

FAQs:

Q: What are the signs that my chainsaw is being overused?

Signs that your chainsaw is being overused include

  • Weird engine noises
  • Reduced fuel efficiency
  • Dirty Air Filter
  • Chainsaw Smoke

Q: How do I check and clean the air filter on my chainsaw?

Generally speaking, it is better to replace the air filter rather than clean it.

Also, check the air filter, remove it and inspect it for any blockages or dirt.

f you see dirt, replace it with a new filter. On the other hand, you can clean it and blow out any dust or debris that might be blocking the filter with compressed air, or you can wash it.

Air-filter cleaning process

Why is my chainsaw smoking

In order to clean the air filter, you will need to

  1. Remove the cylinder cover.
  2. Remove air filter
  3. Look for external dirt
  4. If there is a lot of dirt, wash it with a soft brush.
  5. Dry the air filter
  6. Reassemble the air filter
  7. Replace the air filter if it is broken

2. Why is my chainsaw producing white smoke?

Chainsaw white smoke usually comes from an incorrect air-to-fuel ratio. Always use good-quality fuel and mix it properly with oil.

Too much oil in the fuel-oil mixture can cause white smoke. Additionally, check if there are any impurities such as carbon monoxide (CO) or dirt. 

If yes, drain the fuel tank and refill it with a new fuel-oil mixture.

Conclusion

When it comes to chainsaw smoke, there can be various reasons.

Before using your chainsaw, make sure the air filter is clean, the chain and guide bar are properly lubricated, the chain is sharpened, and the right type of chain for the wood you are cutting is being used.

If you can figure out why your saw is smoking, you can fix the problem.

However, if you are still unsure, it is best to consult a professional.

Photo of author

Charlie Bass

Charlie has been a mechanic for over 25 years and has worked on everything from small engine gardening equipment to huge diesel-electric mining haul trucks, trains and even aircraft. This broad range of industry experience gives him a unique insight into almost anything mechanical especially with an engine, including gardening and landscaping equipment. He currently owns his own mobile mechanic business and lives with his family in Australia.

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