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Why is My Chainsaw Smoking? – 5+ Reasons and Solutions

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The worst way to start a new project is with malfunctioning appliances. It slows down the whole process and even makes you lose motivation.

Have you faced this same dire experience recently? Have you also fallen victim to the dilemma of your chainsaw not working? Have you been questioning why is my chainsaw smoking every time you use it?

If it has, then you have found yourself at the right place because not only will we be telling you why is my chainsaw smoking, but we’ll also help you prevent it.

Chainsaws have multiple purposes like tree limbing, pruning, cutting firebreaks in wildland fire suppression, and harvesting firewood, among many others. They are used by many woodworkers and are kept in houses in case of any emergency.

If you’ve been wondering why your chainsaw is smoking, keep reading to find out!

Why is My Chainsaw Smoking
Chainsaw Smoking – via 123rf

Why is My Chainsaw Smoking?

There can be two plausible reasons behind why is my chainsaw smoking. These include:

1. The Chain/Bar is Too Hot

If you observe closely, you’ll notice that the bar and chain in your chainsaw are touching and have friction between them. Friction is a constant in the world of chainsaws. This is not the only friction present; there is also metal-on-wood friction when you’re cutting.

The friction created between the two surfaces will make them heat up, and if this heat isn’t treated properly, smoke will come from your chainsaw. It can even cause sparks or flames.

Why is Your Chain/Bar Too Hot?

Here are the three reasons why your chain or bar has turned so hot that the chainsaw has started smoking:

  1. The chain is dull
  2. The chain is tight
  3. There is not enough bar oil applied.

You will see smoke emerging from the chain in all these three situations. If the smoke is coming from the engine, the problem is with the fuel.

2. Fuel Issues

If your chainsaw is smoking from its engine, you have a more dangerous problem at your hand, and you need to be more careful. This can be because the fuel is not mixed perfectly or is contaminated.

Before you start using a chainsaw, you should know well about the fuel mixture you need. But even if you do not have an idea, you can check the manual given with your chainsaw.

Usually, the fuel is a mixture of gasoline and oil. The exact ratios and measurements will be available in the user manual.

Newbie chainsaw users can make the mistake of confusing the engine fuel and lubricating oil. This common mistake can be dangerous. Lubricating oil is used on the bar and chain to reduce the friction between them, and engine fuel, as told by the name, is for the engine.

Fuel issues are usually caused by the below-mentioned factors, and you need to ensure that you are careful in preventing any of these from happening:

  • Fuel getting contaminated by water
  • Wrong ratios of gasoline and oil might get used
  • Contaminated by wood or some other substance
  • Fuel might not get mixed properly

How to Fix these Problems?

What to Do if the Bar/Chain is Too Hot?

Here are the three things you can do to fix any bar/chain problems occurring in your chainsaw.

Check the Tightness (Tension) of the Chain

If the chain is too tight, that is not a good sign because this will result in more friction in the chainsaw. You can check the tightness in the chain by the following two methods:

Snap Test

Gently pull the chain away from the bar, as far as it can manage, and then release it. If it goes back to its place, that is a sign of a good amount of tension in the spring. If you can’t pull the chain away in the first place, it is too tight. If it goes limp after pulling, that means it is too loose.

Pull Test

Gently pull the chain away from the bar as far as it goes and then observe the chain itself. If the drive links pull out a little, the chain is too loose, and if they don’t, then the tightness is perfect.

How to Tighten the Chain?

Tightening the chain is an easy process. These are three steps you’ll have to follow:

  1. Locate the tension screw
  2. Get the right tool
  3. Tighten the chain

Fill Up the Bar Oil

All chainsaws consist of a tank that holds the bar oil. You can open the tank and check the level of the oil. This is very important because you should never run a chainsaw without oil in the tank.

Sharpen the Chain

You can look for any damage on the chain, like chips or any broken parts, which would mean the chains need to be replaced or sharpened. There are several ways to sharpen a chainsaw. You can do it using a grinder, a manual file, or even take it to a store and get it professionally sharpened.

What to Do in case of Fuel Problems?

If you’ve noticed smoke coming out of the engine, you should remove the fuel from the tank right away and look for any obvious impurities. If there are none visible, the problem is probably with the ratios of the mix that you’ve used. Recheck the manual.

When you’ve found the correct measurements (if you don’t have a manual available, then you can simply search for it over the internet), you can either adjust the fuel or if you’re not confident with that, then discard the faulty batch and start with a new one.


So now, if you wonder why is my chainsaw smoking, you’ll know what to do. It is not something you need to worry about immensely or research constantly. It is a problem that you’ll encounter once in a blue moon, and having this information in your arsenal for then will be very helpful.