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Winter Chainsaw Maintenance Tips

November 8, 2019

Whether you need to cut wood to keep your home cozy warm or you plan to clear some land, operating a chainsaw in cold weather requires a few extra precautions, and your chainsaw will appreciate a little extra TLC.

There are a few things you can do to keep your chainsaw running in peak condition and make winter cutting easier and safer. Timberland Supply is available year-round to keep your chainsaws in peak condition.

Winter Chain Saw

Keeping Your Chainsaw Running Smoothly

As soon as the thermostat dips below 40 degrees F, switch the “winter/summer” shutter to “winter” (if your chainsaw has this feature). The “winter” shutter setting activates the carburetor preheater system that helps keep your carburetor from icing.

Keep things clean to prevent freezing

Make sure the sprocket cover stays clean to prevent moisture and snow from freezing with the sawdust and oil that often collects around the sprocket. You should also clean the chain brake more frequently than you do in warmer weather, especially if the chain brake is located in the sprocket cover.

During a long day of working in cold, snowy conditions, take the bar and chain off regularly to clean out the buildup of frozen sawdust and oil. While you are pausing to clean, check the oil port to make sure the bar and sprocket are getting enough oil. Also, make sure the chain brake is clean to prevent unnecessary wear on the clutch and sprocket.

Keep moisture out of the fuel

Brush snow, sawdust, and moisture away from around the fuel tank before you open it to refuel. Some people like to carry a small paintbrush to clean around the fuel tank before they open it. If water gets into the fuel, it can cause the engine to hesitate or sputter. If too much moisture gets into the engine, it can cause your chainsaw to stop working or become difficult to start. Over time, water in the fuel line can lead to rusting and corrosion.

Make every effort to keep the fuel mix at a constant temperature to reduce the amount of condensation buildup in the fuel. Avoid bringing the fuel into warm temperatures then back out into the cold weather. It is best to mix as small a batch as possible and use it up before mixing another batch.

Increase the bar oil

When the snow gets on the warm bar and chain, it melts and emulsifies with the bar oil and affect the lubrication. Increase the amount of oil on the bar and chain when you use your chainsaw in wet or snowy conditions. Your owners’ manual has information about how to adjust the amounts of oil.

Cold weather can also cause the bar oil to thicken. When the temperatures drop, switch to “winter grade” oil that is designed for cold weather. Be mindful that “winter grade” oil tends to leak more easily when stored in warmer temperatures.

Keep the air intake clear

Ironically, your chainsaw can overheat in cold weather. Snow, ice, and sawdust can quickly get packed into the air intake, causing your chainsaw. Check the cool air intake regularly and brush away any snow that might impact airflow. Also, if the air filter gets too wet, air cannot flow through the filter properly.

Be mindful that bulky winter clothes can get sucked into the cooling air intake and restrict airflow.

Keep the chain sharp

Frozen wood is much harder to cut, so it’s essential to get your chain sharpened and keep a few spares available. Many people prefer to decrease the top-plate filing angle by about 5 degrees. This helps it cut through the frozen wood and reduce the risk of wear and tear from vibration. If you plan to use your chainsaw in single-digit temperatures, consider switching to a carbide-tip saw chain, which cuts through frozen wood better.

Keep Safety a Priority

Safety is critical all year round, but it is essential to take a few extra precautions when working outdoors during the winter months.

Wear the right safety gear

Wear a helmet and face shield. Wood splinters more easily in cold, dry air, which can cause eye and facial injuries. If you don’t own a face shield or you need more protection from the cold, a ski mask with shatter-proof lenses is a good substitute.

Don’t skip the protective chaps, boots, and gloves. They will help you stay warm and keep you safer. Wear gloves that give you a solid grip on the chainsaw handles. Be aware that when you wear more clothing, you are less agile.

The wood turns brittle

Many types of wood turn hard and brittle in cold temperatures, and the crown of the tree can become heavy with snow. Leave a larger hinge than you usually do and only fell the tree in the direction of its natural lean.

As you cut, make sure you have solid footing and a good escape route. Ice and snow can make it more challenging to move quickly, and the trunk may crack and fall sooner than expected.

Timberland Supply has a team of chainsaw experts that will keep your equipment in peak condition year-round. Contact us today!