When Should One Replace Their Chainsaw Chain? 

When Should One Replace Their Chainsaw Chain? 

The chainsaw is one of the essential tools in the forestry and logging industry. Apart from serving commercial purposes, it is also widely used in gardens and households. It is essential equipment for cutting down woods, trimming trees, and assisting other such purposes.

The chainsaw comes in the market in many sizes and price ranges. Despite these differences, every chainsaw needs regular usage and maintenance for its longevity.

Nevertheless, even the rigorous maintenance would not make the chain indestructible. Hence, after using the chainsaw for a few years, the chain would need a replacement.

But, how to tell when the chainsaw chain is worn out? —this is the central question most owners are curious about. The answers to this question have been provided in this post.

What is the Life Expectancy of a Chainsaw Chain?

Start your chainsaw

If the chainsaw chain is used frequently, it lasts for five years or more. However, the occasional use of chainsaw chains can make it last for a decade. The chain provides a hundred hours of usage to its owners under normal circumstances.

However, this is just an estimated period. It is a fact that chainsaw chains do not have an expiration date or pre-determined timeline. The durability of a chain varies from person to person. Its life expectancy depends on the following factors:

  • The nature of the wood being cut: Compared to softwood, hardwood wears down the chain quickly.
  • The type of chain being used: Semi-chisel chain lasts longer. Full-chisel ones are aggressive, so they have a shorter lifespan.
  • Amount of task tackled: If the chain is used for performing light cutting jobs, it will last for a more extended period.
  • Maintenance of the chain: A chain that is adequately lubricated and maintained always lasts longer.

Apart from that, one must not leave the chainsaw unattended for an extended period; else, it will start slowing problems.

How Can One Know if his Chainsaw Chain is Worn Out?

Basic Mechanic of a Chainsaw

A chainsaw is a versatile tool that makes cutting of trees easier. A right chainsaw has a robust chain that runs at 50 rotations per second on average. The large amount of friction generated by the chainsaw chain’s spinning effect provides incredible power to the user. As a result, he cuts dense materials with little effort. 

Therefore, when the user realizes that he is putting more effort into his job than needed, he must recognize the time has come for replacing the chain. Apart from that, various other signals indicate the wearing down of chains. These are:

Positioning the Chainsaw Becomes Difficult

It is easy to position a right chainsaw at the point one needs to cut. However, if the chainsaw needs chain replacement, it would be unstable. Even if the cutting teeth are correctly adjusted, the saw may not cut properly with the death gauge present. Instead, it will cut unevenly and give out crooked cuts.

While using that chainsaw, it rattles and continuously falls to one side. In these cases, the user must manually compress the chainsaw to make it stable, taking many of his efforts.

The Tool Releases Smoke

Like other tools, smoke released by the chainsaw can be considered as a bad sign. It is a clear indication of dull chain teeth. The worn teeth can heat the tool by increasing the friction, ultimately harming the chainsaw. 

In such cases, the lubrication and tension need to be checked out first. If the user finds everything right, he needs to change the chain. Also, the cutting needs to be stopped immediately.

The Chainsaw Leaves Behind Sawdust

Generally, the excellent chainsaw gives coarse-grained chips while cutting the logs. However, as the cutting teeth dull with time, the saw starts releasing fine dust particles. Moreover, it takes more time to cut the log. The appearance of finer dust-like particles instead of the coarse chips indicates the presence of a damaged chain.

Chain Tension Issues

A bad chainsaw asks the user to adjust the tension continually. Nevertheless, adjusting the chain does not help as it loosens more than before. This symbolizes that the chain needs replacement.

The loosening of the tension affects the ability of the teeth to connect with the bar.

The tension in the chain takes the cutting force applied by the user. As a result, it starts stretching and eventually loses the ability to stay tight.

Broken, Damaged, Missing, or Off-Centre Teeth of the Chains

If the chainsaw chain has any broken or missing teeth, it needs to be replaced. This problem can happen if the tool hits a hard surface. The teeth get raked over this surface. The object hit by the chainsaw gets an uneven cut. Along with it, the chain gets damaged. This is seen as a potential hazard. The user should avoid using a chainsaw till he replaces the chain. 

Some other problems are shown by the chainsaw that indicates its damage are given below:

  • If the tool is running in one direction, the user needs to replace the chainsaw blade. It can happen when the cutting teeth’ length is uneven, or the teeth have dulled on one side.
  • A chainsaw chain is prone to rust. Therefore, one must store their chainsaw correctly and clean it using oil and water after using it. If the chain rusts, one must change it.
  • There is a limit up to which the chain can be polished. Excessive polishing can make the chain fall easily. It can be dangerous for the user. Hence, it needs to be changed.

What are the Points One Should Remember while Replacing the Chain?

Sharpen the Chainsaw Chain

Now that the chainsaw owner knows how to tell when the chainsaw chain is worn out, it is time to buy a new one. Purchasing a new chain is just like buying new clothes or accessories. One needs to have a clear idea about buying a good quality chain. 

It is also a good idea to buy two or more chains at a time. In this manner, the teeth can be immediately replaced if it gets compromised on the field. Swapping the teeth regularly can create over wear on the saw. To purchase the right chain, one needs to know the pitch, gauge, and several drive links that fit the bar.

  • Pitch: It describes the closeness of the links to the overall length. It is mentioned on the edge of the saw or the user manual. Even if it is not found, it can be measured.
  • Gauge: The width of the drive link that fits into the guide bar. It is displayed on the tip of the bar.
  • The number of Drive Links: The number of drive links on the old chain must match the new one. It is usually mentioned in the tool. However, it can also be measured manually.

What are the Factors that Accelerate the Damage of the Chainsaw Chain?

If the chainsaw chain is used for a more extended period, it can be damaged. However, this is not the only factor that can affect the functioning of the chainsaw. Accidents can often lead to damages. Hence, the user must be aware of them and avoid them at all costs.

Chainsaw Being Hit by a Rock

 While cutting a log on the ground, sometimes, a rock can get in the way. The cutters dip into dirt and gravel. It dulls the edge.

Chainsaw Being Hit by a Nail

For fencing purposes, nails are dug into the trees in the household gardens. If the saw gets hit by a nail while cutting these trees, it can affect the tool’s performance.


It is useful if you are lubricating the chainsaw regularly. However, applying lubricant of lousy quality can affect your tool negatively.


As mentioned above, rusting can damage the chain to a large extent. Therefore, one needs to store the tool at an appropriate spot to protect it from rusting. The tools should be stored inside. It must not meet extreme weather conditions.


Every tool needs the appropriate maintenance to use it for an extended period. You cannot expect the instrument to work efficiently if you use it without even taking its care.

Chainsaw chain is not an exception. It needs regular replacement. If the points mentioned here are observed in the chainsaw, the chain must be replaced immediately to avoid any accidents.

If the chain is newly bought and has not faced any accidents, lubricating, sharpening, and paying extra attention to it may give you satisfactory results.

Many good manufacturers and companies supply reliable chains to the customs that help them get back to their work. Always aim at buying cost-effective chains from reliable stores.

If you have no idea about the options available in the market, search google or ask your friends and family for recommendations.

Kalista Howell
Kalista Howell is an accomplished writer with over 12 years of experience in journalism. She holds a BA in English Literature from the University of California, Berkeley. Her career began in 2009 as a reporter for a local newspaper, where her flair for realistic storytelling quickly garnered attention. With an extensive background in educational content creation, her expertise lies in translating complex concepts into accessible, reader-friendly formats. Beyond her professional life, she is a passionate advocate for lifelong learning, often conducting community workshops on digital literacy. In her leisure time, she enjoys gardening.

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