How to Start a Stubborn Chainsaw

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Are you a chainsaw user and your chainsaw is giving you a hard time starting, and you don’t know how to start it? If yes, then this is just the right place for you to be.

How to start stubborn chainsaw is a common situation faced by many chainsaw users. This could be due to a wide variety of reasons such as the gas inside being old, a clogged carburetor, a clogged air filter, cold temperature, a broken rewind spring, a blocked or clogged spark arrestor, and more.

The right way to start a stubborn chainsaw will be by performing a number of steps such as looking at the pulley system, checking if it has fresh fuel, checking the air filters, checking the engine, checking the ignition coil, and more. Remember, no matter what the situation of your chainsaw, you should always wear the necessary safety equipment and follow the safety precautions to be on the safer side.

In this article, you will get to learn all about stubborn chainsaws, how to start stubborn chainsaw, reasons why you have a stubborn chainsaw that isn’t starting, and more. Stick around to get all the answers that you are looking for.

Struggle Using a Stubborn Chainsaw

Chainsaws are incredibly powerful tools for cutting firewood, pruning branches, and falling trees. It makes use of a set of teeth attached to the rotating chain. Aside from that, some chainsaws even specialize in cutting concrete during construction and cutting ice. Like other tools, even chainsaws can sometimes be a bit stubborn and not start properly. 

There are numerous reasons why this can happen and they are quite easy to fix too. But if you know how to start stubborn chainsaw, then it’ll be a piece of cake to start stubborn chainsaws. Maybe the chainsaw housing could be damaged, or the assembly could be stuck. You need to use the fuel amount accordingly, or excess fuel can forbid the tool from proceeding.

How to Start Stubborn Chainsaw

When you have to start a chainsaw, you should always read the owner’s manual before starting. It can be a frustrating situation to see your chainsaw becoming stubborn and not starting properly. It normally happens when you are using your saw after ages or if the engine temperature is freezing. Your chainsaw must be tuned up in that case. Make use of fresh gasoline after prolonged storage. Here are the steps to follow when you have to start a stubborn chainsaw – 

Look at the pulley system

The pulley system is an important factor as it helps take back the starter rope. If the chainsaw has a broken pulley system, it won’t work correctly, while also making it hard to pull. There are two places that you should look for a broken pulley or one that is not functioning properly –  First, check for the pulley, as the rope will go to it. Then, the pulley will go to pawl and spring.

After that, check whether the spring is functional and does not have any rust on it. There should be some tension in it, as it is responsible for causing the entire system to spin. If the spring and pulley aren’t working correctly, the chainsaw will remain stubborn and be hard to pull.

Check that it has fresh fuel

The carving chainsaw must have fresh fuel in it in the right ratio. Remember, gasoline will not last long. It’ll start deteriorating if gasoline is sitting in the chainsaw for more than a month. After that, liquid particles will start to evaporate and leave behind sticky goo. Remove old gas from your chainsaw, clean it, and add fresh gas before trying again.

Check air filters

The air filter needs to be cleaned. If the air filter is dirty or clogged, it could affect the air-to-gas ratio. Further, it’ll also prevent the engine from firing up properly. This is why you need to check the air filters and then start them again.

Check the engine

The worst problem that you can have with a stubborn engine is the engine. If there’s an issue with the engine itself, the starter assembly might not be able to work properly and the engine won’t start. Likewise, if the engine is seized entirely, it will be difficult to pull the rope.

Check that the spark arrestor isn’t blocked or clogged

The spark arrestor is a screen that won’t spark from flying out of the chainsaws while it is being used. Further, it’ll also affect the fuel-air mixture. It gets blocked with time and use if it isn’t cleaned properly It must be cleaned on a daily basis. When you are having a stubborn chainsaw, you must check that the spark arrestor is not blocked or clogged.

Check the ignition coil

The ignition coil is located next to the chainsaw carburetor. It is responsible for sending voltage, which causes a spark in it. If this isn’t happening, your chainsaw might not be able to function properly. For checking if the ignition coil is to blame, you’ll need to use an ignition coil tester. If you find that this is the reason you have a stubborn chainsaw, you will only be left with one option – to replace the ignition coil.

Check if the starter housing isn’t damaged

Another common issue that can make the chainsaw hard to pull and work is that the starter housing could be damaged. The housing could break and this might impede the path of the rope, or the pieces might fall inside and get wound up and stuck in the pulley and starter, making it harder for the chainsaw to work properly. 

This is the thing that you’ll likely need to replace completely. However, if it is only a small piece, you might be able to repair it with tape or epoxy.  Maintenance of chainsaws could decrease the likelihood that you’ll have to deal with this sort of issue.

Start the chainsaw

professional logger trying to start a stubborn chainsaw

If all these steps are carried out, you will now be in the right position to start a stubborn chainsaw. To start the chainsaw, it needs to be in the “ON” position and set the choke properly. You need to check the owner’s manual and adjust the carburetor as per the directions labeled for avoiding roughness in the engine. You must keep in mind that it shouldn’t overheat. The most common cause of smoking will be a lack of lubrication.

Top Reasons Why You Have a Stubborn Chainsaw

Chainsaws are commonly used gardening tools but sometimes, they do not get used for a while. If your chainsaw isn’t starting after it has been kept unused for a while, it might be due to a variety of reasons like old gas, dirty air filter, clogged carburetor, ignition coil, old sparkplug, or cold temperatures. Most of these things can be fixed easily once they have been identified. Some issues that could be the reason for you having a stubborn chainsaw are –

The gas inside is old

If the gas inside your chainsaw is old (which usually happens when you haven’t used the chainsaw for a while), then your chainsaw is unlikely to start smoothly. Luckily, it is very easy to remove and replenish.

Here are the steps to replace old gas –

  • Remove the gas tank lid 
  • Add a few BBs to the gas tank 
  • Put on the gas tank lid
  • Now, shake the chainsaw vigorously 
  • Remove the gas tank lid
  • Pour out the old gas and BBs
  • Flush out the gas tank with cleaner 

It might seem wrong to put BBs in the gas tank of the machine, but the BBs would easily knock loose any debris inside the gas tank that might clog it later. You need to be sure that all the BBs are out of the gas tank before starting the chainsaw. This is a crazy hack, but it definitely works very well.

Clogged carburetor

If your chainsaw isn’t starting, or it has been left unused for a while, the carburetor might be clogged. Sometimes, the carburetor might be damaged or have to be replaced. As the fuel becomes old, it ends up becoming sticky and clogs the carburetor. To test the carburetor, you should pour a tablespoon of fuel into it. If it stops abruptly after starting, then it means there is an issue with the carburetor there. 

Here is how you can resolve this issue –

If the carburetor is only clogged slightly, you need to just remove it and clean it before putting it back in the chainsaw once it has fully dried. If the carburetor is heavily clogged, then it’ll need to be replaced. Luckily, it can be found at any hardware store. You need to take the carburetor with you when you’re going to buy a new one such that you can get the correct one.

How I Got My Chainsaw Started After 3 Years of Not Using It - EricTheCarGuy

Faulty spark plug

In case the spark plug is old, dirty, or damaged, then the chainsaw will struggle to start. In case the porcelain insulator is cracked, the electrode might have burned away, or if there is carbon buildup, then the spark plug might not work.

Here is how you can fix it –

If the spark plug has a slight amount of build-up, then you can try cleaning it. However, spark plugs are quite cheap and easy to replace, and it’ll be hard to remove carbon buildup. The location of the spark plug and the process of removing the build-up will vary by chainsaw model.

Clogged air filter

If the chainsaw isn’t starting, the air filter might be dirty. If the air filter is dry, the air-to-gas ratio might have been affected and prevented the chainsaw from starting. Luckily, air filters are quite easy to replace.

Here is how you can resolve this issue –

  • Open the three latches on the cylinder cover of your chainsaw with a flathead screwdriver
  • Now, remove the cylinder cover 
  • Lift and release the metal latch that is holding the air filter in place 
  • Then, put in a new air filter before tossing out the old one
  • Lastly, put the cylinder cover back on

Cold temperature

The climate might affect whether the chainsaw starts. If it is cold outside, then your chainsaw might have trouble starting. Luckily, there is an easy way to fix this –

To warm up the chainsaw, you should bring it into a warm area and then let it sit for a few hours. Once it has warmed up, you should bring it outside and then try starting it again. If it doesn’t start, then it could be because of another issue.

Faulty ignition coil

The ignition coil is responsible for sending voltage to the spark plug and this is what causes it to spark, which ultimately makes the chainsaw start. If the ignition coil is faulty or broken, then the chainsaw will not start. However, ignition coils can be complicated to replace.

Here is how you can fix it –

Ignition coils are relatively expensive and quite complicated to replace if you try it yourself. It is recommended that you should take the machine to a chainsaw repair shop and have one of the mechanics repair it. They will be able to identify whether the ignition coil has been causing the saw to not start, which might save you money eventually.

Broken rewind spring

The rewind spring might be the cause of your saw not starting. The rewind spring is the spring that will rewind the starter cord once it has been pulled. In case the spring is broken, the starter cord won’t rewind, and you’ll be unable to start the chainsaw.

Here is how you can resolve this issue –

With most chainsaw models, you’ll need to replace the entire starter assembly once the rewind coil has been broken. If that’s the case, then it is recommended you should take it to a chainsaw mechanic to replace it, as they’ll have the necessary parts. Sometimes, your chainsaw model might only allow you to replace the rewind spring, if so, then you will find a replacement at most hardware stores. 

Blocked spark arrestor

If the spark arrestor has become blocked or clogged, then your chainsaw might not start, as the exhaust could be trapped inside the motor without any exit path. Luckily, there is an easy way to fix this.

Look at the chainsaw’s owner’s manual and see how you can reach the spark arrestor. After that, remove the spark plugs and clean them gently. After that, remove the spark arrestor and clean it gently. If you aren’t able to clean it, then you need to replace it. You will be able to find them at most hardware stores.


How can I start a stubborn chainsaw?

A chainsaw is a tool that can be started after priming the carburetor, as it will not work depending on the engine design. To start off, you need to activate the choke by moving the lever to the full choke position and then pulling the starter role 4–5 times.

What is wrong with my chainsaw?

If the chain isn’t starting rough, you might think that the carburetor is out of whack, it could also be a neglected air filter. It could lead to the spark plug if the filter is clogged and the ratio of air to gas in the carburetor is off.

What makes the chainsaw hard to pull?

If the pulley system is stuck or snagged, then the housing might be damaged, or the starter assembly can be sticky, which leads to the chainsaw being hard to pull.

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Hi, I'm Mike - but my friends call me Backyard Mike. I'm the founder of this website, and I'm addicted to outdoor power tools. I love to work with wood and share my knowledge here on this website with you. You can find more about me here.