Why Is My Chainsaw Smoking?

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Are you a chainsaw user who frequently splits wood, but you’ve noticed your chainsaw smoking and don’t know why? If yes, then you’re lucky because you are in the right place.

Chainsaw smoking usually occurs when your chainsaw’s chain/bar gets too hot or if there is something wrong with the fuel. By narrowing down the potential causes quickly, by identifying if the smoke is coming from the engine or from the chain/bar. Once you’re aware of the source of the smoke, it’ll be easier to resolve the issue. Either way, this guide will be helpful for the latter as well.

In this guide, you will get to know all about chainsaw smoking, potential reasons why is my chainsaw smoking, solutions to fix the chainsaw smoking issue, and more. Continue reading to get all the answers that you are looking for.

Chainsaw smoking, a common issue among beginners

Homeowners buy chainsaws for different reasons. For some users, it could be for personal adventures, while others could use it for professional or private use. In all cases, everyone begins working with the chainsaw as a beginner. 

This is why many users are unaware of its working, and they come across certain issues that get them worried.

One of the common issues that make chainsaw users worry is smoke coming out of the chainsaw. You’re working with your tried and tested chainsaw, and suddenly, it starts producing huge smoke.

You might start thinking that there is some big issue with your chainsaw, or maybe you’ve wasted your money with this costly machine. However, this is not the case. Chainsaw smoking is more common than you think, and it can be easily resolved.

Potential reasons why is my chainsaw smoking

First, you will need to find the area or component from which the smoke is coming out. It could either be that the engine is producing smoke, or the chain/bar could be the problem. Similar to your own body, once you know where actually it is aching, only then will you be able to diagnose the problem and apply some remedy for it. The same will be the case with the chainsaw. First, you will have to identify the location of the smoke so that you can properly understand the actual problem.

Here are some of the reasons why chainsaw smokes and which components are causing the issue.

1. Dirty air filter

Your chainsaw contains an air filter for regulating the flow of air in the chainsaw. While you’re splitting or cutting wood, some waste in the wood can get accumulated in the filter and ultimately shock it. Therefore, the air isn’t able to pass through it and your chainsaw starts heating up.

In the case of a dirty air filter, it’ll damage the engine of the chainsaw and result in smoke. If it isn’t handled properly, it could lead to worse damage. Moreover, in the case of battery-operated chainsaws, it can lead to poor performance and severe damage. As a result, your chainsaw can start producing white smoke.

2. Excess oil in the oil-gas mixture

Are you worried as your chainsaw is maintained and managed perfectly, but it is still producing huge smoke? Do not worry as there could be an obvious problem. This could be because of the oil-gas mixture that you’re using in the chainsaw as fuel. Properly oiling your chainsaw isn’t always enough, as you need to be cautious about the ratio of oil and gasoline. If the ration isn’t properly balanced, then your chainsaw can result in problems, including smoke.

3. Poor oil and friction

When you’re using a gas-powered chainsaw, it usually faces a lot of friction. The friction usually occurs at two levels. At one level, the metal-to-metal friction between the metal of the chainsaw bar and the chainsaw chain. Meanwhile, the other level of friction is friction between the metal of the chainsaw chain and the wood that you’re cutting.

This forceful friction will put a lot of pressure on the chainsaw while you’re cutting. This can produce smoke if it isn’t oiled properly.

A person cutting a tree using a chainsaw with smoke

4. Dull or unsharpened chainsaw chain

A dull or unsharpened chainsaw chain is one of the biggest reasons for smoke coming out of your chainsaw. It can result in huge problems other than the fact that it produces smoke. You must be aware of the right time to sharpen the chainsaw chain. If you’re feeling more pressure while splitting logs or cutting wood or if it is creating fine dust of wood as waste, then these are the signs to consider. You need to pay attention to these signs and sharpen your chainsaw’s chain right away.

5. Tight chain

One of the key reasons for the smoke coming out of your chainsaw is that you’ve got a tight chain. You must be careful about the tension of your chainsaw chain over the bar. Otherwise, you could end up damaging both your chainsaw and chain badly.

The chainsaw chain shouldn’t be too loose or too tight. For checking the perfect tension of the chainsaw chain, there is a thumb rule. You must push the chainsaw chain in an upward direction and see if it gets raised a bit and doesn’t remove the drive link from the bar nose, then it has got perfect tension.

Solutions to fix the chainsaw smoking issue

Clean the air filter

The solution to having a dirty air filter is effortless, and all it’ll require is a bit of care and attention toward your chainsaw. You need to keep cleaning the air filter after every 5–6 hours of use or after 2-3 times use. Taking care of these small aspects of a chainsaw will give it a longer life while preventing damage. Further, it’ll also help you avoid any smoke coming out of your chainsaw. 

Having the right amount of oil in the oil-gas mixture

To prevent the issue of having excess oil in the oil-gas mixture, you must check the user guide manual that you get with the chainsaw. If you’re unable to find the manual, you can simply head over to Google and, from there, find the perfect oil-gas mixture ratio for your chainsaw.

Once you know the perfect ratio of fuel, you should take a measuring beaker and mix the oil and gasoline accordingly. If you remember the ration that you’ve already used in your chainsaw previously, you can easily refill it by adding oil and gasoline accordingly. In the other case, you can discard it and add fresh fuel to it.

One more thing that you should care about is that the fuel must be clean. Check for any impurities. In case there are any, then you must change them. Always make use of the best quality and fresh fuel for the chainsaw. These small things matter a lot, and you’ll definitely see the difference in terms of performance.

Proper oiling to prevent chainsaw smoking

Having the wrong level of oiling could result in friction and get your chainsaw smoking. To resist such huge friction, your chainsaw needs to have proper oiling. You need to keep checking for the oil and ensure that every part that has to be oiled is properly oiled.

Keep the chainsaw chain sharpened

Sharpening the chainsaw chain timely will be of great importance if you wish to get the most out of it. When you’re managing and taking care of your chainsaw, it will likely last for a longer period. Therefore, you must keep your chainsaw in great working condition and fulfill the necessary requirements.

Sharpen the chainsaw chain properly. Start off by sharpening the chain teeth, then sharpen the rakers, and at the end, you should check for the bar of the chainsaw. There are many guides available regarding the sharpening of the chainsaw.

Follow the steps to sharpen the chainsaw and sharpen the chainsaw chain timely and regularly. This way, you will not face any difficulty in cutting while also being able to avoid any chainsaw smoking issues.

Tight chain

Having a properly tightened chainsaw chain will prevent smoke or any other type of damage to the chainsaw. Make sure you’ve got the right amount of tension on the chainsaw chain by pinching it with your thumb.

My chainsaw is smoking and overheating


What happens if you end up overheating the chainsaw?

If you’re unfortunate to run your chainsaw until it overheats, then it is possible that there could be irreparable damage to the pistons and cylinder head. Allow the chainsaw engine to cool down completely and try to restart it.

Why is white smoke coming out of your chainsaw?

There are multiple reasons why a chainsaw produces smoke, but one of the biggest reasons for white smoke is using bad quality fuel or inappropriate oil-gas ratio in the fuel.

To prevent that, your quality of fuel needs to be good, and it must be fresh. Check if there are any impurities in the oil-gas mixture, if there are any you should change it immediately. Moreover, read the user manual to know the perfect ratio of oil and gasoline.

Is it normal for a chainsaw 2-stroke engine to smoke?

Since the chainsaw engine is burning pre-mix oil, you must be careful there are white smoke is a common issue for two-stroke engine operation. Moreover, excessive smoke after warm-up could be an indicator that there are problems with your chainsaw.

Why does my chainsaw smoke on startup?

Chainsaw smoking on startup could occur due to insufficient oiling to the chainsaw. Due to the friction that the chainsaw faces, a lot of smoke gets produced. You must oil the chainsaw properly to avoid any smoking or other issues. If you don’t oil your chainsaw properly, it could end up damaging the engine.

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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.