What to do if your chainsaw won't stay running

Man wearing protective outdoor gear using a chainsaw to cut through a tree trunk.
(Image credit: Getty)

Nothing compares to the satisfaction of completing a tough job with a chainsaw. But it can be frustrating if you experience problems. Here, we’ll walk you through what to do if your chainsaw won’t stay running. 

Learning troubleshooting skills can build your confidence and avoid costly repairs. We’ve asked an expert to give us tips about what to do if your chainsaw won’t stay running. Taking good care of your device can extend its lifespan and make the most of your investment. 

Chainsaws are loaded with power, enabling you to make light work of the most demanding gardening and DIY tasks. With these steps, you should be able to get your chainsaw up and running again. If, however, you need a replacement, check out our guide to the best chainsaws (opens in new tab). For those set on purchasing a new tool, it's worth exploring cheap chainsaw deals (opens in new tab) to ensure you're getting the best pick that suits your needs and budget. 

For now, we’ll dive into what to do if your chainsaw won’t stay running.

What to do if your chainsaw won’t stay running 

Headshot of a woman with brown curly hair smiling at camera.
Melody Estes

Melody Estes is a Landscape Design Gardening Supervisor from Maine and a consultant for The Project Girl (opens in new tab), where she offers her expertise on taking care of your yard. 

Unsure what to do if your chainsaw won’t stay running? Follow these troubleshooting steps.

Fuel is a common culprit behind engine problems. “Start by checking the fuel tank. If it's empty or low on fuel, add more fuel into the tank and try again,” says Melody Estes, Landscape Design Gardening Supervisor and a consultant at The Project Girl (opens in new tab)

Has your chainsaw been gathering dust? If your chainsaw is unused for over 30 days, the fuel tends to become stale and sticky, which affects performance. If you suspect this is the case, drain the old fuel and replace it. Sticky fuel can clog the fuel filter and the carburetor. Clean both and check whether that resolves the issue. 

“If that doesn't work, check the spark plug. It should be connected securely to the engine and in good condition—if not, remove it and clean it with a wire brush before replacing it,” advises Melody.

If the engine stops when you hit the throttle, take it as a clue that the problem is the spark arrester. Clean it with a soft wire brush.

The weather is another factor. Cold conditions can affect your chainsaw performance. Try pulling out the choke and see if that helps. 

If you smell fuel, it’s a tell-tale sign that your chainsaw is flooded. Follow the steps in our guide to how to unflood your chainsaw. 

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Louise Bond is a UK-based writer specializing in health and wellbeing. She has over eight years of experience in management within health and care and brings this passion and expertise to her writing. Louise has been published in The Guardian, Live Science, Fit & Well, Tom’s Guide, Planet Mindful, Breathe, and Psychreg. She is at her happiest when she is out in nature, whether that’s on an invigorating hike or pottering in the garden.

With contributions from