How to Clean Electric Chainsaw?

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An electric chainsaw can tackle tough and gritty outdoor jobs, but at the end of the day, it will look pretty grimy. Sawdust and dirt can affect the performance of your chainsaw as well as decrease its lifespan. Make cleaning your electric chainsaw an essential part of your maintenance routine with this easy guide. 

How to Clean Electric Chainsaw?

The easiest way to clean an electric chainsaw is to use compressed air. Cans of compressed air are probably not powerful enough to remove the grit and grime that accumulates on a chainsaw during heavy use. Instead, you will need to use a pancake compressor or similar device to provide a steady flow of forced air. 

If you don’t have access to an air compressor, that doesn’t mean you can’t clean your chainsaw. A combination of soaking in degreasing agents and scrubbing with wire brushes gets great results.

1. Use Compressed Air

If you have an air compressor, you can use it to quickly get the grit off your chainsaw at the end of each work session. 

  1. Work outside. Avoid transferring the debris from the chainsaw to your workspace by completing this project outside, ideally on an outdoor workbench. 
  2. Respect safety protocols. Never spray compressed air at human flesh. Keep the nozzle pointed away from your face at all times. Clear the cleaning area of other humans and animals before cleaning, as wood chips can easily become projectiles. 
  3. Secure the chainsaw bar. Use a vise to grip the bar of the chainsaw and hold it in place. Adjust the jaws of the vise so that they only hold the bar, allowing the chain to rotate. 
  4. Wear safety glasses. Compressed air can fling debris in all directions, and you don’t want any wood chips or splinters injuring your eyes. Put a pair of safety glasses on before you start this project. 
  5. Attach a cone-shaped nozzle. A standard cone-shaped nozzle directs the flow of the pressurized air, allowing you to control where it sprays. 
  6. Start the compressor. Use a maximum PSI of 30 or less. This minimizes your chances of experiencing an air compressor cleaning injury.
  7. Clean the chain. Use one hand to hold the nozzle of the air compressor against the chain. Use the finger and thumb of the other hand to move the chain through the flow of air, spraying it clean. Switch to the other side of the bar and repeat the process to make sure the chain is thoroughly cleaned out. 
  8. Clean the oiler holes. On the bar of the chainsaw are a number of small holes, through which oil flows during chainsaw operation. These keep the chain and bar lubricated. Spray out the oiler holes from both sides of the bar. 
  9. Expose and clean the sprocket nose. Remove the plastic cover that conceals the sprocket nose. Spray the inside and outside of the cover with air, and blow away any debris from around the sprocket nose. 
  10. Carefully blow air across the air filter. Lower the PSI. Blow the pressurized air across the surface of the air filter to clear out any loose debris. Avoid spraying the air filter directly, as it could have the unintended effect of pushing dust further into the machine. 
  11. Clean the bar groove. Disconnect the bar from the motor and remove the chain. Blow air into the grooves around the bar, aiming the air from different directions to ensure every nook and cranny is cleaned out. 
  12. Clean the oil and gas caps. Dust, dirt, or debris can easily fall inside your oil or gas reservoir. Blasting these areas with pressurized air will remove all the grit from around the caps so that nothing falls in the tank when you refuel. 

2. Use a Wire Brush 

A wire brush can also be used to help remove the grit and grime from an electric chainsaw

  1. Assemble your tools. A few stainless steel wire brushes of different sizes will be used for most of the cleaning tasks. You’ll also want some one-inch bristle brushes, a universal cleaner of some kind, a thin pick or screwdriver, and a lubricant/degreaser combination.
  2. Disassemble your chainsaw. Disconnect the chainsaw from power and unmount the bar. Remove the chain. 
  3. Put on protection. Use gloves and eye protection while completing this task. 
  4. Soak the chain. Place the chain in a cup or bucket filled with a degreaser/cleaner. Turpentine is one option, or you can mix water and ammonia together. Stay in a well-ventilated area. After ten minutes, the dirt should be sufficiently loosened to remove with the wire brushes. When the chain is clean, dip it in bar oil and wipe excess oil off with a clean rag. This is also a good time to replace the chain if its old and worn. New chainsaw chains are relatively cheap compared to the benefit you get from them.
  5. Clean the bar. Dip the bar in a bucket of warm soapy water or a combination of water and degreaser. Soak for about ten minutes. Use the wire brushes to thoroughly scrub the bar. Pay special attention to the groove that runs along the edge of the bar, as this is a prime candidate for gunky oil and sawdust to build up. Use a scraper tool or putty knife to clean out the grooves. 
  6. Clean the oiler holes. Use a pick or screwdriver to make sure the oiler holes are clear. There should be several of these holes along the chainsaw bar. As oil passes through them while the chainsaw is cutting, they attract sawdust and bits of wood, clogging the holes. Clogged holes prevent the spread of oil to the bar and chain, which can lead to malfunctions. 
  7. Lubricate the bar and leave it to dry. Spray the bar with a lubricant/degreaser and let it sit for 30 minutes or so, then wipe it with a clean rag. 
  8. Use bristle brushes to clean the powerhead. Brush off dirt that is clinging to the crankcase area, clutch drum, and bar studs. Remove the covers and brush the area around the sprocket nose, as well as the oiler port. Brush off the oil and gas caps. 

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Conclusion

You can clean an electric chainsaw using compressed air or wire brushes and an appropriate cleanser. All the parts of the chainsaw must be cleaned, including the bar and bar groove, the chain, the powerhead, and the oil and gas caps. 

Ellenkate grew up on job sites run by her family’s construction company. She earned her theater degree from The Hartt School, a prestigious performing arts conservatory in Connecticut. Her design and DIY work from her Chicago loft was featured in the Chicago Reader and on Apartment Therapy.