Working out how to winterize a chainsaw is a reasonably simple process.
If you want your chainsaw to last as long as possible then taking the time to prepare it for a long hibernation is essential, though.
Corrosion, thermal expansion and contraction, and other factors can all take their toll on your machine over the winter and you need to put in the time to ensure that they don’t degrade the saw while it is stored away.
With some work and careful preparation, your chainsaw will be ready to go next spring-time and you can then get straight into chopping wood when the weather starts to warm.
As we know, chainsaws are ideal for lots of uses, especially around the home and backyard, whether it’s felling trees, cutting back hedges or for the harvesting of firewood. They really are the heavy hitters for garden pruning.
How-to Guide to Prepare Your Chainsaw for Winter
- Clean the Chainsaw
Storing the chainsaw in a dirty state will cause all manner of problems and make it harder to start using it again when you need it next summer, so the first thing you should do is give it a clean.
Wipe it down with rags and brush off any loose muck. Remove the chain gear cover and clean out all the oily sawdust and dirt.
- Drain Out the Fuel
The fuel in the machine is a potential fire risk if left in the tank and will also evaporate over time causing wastage and air-pollution in your storage shed. Where possible it’s best to pour it back into the fuel can before storage to prevent these issues.
For most machines, you should be able to remove the fuel cap and just upend the chainsaw and pour the fuel back into the can. Use a funnel if needed.
You may also be able to remove the plastic fuel line and allow the fuel to drain into the can via this line.
- Clean the Air Filter
Remove the air filter from the machine and inspect it. If it has a paper element then check if it needs replacing and replace it if needed.
If it doesn’t need replacing then tap out any dust that has accumulated on it and wipe off any grot with an oily rag.
Wash the foam element thoroughly in warm water and detergent and then let it dry out fully. Once it is dry, squirt some oil onto it and squeeze it to ensure the oil spreads uniformly through the foam.
Get an oily rag and use it to wipe away any grot that has accumulated inside the air filter housing. Pay special attention to the sections that are meant to take filtered air to the carburetor.
Once you are done, reassemble and re-insert the air filter.
- Service the Spark Plug
When you are ready to use the chainsaw again you will want it to start up with as little fuss as possible. Before you put it into storage you should take the time to perform maintenance on the spark plug to ensure it starts smoothly.
Remove the plug and take a look at it. If there is excessive pitting and carbonization then you will want to replace the plug. If not then use a spark plug file to file smooth the surfaces of the electrodes that the spark arcs between.
Use a wire brush to clean off the plug electrodes. Then adjust the gap between the electrodes using a feeler gauge or similar tool. You may also want to spray some penetrating oil over the spark plug electrodes to prevent rusting over the winter.
- Sharpen the Chain
You should also take the time to sharpen the chain ready for next summer. This will make it easier to get started when you need the saw again.
After sharpening the chain, tighten it up a bit to take out most of the slack. Avoid over-tightening it though as this will cause stretching when the chain shrinks during the cold winter months.
Always ensure you leave enough slack to allow for thermal contraction over the winter.
- Oil the Chain and Bar
Over the winter months, moisture in the air will settle on the chainsaw and cause corrosion issues with some metal parts, such as those made of steel.
The bar and chain are particularly susceptible to this as the bar has a large surface area and the chain links have complex geometry that can retain water.
Before you store your chainsaw, take the time to apply a thin layer of sticky chain oil to the chain and bar.
If the machine has been used recently then the chain is probably reasonably well-oiled but if not then just use an oil-can to squirt some oil onto the links.
Temporarily remove the spark plug cap to prevent the machine from starting, disengage the chain brake, and then use a suitable tool to pull the chain around so that you can oil all of its length.
Once you are done with the chain use a piece of rag or paper to smear the excess oil onto the bar
- Cover the Machine with a Tarp
After you’ve oiled the chain and bar the last thing you need is to have dust settling onto the machine and mixing into the oil. That will cause the oil to be less effective at keeping corrosion at bay and will introduce issues with friction and abrasion when the machine is used again.
So find a piece of waste plastic, an old tarp, or a plastic garbage bag to wrap the machine up in and keep the dust off. You’ll thank yourself come spring-time when you need to use the machine again.