When to Replace Chainsaw Chain? Learn Details – Toolsadvisorpro

When to replace chainsaw chain

Chainsaws make our lives easier.

Thanks to this machine, we can chop down large chunks of wood with zero to little effort.

But just like the two sides of a coin, the chainsaw has its cons too.

Even if you’re not a regular user but still sometimes you’ll feel that you’re giving a lot more effort while using a chainsaw.

Your saw may feel somewhat sluggish or your cuts may take longer. You even might find yourself constantly fighting a bound or thrown chain.

All these symptoms are the answer to one question. Which is-

When to replace the chainsaw chain?

However, there’s more to these symptoms. We’ve gathered around some symptoms that tell you to change your chainsaw chain.

So, let’s jump right into details-

Chain Parts Related with Chain Replacement

Before jumping right into the symptoms, we believe that you should know a bit about the chain parts and how these parts wear out.

Some of the problems can be avoided with oiling and some might have no prevention method. So, let’s get going-

Drive Links

Drive links are actually metal teeth on the opposite of cutting teeth. These drive links fit in the groove of the guide bar. This allows the chain to spin safely and efficiently along the chainsaw bar.

The drive link may fail to work for two reasons-

  1. Drive link gets damaged and doesn’t sit properly
  2. Poor oiling leads to binding and drives link doesn’t sit properly

Proper oiling can prevent the chain from binding.

Right and Left Cutters

These are the long and sharp teeth found throughout the whole chain. Basically, these cutters do all the main cutting. These teeth alternate one another ensuring an even and balanced cut.

Here’s the thing-

These cutters become dull together and need regular maintenance. A rule of thumb is for every gallon of gas, these cutters must be sharpened.

Using dull cutters is bad for the chain and will result in bad performance. So, either maintain the sharpness or change the chain later on.

Depth Gauge

As the name suggests, this part actually deals with cutting depth. These fin-like blades wear with time. These depth gauges should be filled after wearing them. If not, then these would create inefficient sawdust.

So, worn out depth gauges should be filled to the previous heights. If not maintained in time, then these would cost you a chain replacement.

Take care of these parts in time to avoid short term chain replacement. However, you’ll need to change your chainsaw chain at some point in your life no matter how much you take care of your chain parts.

Symptoms of Dull Chain

As we’ve stated earlier, there are some clear reasons that indicate chain replacement.

Here’s the thing-

If you’re facing problems in your new chain then with some extra attention you can resurrect it. But if your chain has seen many sharpening and gauge adjustments, then it’s better to replace it.

So, here are some common symptoms of chain wearing-

Broken Teeth or Uneven Teeth

Logs are not always clear. From embedded nail to even stones, all sorts of stuff can be found in logs. So, it’s not impossible for your chainsaw to cut through a nail or stone or something hard like that.

The real problem comes after cutting. The teeth that dealt with the hard object gets damaged. Most of the times, this damage goes unnoticed.

The more this damage goes unnoticed, the more it damages your chain. Soon, this damage leads to an unrepairable chain.

Chain Tension Loss

Does your chain tension need a fix once in a while?

If yes, then you probably have to replace your chain.

You chain takes in a lot of the cutting force. With time, your chain starts to stretch. This causes the straps to lose their ability to stay tight.

As a result, chain teeth lose their ability to stay properly connected to the bar.

This is a serious problem and solves the situation as soon as possible. A loose chain can bind up when cutting or can create kickbacks or can even snap. And you really don’t want a hit from a snapped chainsaw chain.


Smoke is bad for any machine. Normally, lubrication and tension problem results in smoke. But these are not always the reason.

Sometimes it’s the chain wearing against the wood instead of cutting it.

If you see any smoke, then lube the chain and fix any tension problem. Even after this, if you see smoke, then change your chain.


Every machine wears out with time. Cutting teeth in the chainsaw will wear out with time and you’ll have to maintain those regularly.

At some point, your depth gauges and cutting teeth will be completely worn out. At that point, you cannot adjust or sharpen your chain parts anymore and that’s the end of your chain life.

As a symptom to this, you’ll see fine sawdust while cutting. A new chain would throw out wood chips rather than fine dust.

If you see sawdust, then replace your chainsaw chain.

Other Symptoms

Other than these symptoms if you feel lack of balance, uneven cuts or rattles while cutting then you should change the chain.

Good Chain Indicators

There are three things to look for in a new chain.

These are, pitch, gauge and drive link number.

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Replace a Chain on a Chainsaw –


Don’t ignore chainsaw chain problems. These symptoms will hamper your regular work and are easily noticeable.

A chain snap can take you to the hospital or can even kill you.

So, replace your chainsaw chain as soon as possible.

Good luck.

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