When to Replace Chainsaw Chain

Last Updated on October 29, 2021 by Jason K. Long

Broken chain saw chain replacement.

A question I often get asked by newbies about the use of chainsaw is how they could replace its chain. Well, this frequently asked question is understandable because the chainsaw will soon lose its sharpness and become dull. Moreover, time will surely come when the owner of the chainsaw must replace his chainsaw chain. Thus, this question is very much relevant.

Of course, maintaining a chainsaw is crucial to the efficiency and effectiveness of the chainsaw. To prolong its usefulness, you need to oil it, sharpen it, and store it in a well-protected place. Besides, you need to replace its chain when required.

The chainsaw chain can last for a lifetime. Yet, realistically, the span of the usefulness of the chainsaw depends on several factors like how you use it, the chain type you are using, and the cut duration.

Factors that Bring About the Need for Chainsaw Chain Replacement

There are certain things that you should do to keep your chainsaw chain in optimal condition. Yet, there are also things you should avoid doing to keep it working well. So, if you want to keep your chainsaw chain working well, it will be best to avoid the following factors that could compromise its integrity:

Hitting Rocks

When you cut wood near the ground, you may accidentally hit a rock that damages the chainsaw chain. So, it will help if you avoid this incident as much as possible. Make sure that your chainsaw doesn’t hit any rock. 

Hitting a Nail

You should also ensure that the chainsaw chain will not hit any embedded nails when cutting wood branches or trees. Such an incident might compromise the integrity of the chain and shorten its lifespan. 

Lack of Lubrication

It will help if you lubricate the chainsaw chain because it is always subject to friction. Properly lubricating it will help avoid overheating. Moreover, it will ensure that the equipment will run efficiently. Nevertheless, you should choose the right lubricant for your chainsaw.


Since the chain is of metal make, it is usually susceptible to corrosion. Besides, improper oiling and cleaning may lead to corrosion. Furthermore, the way you store your chainsaw when not in use is contributory to the buildup of rust. Hence, it will help to know how to store your chainsaw correctly. Moreover, you should learn how to stave off the onset of corrosion by properly oiling and cleaning the chain every after use.

Using Your Chainsaw to Cut Ice and Frozen Wood

If you inhabit a place where winter is more pronounced, you might get tempted to use the chainsaw to cut ice. Of course, the chainsaw can cut through the ice, but ice can often wear the chain. Moreover, you might cut frozen wood inadvertently. Such wood can damage the chainsaw chain.

Telltale Signs You Need to Replace Your Chainsaw Chain

If you haven’t replaced your chainsaw chain after you’ve bought it, you might be scratching your head on how to do it. Besides, you might be asking too whether you need to replace it or not. So, if you are still indecisive about whether to replace the chain or not, it will help to know the following telltale signs that your chainsaw chain needs replacement:

Positioning Becomes a Challenge

A good indicator of the need to replace your chainsaw chain is when you find it hard to position on the wood. If your chainsaw is in optimum condition, you will find it easy to stabilize and set on the wood. But if the chainsaw is in bad shape, you will hear a rattling sound and feel a bouncing sensation when you position it. These two telltale signs indicate that your chainsaw chain might need replacement. 

The Chainsaw Fails to Pull Itself onto the Wood

When you use your chainsaw, you need a steady hand to cut through wood. You don’t need to force the issue or apply much pressure on the chainsaw. Yet, if you happen to find it hard to steady the chainsaw and you need to compress it to make it stable, you might need to replace the chain. You will find the chainsaw that is in optimum condition effortless when it burrows through the wood.

The Safety Lines for Polishing the Chain Has Been Exceeded!

Some indicators show how far you can polish the chain. If you have already exceeded these points, the chain might be at risk of falling apart. You might be at risk likewise of injuring yourself if the safety lines have already been breached. In such an instance, you might as well replace the chain. 

Smoking Chainsaw

If your chainsaw emits smoke when you use it, you should figure out if lubrication is the cause of such smoke. But if the source of the smoke is other than the lubrication, you should check further. A smoking chain may be indicative of the fact that the chain needs replacement.

Damaged Teeth or Missing Teeth

If you notice some broken, damaged, or missing teeth on your chain, then it is time to consider replacing the chain. Such missing teeth may put you at risk of injury if you go on using your chainsaw. So, it will be best to replace the chain to avoid such a risk. Remember, new chains aren’t that expensive. 

Other Possible Indicators

Other indicators include the need to force your chain onto the wood. A dull chain won’t cut into the wood. Thus, you might be forced to apply pressure. In such a case, you need to replace the chain. Moreover, a dull chain will cause stress on the chainsaw’s motor and may further dull the chain. 

The rattling of the chainsaw, of course, indicates the need to replace the chain. Moreover, if the chainsaw runs only in one direction, it may be indicative of the need to replace the chain. Besides, if the chain produces fine dust instead of coarse strands, you might as well replace your chain.

My Personal Advice: Sharpen Before Considering Replacement of Chain

Any equipment with moving parts needs maintenance. With moving parts, friction will happen, and thus, wear and tear increase. Before you consider replacing the chains, it will help if you first consider sharpening the chain. 

You can sharpen the chain ten times before it becomes too short and needs replacement. You can likewise replace the chain instead of sharpening it if you are using a low-cost chain. To sharpen a chain, you need to know how to file it. You can grab yourself a file and figure out the right way to sharpen the chain.

Frequently Asked Questions about Chain Replacement

Aside from knowing the factors contributory to the onset of the malfunctioning of the chainsaw chain, you might also benefit from the FAQs about chainsaw chain replacement, for these FAQs might also be the questions you have in your mind:

How Often Should You Sharpen Your Chainsaw?

You will intuitively know when your chainsaw already needs sharpening. In fact, you will feel the need. Yet, experts will recommend that you sharpen the chain every five hours of use. If you do so, you will never experience having to belabor the cutting process. You’ll also get optimum performance from your chainsaw. 

How Many Times Times Can You Sharpen Your Chainsaw Chain?

Anything that experiences friction will eventually wear off. Similarly, your chainsaw will dull after several usages. But you can sharpen its chain to keep the chainsaw on its optimal level of performance. But time will come when you could no longer sharpen your chainsaw chain. So, an excellent chainsaw chain can be sharpened five times. After that, you need to replace the chain.

Nevertheless, the maximum number of times you can sharpen a chainsaw chain depends on how you use it and maintain it. If you often hit rocks and metal when you cut wood, you can expect your chain to become dull faster and get damaged beyond sharpening. So, make sure you use the chainsaw in the right way and avoid the abovementioned factors that need to be avoided.


If you live in a farmhouse, you will indeed need a chainsaw. Yet, even if you are not living in a farmhouse but have plenty of trees in your yard, you will surely need a chainsaw. Chainsaw can also come in handy after a hurricane wherein you got to clear the debris of fallen branches. So, the chainsaw is indeed a handy tool. The truth is—not all chainsaws are equally made. So, when buying a chainsaw, it will be best to choose the best for your use. 

If you buy a cheap chainsaw, you may end up having a chainsaw with a poor chain. So, it is best to go for trusted brands in the manufacturing of chainsaws. With excellent chainsaws, you can sharpen the chains several times before the chain becomes unusable. Of course, the abovementioned factors and tips will help you know when your chainsaw chain has reached the end of the line and needs replacement.

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