Chainsaw Won’t Start: 6 Things To Check

chainsaw won't startThere are many reasons why your chainsaw won’t start. If you have pulled on the cord until your shoulder feels ready to pop out of its socket, and that engine still won’t rumble to life, you have a problem. It could be because of poor maintenance, it could be because of the wrong gas, or it could be an internal part is broken.

Whatever the case, you need to learn how to fix your chainsaw. A chainsaw that won’t start is not good for anybody. You can’t get any work done, your stress level is probably through the roof, and you don’t know what to do.

But don’t worry. Today we will take a look at the top reasons why a chainsaw won’t start. Not only that, but I will tell you how to fix whatever the problem is. Most solutions are easy, involving a simple tweak or a simple replacement part. Let’s take a look.

Spark Plug

chainsaw spark plugSpark plugs are important. Without a working spark plug, there is no way your chainsaw will ever start. If you have a defective spark plug, all you need to do is replace it. But how do you know if the spark plug is broken?

To find out whether your spark plug has died or not, you need to open the guts of the machine and take the spark plug out. If the insulator is cracked, or if one of the electrodes has been burned away or completely ruined, you need a new spark plug. There may also be carbon buildup on the spark plug, which will look a little like caked dirt.

One look will determine the situation of your spark plug. You will easily be able to tell if it has burned out. The solution is as easy as taking the spark plug out of your chainsaw, bringing it to a hardware store, and asking for a replacement.


If you have a clogged carburetor, your chainsaw won’t start. This generally happens when leaving fuel in the chainsaw for too long. If you have just retrieved your chainsaw after a long spell of not using it, and there is still gasoline in the machine, it is probably clogging your carburetor. This will prevent your engine from starting.

If the carburetor appears to be clogged, you can try cleaning it with a special cleaner that you can pick up from your local hardware store. You can also try blowing it clear with an air hose. However, if the carburetor can’t be cleaned, it must be replaced.

Ignition Coil

The ignition coil is what starts your engine. It works by sending voltage to the spark plug so that the chainsaw engine can start running. If the ignition coil is no longer working, your engine is probably not going to start.

First, check the spark plug. If the spark plug looks fine and not defective, you will have to test the ignition coil by using a special ignition coil tester. However, this whole process can be time consuming and annoying. It may be worth just getting a new chainsaw at this point.

Alternatively, you can take the chainsaw to a hardware store and see if they will let you use their ignition coil tester. If it proves defective, the replacement part is pretty cheap.

Read More: Chainsaw Maintenance – The Ultimate Guide

Air Filter

One of the big reasons anything won’t start is because the air filter is clogged. Any kind of combustion engine needs oxygen to start, and if the air filter is clogged then there is no oxygen reaching the engine. This will prevent any kind of combustion from happening.

To rectify the situation, simply take out your air filter and look at it. If it appears to be clogged with dirt and dust, clean it off and put it back in. Then make a mental note to purchase a new air filter ASAP.

Pull Cord

Everything inside your chainsaw could be fine. It could actually be the pull cord not allowing your chainsaw to start. The pull cord is what you yank on to get the engine running, and if something is out of whack with the cord, it can’t do its job of starting the engine.

The most common problem is that the spring attached to the starter is not working correctly. The spring is not pushing the internal parts of the chainsaw when it is pulled and then released. If you are yanking on the pull cord repeatedly and there is no sound and nothing is happening, you may need a new rewind spring or an entirely new pull cord assembly.

Flooded Engine & Fuel Problems

motor oilYou could have a flooded engine. Assuming your chainsaw is full of fuel and still won’t start, you may have accidentally flooded your engine without even knowing it. It could be that you have too much fuel and when you tried to start the first time there was a massive flood directly into your engine. Try putting the tool down, walking away for 30 minutes, and letting the gas evaporate. Then you can start again.

Some other problems could be a dirty fuel filter or an engine that is too hot. If your fuel filter is dirty, there might not be enough fuel getting where it needs to go. This ultimately leads to a clogged carburetor. Take a quick look at your fuel filter and make sure it is clean and the fuel can easily flow through it. If it isn’t clean, use some carburetor cleaner to rinse it out. This will hopefully unclog any residue that is preventing the right amount of gas from entering.

Also, if you have been using your chainsaw for the day and it suddenly won’t start anymore, it might be too hot. As with flooding the engine, try putting your chainsaw down for a while. Go eat a sandwich. Come back when the chainsaw is cool, and you may find it starts no problem.

Read More: Starting A Chainsaw – Do It Like A Pro!

Randy Peterson Cutter Life

Randy Peterson

Randy is a chainsaw enthusiast and an experienced lumberjack. He'll most likely be found cutting, chopping, and trimming trees, usually working with a wide variety of tools. Randy likes the outdoors and socializing with friends.