Chainsaws are incredible machines that fill you with a sense of raw power, able to topple trees, cut down the biggest branches, and clear entire fields in a hurry.
But, like every other machine, chainsaws depend on oil to keep the chain lubricated and they have a bad habit of leaking when stored improperly.
Storing a chainsaw correctly involves a bit of preventative maintenance and placement. It needs to be in a dry area, with a cover or sheath over it, away from heat sources and placed vertically on the shelf or a clean, concrete/wood floor.
Of course, there’s more to it than that or, at least there are plenty of steps to ensure that your chainsaw never leaks.
Most people don’t take the time to do all of the steps, both in preventative maintenance and storage, but it’s a good idea to keep your chainsaw in great shape and avoid oil leaks.
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Preventative Steps to Take for Storing Your Chainsaw
Of course, not everybody is going to be able to take all of these preventative steps, however, you should at least do it if you know you are going to store your chainsaw away for a really long time:
- Remove the chain from the chainsaw entirely
- Clean the chain of all dirt and debris
- Wrap your chain up in clean cloth, newspaper, or heavy-duty napkins
- Store the wrapped chain in a plastic bag
- Drain the oil from the chainsaw
- Clean the chainsaw thoroughly and store it in a clean, dry, cool place
- Make sure you place the chainsaw in a vertical position
- Periodically check the chainsaw to ensure that it isn’t leaking
- Replace the oil in the chainsaw
This is how you store a chainsaw for the long term, such as in the summertime or when you are done cutting wood and have set the wood aside to season for a year.
Removing the chain entirely allows you to clean it thoroughly, so when you are storing your chainsaw for a long time, it’s the perfect opportunity to really take care of it.
Preventative maintenance is far more important than standard maintenance, as it ensures that there will be no mechanical malfunction on your end.
Coating the chain with oil will keep it well lubricated while it’s in storage and it will also fend off any oxidation, which results in rust along the length of the chain.
You want to wrap it up in a napkin, newspaper, cloth, or blanket to soak up the residual oil.
If you set the chainsaw vertically, with the chainsaw end pointing up, gravity will prevent your oil from leaking out.
That’s because the oil travels down the chain as the chainsaw is in operation, so there is an egress point just where the chain comes out from the body of the chainsaw.
Short-Term Chainsaw Storage
If you’re just going to store your chainsaw for a short period of time or overnight, you don’t have to go through all of that above hoopla.
The best thing that you can do is always be sure to store your chainsaw in a cool, dry area.
The cooler climate thickens the oil so it won’t flow as freely, especially if there is a leak. When you store it in a hot room, the oil is hot and far more fluid, enabling a leak if one exists.
For short-term storage, your steps are just as many but a little easier:
- Store your chainsaw in a cool, dry climate
- Keep your chainsaw in a plastic bag if you just can’t keep it from leaking
- Silicone spray is a good leak preventative you can use, though it’s entirely optional
- Keep your chain well oiled
- Add a cover or a sheath is another good option
- Clean the chainsaw thoroughly before storing it
- Be sure to use it often
If your chainsaw is older, there may not be a good way of storing it to prevent it from leaking at all, however, you can at least place it in a large plastic bag. You can catch the oil that way and reuse it or dump it, whichever you want to do.
Silicone spray is a good way to prevent or slow down a leak.
The spray goes directly onto the chainsaw blade, however, it’s best when you spray it on the chain close to where the chain comes out from the body of the chainsaw.
Keeping your chain well oiled is a no-brainer and although it won’t really stop a leak, it’s a preventative maintenance step that will keep your chainsaw from developing a leak down the road.
Covers or sheaths are also helpful and while they won’t stop a leak, they will help you keep your chainsaw from developing a leak.
Thoroughly cleaning your chainsaw after each use is also a good idea, regardless of whether or not it leaks.
Keep In Mind – Since this is a short-term storage solution, you should only take these short steps if you plan on using the chainsaw periodically.
There’s no sense in taking short-term storage steps if you are planning on leaving the chainsaw in the shop for the next two months.
What Causes a Chainsaw to Leak Oil?
Chainsaws are hardcore machines so it might not take much to get a good and steady leak going, even if you just drop the thing.
When you consider what a chainsaw does, it’s hard to believe it doesn’t spring a leak from day one.
What usually happens is the valve that is responsible for releasing the oil along the chain, is no longer able to maintain negative pressure on the oil reservoir and the oil seeps out when it’s not supposed to.
You could also have a crack in the oil tank, which is usually caused by impact damage. Unfortunately, impact damage is a common occurrence with chainsaws, considering what they are used for.
Don’t Forget – Sawdust is another common problem. When you are cutting through a tree trunk or a log, that does is flying back and some of it can end up on the chainsaw bar oil filter.
When too much of it gets in there, it might clog it up, causing oil to leak from the bar.
As you can see, these are all symptoms that can be either avoided through careful handling of the chainsaw or through preventative maintenance.
The above steps for short-term storage or long-term storage will neatly avoid some of these problems as well.
That’s why it’s highly important to give your chainsaw a good cleaning each and every time that you put it away, whether it’s for a day or for a year.
Cleaning the chainsaw guide bar after removing the chain will also help you avoid getting dust in and around the chainsaw bar oil filter.
Regardless of the scenario, the best way to keep the oil from sliding down the chain and bar when the chainsaw is stored is to simply set it down vertically and ensure that it won’t topple over on its own.
All Things Considered
The best to store a chainsaw, whether it’s for a short-term or long-term period involves a bit more than just tossing it in a corner and hoping for the best.
Storing it vertically, along with some good cleaning and preventative maintenance, will keep it from leaking or prevent a leak entirely.