How to Tell if a Chainsaw Chain is Bad (5 Ways)

Bad chainsaw chains are more than just a nuisance – they’re downright dangerous. A dull or damaged chain can cause the chainsaw to kick back, which can lead to serious injury. Fortunately, there are several telltale signs that a chainsaw chain is on its last legs.

Let’s look at a few ways you can spot a bad chainsaw chain so you can replace it before it causes any damage.

How to Tell if a Chainsaw Chain is Bad (5 Ways)

5 Ways To Tell If Your Chainsaw Chain Is Bad

1. Look for wear and tear

The first way to tell if your chainsaw chain is bad is by looking for visible wear and tear. Over time, as the chain is used, it will start to stretch out and the teeth will become dull. Inspect your chain regularly to look for any obvious signs of wear and tear.

2. Check the depth gauges

The depth gauges are the small metal pieces that protrude from the side of the cutter link in between the teeth. The purpose of the depth gauge is to help control the amount of wood that’s cut with each stroke as well as kickback forces. With regular use, the depth gauges will slowly wear down. Use a feeler gauge to check the depth of the depth gauges. If they’re too low, then it’s time for a new chain.

3. Look at the cutters

The cutters are the sharp teeth on the chain that do the cutting. With regular use, they will also become dull and rounded off. You can use a file to sharpen them but eventually, they will need to be replaced entirely. Inspect all of the cutters to see if they’re still sharp and pointed. If not, then it might be time for a new chain saw chain.

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4. Is the Chain Slipping Off the Bar

Another sign that your chainsaw chain is due for a replacement is if it slips off the bar while you’re using it. This usually happens when the chain is bad and has become too loose. Not only does this make the chainsaw more difficult to use, but it’s also extremely dangerous. If the chain comes off while the saw is in operation, it could cause serious injury.

5. Are the depth gauges worn?

The depth gauges are the small metal pieces that protrude from between the chain’s teeth. They control how deep the teeth cut into the wood. If they’re worn down, it means that the teeth will be cutting too deeply, which will put unnecessary strain on the saw and make it more difficult to control.

How Often Should You Replace Your Chainsaw Chain?

Ideally, you should replace your chainsaw chain before it gets too worn out. How often you replace your chainsaw chain will depend on how often you use the saw and what kind of material you’re cutting through.

If you only ever use your saw for light work around the house, you might be able to get away with replacing it every year or two. However, if you’re a professional logger who uses your saw daily, you might need to replace it every few months.

Overall, the key is to stay on top of chain maintenance and keep an eye out for potential signs that your chainsaw chain might be bad. With regular inspections and care, you can help ensure that your chainsaw chain remains in good working condition.

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Final Thoughts

Chainsaw chains don’t last forever—eventually, they will become too worn out and need to be replaced. But how can you tell when that time has come?

There are several different signs that your chainsaw chain is due for a replacement, including dull teeth, worn-down depth gauges, and an excessively loose or tight chain.

Ideally, you should replace your chainsaw chain before it gets too worn out; however, how often you need to do so will depend on how often you use the saw and what kind of material you’re cutting through.