Do Electric Chainsaws Overheat? [What You Need to Know]

Do electric chainsaws overheat?

Well, you’ve come to the right place, because in this post, I’ll be going over everything regarding electric chainsaws overheating.

What makes an electric chainsaw overheat?

There are two distinct sources of heat in any chainsaw. The motor is one source, and the cutting bar and chain being another source. Both the motor and cutting bar and chain can overheat, causing the chainsaw to overheat and ultimately damage your machine. 

Electric chainsaws and gas chainsaws have identical cutting bars, chains, and chain lubrication systems. So the reasons for “chain and bar” overheating will be the same in both Electric and Gas driven Chainsaws. The main reasons for overheating chains and bars are:

  • Dull saw-teeth that need sharpening, or rackers that need filing down.
  • Incorrect chain tension, both too tight and too loose can cause heat. 
  • Blocked lubrication system or empty chain oil reservoir.

Any electric motor can overheat, and the same applies to the electric motor of a chainsaw. The main reasons for an electric chainsaw’s motor overheating are the following

  • Poor ventilation.
  • Overuse – Cutting for too long without resting the motor, or working it too hard even for short bouts.
  • Faulty wiring or other electrical issues.
  • Electrical motor bearings are damaged.

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Signs of your electric chainsaw overheating

Various tell-tale signs indicate that your chainsaw is overheating. The earlier you recognize the problem, the less permanent damage might occur. 

I divide warning signs into two distinct categories. Leading indicators and emergency indicators. 

Leading indicators are early warning signs that something is amiss that could lead to an emergency if not dealt with soon. While emergency indicators tell you that your chainsaw is in the process of being damaged.

Leading indicators on the chain and bar include:

  • Slower cutting speeds.
  • A visibly loose chain or chain that runs slow due to resistance
  • Heated wood chips or sawdust.
  • Discoloration of the cutting bar. The metal gets darker when it heats to the point where metal fatigue may start setting in.

Emergency indicators on the chain and bar include:

  • Smoke billowing from the chain, the bar, or the chain sprocket cover.

Leading Indicators that the electric motor is faulty include:

  • Noisy running. This refers to the motor only when the chain and bar are not engaged. A damaged bearing may have a gritty sound.
  • Slower than normal running or the motor making a whining sound when operated.
  • The motor fan is blowing very hot air or isn’t blowing at all.

Emergency indicators for the electric motor include:

  • Smoke billowing from either the motor itself or cables close to the motor.
  • Glowing cables or active short circuits
  • Smoking, melting, or discoloration of the area’s that house the motor’s bearings

How to prevent it from overheating

Preventive maintenance is the best to ensure that you don’t run into trouble.

Always work with a sharp chain and make sure your rackers are filed down to the requisite cutting depth. Always check that the tension of the chain falls within the manufacturer’s specified tension profile.

Additionally, check the tension when the chain is cold, and then re-check after a few minutes of use. The tension should also be adjusted throughout the day as the metal stretches during operation. 

Ensure that your chain-oil reservoir is full enough to supply the feeder inlet. It’s very important to ensure that the oil supply is running and not clogged. 

To test this, hold the tip of the bar a few inches above a light-colored surface and run the saw flat-out for 20 to 30 seconds. You should see oil spatter accumulate on the surface below the chain. If the surface remains dry, your chain and bar are not being lubricated.

Electric motors are susceptible to water damage. Make sure your saw’s motor doesn’t get immersed in water or is left out in the rain. 

Electric motors are air-cooled, so it’s important to ensure adequate airflow. Ensure all air vents are clean and that air is moving freely throughout. Your electric motor has a fan that may become unattached to the drive shaft. 

It’s important to get to know the sound of a correctly running motor. Any strange noises should be checked out.

How to fix an overheating electric chainsaw

Debris inside of chainsaw

Let’s imagine that while you are working, smoke starts billowing from your chainsaw. Let go to the power lever immediately and let the chainsaw idle. If the smoke is emerging from the chain, the bar, or socket housing, switch the machine off and let it cool down. 

Don’t set it down where it can cause a fire or do additional damage, like with the overheated bar against a plastic object.

Follow the fault-finding tips mentioned above and undertake corrective action. You may need to get an expert opinion if the damage is extensive.

Electric motors that overheat may present the danger of electric shock or the cause of an electric fire. If you notice that the motor is the origin of the smoke, set the machine down immediately in a safe spot where it cannot cause a fire or present a danger to bystanders. 

See to it that you disconnect the electrical supply as soon as possible. Don’t just switch the power off, disconnect from the electrical source completely.

Once the saw has cooled down to the point where you can handle it, inspect the saw for the source of the smoke. 

Discoloration of the bearing housing may indicate that the problem is not electrical, and may simply require replacement bearings. 

Clogged air vents may indicate that poor airflow is responsible for overheating. Clean the vents, but be aware that your motor may have acquired damage that may require professional assessment.

If the problem is wiring, where you can visibly see melted wire insulation and discoloration of the insulation, the problem may require professional assessment and repair.

Once you have gone through the process of fault-finding and corrective action, you can try running the motor again. If the motor throws sparks, makes short-circuit noises, or any funny sounds, switch it off immediately and take it for a professional assessment.

If you are not certified to work safely on electrical devices, I would strongly recommend that you don’t endanger yourself as electrical shocks could be fatal. 

Conclusion

Can electric chainsaws overheat? Yes, electric chainsaws can overheat due to various reasons such as chainsaw tension being too tight, poor ventilation, overuse, dull teeth, and poor lubrication. It’s best practice to investigate the source of the heat/smoke or to take it to a professional.

Hope you found what you were looking for in this guide.

Happy sawing!

– Adam