When and how to change the air filter of your chainsaw

Thursday, January 3, 2019
dirt air filter on a chinsaw stihl

I have to admit I first learned about changing filters from our vacuum cleaner as a kid.

It was an old, barely holding together thing that seemed to need its filter cleaned every 15 seconds of use otherwise it simply wouldn't run properly.

And neither will your chainsaw if it cannot suck any oxygen into the engine. This means the fuel will not burn efficiently and the performance of your cutting machine will reduce. 

How often should I replace or clean the chainsaw air filter?


If you are a SUPER MAINTENANCE OF THE CHAINSAW kind of guy, then the air filter could be cleaned after eight hours of steady use, but truly, who has time for that?

Definitely, do it at the start of the cutting season (if you have one) and if you notice a performance drop off or you are using more fuel that feels normal.

You should replace the filter once per year if the chainsaw has had plenty of use. It will depend on the rate of use and the amount of dirt and debris the unit has had to contend with. The air filter will gradually degrade and wear out. Its pores can become larger (meaning debris can get through) and others pores may become too congested with debris.

If you are an average kind of joe, who uses the chainsaw infrequently, you should find your filter lasts for a vastly longer time before it needs maintenance. 

In this context, don't get into the mindset that you need to replace the filter every year. Instead, take the time to inspect the filter once in a while and decide to replace on merit.

Removing the air filter


Use a  screwdriver or other suitable implement to open the cylinder cover of the chainsaw. Try not to scratch anything. Obviously, remove the cylinder cover and clean off any loose dirt or debris with a brush. You can then lift and release the metal latch that is probably holding the air filter in place.

Remove the filter and inspect it for dirt, damage or signs of aging. Make the assessment to clean or replace. 

Make sure you replace with a like for like part. You do not have to replace with the brand's version of the product, you can use an aftermarket filter if you wish, but make sure it is designed to operate with your brand. 

There are many replacement filters available on Amazon. Simply use the search tool for air filter and the brand name e.g. stihl replacement filter.

Cleaning the chainsaw air filter


If you are going to clean the filter prepare a soap and hot water combo in a bucket. 

Tap the filter on the edge (not the filtering part) to shake off loose dust. You can also try and use a vacuum clean or an air compressor to blow the muck out. 

When you've removed as much as you can, submerge the filter in the bucket. Give it a little bit of time to soak and then give it a light scrub with a soft brush. Some players will give it a light scrub with an old toothbrush. 

Let the filter air dry and most certainly do not install and use when wet!

Some filters will not be happy if cleaned with gas or solvents. 

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