Are chainsaws waterproof?

This is one of the questions new chainsaw users often ask me. Perhaps you want to clean up storm damage while the rain is falling. Or maybe you want to get rid of some thick branches that have fallen into the nearby lake. Whatever the case, you shouldn’t do anything before reading this article.

Are chainsaws waterproof? No, Most of them aren’t. There are some models designed specifically for underwater use, but your average chainsaws aren’t like that. You should never submerge your chainsaw. Cutting during rainfall is fine, unless you have an electric chainsaw. You should never use an electric chainsaw in the rain.

Different kinds of saws need different precautions if you intend to use them in a wet or rainy environment.

Can I use my chainsaw in the rain?

This depends on a number of factors:

  • How much water are we talking about, and
  • What type of chainsaw you are using.

As I’ve previously said, submerging your chainsaw is off limits unless you have a specific type of chainsaw designed for tasks like this. I’ll go into detail on that a bit later. But first, let’s talk about the types of chainsaws commonly available today.

Gas powered chainsaws

A gas powered chainsaw

These can handle moisture quite well. This is one of the big reasons professional foresters mainly use this type. As usual, never submerge them in water. But they will survive a bit of rain easily.

That being said, there are a few things to keep in mind if you plan on using your saw on a rainy day.

First of all, you should never let water get into the fuel tank. Fuel and water have never been close friends, so adding water to the mix isn’t going to end well. It will lead to engine malfunction, possibly sending your chainsaw into an early grave. For this reason, always make sure that the fuel cap is tightly shut before you fire up your chainsaw.

The same goes for the bar oil tank. Although this one isn’t nearly as damaging, you really don’t want any water in there.

Which leads me to my next point: the chain. While water doesn’t really have any short term effects on your chainsaw’s chain, you should always make sure that your chain is dry after you have finished your task. This is because water will cause your chain to rust, significantly decreasing its cutting performance. Use a rug to clean up your chain before putting your saw away and you’ll be fine.

Also, always make sure to clean your air filter before you do any cutting in the rain. This is especially important if you have been cutting dry wood beforehand. Moisture can make the dust on the filter expand, causing your chainsaw to choke out.

Always make sure to run your chainsaw for a few minutes before putting it away to get all the moisture out of it. Trust me, a rusty crank bearing will give you quite a bit of a headache.

Corded chainsaws

Generally speaking, using any electric device in the rain is just asking for trouble. And electric chainsaws are not an exception to this rule either. Although most manufacturers make sure that water can’t get inside the chainsaw too easily, I personally would never use a corded chainsaw outdoors while it’s raining.

If the water does get inside it can short circuit your chainsaw, possibly ruining it for good. Also, you can get shocked too which is extremely dangerous in an already damp environment.

The bottom line is, you should never use an electric chainsaw in the rain.

Battery chainsaws

Battery chainsaws are very similar to corded chainsaws when it comes to using them in the rain. Although it isn’t as dangerous because the only source of electricity is the battery, I still wouldn’t do it.

If water gets inside it can short circuit your saw, which will probably fry your battery for good. This is an expense you can avoid.

Bottom line: I wouldn’t use battery chainsaws in the rain either.

Other safety considerations

When you are using your chainsaw on a rainy day, most of the danger comes from your environment. If it has been raining for a while, things will get slippery. You should always be extra careful with your surroundings, especially the ground you are stepping on. If you aren’t careful enough, you can easily slip and cut your legs with your chainsaw or fall on it.

You don’t want either of those to happen, so wearing appropriate protective equipment is even more important than usual.

Make sure you wear ground gripping footwear to minimize the chances of slipping. Also, wear chainsaw chaps made by a respectable brand. These are pants specifically designed to stop chainsaw blades from deeply cutting into your leg. Honestly, these are a must for any chainsaw related tasks.

Also, wear some kind of protective gloves that will allow you to hold your chainsaw firmly even if it gets wet. If you don’t, you can easily lose control of your chainsaw which can cause accidents that could have been avoided.

Can I use my chainsaw after rain?

Yes, most chainsaws should be safe to use after the rain has stopped. Still, there are a few things you’ll have to keep in mind while doing so.

First of all, even though the rain has stopped the ground is probably still slippery. Make sure you are wearing the protective equipment I have mentioned earlier, and be extra careful in general.

Another thing worth noting is that wet wood is harder to cut than the same wood under dry conditions. This is natural, so don’t worry if cutting takes longer than usual.

Also, when cutting wet wood you can sometimes see steam flowing from your guide bar. This is often mistaken for smoke by beginners but in reality it’s just the extra water on the wood evaporating from the heat generated by the friction of the fast moving chain. Again, this is natural so don’t worry about it.

I have said this before, but I can’t stress this enough. Make sure to clean your chain with a rug after you finished your work. If you store your chainsaw with water on its chain it will get rusty.

Are there chainsaws that work underwater?

There are, but they aren’t commonly found in your average household. There are two types of chainsaw that could fit this role.

Hydraulic chainsaws

These chainsaws work a bit differently than what we are used to. The chain isn’t rotated directly by a motor, but by a stream of high pressured liquid. The chainsaw itself is connected to a petrol or electric pump by a set of hoses. The pump rotates the liquid in the hose, which in turn moves the chain.

This has a number of advantages. As you have probably guessed, the chainsaw can be fully submerged in water because the parts that would be damaged by this don’t have to be nearby.

Check out this video if you want to see one in action:

Also, these chainsaws are lighter than other types because the motor and fuel aren’t stored in the chainsaw itself. This is especially convenient underwater. Not having to store the fuel in the chainsaw allows for more capacity, which results in longer run time.

An interesting fact about the chainsaws designed for underwater use is that their chain rotates in the opposite direction compared to the average chainsaw. This is because small fragments and dust can travel much further underwater, and could easily clog the tool if they were flowing in that direction. Having a reversed chain flow makes it so that the small debris are thrown away from the chainsaw, not towards it.

Pneumatic chainsaws

These are very similar to their hydraulic counterparts. The main difference is that they use compressed air or gas as a medium instead of liquid. They are usually not as strong as hydraulic chainsaws because it’s harder to keep air under high pressure.

People also ask

What should I do if water got inside my chainsaw?
Let it dry before using it. If it’s a gas chainsaw, run it until the water inside evaporates. For electric chainsaws, try to disassemble them with a screwdriver and don’t turn them on until you are sure that all the internal parts have dried.