Have you ever been busy cutting small tree branches or a piece of wood to size, and it started raining? It’s a scenario most of us would dread, a powerful chainsaw getting wet but can it be that dangerous?
I was trimming the branches on a tree near my house when the rain came pouring down; all I could think of at that moment was, are chainsaws waterproof?
Most chainsaws are not waterproof. Some chainsaws are specifically made to use underwater, but these are not your average chainsaws. Electric chainsaws should not get wet, and you should not use them in the rain; instead, use a gas-powered one. Remember not to submerge any regular chainsaw.
I quickly realized that using chainsaws in rough weather is not the best idea, but there are different types of chainsaws, and I would need to do more research to find out more. I spoke to a family member who is a logger and asked for advice on this topic.
Here is what I have learned about chainsaws and whether they are waterproof.
Are Chainsaws Waterproof?
Most chainsaws are not waterproof. They have a plastic body that protects the engine from water damage so they can handle moisture and wet working conditions, but you can’t submerge an average chainsaw in water or use it in a heavy downpour.
There are makes and models specifically designed so you can use them underwater. They are used in underwater logging and clearing out branches that have fallen into a river or dam. It would be best to take precautions not to use a typical chainsaw in wet conditions.
You get electric, battery, and gas-powered chainsaws. Gas-powered chainsaws are the best to use in wet conditions because they don’t use an external power source to get water damage. You shouldn’t use electric chainsaws in wet weather. The user can get electrocuted if an electric chainsaw gets wet.
Can I Use My Chainsaw in the Rain?
If you only want to finish cutting some branches or a DIY project in the rain, you need to consider some of the factors that might influence using a chainsaw in wet conditions.
- How bad is the weather you want to use the chainsaw in? If the rain is a downpour, you might want to wait it out, as most manufacturers make chainsaws to handle wet conditions but not when it’s soaking.
- The type of chainsaw also plays a factor when choosing the right chainsaw to use in rainy conditions. There are three types of everyday chainsaws available, but you also get specialized chainsaws made for wet conditions.
Types of Chainsaws in Wet Conditions
There are four types of chainsaws on the market these days. The typical chainsaws made for everyday use are battery-powered, gas-powered, electric chainsaws. The last type of chainsaw is specialized chainsaws manufactured for use underwater.
Gas-powered chainsaws are the best everyday chainsaw to use in wet conditions. You can use gas chainsaws in all-terrain situations, including rain and snow. While they work well in harsh conditions, they can’t be submerged or used underwater.
Using Gas Chainsaw in Wet Conditions: What Can Happen
There are some factors to keep in mind when you are using a gas-powered chainsaw:
- You need to be careful not to let water get into the fuel tank. Mixing water and fuel is never a good idea. It will cause your chainsaw to malfunction and eventually break.
- Water will not cause immediate damage to the chain, but it can damage and corrode the metal in the long run. Thus it’s important to dry off your gas-powered chainsaw before putting it away.
- Before using a gas-powered chainsaw for cutting in wet weather, you should clean the air filter. If you cut dry wood beforehand and don’t clean the air filter, the dust in the air filter will expand when it gets wet and cause the chainsaw to choke out.
- You need to run your chainsaw for a few minutes before putting it away to ensure the moisture is completely out of your chainsaw as it may cause a rusty bearing.
Using an electric chainsaw in wet conditions is not a good idea. While electric chainsaws have their engines encased to prevent water from entering the inner workings of the chainsaw, if water should enter, the consequences would be harmful.
Using Electric Chainsaw in Wet Conditions: What Can Happen
There are some factors to keep in mind when you are using an electric-powered chainsaw:
- As we know, water and electricity don’t mix; you can get electrocuted if there is a power surge. If the wrong section gets wet, the average electrical chainsaw will send 110 volts surging through your body.
- Should there be a power surge when water hits an exposed wire, it could send a power surge through your home, which in turn can lead to fire should it spark as the surge gets to plug circuits.
- A power surge can travel through your home and damage your appliances; some might not work again.
- If you are working out in the open, you could unknowingly step into a puddle; water, as we know, is a conductor for electricity, and you could get a shock.
- The extension cord you use to run electricity to the worksite where you are using the chainsaw can get water in an exposed section and cause a surge or damage to you and the chainsaw.
- You can get an electric burn if there is a short at the contact site where you touch the chainsaw.
Battery-powered chainsaws work with the battery as the primary power source, like an electric chainsaw, and have a few issues when working in wet conditions. If you use a battery-powered chainsaw in rainy or moist weather, there is a chance that the water can enter the battery and fry it, making your battery useless.
Experts don’t suggest using a battery-powered chainsaw in rainy or wet conditions to ensure the battery doesn’t get wet and avoid any dangers the battery frying might cause the user.
Using Battery Chainsaw in Wet Conditions: What Can Happen
There are some factors to keep in mind when you are using a battery-powered chainsaw:
- If you try and keep the battery dry by placing a plastic bag or covering over the battery housing, be careful not to cover the vents. If the vents on the battery are covered, it could lead to the battery housing overheating and eventually exploding.
- If the battery’s charging port gets wet, the metal components will rust, preventing it from charging the battery. In the end, it will have to replace the battery.
- The battery can fry under certain conditions if some water gets into the battery and causes a surge. You will need to replace the battery, and depending on the brand of chainsaw you have, it could be costly.
Specialized chainsaws, or underwater chainsaws as they are also called, are made for use underwater and are completely waterproof. These chainsaws are used for underwater logging and generally anything you need to cut underwater.
These specialized chainsaws use hydraulic power to cut through submerged wood and other materials. Precision is essential when cutting underwater, especially when it’s saltwater. These machines are not easy to use, and you will need to get trained in the proper use of hydraulic chainsaws.
You will also need to be trained in diving, as using a chainsaw underwater requires a certain level of diving experience. The health and safety legislation requires all underwater chainsaw operators to be trained and certified to use these powerful chainsaws.
You need a permit to use this chainsaw to comply with the legal regulations for the use of hydraulic underwater power tools.
There are some factors to keep in mind when you are using a specialized-powered chainsaw:
- If untrained people use a hydraulic chainsaw, one of the main problems is accidentally cutting themselves. Cutting yourself while underwater can cause further injury if you pass out or can’t make it back to the surface level of the water, or you could drown.
- The hydraulic system might get cut, and that would pollute the water.
Effect of Freshwater and Saltwater on Chainsaws
When gas-powered chainsaws come into contact with fresh water, they will function normally, but you need to ensure not to leave your chainsaw out in the rainy weather or in places where it’s wet most of the time.
It’s not a problem for underwater chainsaws as they are waterproof, but you don’t want any other damage, so it’s also not recommended.
Suppose you live close to the ocean and you need to cut wood in saltwater. In that case, you need to take special precautions as saltwater erodes metal, so a chainsaw exposed to saltwater will be unusable in a few short months if you don’t maintain it properly after each use.
What to Do If Your Chainsaw Falls into Water
If you have an accident where your chainsaw has fallen into the water, here is what you can do:
If Your Chainsaw Has Fallen in Freshwater
The first thing you need to do is towel dry as much of it as possible. Then you need to turn it on and leave it on until the engine’s heat has completely dried all the components and inner workings of the chainsaw. Lastly, you need to lubricate the chain and bar with an anti-corrosion product to keep the metal parts from rusting.
If it won’t start, the water probably got into the generator responsible for firing a spark on the spark plug or has invaded the carburetor, meaning it mixed with the fuel. If this happens, you will need to disassemble everything, dry off the spark plug generator and other components, and spray the spark plug generator with an electrical contact cleaner.
Experts advise you to clean the carburetor and the cylinder with gasoline before refueling the chainsaw tank if water does enter the fuel tank.
If Your Chainsaw Has Fallen in Saltwater
If your chainsaw has fallen into saltwater, the process will be longer. The most crucial consideration you need to remember is to dry the chainsaw on the same day it fell into saltwater because saltwater erodes metal very fast.
First, you should thoroughly flush the entire chainsaw with freshwater, then remove all liquids from the fuel tank and chain oil. Now you need to submerge the wet chainsaw into a tub of freshwater. To ensure all the remaining salt water is flushed out of the chainsaw, you should leave it to soak in the freshwater for at least 15 minutes.
You need to dry off the chainsaw using a hairdryer. After drying the chainsaw, you need to disassemble all the parts. Clean them with petrol to eliminate all traces of salt left in the chainsaw. Leave the chainsaw to air dry thoroughly and reassemble all the pieces (don’t use a hairdryer in this step as fuel is very flammable, so only air dry).
When dry, use an electric contact cleaner on all the wires and the spark plug generator. Lubricate the bar and chain with anti-corrosion spray or chainsaw oil. The anti-corrosion spray or chainsaw oil will prevent oxidation and rust from forming on your chainsaw.
You must disassemble the carburetor and wet it well with fuel. Unscrew the spark plug and pour gas to the top of the cylinder. Next, you should screw the ignition cord to the chainsaw’s body and pull the cord a few times to eliminate the saltwater that might have entered the exhaust through the cylinder.
Lastly, after the cleaning process, assemble the carburetor and spray it well with an anti-corrosive spray inside and outside to ensure it won’t rust. Unscrew the exhaust and wet it well with petrol as there will be saltwater residue in the exhaust.
You can’t skip this step if you want to use your chainsaw again. After all the components are dry, you can reassemble the chainsaw.
If you need to work in wet conditions or you are looking for a waterproof chainsaw, you have two choices; the gas-powered chainsaw will be good to use in wet conditions. If you need to use a chainsaw for underwater cutting or any cutting where the chainsaw needs to be submerged, you should get an underwater chainsaw.
It’s crucial never to use an electric or battery-powered chainsaw in wet conditions, or you might end up with a broken chainsaw or, worse, get electrocuted. You should run the chainsaw for a few minutes after use and before putting it away to ensure no permanent erosion to the metal components over time.
Ben has a bachelor’s degree in construction engineering. When not constructing or remodeling X-Ray Rooms, Cardiovascular Labs, and Pharmacies, you can find him at home with wife and two daughters. Outside of family, He loves grilling and barbequing on his Big Green Egg and Blackstone Griddle, as well as working on projects around the house.
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