Chainsaw Tension Screw Not Working? Causes and Fixes

Patrick McMann

Knowledge Based

To ensure its safe and efficient performance, it’s crucial to maintain proper tension on the chainsaw chain. However, sometimes the chain tension screw may not work correctly, leading to poor cutting performance, damage to the saw, and even safety hazards. 

In this article, I’ll discuss the causes of the chainsaw tension screw not working properly and how to diagnose the problem. I’ll also share the steps you can take to fix it.

Whether you’re a professional logger or a homeowner who uses the saw for occasional work, this article will be an invaluable source to help you resolve the tensioning screw not working problem. 

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causes and fixes to chainsaw screw not working

Chainsaw Tension Screw Not Working

If your chainsaw tension screw is not working correctly, it may be caused by wear and tear, damage, or other issues. Inspect the chain, bar, and tension screw to diagnose the problem and adjust or replace them accordingly. 

The chainsaw tension screw is a small mechanism used to adjust the tension of the saw chain. It works by tightening or loosening the chain to the tension, which is appropriate for safe and efficient cutting. Typically, the screw is located close to the saw’s bar and chain and can be adjusted using a screwdriver or a specialized tensioning tool.

Maintaining proper tensioning of your saw chain is vital for its safe operation. If the chain is too loose, it can jump off the bar or cause kickback, leading to serious injury or severe damage to the saw. 

On the other hand, if the chain is too tight, it can strain the saw’s motor excessively, reducing the tool’s cutting performance and lifespan.

Fixing a Chainsaw Tension Screw in 4 Simple Steps

Here are the steps you can take to fix the saw tension screw:

Tighten Loose Parts

If the tension screw is loose, tighten the bolts or other components holding it in place. Use a specialized tensioner tool to ensure all the parts are tightened securely.

Replace Damaged Parts

If the tensioner screw, tensioner mechanism, chain, or bar is damaged, replace them. But make sure to use high-quality components designed specifically for your make and model of the saw.

Lubricate the Tension Screw

Over time, the tension screw and tensioner mechanism can become clogged with debris, sawdust, or other contaminants. So lubricate these parts after cleaning the saw thoroughly. 

Adjust the Tension Screw

Once the tension screw and other components are in good condition, adjusting the screw to the appropriate tension is crucial. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for your make and model of the saw to ensure the chain is properly tightened and aligned with the bar.

Causes of Chainsaw Tension Screw Not Working

The reasons behind the Remington, STIHL, ECHO, or Craftsman tension screw not working are plenty. Here are some of the issues you might be facing with the tension screw and the reasons why they happen:

Tensioner Being Maxed Out

If your chainsaw tensioner is maxed out, it means you’ve tightened the tension screw to as far as it will go. But the chain is still loose. Many issues can cause this. One possibility is that the chain is damaged, causing it to stretch and become loose. In this case, you’ll need to replace the chain with a new one to ensure proper tension.

Another possible cause of a maxed-out chain tensioner is a damaged or worn-out bar. The bar is the flat metal piece the chain runs along. If it’s bent or damaged, it can cause the chain to become loose even when the tension screw is tightened. 

If the issue is with the bar, you’ll need to replace it with a new one. In some cases, an improperly installed or mismatched chain can also cause a maxed-out chain tensioner. So make sure you’re using the correct chain for your saw model and that it’s installed correctly.

To fix a maxed-out tensioner, you may need STIHL, ECHO, or Remington chainsaw tension screw replacement or a bar replacement. 

Screw Clicking

If your saw chain tension screw clicks, it can indicate different issues. The screw may be loose or not properly tightened. This will force the screw to move around as the chain moves along the bar, making a clicking sound. 

You can use a screwdriver or a tensioning tool to tighten the screw to the adequate level of tension. Another reason causing the clicking sound could be that the tensioner mechanism is worn out or the tension screw is damaged. Over time, the tensioner can become worn out, leading to a vibrating or clicking chain when the saw is used.

In such a case, you’ll need STIHL, Remington, or ECHO CS 400 chain tensioner replacement. If a loose chain causes the clicking sound, adjust the chain tension using the tension screw or replace the chain if it is worn out.

Screw Stripped

If you’re encountering ECHO, Remington, Craftsman, or STIHL chainsaw tension screw not working problem, it may happen if the tension screw is stripped. A saw tension screw can strip due to improper use or wear and tear. When a tension nut is stripped, it means the threads on the screw have become worn or damaged, making it impossible to adjust the tension of the chain.

When you encounter this issue, remove the tension screw and inspect it for the damage level. If the threads on the screw are worn out completely, replace the screw with a new one. Another option is to use a thread repair kit containing a special insert you can place into the stripped hole, providing new threads for the tension screw to grip.

However, this solution may not be suitable for all types of chain tension screws. So, it’s best to consult a professional if unsure how to proceed.

Chain Won’t Get Tightened

If your saw chain no longer tightens, It can be frustrating and potentially dangerous. It may happen when the mechanism that the tension screw controls have become worn out. 

This will prevent the screw from adjusting the chain tension properly, and in some cases, the chain will become loose and won’t tighten anymore. Therefore, you may need to replace the tension screw or tensioner mechanism to restore the proper function of the saw.

Regular maintenance of your chainsaw will prevent many issues with the chain tension. After each use, clean your saw correctly, inspect the chain for damage, and adjust the chain tension properly. You may need professional assistance to ensure your chainsaw is repaired correctly.


1. How do you fix a chainsaw tensioner?

To fix a saw tensioner, first, diagnose the root cause of the problem, such as worn-out parts or a loose screw. Then, tighten any parts or replace damaged components with high-quality replacement. 

Finally, adjust the screw to the appropriate tension according to the manufacturer’s recommendations for your saw.

2. Why won’t my chainsaw tighten?

If your saw doesn’t tighten, it could be due to a stripped tensioner screw, damaged chain or bar, or worn-out tensioner components. 

Check for any of these issues and address them accordingly, like tightening or replacing parts as necessary. However, if the problem persists, seek professional help to avoid further damage to your saw.

3. How does a tension screw work on a chainsaw?

A tension screw works by adjusting the chain tension on a saw. When the screw is tightened, it pulls the tensioner mechanism, tightening the chain around the bar. But when the screw is loosened, the tensioner mechanism is released, letting the chain loose.

4. How do you fix a stuck chainsaw chain?

To fix a stuck saw chain, switch off the tool and unplug it. Then use gloves to manually free the chain from any entanglements. If necessary, use a flathead screwdriver to loosen any tight spots in the chain. Once the chain is free, assess for damage and repair or replace it if required.

5. What happens when the chain tensioner fails?

When a chain tensioner fails, the saw’s chain can become loose, leading to a loss of precision in the tool’s cutting performance. It can also cause damage to the chain or bar and even result in potential injury.

6. What causes a bad tensioner?

A bad tensioner on a saw can be due to a variety of factors, such as wear and tear or the tension mechanism, or improper adjustment of the tension screw. It could also be due to chain or bar damage. Exposure to debris or moisture can also contribute to tensioner failure.

Final Thoughts

A chainsaw tension screw not working can be a potentially dangerous issue. However, with proper diagnosis and maintenance, you can address most tensioner problems with adequate diagnosis and maintenance. 

Regular inspection adjustment of the tension screw and other components can help ensure the safe and effective use of the saw. It is essential to promptly address any issues with the tensioner’s mechanism to prevent damage to the tool.

Patrick McMann