Troubleshooting Tips for a Poulan Chainsaw That Won’t Stay Running

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Experiencing issues with your Poulan chainsaw? Several factors can be responsible, such as the carburetor, spark arrestor, fuel and air filter, among others. 

To help you troubleshoot effectively, I’d like to recommend some fixes for when your Poulan chainsaw won’t stay running.

How To Fix a Poulan Chainsaw That Won’t Stay Running

For an easy fix, here are the effective troubleshooting tips:

Fix #1: Clean the Carburetor

One reason a Poulan chainsaw may run roughly is because of a clogged carburetor. It can be caused by the buildup of fuel in the carburetor, which eventually evaporates and leaves behind a sticky substance. 

If there’s a blockage in the carburetor, try cleaning it using a carburetor cleaner. However, if cleaning it isn’t effective, you can rebuild or replace the entire carburetor.

Fix #2: Clean the Spark Arrestor

The spark arrestor is the small screen that prevents the engine from starting and producing sparks. After repeated use, the spark arrestor can become dirty and clogged. If it is clogged, the chainsaw might run rough. It can create safety hazards. 

To clean it, remove the spark arrestor and clean it using a wire brush.  Alternatively, you may want to replace it entirely. 

Poulan Chainsaw Spark Arrestor

Fix #3: Unclog the Fuel Filter

The buildup of old fuel can cause a clog in the fuel filter and chainsaw will stop working properly. This usually happens when the old fuel gets left in the chainsaw. Over time, the old fuel loses its properties and becomes a thick, sticky substance. 

This buildup can cause the engine to stall. If the fuel filter is clogged due to old fuel, drain the old fuel from its tank, then replace the fuel filter. 

Fix #4: Unclog the Air Filter

Poulan chainsaw won’t stay running if the air filter is dirty or has a buildup. It can cause the chainsaw to get insufficient air and too much fuel. 

It’s important to note that this issue can also disrupt the engine’s airflow, potentially leading to stalling. If you find that the air filter is dirty and clogged, the solution is relatively simple. 

First, remove it from its housing, soak it in warm soapy water, and give it a thorough cleaning. However, if the filter is showing signs of wear and tear or if it’s torn, it’s wise to think about replacing it altogether.

Fix #5: Use Clean and High-Quality Fuel + Check Fuel Mix

If you want to maximize the performance of your chainsaw, use premium fuel. Doing so will help prevent the engine from running inefficiently. A bad fuel mix can severely affect the performance of your chainsaw. 

If the fuel has already spent more than two weeks in the chainsaw, discard it and replace it with a fresh, high-quality fuel mix

adding fuel to Poulan Chainsaw

Fix #6: Adjust the Idle Screw

Most chainsaws have three adjustment screws: an idle/throttle, a high-speed, and a low-speed. To adjust these screws, you need to be careful as screws are delicate, and you don’t want to adjust them too tightly. 

Gently screw them all in and back them out one turn each. But, before starting up your Poulan chainsaw, make sure that you have cleaned the filter and have a half tank of gas at least. 

Once it’s started, let it idle for a couple of minutes. If it won’t run, try to warm it up by repeatedly squeezing and releasing the idle. 

Setting the idle speed is as easy as setting it high without engaging the clutch. Then, while the chainsaw runs, turn the low-speed screw gently until it stops running. You can then fine-tune the idle speed and low-speed screws to get precisely where you want them.


Why does my Poulan chainsaw die when I give it gas?

A Poulan chainsaw dies after you give it gas because of the clogged fuel filter caused by the old fuel. Over time, the sticky substance in the fuel will evaporate, leaving behind a thick, stickier substance. This will block the fuel filter, causing the engine to die. 


Since a chainsaw is a handy tool you may use regularly, you need to make sure it works efficiently. Have it well-maintained to ensure it works properly. Also, knowing how to troubleshoot your chainsaw contributes to maintaining its function and use. 

But, it’s recommended wearing your safety gear when fixing your chainsaw to avoid accidents [1]. If your chainsaw is still acting up after following the tips above, better to seek help from an expert.

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Robert Johnson is a passionate furniture maker & carpenter, sought after for his knowledge on the craft.
You’ve probably seen his down-to-earth wisdom in USA Today, Bobvila, Family Handyman, and The Spruce, where he has shared commentary and guidance on various woodworking topics.

Robert is the brain behind Sawinery, where he aims to share tips, tricks, and a passion for all things carpentry.

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