Should you remove your line trimmer’s protective guard?

Have you ever thought about removing the guard on your line trimmer? Do you find it gets in the way and limits the amount of grass you can trim at a time? This was the topic brought up on the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum and it really got a lot of members talking.

One lawn care business owner started the discussion off by asking “Would it be a good idea to remove the blade that cuts the trimmer string when it comes out too long?

Line trimmer protective guard

Line trimmer protective guard


What happens once it’s removed? Will it spin all over the place if it’s even a few cm out more than it’s supposed to?

I just want to trim more area, gave this a thought. Anyone ever consider this, or try it?”

Here are some of the wide range of responses that were received. I hope they give you some things to think about before you do it.

“I would not recommend doing this, it could be potentially harmful to your safety and the safety of others. The blade is there to keep the line from hitting the guard, if the guard is removed it could let out to far and hit you or the operator of the unit.

You can get quick insert heads that take pre-cut line that make it much easier to get the correct length, they usually take thicker lines and last longer.

These heads cost around $20 and I have never had a problem with them, I use .155 line in mine and it last much much longer than other lines.

As for trimming a bigger radius, I would look into another unit before trying this route. I myself have a 22” String Trimmer *Like a push mower/weed eater hybrid.”

“I definitely agree that you should not remove or alter the line limiter.

Manufacturers optimize trimmer line length in correlation with the engine’s ability to spin the bump head. If you allow line to protrude longer than where the blade is set, your RPMs will decrease giving you a less effective cut.

In addition to being dangerous, altering the line limiter blade or its location reduces trimmer line efficiency.”

“The real reasons for the debris guard and the blade are several:

1) RPM: The guard holds the trimmer string cutting blade which keeps the string at a standard length. Too much string length increases the drag on the engine.

What happens is it takes considerably more horse power to keep a longer string spinning at the same speed. If you pay attention while you are trimming, when the string on your trimmer gets short, the engine runs faster. Then you extend it, and the engine RPMs go back down to the speed where it was intended to operate. Especially on smaller and lower quality trimmers using the proper length trimmer string serves as a governor of sorts, preventing your trimmer engine from running too fast all the time and potentially overheating and damaging the engine. Now keep in mind the engine is not likely to overheat from just normal use as long as you don’t trim EXTENDED periods of time with the engine “wrapped” at full RPM under no load.

2) Stress: Longer string also places considerable extra torque on the engine and drive system. I recall attending an update seminar for a popular higher end trimmer a number of years ago (over 10 years ago). As they were discussing problems and recalls they mentioned that they had a problem with a certain trimmer’s shaft breaking. Now keep in mind, this is a straight shaft higher end trimmer with a solid machined steel shaft and with a full life time warranty on the shaft. They only had problems with one particular customer’s trimmer.

After some research they found the customer had removed the guard to permit him to run a longer string. He was running a LONG string which in turn placed considerably more stress on the shaft which after continuous hours of operation caused the shaft to fatigue and break or the splines shear off. The manufacturer stated they did not mind the operator having removed the guard but for this customer the shaft was no longer considered under warranty since the customer had modified the product. So keep this in mind if you choose to run a long string.

3) Personal Protection: There is little danger associated with not operating the trimmer with the guard attached, however, there is a slight danger. The primary protective functions of the guard are,
a) Protect the operator from flying dangerous debri should your measly powered trimmer (most trimmers are less than 2 HP but operate at high RPMs) decide to grab items like rocks and sticks and through them at you. However, this is not that great of a concern when you consider that if it were a great concern the guard would likely be all the way around the front and sides of the string as well.
b) Protect the operator from excessive flying grass and weeds.
c) Another purpose for the guard is to keep the trimmer string at a length the manufacturer has deemed to be the maximum reasonable or suggested length for this trimmer. This is not to say that your trimmer is not capable of operating successfully or acceptibly with a string 2″-6″ longer, but it is not recommended to do so.

If you decide you want to run a longer string you would need to completely remove the guard. The reason is if you only removed the blade the string would get too long and would get wrapped up in the guard, rendering the trimmer almost completely useless. This is because as the string wraps around the guard it increases the resistance on the engine far beyond what several extra inches of free flying string would. This in turn causes the engine to lose its power and RPMs.

Regarding other options to trim a wider path, why not get a walk behind or “push” style trimmer. This would likely take considerably longer to trim around a house, flower bed, etc, than a hand held. The walk behind would definitely not be as versatile if you needed to reach around or behind an object. However, if you are wanting to trim a large area or have an area where you can walk along side a building or a fence line with a walk behind trimmer this may be very effective. Places where I have seen the walk behind (like the DR trimmer) being used is where the terrain is too rough for a regular push mower, the grass or weeds are too tall for a regular mower, or extended distances along fence lines.

The problem with using a trimmer head with the pre-cut lengths of string is that you will not be getting a “bigger” cut area. However, like was said, the string is much heavier normally, or at least these aftermarket heads will normally accept heavier string.”

“I removed mine about a year ago and have removed it on the newest trimmer I got. Your line will last 4 times as long since it isn’t getting cut off every time the head feeds. You can pick up about 4 inches of cut without any loss of rpm/ power etc. I will remove it on any new trimmer I get from now on. The performance has outweighed any downsides for me.

There may be some protective issues (your legs) when you do this, so be careful. But I have yet to hurt myself.”

“I have removed the gaurds entirely on all 3 trimmmers. It saves line, yes it’s a little harder on machines if you let the line get too long, but it also makes them lighter & the reality is that gaurd isn’t big enough to save you from much flying debris. Out of 360 degrees it covers what? maybe 20 degrees? Yank it off & toss it!”

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