Troubleshooting Problems With Your Printer

Printer problems are frustrating. Below are answers to some of the more common troubleshooting questions.

Few things can be as frustrating as not being able to print an important document. Part of the problem is that there are so many ways for the darn things to break! Below are some general printer use guidelines as well as some solutions to some of the more common troubleshooting questions.

Printers become dirty by accumulating paper dust and toner and/or flakes. If left unchecked, a dirty printer will begin to affect the print quality. You may want to keep a cleaning kit that consists of lint-free cloths (or some suitable substitute), alcohol, spray-n-wipe cleaner, gloves, and a can of compressed air. Give your printer a good cleaning every six months.

Laser paper usually comes in reams and each ream is wrapped. Keep your paper clean and dry by storing it lying flat in its original wrapper. The life expectancy of a toner cartridge is about 3-6 months. A good rule of thumb is to clean the printer every time you change toners and every time you have a printer problem.

Some common things to check when you have printer problems are:

Paper Jams or Printer Eats Paper

1. First, clean your printer. Get some spray-n-wipe cleaner and a clean cloth and clean the entire inside of the printer. Also ensure your paper isn't dirty. Now print a test page. Does the symptom persist?

2. Remove all jammed paper. Check the paper tray first. Look closely at the paper rollers nearest where the paper exits the printer; this is a common source of jams. If you're trying to print labels, they will often jam just before exiting the printer.

3. Try to print a test page. Does the printer still jam? If you can find no source of the jamming, check the printer's message display window and refer to your user's manual to look up the printer error code.



Paper Won't Feed or "Load Paper" Message in Display

1. Check the printer and/or the software to see if "manual feed" is selected. If manual feed is selected, the printer may be looking for paper in another tray.

2. Reseat paper. Ensure printer is on-line. Check for paper jams or obstructions.

3. Likely suspect: paper-out sensor is damaged or broken. Consult a computer repair shop.

Printer Jams When it Runs Out of Paper

Check the paper flag sensor and make sure it is not missing or misaligned (refer to your printer manual for its location.) If error persists, you'll need to take your printer in for repair. If the paper wrinkles on the end, you probably have a bad paper out assembly. You might try to clean the inside (especially the rear rollers) and replace the paper. If the paper still wrinkles, the paper out assembly is most likely bad. Sometimes a bad fuser can cause the same problem so don't rule this out.

Toner Smearing

1. Clean your printer and try a test page. Does the symptom persist?

2. Once the printer is clean, install a new toner cartridge. If you don't have one, try to borrow a friend's if possible for troubleshooting purposes. Install it in the problem printer and try to print a test page. Does the symptom persist? If new toner cartridges fixes problem, buy a new cartridge.

3. If new toner cartridge doesn't fix problem, check the printer's message display window for any error messages. Do you have an error message? If so, then note the code and consult your owner's manual.

Prints a Line Down the Page

1. Clean printer and try to print a test page. Does the symptom persist?

2. Next, install a new toner cartridge, if possible (see item #2 above.)

3. If new toner cartridge doesn't fix problem, check the cotton "cleaner-bar" inside the printer. If the "cleaner bar" is dirty, you need to replace it. A replacement comes with each new toner cartridge.

5. If the toner is still smearing, shut the printer off, open the printer, and check the print cylinder. If the cylinder is damaged, the printer is beyond local repair--you have a bad fuser.

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