6 Common Printer Problems And How to Fix Them


The printer is an essential part of any modern office and ninety-nine per cent of the time they’re worth their weight in gold.

But the fact they’re used so regularly by so many people means that every once in a while they’re going to fall foul of the odd technical malfunction or two. In other words, they’re going to break.

And we all know what that leads to  – grief-stricken employees panicking they can’t get email hardcopies, and hysterical managers left in a bemused state of numbed confusion because they can’t print off the report for the next meeting.


Image by:  leokoivulehto

But before you go reaching for the manual, double checking the warranty or spewing a torrent of vitriolic rage at a call centre technician based in Calcutta who probably can’t understand you anyway, you might want to consider a few of the following most basic of problems that regularly befall a printer – and how to fix them.

Paper Jams
Most modern printers are hi-tech and advanced enough to make paper jams comparatively rare, but every now and again you’re going to hear the painfully grinding crunch of A4 against print rollers?

A warning will probably pop up on your screen anyway, but you’ll need to open up the inspection cover to have a look.

If you’ve got a laser printer take extra care as some of the parts and mechanisms will be extremely hot. Best thing is to unlock the specific affected mechanism and gently slide out the jammed paper.

Sensors are primarily a three-pronged printer problem.

Firstly, if the paper pickup roller is shiny and worn away to the extent it can no longer pick up paper, then it needs to be replaced.

Secondly, if your printer keeps telling you it’s out of paper even though it clearly is not, check the paper level sensors are sufficiently in place and pushed down so they can detect the paper.

Thirdly, sensors often won’t detect paper if there are only three or four sheets in the tray, so make sure you load up a good wodge of paper.

Make sure all the cables and connections are fitted properly and securely, including power cables, connections from your PC to the printer (local printer) and/or to the network jack in the wall (network printer).

Sometimes it will look like it’s properly plugged in when it’s not; to make sure, unplug them and plug them back in.

Update Software
If print jobs don’t appear or if there are errors printing, it may be because the printer drivers are corrupt or out of date.

In this instance, it’s best to check out the manufacturer’s website to install the latest drivers for your model, in addition to any updated software which may have been released.

It’s easy to forget the sheer volume of printing you do, and printing large documents such as manuals or large, high-resolution images may lead to the running out of memory, causing a backlog and creating long print waiting times.

The simple answer is to make your printing more manageable – for you and the printer – by printing off smaller blocks of documents and limiting the amount of high-res images.

If that still doesn’t work, you may need to install additional RAM.

Toner Cartridges
The most elementary but common of all printer problems is that the page comes out as blank as it went in – because the cartridge has ran out. Regular checks will sort this out

And if it’s running a bit low, try that good old fashioned gambit of removing it, shaking it, and sliding it back in. (And who ever would have thought a vaguely erotic metaphor would fit so aptly in to a piece about printer repairs?)

So in the eventuality that you encounter any of these problems with your printer – from checking the connections to making sure you don’t waste any unnecessary Xerox business paper – hopefully this checklist of ways to identify and solve any technical blips will come in handy.

Have I missed any other common printer problems and have you got any technical remedies for them?

Featured images:
  •  License: Creative Commons image source

Elise Leveque is a bubbly and ambitious freelance translator, a self-confessed shopaholic  and addicted to all things social media. She blogs regularly for Continua.

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