Printer Trouble Shooting

Don Trauger – Kennett

Printers are more or less taken for granted. Feed them paper and ink and you may think they should run for years. If you are lucky they do.
However things can and do go wrong. Here are some tips to help you sort things out should you experience problems.

One common problem is a paper jam. Often multiple sheets of paper get pulled into the feed mechanism and jam the printer. To unjam the printer
turn it off and try pulling the sheets that are in the middle of the jam out towards the front of the printer. Next, try to pull out the top and
bottom sheets. If that doesn’t work start the printer again and push the paper feed button if it has one. If not just start a print operation
and print any document. This should force the remaining 2 pages out. If the jam has allowed the paper to be grasped near the outlet tray, again
pull it towards the front of the printer. Many printers also have a rear access door that can be removed to assist in clearing a paper jam. To
avoid multiple paper jams try fanning the paper before inserting into the printer. Another problem that can arise is that the printer doesn’t
feed the paper properly. This may be due to glazed paper feed rollers. They are made of rubber and over time they can get slippery and misfeed
the paper. This can be remedied by spraying Windex on a cloth to clean the rollers until they resume a slightly tacky feel. To perform this routine,
remove the paper from the printer, start a print operation, and then clean each roller. Remove the rear access door if possible to make the job
easier. Be careful to observe that the print cartridge holder and feed rollers will be in operation. Don’t get your fingers in the wrong place at
the wrong time!

I’m sure you are all familiar when you start to run out of ink. Color photos show banding and may be missing a primary color. Black text printing
quality is erratic and lacks contrast. Replacing an ink cartridge usually solves the problem. Now supposing you haven’t used the printer in weeks.
You start it up and there’s only a trace of print on the paper. Chances are the ink has dried up on the outlet portion of the ink cartridge. Ink
cartridges have many tiny jets that spray ink to form the letters or photos you are printing. The ink also contains driers in the formula. Over a
period of time these driers cause the ink to plug the jets making the printer unusable. Inks are water soluble so the solution here is to remove
the faulty cartridge and using a paper towel that has been moistened well under hot water, wipe the outlet area of the cartridge. This will remove
the old dried ink and in many cases restore operation. If that doesn’t work replace the ink cartridge. Try to avoid software nozzle cleaning
procedures. They waste ink and can overflow the waste receptacle.

Laser printers don’t have ink problems because they don’t use ink. They use a carbon powder (toner) to fuse the print characters on the paper.
Sometimes a laser toner cartridge will also exhibit printing problems. The toner can stick to the inside of the cartridge. Try removing the toner
cartridge and shake it vigorously from side to side and up and down for a few seconds. If that fails to work replace the toner cartridge.

One last tip – notice any blinking lights on the printer? They often can diagnose the exact problem including jams and faulty cartridges. Consult
your manual noting the number of blinks or visit the Internet support area for the manufacturer of your printer. You can also try unplugging the
power cord where it’s connected to the wall receptacle or power strip. Wait about 30 seconds, plug it back in, and try it again.

Answers to your computer or printer questions can be found by attending our PC Club meetings. We meet the second Tuesday of every month at
7:00 PM upstairs in the Ardmore room of the Community Center (Winfield Hall).