There are a dozen different reasons why your print job might not go through, but none are as insidious as the infamous paper jam. If you don’t want to find yourself on your hands and knees desperately grasping at nearly invisible shreds of paper lodged up in your printer, you need to learn how to clear a paper jam effectively.
Paper Jams 101
If your printer keeps jamming, you should know that the most common cause of a jam is misalignment of the paper. Paper needs to load in smoothly, completely flush with the tray. Overfilling the tray is a great way to ensure you will be spending some personal time getting to know the inside of a printer. Thankfully, solving a jam is almost always as easy as locating where the paper got caught.
Getting Out of a Jam
If you don’t know where the paper may jam, don’t worry. It’s generally easy to follow the path of paper from input to output, removing bits of debris as you go.
Always begin by turning off your printer before attempting to remove a paper jam. This will lower the chance that you’ll hurt yourself or the printer in the process.
After you’ve let your printer power down, you’ll want to begin by removing loose paper from the tray. With that out of the way, you can begin checking for jams in all the paper trays and exits, including inside the machine along the path where the paper runs. Nine times out of ten, you should spot the jam almost immediately, though it may take some investigating when you’re using multifunction printers with several trays to look through.
Pulling Bad SheetsOnce you’ve found the jammed paper, how to fix a paper jam becomes as simple as pulling out jammed sheets one at a time. When there are several jammed pages, your first instinct will probably be to grab them all and yank them out in frustration and rage. This would be a mistake. A fistful of papers will be more difficult to remove, and the rough handling of your delicate printing equipment is a recipe for further repairs and printer-related injuries.
Desktop Printer Carriage Jams
When you’re clearing a jam in a desktop printer, it’s a good idea to make sure the printing carriage can move freely. If the carriage isn’t already set off to the side when you open your printer, it’s probably stuck on some paper. Be gentle – if the carriage doesn’t slide off to the side, you’ll probably need to remove it completely to be safe. When it comes to disassembly, you’ll have to consult the manufacturer of your device for advice.
Cooling Down Laser Printers
With a laser printer, you’ll want to wait at least 15 minutes for your printer to cool down before removing an internal jam. Laser printers have parts that run very hot, so be sure to play it safe rather than risking a burn. When you do crack the case open, you’ll also want to pay special attention to rotating the rollers to ensure they’re still smoothly moving. If they’re not, dislodge any debris on their track.
Office PrintersIf you’re fortunate enough to work with a modern office printer, your device may have a screen that will not only tell you where a jam has happened, but also how to remove it. If you’re not so fortunate, you’ll probably have to settle for the paper release button that most office printers have. You can also try rebooting the printer because the start-up cycle is often effective at handling a jam.
Jamming with Printers
If you’ve gone through all these steps and still can’t find the problem, odds are you’re dealing with something other than a jam. If you follow the steps outlined above carefully, you should be able to solve the mystery rather quickly. Just keep in mind that printers are delicate machines that need your patience… and they’re generally impossible to repair without special tools. If that’s not an incentive to take it easy on your printer, what is?