Computer Printer Repair

Fix Printer Problems

What Causes Paper Jams in Copiers and Laser Printers and How to Fix Them

Some types of paper jams can be quickly and easily fixed without calling a technician. This article tells how to repair many types of paper jamming in laser printers and copiers.

When a copier or laser printer's control panel declares, "paper jam" and there's not a single piece of paper anywhere in the printer, you're left wondering where's the paper jam. After the machine commands a piece of paper to be sent from the paper tray it expects the paper to arrive at a sensor within a specific time. If the paper doesn't arrive, the machine assumes it got jammed somewhere along the paper path, and it announces "paper jam."

If you frequently have "paper jam" messages without any paper in the paper path, you've probably got a worn out or dirty pickup roller. The location of the pickup roller is usually directly above the paper tray, in the middle. Grab a flashlight and take a look at it. Feel it to see if there's any texture left on it or if it's all smooth and worn feeling. Try cleaning it first, with a slightly damp cloth, but don't leave it wet.

If cleaning doesn't help, replacement pickup rollers are usually easy to install (there are some exceptions) and are inexpensive.

Most HP LaserJets display the error code 13 for paper jams. In newer printers this is expanded to 13.0 or 13.1 or 13.2. The number after the decimal point refers to which sensor detected the jam. It starts with 0 at the paper pickup area, so a 13.0 message means the paper never arrived at the first sensor. The rest of the numbers are helpful if you know how many sensors your printer has and where they are. Printers usually have three or four sensors in their paper path, with the last one at paper exit, or at the fuser if there's a straight path from the fuser to the exit. There's usually one at every bend in the paper path.

If you get a paper jam at the same location every time you try to print, you've either got some sort of obstruction or you've got a bad sensor. Field technicians have a saying, "the leading edge points to the problem." This means where the first edge of the first piece of paper stops is the area where the problem is located. The problem is either a bad sensor or some physical blockage of the paper path.

Older sensors are usually "flags," pieces of plastic which get pushed down by the passing paper. Flags are designed to pivot and have springs. These can fail in many ways, but it's not uncommon for a flag to just get stuck and it may need only gentle manipulation.

The other type of sensor is optical - the paper breaks a light beam. These sensors can be very small and very difficult to locate. Other than cleaning them, there's not much you can do with an optical sensor. Time to call a tech.



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Mac said...

With my experience, don't use thin papers or those that are printer specified.

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