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What Causes a Printer to Jam?

What Causes a Printer to Jam?

Sep 27th 2021

You hit the print button on your laptop or mobile device, and suddenly you hear that frustrating sound of paper crumpling. The light on your printer begins to blink, and you receive an error message on your screen. Printer jams are one of the most frequent and annoying problems you run into when trying to print. Fortunately, you can fix and even prevent them when you know the right strategies.

What Causes a Printer Jam?

Causes of printer jams can vary depending on your printer and the type of paper you use. The most common reasons for jams include:

  • Paper loading errors: Most paper jams are caused by incorrectly loading paper into the input tray. If you don't take the time to insert sheets correctly, papers can get stuck together, and the roller will pull multiple sheets into the printer, sparking the jam. Folded paper can similarly mess up the printer.
  • Damaged rollers: Rollers grab the paper from the input tray and pull them through the printer. If your printer is older or you use it frequently, such as an office printer, the rollers can suffer wear and tear, and that damage can reduce their effectiveness. In this case, you may need to call in a repair person to swap out the rollers or replace your printer with a new one.
  • Low-quality paper: You may choose your paper based on what's on sale this month, even though poor-quality paper can lead to paper jams. Flimsy paper can flake in the printer, creating dust that can build up over weeks of use, leading to internal machine problems.
  • Incorrect paper: Equally bad for your printer, the wrong paper stock can lead to jams. Check your printer to see what paper size and paperweight it supports.
  • Faulty cartridges: Refilled or poor quality printer cartridges can also lead to paper jams. They leave ink or toner powder that builds up in the printer and throws off its function.

How to Fix Printer Jams

You've identified the cause of your printer jam. Now it's time to fix it. First, look at the printer screen to see if it tells you where the blockage is. Older printers won't, but newer ones can pinpoint the problem. The second thing you should do is turn the printer off, which disables the moving parts and ensures you don't get a hand stuck.

Hunt down the jam by looking where the printer signaled or following the paper's journey through the printer. One advantage to the latter is that you won't disturb the paper's path, avoiding any damage to the printer. If you can't quite get to the paper, take out the printer cartridge to gain better access.

Once you have found the stuck paper, pull it out gently. Then replace the cartridge, if you removed it, and close all the open panels. Finally, turn the printer back on and watch it reset, which it should do if you have removed all evidence of the paper jam.

In rare cases, the printer will continue to insist there is a paper jam. If that happens, you can look inside the machine once again — you may have missed a small piece of paper. After you finish, reboot the printer once more. When the error message persists, it may mean you need to call a repair technician to look at the printer.

How to Prevent Paper Jams

Keeping your printer in good repair and addressing paper jams right away can help limit printing headaches. Other ways to prevent printer jams include:

  • Leave space at the top when loading your paper tray to avoid overfilling.
  • Fan out the paper before you place it in the tray, which loosens sheets that stick together.
  • Use the sliding mechanisms to help line up the paper when you put it in the paper tray. This keeps the paper in place and guides it to the new location as it prints.
  • Buy the paper weight and size recommended for your printer. Not sure what type works best? You can consult forums or blogs to learn more.
  • Follow instructions for paper placement or what side should feed into the printer.
  • Only use one kind of paper at a time. Different styles can stick together or cause the roller to malfunction.

Learn More About Supplies Outlet Today

Having the right printer supplies can decrease your risk of a paper jam. High-quality paper and the correct type of ink help your printer run better, and Supplies Outlet offers a wide selection of ink and toner cartridges as well as paper that can keep your machine in good shape. Our compatible cartridges average of 60% lower pricing than brand items. Browse our selection which includes Brother, Canon, Dell, HP compatible ink and more brands. Contact us today to make a purchase or place an order on our website