Printer Troubleshooting

This page is designed to help you trouleshoot problems you might have with your Printer. 

1. General Troubleshooting. The best way to determine whether a problem is with a toner cartridge or the laser printer is to replace the toner cartridge. You may either switch toners with another machine in your office that uses the same toner or put in your backup toner.

2. Page Count and Toner Usage. Many things affect page count of toner cartridges. The more toner printed on the page (% page coverage), the density setting of the machine and the number of pages printed cause the greatest variance. Studies of OEM (original equipment manufactures) toner using the same machine, same density setting and same page coverage have shown variances of up to 30% in page yield.

Tip – If you are concerned about getting more pages out of your toner; set your machine to lower density setting for increased page yield. On newer machines you can also reduce the DPI(dots per square inch) – usually found in the “print quality” menu. You can get 20% more pages and still have good print.

3. Never Shake a Toner Cartridge! Many people shake toner cartridges when they get the LOW TONER message.To extend the toner’s life after the LOW TONER message appears, simply rock the toner gently at a 40 degree angle, pat it gently on top and replace in the machine. Hopefully you have a backup cartridge ready.

4. Light Print. Sometimes the “light print” from a laser printer are when the printer has been inadvertently switched to “econo-mode”. Make sure you check the print quality setting, and the density setting (see your printer manual for how to check these). Switching the toner with another machine (if you have two printers that use the same toner) or putting in a back-up toner, will help isolate whether the toner is causing the problem or the machine. 

5. Low Toner Message. Make sure the seal (if it has one) was removed. Has an empty toner been put into the machine? Was the bag and box sealed when you opened it? Empty toner cartridges have a typical pattern of fading print in the middle of the page. Remember, never shake a toner cartridge. (See above.) If the problem continues after replacing the toner, the problem might be the printer. The high voltage power supply (or scanner) is the most likely culprit. 

Tip – If your machine shuts down upon “Low Toner”, and you need to get a job out, set the machine to Low Toner Continue through the control panel on the printer. You will usually find it under the configuration menu.

6. No Toner Cartridge or Cover Open. This can be caused by bent or broken tabs or drum shutter mechanisms on the toner cartridge.If the cartridge does not fix the problem, contact Information Services to have one of our school technicians take a closer look.

7. Image defects. The most likely cause of image defects other than the toner is the fuser (also drum, and transfer belt on color laserjet printers). Laser printers require a maintenance kit, which includes the fuser, transfer roller and paper pick-ups. These are replaced on a regular page count schedule when the printer displays “Perform Printer Maintenance”. Laser printers that do not have regularly scheduled maintenance kits only have the fuser replaced when an image problem occurs and rollers when there are paper jams.

8. Paper Jams. The leading edge of the paper on a jam usually indicates where the problem is occurring. If the printer is not even starting to pick-up paper, wiping the paper pick-up with a damp rag will sometimes get you up and printing temporarily. If it stops at the fuser the printer normally needs a fuser. With the new higher page per minute printers there are multiple sheets in the machine at the same time making diagnosing paper jams more difficult. To help the technician (especially on intermittent jams) note the paper tray and any other useful information (such type of paper or error code) when the jams occur.

9. Running Envelopes and Labels. The best advice is to read your printer’s user manual. Most printers have a preferred paper tray, usually the MP (typically tray 1) or bypass tray. The exit also can be selected on some printer models. With these thicker stocks the straightest path is normally the best. Make sure that the stock meets the paper specifications of the printer. If you are experiencing graying on envelopes, try adjusting the printer density and retention settings. If envelopes are curling (models such as; HP 5Si, HP 8000, HP 8100/8150, and HP 9000/9050) the fuser has an envelope setting located on the fusing assembly which can fix the problem. If the envelope is sealing shut you have a humidity problem (or someone licked them for some unknown reason). When printing labels, it is highly recommended that you do not run the label stock through the printer multiple times. It is best to print a whole sheet of labels at a time. Do not use label stock that has been bent or folded. Label adhesive on the fuser and toner drum cause many print quality issues. Labels or label adhesive stuck to the toner drum is often mistaken for a defective toner. Remember to use the straightest paper path through the printer when printing labels. Let Information Servicesremove any stuck labels.

10. Paper Stock and Enviromental Specifications. Printers do not function well in dirty or dusty environments. Running paper stock that does not meet the printer specifications can cause excessive wear to paper pick-ups, fusers and the drum in the toner cartridge. Even if the printer printed the stock fine when it was new (as fusers and other parts wear) problems can arise. Letterhead with high cotton rag content will cause lines down the page when the cotton fibers build up on the wiper blade. Most printer manufacturers have recommended temperature and humidity ranges, so please read the user manual. Place printers where air can circulate around the printer. If the cooling fans are blocked the printer will overheat and may take out components such as: low voltage power supply or possibly a board.

Published on January 14, 2009 at 12:09 pm Comments (0)

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