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Troubleshooting for Printers and Copiers

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In today’s business world, we are increasingly dependent on our office equipment. The following are basic troubleshooting tips as well as driver downloads for standard problems with printers, fax machines and copiers. When in doubt, be sure to contact a trained technician.

Preventive Maintenance

  • Have the unit cleaned regularly
  • When removing a paper jam, always gently remove the paper in the direction it moves through the machine. NEVER “yank” the paper out.
  • Replace parts and service items when called for.
  • Replace your ozone filters regularly, if required.
  • If cleaning “wands” are supplied and required with toners, use them.
  • Use a surge protector on the power line and the phone line (for fax machines), not just a power strip.

Lines on the page

If you are receiving faxes with lines on them, you need to determine whether the problem stems from the sender or your machine. To test, run a print job or copy of something in your fax. If it comes out “clean”, the problem is with the sender’s machine. Be sure to let the sender know so they can rectify the problem. If lines show up when you make a copy with a fax or copier, there can be a number of reasons:

  • Many times there is a foreign substance (ink, white-out) on the scanner glass (or copier mirrors).  Clean with a soft cloth and mild cleanser. Do not spray the cleanser on the machine.
  • Check the white set bar, on the top side of the scanner glass.  This could be covered with ink or pencil marks.  Clean this in the same manner listed above.
  • If the problem persists, the problem could be in the imaging unit.  If your machine uses a cartridge, change the cartridge.  If this solves your problem, your supplier should replace the cartridge for you.
  • The waste toner area could be full.  Replace or empty and clean the waste hopper.
  • There may be a bad connection between the imaging unit and the machine.  Clean the connections with a dry cloth or towel.
  • The toner cartridge may be defective or have a bad drum connection.  Try replacing the toner cartridge.  If this rectifies the problem, contact the supplier of the cartridge. 
  • If you use a multi-component system (drum, toner, developer each separate),  this makes problem solving more difficult.  Toner is usually not the problem.
  • If there is a line (often large), going vertically down the page, this usually indicates a drum blade problem. The drum blade usually needs to be replaced.
  • Fusers can cause marks on the page also. They normally leave lines down the page.  This type of problem requires a trained technician.

Spots on the page

If spots appear on the page, like toner is being “dropped” on the page, the problem is usually the developer unit.  The developer unit is seldom able to be rebuilt and should be replaced.

If spots appear in the same place on each copy, you may have an ink, dirt or whiteout on the platen glass.

If the spots repeat down the page, there could be a defect on the drum such as scratches from a foreign object or the drum has a “ping” that may be a manufacturer’s defect.  These are often not warranted due to their being so fragile. 

Double Imaging

The main cause of the print being duplicated in areas where they are not wanted is the fuser assembly, or a drum cleaning blade failure.
An improper combination of toner and drum in a toner cartridge could also be the problem. Faxing a page that has letterhead printed with thermal ink may cause the image to be transferred to the rest of the page. 

Blank or Light Areas

If you have blank or light areas, this may be caused by a lack of toner on the drum.  Insure you have toner and that it is getting to the drum. The drum may no longer be able to accept the charge to hold the toner and may need to be replaced. If your unit is an ink jet style fax, the ink may be empty or the ink print head could be clogged from too little use. The problem may be the paper.  Paper absorbs moisture and toner can’t print on moisture.  These are usually seen as light spots on the paper.  Try using fresh, dry paper in the unit and see if that corrects the problem.  Be sure to store your paper in a dry place. 

Dark Pages

  • Check to ensure the density is not set for too dark a setting.
  • The drum may need to be replaced.
  • The toner cartridge could have a problem.  Try replacing it to see if that corrects the problem.  If it does, notify your supplier.

Wrinkled Pages

  • Worn feed and exit rollers can cause the paper to wrinkle.
  • Worn fuser rollers can cause paper to wrinkle.
  • Moisture in pages can cause wrinkles.  Try replacing with fresh, dry  paper.

Paper Jams

  • Moist paper or specialty paper (checks, slick paper) can cause jams.
  • A machine dirty with paper dust can cause a jamming  problem.  Wipe the feed tires and the interior of the machine with a cloth.
  • Worn paper trays can also cause jams by allowing the papers to feed at an angle.
  • Worn paper path, worn fuser assembly, worn gears, worn feed and exit tiers, bad sensors, all may cause jamming problems and require a technician to repair.


Most noises are caused by problems that should be checked out by a trained technician.  The problem could be fans, gears, tires or electrical components. 
If this troubleshooting information does not solve your problem, you would be well advised to contact a trained technician to evaluate and repair the problem. Failure to do so may result in greater problems and/or a voided warranty.

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