If you own or use a copier frequently, there’s one thing for sure: you will inevitably have a paper jam. There’s a saying in the copier industry… A copier does three things: copy, misfeed, and jam. It has happened to all of us. It’s frustrating, unnerving, and it always seems to happen during a deadline.

We have even heard of some clients naming their copier or multi-function printer (MFP). One actually named their copier Bob Marley because they said, “it be jammin’!”

Most of the time, a paper jam is the result of a poorly set up machine. There are three areas that you should consider to protect yourself from copier paper jams. You can be preventive. You can fix them quickly and safely as soon as it happens. And you should know what to do if this is a reoccurring problem.

Preventing Paper Jams

  1. Use the right type of copy paper. Not all copy paper is created equal. The wrong paper can lead to copier repair service calls. Purchase good quality paper. Check your copier’s technical manual or look up the specifications online for the correct type of paper for your machine. The standard weight is usually 20 lb., but copier machines can also use 22-24 lb. paper. There are many different kinds too. You may want to consider a better quality (feel and brightness) or environmentally (recycled) paper too. These are all great to consider, but you need to make sure that it is the right size and weight for your copier. Don’t forget to store your paper in a dry, warm place. Here’s some more information on picking the right copier paper.
  2. Prepare the paper each time you refill the machine. Load your paper carefully. There is a right way to prepare paper when loading it into your copier. Remove the paper from its sealed packaging. I know, most people understand this, but we’ve seen clients just drop the wrapped ream right into the machine before. By placing it in a tight, even, and neat stack in the paper guides, this can save you time later. Have you heard of “fanning” the ream of paper before placing it into the cassette? Fanning a stack of paper can do more harm than not. When you fan the paper, it can actually cause a static electricity charge, making the pages stick together. And make sure you don’t overfill the tray.
  3. Adjust the paper tray guides. Another fairly simple task, but again, it’s about properly setting up the copier for successfully feeding paper into the machine so that it doesn’t jam. Each time the paper is replenished, the guides should be checked and reset if needed. The guides should be touching the paper, but not too tight against the paper. It should guide the paper, not restrict it.
  4. Wipe the rollers. Each time you replace the paper in the copier, you should take the time to wipe the rollers with a dry, clean, lint-free cloth. Paper does contain dust particles, and when running across the rollers, this dust can stick to them and begin to build up. Rollers are meant to grab the paper and guide it through the copier. So, when they have a lot of dust build up they are less likely to function properly, causing the copier to misfeed paper.
  5. When printing thicker paper, use the manual feed. Most copiers can take and copy onto thicker types of paper. Before purchasing and using thicker paper, please review the copier’s specifications or manual to make sure you are only using paper with recommended thicknesses for your specific copier. Also, make sure when running card stock or thicker paper in your copier, to use the manual feed. This allows the paper to have a shorter and straighter (fewer turns or bends) path through the copier for this type of paper.

How To Fix A Paper Jam

  1. Check the display panel. As soon as your copier or MFP jams it’s important to review its LCD panel or display for important information like where the jam occurred, or it may even contain instructions on how to open the printer and clear the jam.
  2. Turn the machine off. Before clearing any jam, it’s important that you turn its power off. You are going to be placing your hand on an electrical device with many moving parts, and by cutting its power, you have the best chance of not getting injured.
  3. Remove the jammed paper. After opening up the copier and before placing your hands inside the copier, you may want to let it cool. This should only take a few minutes. Once you feel that it’s safe to place your hands inside, find the jammed paper and remove it by grabbing it tightly, pulling it in the opposite direction that it seemed to be going when it jammed. Also, pull with a strong, straight, steady tension so that you don’t tear the paper when removing it.
  4. Look for paper tears and remnants. Once you have removed the jammed paper, take a close look at the area where it jammed to make sure you have removed any paper particles, remnants or torn fragments. As an added measure, by placing the removed piece of paper on a flat surface, you can ensure you have all of its pieces.
  5. Inspect the rollers. After removing the paper, you should inspect the rollers for any marks, dust, or paper underneath the rollers that may not be easily seen.
  6. Close the machine and power it on. Once complete with clearing the jam, you can close it carefully making sure that it locks or snaps back into place, and then power on the machine.
  7. Review display panel one more time. Finally, make sure to check the LCD panel or display one more time. Copiers usually go through their own electronic diagnosis when powering up to ensure that the machine has been closed properly, its in good working order, and ready for use.

The Reoccurring Jam—not the Norm

Sometimes no matter what you do to clear a copier jam, remove all of the paper, clean the rollers, and close it properly, it continues to jam. This could be due to many reasons. From misaligned rollers to paper fragments, broken components, etc. When you have a copier or MFP that continually stops with a paper jam, it needs a service call. Regardless of what we’ve said before, a continuous paper jam is not a normal occurrence, and it should be looked at by a trained technician. There are different types of companies that can help you fix your copier. To determine who provides the best copier or printer repair service please review our recent post. The important thing here is that you call a professional and have it fixed immediately, so it doesn’t lead to bigger problems and a larger repair bill.

Additional Tips to Consider

  • Clean the glass. Dirty glass can cause simulated streaking in your copies, or even make it look like there’s something mechanically wrong with your printer. Check the surface of the glass and make sure it’s clean and wipe it down now and then. This is one of the easiest things to do, but it is most commonly overlooked. Here’s how you can do it with Windex!
  • Use a surge protector or power conditioner. A copier is an expensive and important piece of machinery in every office. They need clean, reliable power and should be protected from power surges. Just as any other investment in your business you should take the necessary steps to ensure its proper care. So when it’s installed, make sure that you add a power conditioner, surge protector, or an UPS (Uninterrupted Power Supply or battery back up). And don’t forget to check it now and then to make sure it’s running properly.
  • These are similar to a printer. A copier is very similar to today’s printers used in every business location or office. They all need paper and toner and most of them have scanning capability too. So the information provided above can also be followed and used for your printers.

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