Top 5 ways to prevent paper jams in your photocopier

A photocopier or laser printer that jams up is one of the biggest causes of frustration in a busy office. As a photocopier supplier, we know there are many mechanical and electrical faults that can cause paper misfeeds, and only a qualified technician can repair them. But more often than not, it is worth checking if you are doing everything you can to help prevent jamming before you pick up the phone.

1. Store your paper in a warm, dry place

Damp paper is one of the major culprits when it comes to problems with photocopiers and laser printers. When paper is left in the tray or stored incorrectly and exposed to the environment for a period of time, moisture from the air is absorbed into the fibres of the paper. This can cause a number of problems. Firstly, it can cause the feed rollers to slip on the paper, mainly because damp paper sticks together in the paper tray and is harder for the copier to separate. Secondly, it can cause the paper to curl which makes it harder to feed through the twists and turns in a copiers paper path. This is particularly critical with duplex (double-sided) printing. To check if damp paper is the cause of your fault, try a fresh packet of paper in your machine.

To prevent damp paper -

  • Find a warm, dry place to store your paper. Store it wrapped in its original, moisture proof packaging when not in use. Some photocopiers are supplied with plastic ziplock bags for paper storage.
  • Only take from the packet what you are likely to use in the next day or so.
  • Only buy paper that comes in reams or packets (usually 500 sheets). Do not buy paper supplied loose in boxes of 2500 sheets unless you regularly get through boxes in a couple of days.
  • If you have a dedicated print room, consider using a dehumidifier to draw the moisture from the air.
  • 2. Buy good quality paper

    Low grade, budget paper can cause all sorts of issues in photocopiers and laser printers. Poor quality paper can leave an excessive paper dust build up inside your machine which will cause jams and image quality problems over time. This is often the case with recycled paper especially. The quality of the paper grain can cause feed issues too. Make sure you buy a good quality paper that is suitable for high volume laser printing. Buying cheap paper is often false economy as your copier will have more downtime and will ultimately need to be replaced sooner.

    3. Use appropriate media

    Most manufacturers will recommend a standard weight paper of 80gsm for reliable performance on most photocopiers, laser printers and multifunction devices. Check your products specifications to make sure you are using the recommended media. Also be sure that your paper is suitable for use in photocopiers and laser products. Photocopiers use heat and pressure to fuse toner to the paper so it is vital that appropriate media is used. Inkjet paper must never be used as, not only will it cause jams but it will damage the components inside the machine.

    Adhesive labels are another commonly misused media. Labels must be suitable for your product to avoid a nasty mess inside your machine and should be of good quality. If you have an alternative way of printing labels that won't potentially cause hundreds of pounds worth of damage to your machine, for example a cheap desktop laser printer, use that instead.

    4. Set up your machine correctly

    Always use the correct paper tray for special media. Envelopes, labels and card can often be fed by your machine but usually this is through a designated special media tray or bypass tray, that have rollers designed for these types of media. Check that you are using the right tray for your media and that you have told the machine what you are feeding through it. Often, printers will adjust speeds, temperatures or other factors to achieve the right result with different media so it is imperative that you enter the paper type in the paper tray settings.

    Most devices these days will have intelligent paper trays to determine the size of paper loaded into it. Some, however will still require you to manually enter the paper size. Incorrect entry or detection of paper sizes will result in jams because the machine will detect paper at unexpected locations and assume a misfeed.

    5. Load your paper carefully

    This may sound obvious but it is surprising how many times poorly loaded paper is the cause of a jamming fault. Paper should be stacked straight and even in the tray and never overloaded. The guides in the tray should be touching the paper on all sides. This is vital for automatic size detection in intelligent trays and also to avoid skewing.

    Some people feel that fanning and separating the pages before placing them into the tray will help prevent jams. In reality, unless you have damp paper, you are more likely to cause jams by fanning the pages because in doing so you are generating static between the sheets, making them stick together.

    Lastly, check to see if your brand of paper indicates a "first print side". Due to processes in the manufacture of the paper, it will perform better if loaded with the first print side the right way up, usually face up.

    If you are having problems with paper jams it is worth checking through this list to see if any of the steps above could solve your problem. If everything seems to be in order then you may need to contact us to fix your problem.

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