Paper jams: causes, solutions and prevention

Paper jams: causes, solutions and prevention
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Capital’s devices have moved with the times to become faster, more reliable, higher quality, more cost-effective, and more tailored to your needs. However, despite all of technology’s developments, there is one problem that persists: that of simple paper jams.

As they are one of the most common and inevitable printer, photocopier and multifuctional device (MFD) problems, we are here to help.

Why am I in a jam?

How to fix a paper jam

Papers jams are the outcome of a variety of issues your device has encountered, they are not the source of the issue. So here are the most common causes:

  • Paper inserted incorrectly. This tends to be the number one cause, and there’s a lot that can go wrong while you’re loading the paper in the input tray. Sheets stuck together, folded or frayed paper, and an overloaded tray can all create problems. Even using the wrong type of paper can cause paper jams.
  • Damaged rollers. Rollers pull in sheets from the input tray. These rollers can suffer wear and tear over time. Generally, they’re designed to last the distance, but mishandling can result in them getting damaged.
  • Low quality paper. Printers, photocopiers and MFDs are very precise devices. Using low quality paper can create flakes and shred that cause issues. Even if paper bits are not the problem, low quality paper will leave behind what technicians call “paper dust”. This is basically very small paper bits that only become a problem when they accumulate.
  • Low quality cartridges. Low quality cartridges can leave behind stray ink and toner. This will not only result in paper jams but also affect output quality.

Get me out of this jam!

Abereen Photocopier Enginners

OK, it’s time to go in. Here are the basic steps to finding the route of the problem:

  • Turn off the device. If you’re going in, turn it off! This will avoid any trouble with electricity, heat or moving components.
  • Open all doors leading to the paper path. To find the route of the problem, you will need to follow the path of the paper. If you can’t tell which door leads to the paper jam, start by removing or opening the input tray and following the paper path to the output tray, opening every door or panel that you can find along the way. You should also follow the paper path, as working against it will just cause more tears, dust, and put strain on the device’s mechanics.
  • Carefully pull out paper sheets and scraps. Check for paper sheets that are stuck or that have gone awry, as well as for scraps. Pull the paper out of the path firmly, but carefully and slowly. When possible, pull paper in the direction it is supposed to go in under normal conditions and take care to remove all of the paper. If you have the misfortune of breaking a component in the device, don’t go any further and call for service.
  • Close all doors and turn on the device. Once switched back on, the device should reset itself automatically. If the device reports that it is still jammed, double-check for stray paper scraps, and then close all the doors again. If the device continues to complain you’ll have to call for service – that’s what we’re here for.

Jam session

Paper jams: causes, solutions and prevention

As mentioned, jams are an inevitability over the life of your device. However, if you’re encountering frequent paper jams, the following steps may help prevent them.

  • Make sure your device’s paper is correctly loaded into the slot or tray.
  • When you reload your input tray, pay attention to the tray’s needs. This includes how the paper should be loaded, and if the length or width guides need adjusting.
  • If your device has a paper tray, do not overload it. Overfilling the paper tray is frequently the cause of paper jams.
  • Use only one kind of paper at a time in your input tray. If you aren’t sure whether your device takes a certain kind of paper, check its documentation.
  • Fan the stack of paper that you’re about to load. This will loosen any sheets that may be stuck together.
  • Do not mix the paper sizes or types in a single stack. This can confuse the devices and will directly result in paper jams.
  • The quality of paper you use will have an influence. Always try to use recommended type of devices paper, and if you’re trying to experiment, start small.
  • Examine the device for any debris from previous jobs that will continue to cause issues.
  • Run regular device cleaning cycles. This helps keep the paper pathway clean. It is also recommended to turn the device off, if you’re not going to use it for a while. Some people turn their devices off every night. What this does is it brings devices’ mini cleaning cycles into play, which are beneficial in keeping the device trouble free.

For more information

For more information on popular device problems, have a look at our previous blog: What to do if your printer is broken.

Of course, we are here to help whatever the problem. If you find yourself in a jam, get in touch with us now.

To comment on this, and on other Capital articles, visit our LinkedIn and Twitter pages.

Finally, watch one of our partners, HP’s step-by-step video on clearing a paper jam in the video below.

References: Inkjet Wholesale Office Hacks, PC World: How to fix and avoid printer paper jams, Computer Hope: How to fix a paper jam in a printer


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