Paper jams are a minor inconvenience that can cause major delays. Workflow comes to a halt when machines jam, and if you aren’t sure how to fix them, you can do more harm than good. Taking preventative measures to ensure your printer is free from jams will help extend the life of your device.
Good practices can help you avoid delays caused by jams. In addition to jams, misprints and ink smears produce unprofessional printed materials. Paper that has “been through the wringer” should never be shown to customers. Presenting polished printed materials to customers gives you an edge and fosters confidence. With that in mind, here are 6 tips to help you avoid paper jams:
Prepare the paper each time you refill the machine. Load your paper carefully. There is a right way to prepare a 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.
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.
DON’T OVERFILL TRAYS
It can be tempting to overfill your trays to avoid having to refill them, but this will not work! The trays require enough clearance for the rollers to feed the paper into the machine. Without that, the paper will not feed or will feed several sheets and lead to a jam.
Paper Jam Prevention
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. A couple of common-sense steps will help you keep your equipment in good working order.
1. It’s not a buffet table. Keep food and drinks away from your copier. Coffee with cream and sugar fuels people, not machines. You’d think I’m exaggerating about this, but I’m not. Sticky coffee or soda in the guts of your copier is NOT a good thing. The same goes for food – bagels and chips have a nasty habit of leaving crumbs where you don’t want them.
2. Don’t use torn paper.
3. Fan paper before you add it into the paper tray – and put it right side up. Yes, the paper has the right direction, look for the arrow on your ream of paper.
4. Try to use paper quickly. Paper will start to absorb moisture over time and is more likely to jam.
5. Before adding a bunch of documents to copy (or scan) to the feeder, remove paper clips, staples, tape torn edges, remove Post-It notes, and anything else that the copier might “eat.”
6. If you notice that the same machine keeps having the same error, call in your service partner to look the machine over.
7. Keep it clean. A dirty copier is an inefficient copier. Dirt can get on the rollers and cause “slippage,” which means the paper can’t grip the paper to pull it through the machine to print, copy, or scan. Dirt on the platen (that’s the large piece of glass) can cause speckles on copies and even interfere with OCR if you scan documents.
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. 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.