Troubleshooting Printer Problems

By: Barry Shultz

If nothing has occurred since the last time you used your printer chances are the problem is straightforward. As obvious as it sounds check to make sure the printer is turned on. Somebody may have turned it off while you were away from your desk or computer. Make sure there is power to the printer. All printers have some kind of light or LED to let you know that it is powered up.

If it is turned on but has some flashing lights then check with your owners
manual to see what the lights mean. Most of these indicators will be related to either paper, toner or ink.

Make sure there is paper in the printer. If it's empty then refill the paper tray. Make sure to "fan" the paper stack before you put it in the printer. Fanning the paper merely involves flipping through the paper stack with your thumb. This ruffling separates the paper thereby reducing paper jams. When the paper stack is cut at the factory sometimes it causes the pages to stick together.

If the paper is full then check for a mis-feed or paper jam.

Remove the paper stack and check the feed area for jammed paper. You may have to open several panels to make a thorough inspection. Even a small piece of paper stuck inside the printer can cause problems. You might have to use tweezers to remove small pieces. Be careful not to damage any mechanical parts with the tweezers.

If all seems well with the printer it's time to check the wire that connects the printer to the computer. You may be using a parallel or a USB connection. Make sure the cable is connected properly. Turn the equipment off and remove and re-insert the connection on both the printer and the computer to ensure a solid connection. If you are at work and your printer is connected to what appears to be a telephone wire then it's time to call your resident network expert.

If the printer works but only prints garbage then that is a good indication of a printer driver problem. The printer driver is a software program that
translates the computer instructions into something that the printer can
recognize. Try re-booting the computer and turning the printer off and on
before messing with the driver. Sometimes that's all it takes. If after doing that you still have the problem it's time to replace the printer driver. Your printers manufacturer has a web site where you can download another printer driver. They are free to download and usually are updated as well. Follow the instructions given by the manufacturer to replace your driver.

If you have a scanner it may be interfering with your printer. Try reinstalling the software for both BUT install the printer driver firstFeature Articles, then the scanner driver.

If nothing I've said results in a solution then it may be time to call the printer manufacturer. Make sure that you are near the printer when you call and have all your warranty information available.

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