Every single business has to deal with printer problems at some point. For those who don’t have an on-site printer service technician, troubleshooting why your printer doesn’t work is up to the office staff.
Luckily, there are a few easy ways to determine what’s wrong with your printer function quickly. Because printer issues are relatively typical, these first five troubleshooting methods usually fix the problem and get the office back up and running in no time.
There are four common problems that, more often than not, will fix the issue and let the office get on with their day. Try each of these quick fixes before calling your service technician.
First things first - check for error indicators. It may sound obvious, but you would be surprised at how easy it is to forget that our printers and copiers come with signals and error messages to help the user troubleshoot. These printer error lights and codes are the easiest way to quickly understand what’s gone wrong and how to fix the issue.
Avoid the trial and error method by grabbing the handbook and looking up the common error messages. Generally, the manual should be stored near the printer. Some offices will go so far as to affix a file holder to the side of the printer, so the manual is always there and easy to reference.
If the manual isn’t helpful or available, jump online. The manufacturer's website will often have a downloadable PDF of the support documents you need to get back up and running.
Paper jams are probably the number one reason printers will malfunction. It can result from improperly loaded printer paper, the wrong paper, or crumpled paper that caught the feeding mechanism.
Whatever the reason, a quick check of your copier will give you your answer. Begin by looking for error lights that might indicate where the paper jam is located. Multifunction printers have the ability to show you a picture of the drawer or door that needs to be opened to clear the paper jam.
If the printer codes and lights don't tell you anything or that option isn’t available, you can still proceed with a top to bottom paper check. Check the paper tray where the original document you wanted to copy rests. Are any of those pages missing or stuck?
Then check the paper drawer where the printer draws the paper it’s going to print on. Is it correctly loaded with the right size and weight paper? Just in case, you might pull the paper out, fan the pages to make sure they separate easily, tap the edge of the paper to make sure they are still stacked evenly, and then put it back into the printer. Realigning the paper may fix an error that made the printer think there wasn’t any paper.
Next, gently open each of the cabinets along the printing mechanism to check for the stuck, torn, or crumpled paper that has gotten caught, causing a paper jam. You may need to refer to your manual or the manufacturer’s website to determine where these compartments are located and how to open and close them.
Check the signal. If your computer is plugged directly into the computer, check that the line is properly plugged in and hasn’t come loose. You might even unplug and plug it back in.
If you are remotely sending projects to your printer, double-check that the printer connection has a strong signal and that your computer is able to communicate with your printer. If there is a network connection problem, your computer will typically tell you about this error. Your printer should show up in your router’s network list and be connected. If there isn’t a connection, try bringing your computer closer to the printer, if possible, to detect the printer and reconnect.
When all else fails, your last resort is to connect your printer directly to your computer, unless you have a multifunction printer with the built-in ability to search the internet. While connected, your computer should automatically detect a printer there and automatically locate the divers.
Try to install the printer drivers to reset the connection between your computer and the printer. If you can’t find the drivers online, try referring to the manual or the manufacturer’s website before attempting to navigate the rabbit hole of detailed online articles about drivers.
Printer problems are inevitable. Luckily, there are some common solutions to standard printer issues. Just a little troubleshooting, and you can get the office back to its productive, efficient operations in no time.
Remember to check the error lights first. If that doesn’t point you to the problem, begin checking for paper jams and that the paper is loaded correctly. Then check the connection to your computer. If all else fails, try to load the drivers. Once you’ve been through this list, the next best option to check in with the manufacturer or call your service technician, depending on the service agreement.
Even though printers are becoming more advanced every day, they are also becoming easier to fix, so before you give in to frustration, take a step-by-step approach to troubleshooting.