8 Common Printer Problems and How to Fix Them Yourself

Patrick Flesch
Author: Patrick Flesch Date: 09/12/2017

Even with all the time savers that technology has given us, efficiencies can be lost when one piece of equipment doesn’t function properly. When a printer doesn’t perform its one job in a sufficient manner, you may feel frustrated. And if that faulty device is a multifunction printer (MFP) that also acts as your scanner and copier, you lose precious business time.

To help you get back up and running with as little downtime as possible, we compiled a list of common printer problems, and how to fix them.

However, consider the best practices that our Managed Print technicians follow first...before getting too deep into troubleshooting, always make sure the basics have been checked. Is the printer on? Does it have paper? Are all necessary cables connected? Are all wireless connections working properly? Have you checked the ink and/or toner? With those questions answered, it’s time to move on to the more intimidating problems.

1. Printer Won’t Print

While the easiest solution is to restart, it’s essential to double check that you’ve selected the correct printer—preferably before you send a dozen copies of your document to another printer in the next room. If your print driver has two-way communication, you may be warned about an issue even before you step over to the printer. Luckily, these warnings often tell you what the problem is and will recommend troubleshooting tactics. If all else fails, turn your printer off, wait a few minutes, and then restart your printer and software application.

2. Bad Print Quality 

It may seem like an insignificant factor, but the paper you’re printing on can make a big difference in print quality. Generally, photo paper sold by your printer’s manufacturer will have fewer issues than generic printer paper. But what’s even more important? Match the printer settings to what you’re printing. This means more than making sure the correct type of paper is selected; it also means choosing the appropriate print quality settings for your documents. If you’re printing high quality photos on glossy paper for a presentation, draft quality and plain paper settings will not suffice. Furthermore, mixing brands and types of paper within one printer tray can cause further issues.

3. Won't Scan Anymore

When an MFP no longer scans, corrupted scanner software often plays the role of the villain. To get your printer scanning again, reinstall the printing software package. If that’s not successful, read through the user manual's troubleshooting section, or look online at the manufacturer’s website. There may be a hardware issue that needs to be repaired or replaced.

4. Too Many Paper Jams

While the obvious paper jam culprit may be foreign objects loose inside the printer, there are several lesser-known culprits, including an overfilled paper tray or improperly inserted paper. Try fanning the stack of paper to reduce any static and dust, and re-insert the paper while keeping it flush with the guides. When using thicker paper, it’s often better to manually feed each sheet into the printer.

5. Prints Too Slowly

Even though inkjet printers can be notoriously slow with ink drying time, LaserJet printers can have issues too. Just as printing in draft quality for detailed photos can result in print quality issues, so can printing in presentation quality for simple black and white text documents. The lesser the standard for print quality, the faster it will print. If your paper is printing in duplex mode (using both sides of the paper), the printer has to take time to flip each sheet over. If your goal is speed, the simpler the printer settings, the better.

6. Printing is Too Expensive

Before you pay for another set of cartridges, consider this: will draft quality suffice? Do you need every page of the document, or maybe just a few? Is duplex printing an option? If you’re buying the lower-priced third-party ink, clogged print nozzles and sub-par ink quality are two common complaints that initiate more ink orders. Making sure all employees adhere to common printing standards can also save money. You may also want to consider switching to a paperless electronic content management system.

7. I Can't Print from My Mobile Device

Almost every major printer company has released an app allowing you to connect your mobile device with your printer to print wirelessly. Your printer doesn't even require Wi-Fi connectivity, it simply needs a wireless access point that allows you to install software like PrinterShare, Apple's AirPrint, Epson Email print/Epson Connect, Mopria Print Services, or Google Cloud Print. 

8. Wi-Fi Printing Takes Too Long

If your printer speed is fine when connected via USB but wireless printing is slow, your printer is likely innocent; it’s how the print data is being transferred that’s the guilty party. If moving your printer closer to the router isn't possible, make sure your router is well-equipped for Wi-Fi printing with 802.11n support, up-to-date firmware, and that it offers the 5GHz band and has 2.4GHz. Switching to a wired connection, then back to wireless, seems to work sometimes as well.

Ultimately, if none of these techniques work, or your printer is well beyond its expected lifespan, consider getting a service contract with your next replacement. Calling in an expert that is already familiar with your machine will save you time and frustration in the long run.  

If you’re interested in consulting with a business technology expert to help with your printing concerns, contact the Gordon Flesch Company today for a free, no-obligation Managed Print Services needs assessment.
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Topics: Managed Print

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Written by Patrick Flesch

Patrick joined the Gordon Flesch Company in 2006 as Territory Account Executive and worked his way to become VP of the Sales for the company’s Western Region. Today, Patrick is President of the Gordon Flesch Company.

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