Before You Call About Paper Jams

One Thing To Check Before Calling For Repairs

Want to hear some alarming statistics?  About 8% of calls for paper jams and misfeeds are a waste of time and money.  Oh, not for the technician… he’s going to get his money.  (Of course, a good technician will give the machine a ‘going over’ to make sure the customer at least gets their money’s worth.)  But the customer could have saved themselves the service charge just by checking a few things before making that call.

Paper Trays

I don’t know how many times I’ve seen it, but I sure wish I had a nickel for each one.  One person decides they need to print on legal sized paper (8 1/2 x 14), and then forgets to change the paper tray back when they leave.  The next person loads their normal letter sized paper (8 1/2 x 11) into the tray, but doesn’t notice that it doesn’t fit snugly into the tray.  The next thing you know, the machine stops feeding paper.  Sometimes it happens right away, sometimes it happens after the machine gets bumped around a little and the paper shifts.

The point is, the very first thing you should check when getting misfeeds or paper jams is the paper tray itself.  Are all the clips and guides in place?  Does the paper fit in nice and snug?  If not, make the appropriate changes and try again.

Paper Size Settings

Not only do the paper guides have to be placed properly, but the machine itself has to know what paper you’re using and what direction it is in.  Otherwise, you get paper jams, because the machine is expecting the wrong dimensions.  Different machines ‘detect’ this in different ways.

For some machines (most Lexmarks for example), you have to program the paper size in the menu settings.  If the machine gets reset, or someone else in the office screws with it, it can cause paper jams when another user comes along and tries to run to old kind of paper.

Other machines have physical settings on the machine itself.  For example, a knob on the front of the paper tray, where you turn it to the type of paper you’re using.  Some machines also use a small, plastic card that sets in the front of the paper tray.  It has to be flipped or rotated so that the proper sized paper is showing when put into the tray.

Finally (my personal favorite) some machines automatically detect the paper size according to where you put the paper guides and clips.  Of course, the machine can still be fooled if the guides aren’t properly placed.

Paper Direction

When a piece of paper runs through a machine, it detects the front and tail ends of the paper.  So when you run a piece of letter sized paper through, all it really sees is that it is 8 1/2 inches long.  If you run Letter-R through, it sees a piece of paper that is 11 inches long.  So the machine thinks sees it as a paper jam.  Make sure you have the direction settings right in the machine to match the paper.  Letter is when it looks like this as you’re putting it into the drawer  -- .  Letter-R is when it looks like this  | .

Does all of the above check okay, and you’re still having problems?  Now it’s time to call the tech.