How to troubleshoot your printer

Printers even in 2017 are very useful accessories, but when they begin to act funky, sometimes it can be difficult to return it to its normal functionality. Printers generally aren’t user-serviceable either (aside from replacing ink cartridges), so besides running usual maintenance tasks, you’re likely not going to be able to repair it yourself. Thankfully, many of the built-in maintenance tools can end up restoring a printer acting funky to how its supposed to operate normally.

We’re going to show you some signs your printer might be giving to indicate something’s wrong and then guide you through a few troubleshooting processes to (hopefully) restore it back to normal operation.

Warnings

  1. Marks on pages: Getting smudges and marks on paper could mean that you’re running low on ink, but could also mean something else is wrong (e.g. printhead needs cleaning, etc).
  2. Strange noises: It goes without saying, hearing strange noises isn’t generally a good thing. While it could be a simple paper jam, it’s likely that something else has gone wrong, especially if you hear a sort of crunching.
  3. Regular paper jams: If you experience paper jams regularly, this could indicate a problem with either the alignment of the paper or something wrong with the paper tray itself.

Troubleshooting

Having regular paper jams? You’ll want to open the print tray and make sure your paper is all aligned correctly. If not, make sure to put them in a neat stack and then reinsert the pile into the paper tray. If you see any big crinkles or smudges on the paper, the paper may need to be replaced outright (or flipped around) for the printer to accept it. If that still doesn’t work, you may need to take the entire paper tray out and reinsert it. The printer can sometimes get confused — it’ll alert you to a paper jam even though there’s none to be seen. By reinserting the paper tray, you can sometimes clear up that confusion.

If you’re having issues with smudging or words/images not printing out well on a page, check your ink/toner levels. They could be low and need a new replacement unit. And, sometimes, you just get faulty ink/toner cartridges. In this case, you can usually take them to the store and swap them out for a new one or contact the manufacturer. They’ll sometimes send out a replacement or certificate worth the value of a replacement cartridge as a way to remedy the problem.

Sometimes Windows 10 can get a little confused with printer jobs. You can check to see what’s lined up in the queue but clicking the little dialog in the taskbar. Alternatively, you can right-click on the printer in the Devices & Printers in Settings and click on the See what’s printing option. If you see an error or a document that just won’t print, right-click on it, remove it from the queue and then try again.

One of the things that could be messing you up is a glitch with the drivers or even an outdated driver. To resolve this, you’ll want to uninstall your printer’s current drivers, head to the manufacturers website, and re-download and install the latest drivers for your printer model. If there was a glitch in the system or there was a new driver that resolved some problems, reinstalling those drivers should fix it.

You can also run printer diagnostics right in Windows 10. Head back into Devices & Printers menu, right-click your printer and select “Troubleshoot.” Depending on the printers drivers, that option may be buried somewhere else, such as under the Properties selection. But, once you launch the troubleshooting, Windows will try to resolve the problem internally, and if it can’t, at least give you a good idea as to what the issue might be.

One of the last things you can do with your printer is clean/realign the printhead. This will actually fix 99% of your issues with a printer (especially if you’re experiencing problems so early on after purchasing). Now, this isn’t something you do manually. In many modern printers, there will be a Settings option that will give you the ability to clean and re-align the printhead. You’ll need to refer to your printer’s manual for the official placement of the option, but once selected, the printer will clean the printhead and realign it, hopefully clearing any issues up for you.

Closing

And that’s all there is to it! By following the above steps, you should be able to fix most problems with your printer. If not, you’ll either need to contact a professional printer serviceman or get a replacement. In most cases, getting a replacement is the most cost-effective option. But, if you want to take the route of repair, contact your manufacturer first for warranty details. From there they should be able to give you your repair options. Alternatively, a local electronics repair store might just have the expertise to take a look at it as well.

We hope this guide helped you resolve the problems with your printer. But if you’re still stuck, be sure to head on over to the PCMech forum and post your problem to get some additional help from the PCMech community!

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