Laser printers are dropping in price, and the newer ones have some great features. They are fast, can handle a high workload and offer wonderful quality print jobs. However, when something goes wrong with your printer, most people just assume they need a new one and start shopping for the one with the latest features. By checking a few things and replacing some parts, your printer can work like new again!
Laser printers have features to help you troubleshoot your printer problems. Even the most basic laser printer has a button that lets you print a demo page that helps you troubleshoot problems. Some of the more high-end printers (Such as the HP LaserJet 4000) have a display screen and menu system that allow you to configure the printer. It also comes in handy for troubleshooting. The menus consist of the Information menu, Paper Handling menu, Print Quality menu, Printing menu, Configuration menu, Input/Output (I/O) menu, Enhanced Input/Output (EIO) menu, and Resets menu. Each menu contains several items that either perform an action or allow you to configure a feature on the printer.
The LaserJet 4000’s control panel contains four buttons for navigating the various menus. (Menu, Item, Value, and Select.) To enter the menu systems, press the Menu button. The display will show the menu or item that you are currently using. To select an item from the menu, press the Item button. If the item allows you to perform an action, such as printing a configuration page, you can press the Select button to initiate the request. If you want to select a new value for an item, press the Value button until the appropriate selection is displayed and then press the Select button to change the value.
If you would like to see the current settings of the LaserJet 4000’s configuration, you can print a menu map, which shows each menu, item, and value on the report. To list the map, press the Menu button and then press the Item button until Print Menu Map is displayed. When you press the Select button, the menu map will be printed.
You can also use the menu to print a configuration page by pressing the Item button until Print Configuration is displayed. Then press the Select button. This configuration page will give you information on the printer’s serial number, the status of accessories, such as an internal JetDirect card, and a brief error log. By printing this page, you will also be testing the paper path and printing capability of the printer.
The LaserJet 4000 also keeps an event log that shows the last 30 errors that occurred on the printer. The page count is also displayed on the report, allowing you to determine how often an error has occurred and whether or not it has occurred recently. To print the event log, navigate through the Information menu to Print Event Log and then press the Select button.
You can test the paper path with the Print Paper Path Test item found on the Configuration menu. After selecting the item, use the Value button to select a 10-, 50-, or 100-page test. Then press the Select button to begin the test.
Paper jams are the most common problem for any printer. Moving a very thin piece of paper through a mechanical device requires great precision. Things like worn rollers or small scraps of paper can quickly erode these engineering marvels and cause the paper to get stuck or tear. Usually, paper jams are easy to locate and fix. In the case of the Hewlett-Packard 4000, the display will show the “13.x Paper Jam” message and specify the location of the sensor that has detected the paper jam allowing you to quickly locate and clear the jam. For example, a 13.01 Paper Jam message means that there is a paper feed problem in the input tray area, and a 13.05 Paper Jam message indicates a jam in the fuser area.
Some of the more common areas to find paper jams in laser printers are the paper trays, the area near the toner cartridge, the fuser, the output bin, and any location where the paper makes contact with a roller or bends. Also, optional items such as envelope feeders, duplexers, and additional paper trays are notorious for causing paper jams.
When you find the paper jam, check to see if you can see what caused the paper jam to occur. Are there paper scraps, lots of dust buildup, loose parts, incorrectly installed parts such as the toner cartridge, etc. When you remove the paper, pull it slowly and gently so that you don’t tear it. If you do tear it, make sure you get all the little pieces, or they will cause another paper jam.
If you can’t figure out what is causing multiple paper jams, try to isolate the problem. Use the manual feed tray to check if the toner, fuser, and output assembly are working correctly. If the page prints out okay, the problem is probably in an area between the paper trays and the toner cartridge.
If you have more than one paper tray in the printer, remove all of the trays except one and print some test pages to see if the jam still occurs. Continue to print from each tray until you have narrowed down where the problem might be. If the printer has additional components such as an envelope feeder or duplexer, remove them until you can locate the source of the jam. Occasionally, one of these components will cause paper jams. Often the duplexer is the culprit.
Another area where paper jams occur is with the roller mechanism that moves the paper through the printer. Over time, these rollers become worn out and slippery, allowing the paper to feed erratically or not at all. Since the input rollers and output bin rollers are used the most, they will often wear out. Rollers are pretty inexpensive and easy to replace.
Environmental problems can also cause paper jams. High humidity and static can cause the paper to stick together more than normal and can cause paper-feed jams in the paper input area. In addition, paper that has been in a paper tray for a long period of time can also stick together, especially on smaller printers that feed the paper into the printer vertically, like in the Hewlett-Packard LaserJet 1100.
There are simple tricks you can use to reduce the number of paper jams you have. First, make sure that you are using high-quality paper made for a laser printer and not a copier. While you may save a few dollars on cheaper paper, using good quality 20-pound paper will reduce the number of paper jams. If you have any doubt as to what type of paper to use in your HP laser printer, you can request a copy of the free HP paper specification guide. If you are using a different printer manufacturer, you should be able to contact its support division for advice.
Second, clean your printer frequently. It only takes a few minutes. Check for scraps of paper, and dust. (Use a vacuum cleaner or compressed air to clean the printer.) Check the rollers to see if they are worn out, and run a test page to see if the output is free from smudges, streaks, and spots. Printing a sheet with very little type or images on it should help you locate these types of problems.
50.x Fuser Error message indicates a problem with the fuser. This is a common error. Turn your printer off for about 20 minutes and see if this fixes the problem, but usually when you get this message, you need to install a new fuser. If you check the page count and the printer is due for a maintenance kit, you may want to go ahead and install one. This kit takes only a few minutes to install and includes paper tray rollers, a manual tray feed roller, transfer roller, and fuser. To reset the page count to 0, hold down the Item and Value buttons when you turn on the printer.
The 62.x Printer Error alerts you to a problem with the printer’s onboard RAM. The value of x reflects the number of the actual DIMM slot where the problem occurred, making it easy for you to determine which DIMM to replace.
If you don’t have very much RAM, sometimes a page will be sent to the printer that it cannot interpret, causing the 21 Page Too Complex and Press Go To Continue messages to be alternately displayed. To clear these messages, you can press the Cancel Job button or change the Configuration menu item Page Protect value to On. Temporarily changing this value will allow the job to be printed without losing data, although it may not be formatted correctly. After the job prints, change the value back to Auto so that the printer’s performance does not degrade.
While the error messages that your specific model of printer displays may be different, the problems shown in this section are quite common for most of today’s laser printers.
Printer maintenance messages
Most printers keep a page count of the total number of pages that have been printed by the device. Not only is this a useful feature for determining usage but it also allows the printer to notify you when certain components such as rollers and the fuser should be replaced. (For example, the HP 4000 requires maintenance to be performed every 150,000 pages. When the printer reaches this page count, it displays the Perform Printer Maintenance message. You should then order and install a printer maintenance kit. Replacing the components in this kit according to the manufacturer’s recommendation will give your printer a healthy tune-up and cut down on future service calls.)
If these tips don’t solve your printer problem, try searching the manufacturer’s Web site for additional support information. There is an excellent HP support page that contains areas to download drivers, ask questions, and order replacement parts. While not all manufacturers have great support sites, most provide helpful technical information for their printers when you contact them.