Having your own printer at home or office has countless benefits. You don’t need to visit a printing store or your friend’s place to print documents, tickets, and even images. However, like any other device or electronic appliance, printers can break down if they are not maintained properly. Some of the most common printer problems that most of us have experienced include paper jamming, slow printing, uneven printing, and wrong colour output. If you use your printer frequently, we know how annoying it can be to have persisting problems with the printer.
Whether your printer’s paper feeder is jammed or you’ve run out of ink, we’ve covered some of the most common printer issues below along with their solutions.
Most Common Printer Problems & Solutions
1. The Printer Is Operating Very Slowly
This depends on what type of printer you’re using. Some printers (such as photo printers) print at slower speeds to produce high-quality prints, while some print much faster, but the quality is low. If you regularly use the printer and you’ve noticed that your printer has started to work slower than earlier, you may need to change the print quality in the printer settings.
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To change the setting, do the following on your Windows computer:
- In the search box on the taskbar, type Control Panel. Open Control Panel and select Devices and Printers.
- Right-click the printer you are using and select ‘Printing Preferences‘.
- Click the ‘Paper/Quality‘ option and select the printing mode from the options listed under ‘Quality Settings‘.
In case you can’t find how to change the setting for your printer, run through instructions for your printer model from the manual. It is also possible that your printer’s rollers have started malfunctioning, leading to slower printing speed.
2. The Prints Have Faded Colours
The quality of the print depends not only on the printer but also on the ink or toner cartridge. Ink cartridges that are used in inkjet printers contain liquid, while toner cartridges used in laser printers contain powder. The ink inside an ink cartridge can either be dye-based or pigment-based, depending on which printer you have. If your printer uses an ink cartridge and the prints have faded colours, it is possible that the ink has dried and needs to be replaced.
Did you know that the type of paper you use also influences the print quality?
Ensure that you’re using the right kind of paper whether coated or uncoated. Uncoated papers are printing papers that are non-reflective, while coated papers have a dull/matte or gloss finish. If the paper is not an issue, the toner could be the problem. Try taking the toner out, shake it slightly a couple of times and place it back inside the printer. Avoid touching the toner roll or it can leave fingerprints. This should help resolve the issue.
If you don’t print frequently, sometimes the toner settles and needs to be ‘activated.’
3. A Blank Sheet Of Paper Appears After Every Document Is Printed
The reason an extra sheet of paper is being printed is because of the print settings or because the printer driver is outdated or corrupted. To fix this issue, you could try reinstalling or updating your printer drivers. This setting is typically used in offices where the print volume is high and is useful if there are several people using the same printer. An extra sheet of paper is generated before each printout to identify the document and its owner. These extra sheets are referred to as ‘Separator Pages’.
When you insert separator pages between a certain number of copies, you can specify whether to insert a separator page before or after each stack. If you don’t want a blank sheet of paper after every print job, you can choose the ‘Print Directly To The Printer‘ option by following these steps:
- In the search box on the taskbar, type ‘Control Panel‘. Click ‘Control Panel‘ and select ‘Devices and Printers‘.
- Right-click the printer you are using and select ‘Printer Properties‘.
- Now, click the ‘Advanced‘ tab, select the option Print Directly To The Printer. Click Apply, and then click OK.
How To Reinstall The Printer Drivers?
- Press the Windows Key + X and choose the ‘Device Manager‘ option.
- Locate your printer driver, right-click it and choose ‘Uninstall Device‘.
- If available, check mark ‘Remove Driver Software‘ for your device and click ‘Uninstall‘.
- Once you uninstall the printer driver, restart your PC, connect your printer and turn it on. Windows will install the default driver for your printer.
How To Update The Printer Driver?
To update the printer driver, visit the printer’s brand website and download the latest drivers for your printer model. If you’re not sure about the printer model, you can check the printer manual. The manual should be able to direct you about updating printer drivers, whether you have a Windows PC or a macOS device.
4. Only Half The Page Is Printed, While The Other Half Is Left Blank
This is a common problem with most USB printers. If only half the page is printing out, there is definitely something wrong. Unplug the printer, turn off the computer, and restart both the devices. Once the devices have restarted, run a self-test page. If it still doesn’t print properly, the problem could be with the printer, toner, drum unit, or roller. The error message should explain what the problem is. If it doesn’t, call a professional to get the issue fixed.
5. Prints Are Very Light In Colour
This probably means that the print head is clogged. This is a common issue with inkjet and ink tank printers wherein leaving the printer unused for a few months leads to dried ink and clogged cartridges.
It is important to clean the print head by running the printer’s utility program. If you are having a hard time finding the program, you can try to access it from the printer device on your computer. Run it a few times and then print out a test sheet to see if it is printing properly. Ink and toner problems can include streaking and fading (which usually indicates a dirty print head) or toner in a laser printer that is running low.
For inkjet printers, the print head may need a good cleaning. The printer utility app that came with your printer will include a cleaning option. There are usually two types of cleaning options: light clean and heavy clean. You could first try the light clean option since it will not waste a lot of ink. If that doesn’t fix the issue, try the heavy clean option.
For laser printers, the issue could most likely be due to a low toner, which means it’s time to change the toner. If you don’t have a toner cartridge handy, you can extend the life of the current cartridge that you’re using by removing the toner from the printer and slowly tipping the cartridge from side to side. This will redistribute the toner within the cartridge and give you enough prints for the time being.
6. Some Colours Are Missing From The Prints
This is a common problem in printers and most of us think it’s because the ink is over. However, there could be various reasons behind this problem. You should Check the cartridge first before you replace it. If the cartridges are full, it could be a clogged nozzle. Printers use a combination of RGB (Red, Green, and Blue) or CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Key) colours, and if a nozzle that is meant to deliver any of these colours gets clogged, it could lead to wrong colours or missing colours in a document or photo print.
Another reason could be the ink has dried up due to lack of usage. Inks quickly dry out if you don’t regularly use them. So you could try changing the ink.
7. Wi-Fi Printing Is Very Slow
This issue might appear if the printer is placed very far from the router or if there are a lot of devices on the Wi-Fi network. Ensure your Wi-Fi router is adequate and that its firmware is up to date. It should support 802.11 b/g/n and offer a 5GHz band as well as a 2.4GHz band for faster wireless operation. You could also try adding a wireless extender to improve its performance if needed.
8. Paper Keeps Jamming Inside The Printer
The most common cause of this issue is paper misalignment. Make sure you properly insert the papers in the tray and avoid overfilling the tray. If this doesn’t solve the problem, check the troubleshooting section of the printer’s user manual. If that doesn’t work, call a professional to check the issue. The most common reason for this problem is broken or misaligned rollers that take the paper inside the printer through the paper feeder. Replacing or servicing those rollers can help solve this issue.
9. Print Jobs Are Sent To Another Printer
If you notice that your computer is choosing a new default printer (the one it automatically sends print jobs to), it could probably occur after upgrading from one operating system version to another.
To fix this issue on Windows computers, do the following
- Click the Start (the Windows icon in the lower-left corner of the screen) button and select Devices and Printers.
- Under Printers and Faxes, right-click the printer you want to set as default and select Set As Default Printer.
Printer FAQs Answered
Q. What type of printer should I choose?
A. This depends on what type of documents or images you are planning to print. How often will you be printing and how much does the printing cost matter to you? Printers can generally be split into two main categories, ink-based (inkjet or ink tank printers) or powder-based (laser printers). They are also referred to in terms of their features (such as wireless printers or multifunction printers) or the tasks their best suited to perform (home printers or office printers). You can go through our dedicated article that lists the best wired and wireless printers that you can buy in India.
Q. What are inkjet printers?
A. Inkjet printers can handle text-heavy documents such as minutes from a meeting but they can also print photos and do a better job of it than a laser printer. They occupy less desk space than a laser printer. However, inkjets are usually more expensive to run as compared to laser printers, as they cost more in ink per printed page than you would pay for laser toner.
- Pros: They are smaller and cheaper as compared to laser printers and can produce good-quality colour printouts.
- Cons: More expensive running costs
Inkjet printing costs per page are higher than colour laser printers, but colour laser printers and cartridges cost more at the outset. If you print a lot, a colour laser printer should work out cheaper over time.
Q. What are laser printers?
A. Laser printers shine when it comes to printing a lot of black text. While colour laser printers are available, they are extremely expensive, especially compared to colour inkjet printers. They’re normally faster than inkjets when it comes to printing speed, and can handle a heavier workload if you have to print a lot of pages every month.
What’s more, while the toner cartridges are expensive, each one prints a lot more pages than an inkjet cartridge, so the actual cost per black-and-white or colour page is usually much less. However, laser printers are usually bulkier and louder than inkjet printers and they occupy more space on your desk. While they can produce good graphs and charts, colour laser printers aren’t the best at printing photos. Stick to an inkjet if you’re likely to print off your holiday snaps.
- Pros: Fast prints and good-value printing for black-and-white pages.
- Cons: More expensive, bulkier and often noisier than inkjets.
Q. Black and white printer or colour printer? Which printer should I buy?
A. Black and white inkjets are quite extinct now, but you can still save a little money by opting for a ‘mono’ (black and white) laser printer. These are cheaper to buy than colour models and if you’re mostly printing black text on white pages, you’ll also find them cheaper to run. Colour makes your printer much more versatile. But if you need to print a photo or colour document, a colour printer is worth having.
Q. Should I consider a wireless printer?
A. Wi-Fi connectivity is extremely common these days, and it is an excellent feature to look for in your new printer. It enables you to connect it to the internet without needing a cable, meaning you can place your printer where you like at home.
Once you have connected your wireless printer to the internet, you can access a range of online services, such as the free mobile printing apps offered by the big printer brands – HP, Epson and Canon.
Q. Should I Buy Printer Extended Warranty Plan?
A. Yes, it is! An extended warranty plan covers all the defects and malfunctions covered in a standard manufacturer’s warranty. It helps you extend the life of your printer by a few more years. Click here for more information on the extended warranty plan for printers.