Even the best laser printer will have a paper jam every now and then. Clearing a printer jam doesn’t have to ruin your day. When I sat down and thought about it, in my life I have probably cleared thousands of paper jams. Over the years I’ve noticed a few things that I thought I’d pass on hoping it will empower anyone to tackle that jam with confidence or maybe even give a few pointer to the experts.
How to Clear a Paper Jam like a Boss
The manuals will pretty much cover the basics about where to look and, of course, turning it off and on. I will assume that has been attempted with no success, so where I begin is with a new clean sheet of paper.
- Tear that new sheet of paper in half so you have a long piece of paper.
- Fold it in half two times, so it will be a long skinny piece of paper.
Now you have the perfect tool for clearing paper jams. These machines were designed to have paper going through them and that’s exactly what we will be using to clear a printer jam.
Clear A Paper Jam in Registration Area
In general the two places hardest to clear a paper jam are the registration and fuser areas. I’ll begin with the registration area. We will need to get a rough idea of the paper path of the printer you’re trying to clear a jam on. We need to identify the path the paper takes once it leaves the paper supply tray. Having a good flashlight here will help you see where the paper flows. Paper usually goes in one direction, so once you find the path you can start inserting that paper “tool” we made earlier. The idea here is to use that long skinny piece of paper like dental floss in the paper path you can’t see, but remember we only want to do this in one direction. The goal is to get any small piece of paper out or unstick any stuck sensors.
For instructional purposes this laser printer that has a unique access window will be used. Most laser printers don’t have this access point which makes the registration jams difficult to remove without disassembly.
- Feed the paper “tool” through the paper path until you can see it come out the other end.
- Angle the paper “tool” to cross as much of the paper path as possible.
- Grab and pull it the rest of the way.
- Repeat as necessary.
In some printers you may have to manually turn the registration roller to get it started. The registration roller is the metal or hard rubber roller next to the softer spongy roller.
Clearing A Paper Jam in the Fuser Area
The other area to check for a paper jam is the fuser and exit path. If you can see the paper jammed like an accordion but can’t get to it, here’s what I’ve found works best.
- Take the long skinny paper ‘tool’ we made earlier from a piece of paper.
- Fold it in half, this time to make it shorter.
- Hold onto the two loose ends and insert the folded end.
The new fold should make a good ‘hook’ to tug at the corners of the paper jam and shouldn’t gouge or scratch the fuser. The idea here is to work the corners loose with the paper ‘tool’, then work toward the center and eventually the part like an accordion will pop out. If only the corners come but not the center, don’t pull it straight out as it will usually tear. I’ve found pulling the paper jam to the side gets the best results. There usually isn’t much room for the paper to go from side to side but it only needs to move a little to be effective. Gently tug the paper jam back and forth instead of straight out. If done right the rest of the jammed part will usually pop out. Then it can be pulled the rest of the way out.
Clear A Paper Jam in Feed Area
Another type of paper jam that can be difficult to remove is when the printer feeds several sheets at once. Sometimes the stack of paper only goes in a little, sometimes it gets into the fuser. Either way a slight tug will reveal the printer has a vise like grip on that printer jam. It may seem inevitable something is going to break or tear to get this jam out but there is s simple way to remove that stack.
- Count how many sheets are in the stack. 8? 10? 15?
- Count down to the middle of the stack
- Pull just that one piece of paper out.
- Keep pulling just one sheet of paper at a time from the middle.
As long as you pull one at a time from the middle, they should come out much easier than attempting the entire stack. When you get to the last two sheets see if the printer can eject them by itself. Depending on the printer it may have an auto eject cycle when you close the cover or reboot. If not, see which sheet of paper moves easier and remove that one. Then, of course, the last sheet of paper.
Clearing a printer jam can be frustrating so don’t hesitate to walk away for a second to collect your thoughts. Thought of you getting that final printer jam out and back in business.