Common Printer Problems & Solutions |

Mar 20, 2017

Common Printer Problems and Solutions: Fixing Your Printer

laptop with laser printer

We’ve all experienced printer problems and the frustrations that follow. Whether your feeder is jammed with paper or you’ve run out of ink, there’s always something going on with your printer. While there are a number of common printer problems, where do you find the solutions?

If you’re wondering how to fix your printer and you want to avoid calling in a technician, read on for some of the most common printer problems and solutions.

Common Printer Problems

Some of the most common printer problems have easy solutions. Check out the printer problems many people deal with and compare them to some of the problems you may be having.

  • Paper jams
  • Image is not dark enough
  • Image has streaky lines
  • Wireless printer is not connecting
  • Printer is printing too slow

Resolving Paper Jams

A paper jam can be very frustrating—especially when it happens regularly. There are a few steps you should take when considering how to fix a printer that has a paper jam. You can first try checking that the printer is actually jammed, checking the printer readout, or locating the source of the jam. Some of the best places to check for printer jams include:

  • The paper tray
  • The paper feeder
  • Inside of the printer

paper jam problem in printer

Gently removing any paper you’ve found that is wrinkled or misaligned is usually the solution to some of the most common printer problems, and it should solve your issue. If you’ve conducted a visual inspection, but you haven’t found any misplaced paper, opening and closing the paper tray causes your printer to run a check. If it discovers that there is no jam, it goes back to printing as normal.

In some cases, removing stuck paper and restarting the printer by opening and closing the paper tray may not work. In this situation, check your printer or computer for a readout, as often this can contain instructions or suggestions on how to resolve the problem. Follow the readout, and soon, your printer will be back to proper operation.

Preventing Paper Jams

While a paper jam is often unavoidable, taking actionable steps to prevent paper jams is a good way to minimize this problem in the future. Whether you’re working with an inkjet, laserjet, or large office photocopier, some of the most common solutions to this printer problem include:

  • Ensuring that your paper is properly aligned in the feed tray.
  • Gently tapping one end of your paper stack until all of the pages sit evenly in the tray.
  • Removing any wrinkled or damaged papers from the pile.
  • Avoid placing too many pages in the tray.
  • Using the right type of paper.
  • Using the right size paper.

All of these are simple steps you can take before and after a printing job to mitigate paper jam problems. Keep in mind that some larger printers with multiple trays can cause feeding problems, as the printer is often set to feed from the wrong tray. Check the printer settings to make sure that the paper is feeding from the correct tray.

Resolving Inconsistent Images

inconsistent image problem in printer

Sometimes, you may print a page with an image on it, only for the image to appear faded, blurry, or with streaky lines. If you have a project with several images to print, reprinting too many times is a waste of ink or toner, so you need a solution that’s quick, efficient, and easy.

Generally, inconsistent images occur due to ink nozzle or printhead problems, improperly used paper, or sporadic use of your printer. Whether you’re seeing faded, blurry, or lined images, most of these common printer problem have easy solutions.

Faded Images

Some printhead cartridges have tape that covers the printhead to seal it and prevent the ink from entering the printhead. Remove this tape and then use the “Head Cleaning” utility to test the printer to clear away any blockages. Then, run a test by printing out a single sheet with a small image. If you’re not sure how to clean your printheads or nozzles, use the following steps under your printer settings:

  • Click “Preferences.”
  • Click “Maintenance” or “Utilities.”
  • Click the “Head Cleaning” option.

Blurry Images

If your printouts are blurry, the problem might be with the quality or type of paper you’re using. To ensure you have the correct paper in your printer, check that your paper isn’t damp or wet, that it’s loaded correctly, and that you have the right settings applied. Using high gloss settings for plain paper is what leads to this common printer problem and fixing the settings is the solution.

You may also want to check your printer manual to ensure it can handle the types, weights, and styles of the printer you’re using. Some popular paper types you can check for include:

  • Matte
  • Glossy
  • Bright White
  • Card Stock

You should also keep in mind paper for specific printer styles, as inkjet printer paper isn’t ideal for use in a laserjet printer.

Lined Images

If your printer nozzles are working and your paper is checked, but you’re still having image problems, that usually means your cartridge is running low on ink or toner. When dealing with common printer problems and their solutions, lines or splotches are generally the first signs of low ink or toner.

Preventing Inconsistent Images

replacing toner cartridges

Depending on how much you use your printer, toner and ink cartridges should be replaced about once a year. When it’s time to replace your cartridges, follow these steps for safe and efficient removal and replacement.

Removing Toner Cartridges

  • Open the printer door where the cartridges are located.
  • Pull the cartridge to remove it.

Replacing Toner Cartridges

  • Before placing in the new cartridge, make sure that the plastic packaging isn’t removed.
  • Shake the cartridge gently to distribute the toner evenly throughout the cartridge.
  • Shake it side-to-side, but never up and down to avoid spilling.
  • Remove the cartridge from its packaging.
  • Pull off the colored tab on the cartridge.
  • Do not touch the imaging drum on the bottom of the print cartridge.
  • Slide in the new cartridge and make sure it snaps into place securely.
  • Print out a page to check if the printer is functioning correctly.

Uneven toner distribution and stained drums are two common printer problems that need solutions, as they cause poor quality printing. For example,if you’re replacing a Lexmark toner cartridge, shaking the cartridge gently before opening the package and avoiding marking or staining the drum are both ways you can prevent fading, blurring, and lines on your prints.

Removing Ink Cartridges

  • Turn on the printer.
  • Open the top cover.
  • Wait until the carriage moves to the right side and the printer is idle.
  • Remove tri-color cartridges from the left slot and black cartridges from the right slot.

Replacing Ink Cartridges

  • Remove the new cartridge from the packaging and pull the tab to remove the tape.
  • Face the copper strips on the bottom of the ink cartridge towards the printer.
  • Slide the cartridge into the carriage at a slight upward angle
  • Snap the cartridge into place.
  • Place the tri-color ink cartridge in the left slot.
  • Place the black ink cartridge in the right slot.

replacing ink cartridges

One of the most common printer problems that doesn’t have an easy solution is touching the ink nozzles or copper strip on the cartridge, as this may result in clogs, ink failure, or poor electrical connections. Whether you’re changing HP cartridges or Canon cartridges, do your best to avoid these areas, as they are essential to printer function. If you come into contact with them, you may have to replace them.

With most ink cartridges, you will need to align them to ensure the best print quality. Align your cartridges through the Printer Toolbox dialogue box under your printer settings.

Resolving Wireless Feature Issues

Wireless printers that won’t connect to your computer are really frustrating to fix. You may have already checked your Wi-Fi connection, your data settings, and even restarted your computer and printer—and your document still isn’t getting through.

The first thing you should do is check your internet connection again. Confirm that your modem is turned on, that it’s operating correctly, and that the network and password are correct. If everything seems to be working properly, try troubleshooting your problems online. The simplest solution to this common printer problem is restarting everything. Turn your modem, computer, and printer off, and then turn them back on again.

A Problematic Router

When everything seems to be operational and functional, sometimes the real culprit can be the router. The printer will fail to work if your router isn’t functioning properly, even if your computer is able to connect to the internet wirelessly.

How to Fix Your Printer and Router

fixing wifi router

  • Turn off your computer and printer.
  • Restart the router by unplugging its cable from the wall socket for 30 seconds.
  • Turn the computer and printer back on and allow everything to connect.

Checking your antivirus and firewall programs may also solve your problems if all your devices and networks are fully operational. To avoid issues caused by antivirus and firewall programs, disable these programs to run a test and check if they’re the reason behind your connectivity issues.

Resolving Slow Printers

While not all printers print at the same rate, if you’ve noticed a distinct slowdown in your printer’s work, you may need a solution to one of these common printer problems:

  • Incorrect settings
  • Printer is printing on both sides of the page
  • It’s in quiet mode
  • Issues with the drivers (PostScript, PCL, manufacturer's host-based driver)
  • High print resolution
  • Connection types (USB, Wifi, Ethernet)
  • The page has too many images

Printer Settings

Choosing the correct quality and print settings is the simplest solution to eliminate or minimize common printer problems. Turn off any printer enhancements if unnecessary, and choose the correct setting for the kind of paper you’re using. Printers often slow down to enhance print quality, so you may want to compromise on the best quality in favor of a faster print job. Quiet mode is another setting that causes problems, as it slows print jobs in favor of a quieter job.

Printer Drivers

fixing printers drivers

If your printer came with a choice of drivers, choose alternative ones to PostScript. PostScript will automatically print out the highest quality print, but at the expense of speed, slowing down your printer’s speed. This is especially important when you have to observe deadlines.

Printer Resolution

An easy solution to common printer problem involves resolution. If resolution is not important, then choose normal or draft mode. High-quality mode should only be used for printing out formal reports or documents that need to be visually appealing. To change your printer resolution, follow these steps:

  • If you’re a Windows user, open Printing Preferences.
  • Click the Basic tab.
  • Choose the lowest resolution and click OK.
  • For Apple users, choose Print Settings from the print options pop-up menu.
  • Open the Print dialog.
  • Make your choice for a lower print setting resolution in the Resolution tab.


Whether you choose to connect via Wi-Fi, ethernet cable, or USB, the changes in print speed aren’t usually dramatic. Often, people prefer ethernet or USB connections simply because they minimize the chances of computer miscommunication or error. Experiment with each of the connections to see which works best with your printer.

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Common printer problems and their solutions are a fact of everyday life in our technologically advanced world. Visit our blog often for more printer tips and information.