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Printing Troubleshooting Guide

With most printers, over 50 percent of all problems are customer fixable. This guide was created to help bail you out when you get stuck on tough printing problems. NOTE: If you need specific information or help with a particular printer, please contact the printer manufacturer.

You troubleshoot printing issues like you would any other computer/network related problem. You start at a general point and rule out the possibilities until you have the specific cause. The first question that you need to answer is: "Is the problem hardware, software, network or performance related?".


First make sure that the printer is on and that it is in "ready" position. Make sure that there are no error messages on the LEDs or LCD if applicable. Now complete the following steps:

1. Any printer worth owning, can print an internal test or configuration page. This is absolutely the first thing that you want to do, even if you think that the hardware is not the issue. Make sure that the page will print and it looks good. If it prints go to step 3 - If it won't print, go to step 2.

2. Test page didn't print? Any error messages? Try cycling power on the printer and try again. If it still doesn't print, many printers have a special reset often referred to as an NVRAM reset. NVRAM stands for Non-volitile RAM and is where a printer may store a variety of information including network settings, ripped print jobs and more.

Sometimes a piece of corrupted information from a bad print job can "confuse" a printer and cause it to hang. Sometimes an NVRAM reset will flush this bad information and restore the printer. It may also wipe all of your network/printer settings so you should contact the printer manufacturer before doing this. If this procedure doesn't fix the problem, then call for service.

3. Your test page printed? Good! Take a good look at it and see if there are any print quality problems(i.e. spots, streaks, etc). If the test page looks fine, then you are probably dealing with a network or software problem. If there are visible problems, then keep reading. Before doing anything else, consult your manufacturers documentation for a list of recommended cleaning procedures before moving to the next step.

Almost all printers have "consumable items" or CRCs. These are parts of the printer that are customer replaceable and have a lifespan, which means that they aren't intended to last forever. On a laser printer these may include a fuser, photo-receptor, scorotron charger, toner cartridges and more. It is a good idea to keep spares of these parts on hand for troubleshooting reasons.

You can save a lot of time and headache waiting for a technician, by swapping these parts one at a time and seeing if it cures the problem. Make sure that you run about 20 test pages after inserting a new CRC and see if there is improvement. Sometimes hardware failures can leave messes that have to be "mopped up" with quite a few test pages. If these steps do not cure the problem, then contact the manufacturer for further assistance.

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