Tip of the Week: How to Handle a Paper Jam Without Freaking Out

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Tip of the Week: How to Handle a Paper Jam Without Freaking Out


What makes a paper jam so aggravating? Perhaps it’s because they typically happen at the worst possible time, like when you’re printing handouts minutes before the start of your presentation. Or maybe it’s because they happen so frequently with older printers and copy machines. Either way, it’s beneficial for every office worker to know how to troubleshoot a paper jam.

First, you’ll want to find what’s causing the paper jam. This might involve taking off the cover of your copy machine and investigating the paper tray. Before you choose to do this, make sure that you’re absolutely comfortable digging around in the innards of your copy machine. The last thing that you want is to make the jam worse in a failed attempt at resolving the issue.

Before going any further, be sure to turn off the copier or printer. Once you’ve done this, it’s safe to pull the paper out of the jam. Be sure to pull the paper out the opposite way that it’s fed into the machine. The reasoning for this is that the machine is designed to accept paper from one direction, so it makes sense to go with the flow and pull the paper through the way that it’s supposed to go through.

Next, check the machine for any ripped pieces of paper. Sometimes the paper that you’re pulling through the copier or printer isn’t going to come quietly, and this could affect your ability to resolve the problem.

Now, be sure to check the roller which pulls the paper into the machine. What you are looking for are loose parts or anything out of the ordinary. This could hint as to the nature of the paper jam, so if you’re dealing with a faulty piece of hardware, you need to get the problem resolved as soon as possible to prevent the problem from persisting longer than need be. Ideally, the roller should be smooth all the way across with no snags at all.

Once you’ve thoroughly checked the machine for any problems, it’s safe to put the cover and the paper tray back on. Reconnect the machine to power and press any button to cancel the paper jam error message that will inevitably appear. This button will be different depending on the printer or copy machine, but it will be sure to tell you how to make the message go away.

Before you think you’ve finished and that the machine is back in proper working order, be sure to put it through a test run to make sure that you’ve actually resolved the problem. After all, you don’t want to wait until you need the machine most to test the fruits of your labor.

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