On this page you will find some useful tips in keeping your Inkjet or Laser printer in a healthy state.
Is Your Printer Driver Up To Date?
When you hit the print button on your computer the text and images are sent to a piece of software that controls how the information is to be printed; on your specific printer model. Not only does a printer driver control the data, in a format that the printer can understand. The software will also tell the printer what paper it is printing to, if it is to print into draft or best mode etc…
(Printer drivers should not be confused with print spoolers, that queue a “print job” and send them successively to a printer.)
Occasionally a manufacturer will update their printer driver software to give the end user a better experience, or after discover a “bug” in the software. You can check the manufacturers support website for more information relating to your printer model.
Is Your Printer Firmware Up To Date?
Firmware is a specialist piece of software that is “embedded” into a piece of hardware like a printer. It resides in flash memory which allows firmware to be updated without physically removing circuit chip from the device (something that had to be done before the mid 1990’s).
The firmware contained on your printer provides the control program for the device. Common reasons for updating printer firmware include fixing bugs or adding features to the device.
You will need to check your printer manufacturers support website for further information regarding your specific printer model.
Internal Cleaning (Lasers Only)
If you have had any form of toner spillage then you will need to clean the inside of your laser printer as best you can.
NB – Before attempting to clean your printer, make sure it is unplugged from the mains!
AVOID touching the image drum that is located as a separate cartridge or built into the ink toner cartridge itself, depending on your make and model. Touching this can damage the unit and prevent your printer producing quality printouts until the unit is replaced.
Using a a special disposable lint free toner cloth, that attracts & traps toner particles, you can usually wipe up any spillage. If the toner spillage has gone deep into the laser, you may have to run your printers “clean paper path” routine.
Cleaning the Paper Path (Lasers Only)
Occasionally you may notice dots or specks on your print outs. This is usually because toner powder has worked its way into the paper path of your laser printer. If this has happened then you can perform a clean paper path routine on your laser printer. This process will remove toner and any dust from the paper path.
To perform this, you will need to read the printer manual as the cleaning routine varies across manufactures. Your manufacturer will also recommend what medium to use for the process.
For instance with many HP Laser printers you can use their transparency paper (NOT Inkjet transparency or regular OHP transparency sheets as these could damage your lasers imaging drum.) If you do not have any then try using copier-grade media (60 to 163 g/m2) that has a smooth surface. Do not use bond or rough paper.
Print at Least Once a Week (Inkjets Only)
The print heads on inkjet printers can experience clogging issues when left for long periods between printing. So a helpful tip to prevent clogging, ink drying out and other issues that come with inactivity is to print a page (black and colour) at least once a week.
Think Twice about Where your Printer is Located
Both Laser and Inkjet printers can suffer performance issues when exposed to unnecessary heat or dry air. Inkjets can experience print head clogging and Lasers can experience toner powder degradation. So do not place your printer next to heat sources like radiators and heat vents etc.
ALWAYS KEEP YOUR PRINTER AWAY FROM DIRECT SUNLIGHT
Prevent Paper Jamming
A common reason for paper jams is using either damaged or “damp” paper. Paper can then be picked up several sheets at a time and get stuck in the laser printer paper path. Always use paper that has been stored out of direct sunlight and in dry conditions.
If you are getting persistent paper jams then you either have an obstruction (e.g. a torn piece of paper) or a failed sensor. The later will require repairing by a qualified technician.
Cover Your Printer
Dust is an enemy of both laser and ink jet printers. If your laser printer is located in a dirty working/dusty environment consider purchasing a plastic cover for the unit. They are cheap and can prolong the life of your printer.
Turn Off From The Unit and Not Wall Socket
Many modern printers have features, such as self cleaning functions (ink jets), that can be interrupted by switching off the printer via wall socket. Always switch off your printer using the on/off button located on the unit.
Print Head Cleaning (Inkjets Only)
Inkjet printers work by spraying tiny droplets, measured in trillionths of a liter, of ink out of thousands of microscopic nozzles. To assist in preventing these nozzles clogging up, your printer software may automatically alert you with a warning message to clean the print heads. Alternatively, it you are suffering quality issues with printing, manually running your printers print head cleaning routine may help. Please refer to your printer guide for more information.
HP Inkjet printers, unlike Epson and Canon etc. have a print head built into each cartridge they sell. The notable exception to this, at the time of writing the article, are any printers that use the H904/H904XL (Officejet 8500 and 8600 series) and H907/H907XL (Officejet Pro X series) ink cartridges. These printers have a separate print heads that will require cleaning and replacing at some point in the future. See your printer guide for more details!
If running the print head cleaning routine fails to resolve the problem, you may have to remove the print head and clean it using a specific “print head cleaning kit”.
If this fails then it is probably time to replace the print heads. If your printer is still in warranty phone the manufacturer. If it is not you can purchase new print heads online or direct from the printer manufacturer. Note however that your printer model may require more than one print head and they are more expensive than ink cartridge!
Tip: Use your inkjet frequently as this will prevent the print heads from clogging up and causing printing problems ranging from streaks on the page to a total refusal to print anything!
Don’t Let the Ink Cartridges Run Dry (Inkjets Only)
You may be tempted to run your ink cartridges until they are empty and not replace them straight away. Leaving an empty ink cartridge in your printer for long periods of time will cause printer head clogging.
Always make sure you have a replacement ink cartridge available when you are coming to the end of the current one. This will help extend the life of the print head(s).