One of the most frustrating things that can happen when you’re working at home is a printer malfunction. Most of us don’t print out documents until it’s necessary, and we expect our pages to come out quickly and without a hitch.
If maintaining your printer seems like a time-wasting chore, consider this: Not only will a little home maintenance cut down on paper jams and poor print jobs, but it can turn into big savings. Read on for tips to help your printer have a long and productive life.
Be aware of your printer’s environment. Printers — especially the sensitive print heads inside the machine — can be easily clogged by dust and other debris. Home offices are especially vulnerable to cat and dog hair that might be invisible to you, but can get inside your printer. If your printer has a folding-paper tray tucked inside the top cover, make sure to keep it closed when you aren’t printing. To dust a printer, use a feather duster or damp cloth for the machine’s exterior and a cotton bud to clean the edges of the paper tray and other small areas inside. If it’s difficult or impractical to dust the printer and surrounding area regularly, invest in a canvas cover for the printer.
Run a blank piece of paper through the machine if it’s been sitting idle for a couple of days. This is a cheap way to get rid of the lint or dust that may have accumulated since you last used the printer. It’s also a good way to protect against paper jams during your upcoming print job.
Keep your toner cartridges healthy. The best way to keep the print heads from drying out, and your toner cartridges from getting clogged, is to use your
printer. Print test pages periodically to make sure the system is still functional. If you know you’re not going to be using the machine for a while, turn off the printer using its on/off button. Doing this will signal the machine to protect the print heads, but unplugging the printer won’t. One of the largest costs associated with having a printer is the cartridges, so if you can stretch the amount of time between replacing cartridges, you’ll notice the cost difference quickly.
Exercise caution when changing cartridges. When you change the ink or toner cartridges in your printer, you’re exposing the sensitive interior of the machine to dust and human error. It’s possible, even with today’s nearly fool-proof cartridges, to drip ink onto the inner workings of your printer and jam it.
Don’t ignore pop-up maintenance requests. If your computer has alerted you that your printer needs to have a software update or other maintenance, don’t wait to comply. It may seem that the printer wastes a lot of ink when it checks the print heads and alignment, but in the long run it will save you money and time.
Keep your paper clean. Another tip for keeping the printer healthy is to make sure the paper is not dusty or damaged. Paper supplies are often stacked on top of filing cabinets or nestled under other office supplies. Dusty paper, or paper with bent edges, can clog your printer and cause jams. It’s also a waste of good paper you’ll end up throwing away. Consider getting a special plastic container with a locking lid for your paper supply.
Don’t overwork your printer. Printers are made with specific loads in mind. Moretrick.com warns that using a printer for too many pages a month will overextend the machine, causing a loss in print quality as well as a waste of paper and ink. If you need to regularly print a volume of pages, check that your printer can handle that capacity. If it can’t, consider investing in one that can.