What causes paper jams in laser printers? | How to Fix

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One of the most annoying things about laser printers is the paper jams that occur. No matter what printer you’re going to use – whether it be a good cheap printer you’re going to run into paper jams on occasion (or depending on the printer, sometimes more frequently than just on occasion!).

Fortunately, paper jams a relatively easy to deal with once you know how to fix them. There are a few things that you can do to fix a paper jam once it happens, but also things that you can do to prevent them happening in the first place.

If you’re constantly dealing with paper jams, here are a couple of things that you can do to prevent this from happening again and again.

What Causes Paper Jams?

What causes paper jams in laser printers? Well, actually paper jams can occur in any printer, be it a laser, inkjet or thermal. What we will look at here are the common causes of paper jams in laser printers.

What is happening inside the machine when something goes wrong? The tray contains the paper and has two rollers inside it. One roller pushes the paper into the printers principle mechanism, this being where all the action takes place before actual printing begins.

The other roller pushes down one side of the stack to keep it flat and evenly loaded against another guide roller through which the raw material feeds from above. This second roller also keeps each sheet separate so they do not cause any damage to each other as this can happen some times.

If you have ever had the experience of pulling a sheet out and seeing another one stuck to it, you will know how important both these functions are in keeping your printer working at its most effective level. What does not help with this process is having paper that has gotten wet.

When this happens everything becomes more difficult for the machine as it tries to separate the sheets or feed them through the various rollers and other machinery. The effect of water on paper can be enough to cause complete jamming of your printer because water helps things stick together making separation harder especially when using electrical driven rollers.

Paper jams can be causes by a number of different reasons. Though in my experience, there are a few things that may lead to paper jams frequently.

  • Loading the paper into the printer incorrectly – Probably the most common reason for a paper jam is that the paper hasn’t been loaded into the printer correctly. One way that you can do this is by overloading the paper, which is a pretty common problem. Another might be that you’re actually using the wrong type of printer paper, so make sure that you’re using the right type of printer paper for your printer e.g. if you want photo paper, use photo paper!
  • Paper sticking together – Unfortunately there’s not much you can do about this one, but often paper in your printer will get stuck together. This is pretty common with certain types of paper, and there’s not too much that you can do about it, unfortunately.
  • Damaged rollers – When you’re printer, they generally pass through rollers into the printer itself. Rollers are usually long lasting and you’re unlikely to have issues with them, but sometimes older rollers can cause issues too.
  • Using low quality materials – Whether you’re using low quality paper or using low quality ink, both of these can cause issues on the printing journey. If you’re using refilled in cartridges or particularly cheap paper, try using the printer with something better quality and see if it works.

How to Prevent Printer Jams

If you want to fix paper jams, then there are a few different things you can do. Having stuck paper in your printer is relatively common, and in most cases, it’s actually a relatively simple fix that anyone can do – this is the same whether you’re using stuck paper or specialty paper.

One of the best ways to deal with printer jams is to prevent them from happening in the first place. This is relatively easy to do, and there are a few things you’ll want to ensure you’re doing to prevent printer jams from happening at all.

  • The most common reason for printer jams is probably because you’ve overfilled the paper tray – do not fill it up completely, and remember to always leave some space in the printer tray.
  • Using decent printer paper is advised, as cheap quality printing paper is likely to cause issues with any printer, no matter the brand.
  • Keep to using one type of paper in each stack, and try not to mix several different types of paper in one stack.
  • If you have the option in your LCD screen, then make sure you let the printer know the type of paper that you are going to be using.
  • Turn the computer off and make sure it’s maintain properly and cleaned when you’re not using it.
  • Similar to when you’re playing cards, you can separate the paper from each other by flicking it between each hand (this is hard to explain, check the GIF below for what I mean!).


How to Fix a Printer Jam

Printer jams are part and parcel of having a printer unfortunately, and frequent paper jams can become a bit of a headache. If you’re dealing with a paper jam, there are a few steps to follow to ensure that you’re dealing with it correctly.

  1. The first thing that you want to do is make sure everything is turned off. This can help to ensure that nothing is still running, ink won’t go everywhere and you won’t injure yourself.
  2. Most of the time with a printer jam, the problem is immediately apparent. You should try to follow the papers journey through the printer to try and gauge where exactly it might be jammed. If you can’t tell, then try pulling the paper a little and see where exactly it’s jammed.
  3. Taking the cartridge out often makes it a lot easier to remove printer jams, so this is something that you should do also. Depending on the type of printer you have, the paper might come out when you remove the cartridge/drum itself.
  4. If the rollers are working properly, then it should be easy to pull the printer paper out from the printer.


Overall, printer jams are just part of having a printer unfortunately. Though newer models of laser printers are less likely to experience jams, that doesn’t mean that they’re not going to experience them at all.

But, you can learn to try and prevent printer jams by taking precautionary measures and learning what the most common causes of them are. So, whilst printer jams are annoying, they’re not the end of the world.

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