Friday, December 2, 2011

Troubleshooting Basics (6th edition)

*Today's post is from a series by Dion Station, school librarian at North Jefferson Middle School. 

The printer doesn't work?
If the printer will not print at all, you need to determine if the printer itself will not work or if it is not receiving a print message from the computer.
1.  Many models have a built-in self test option which allows you to print a test page by holding down the feed button for a few seconds.  The power button will begin to flash and a test page will print.  If the printer self test fails, your problem is with the printer itself rather than the printer cable or computer. Should this occur, you should contact a technician.
2.  If the printer self test prints, the next step is to have Windows print a test page.  Click on Start, Settings, Printers, and right click on the icon of the printer with the problem (See Pic 2, 3,4 below).  Select properties and press the Print Test Page button.  If the test page fails to print, make sure the printer cable is firmly seated in both the computer and the printer.  You should also check the ends of the printer cable to make sure that none of the prongs are bent.  If the test print fails, or if the print consists of nonsense characters or a few characters printed over many pages, you need to uninstall then reinstall the drivers for your printer.

Paper feed problems and jams can often be resolved by using paper which conforms to the specifications provided by the printer manufacturer.  On ink jet printers, the rubber rolls which pick up each sheet can sometimes become coated with paper residue which decreases the friction.  Cleaning off the residue can sometimes solve paper feed problems.

Special Note
If your ink jet printer is making a banging or grating noise, you need to clean two areas of the printer.
1.  Some models of ink jet printers have a gray colored narrow plastic film which extends almost the whole width of the printer just behind the rod on which the print head travels.  If this film gets dirty, the print heads can have problems determining where it is and can crash against the end of the printer.  Use tissue or soft cloth to clean this strip.
2.  The printer head moves across a rod that can also become dirty.  With the printer power on, raise the front of the printer and clean the rod with a paper towel.  Put the front of the printer back down and turn off the printer.  This time when you lift the front of the printer, the printer heads will move across the rod.  This will allow you to clean the part of the rod that was covered when you cleaned it the first time.  If you spray the paper towel with WD-40, this will do a better job of cleaning the rod. 
As the printer gets older, it may become necessary to perform these two cleaning jobs at least once a week.

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