I had a paper jam – Now I Can’t Print


Had a paper jam and now I can't print


Had a paper jam and now can’t print

I had a paper jam which I dealt with but now my printer is printing only blank pages. Can you help?

First, let’s talk about some of the things that can happen to a printer during a paper jam that can cause problems even after the jam has been cleared. Obviously, as is the case here, getting only blank pages out of the business end of the printer after you’ve had a paper jam is a possible problem, but there are several other problems that can arise when you’ve had a paper jam, even if you’ve already taken care of the initial paper jam.

After a Paper Jam

Sometimes when you’ve had a paper jam in your printer, after you had a paper jam, now you can’t print.  This can happen for a large number of reasons. Sometimes, if you had a paper jam and now can’t print, you have just missed something in the paper path of the printer. It takes only a very small amount of paper or any foreign object, to prevent a printer from printing. And you are most likely to have one of these obstructions in your printer after yoi’ve had a paper jam – either because the paper jam wasn’t cleared out completely, or it could be that the obstruction is what caused the paper jam in the first place. If you had a paper jam because of an obstruction, and the obstruction isn’t removed, you will simply have the same thing happen over and over. If you had a paper jam that wasn’t the result of something else, then we just need to look at the things it could have caused.

So this applies primarily to problems with repeated paper jams – when you think, or even when you are certain, that you have cleared the original jam, but then the next time you print, the printer either jams again, or just gives you an error indicating that there is a jam – sometimes it will do this seemingly without even trying to print. Other times it wi try to print but it will fail bedore it produces a prjnted page, either not feeding the paper completely, or with the paper getting stuck inside the printer.

When your printer doesn’t try to print

When your printer doesn’t even try to print, the problem is caused by sensors along the path of the paper that normally detect the progress of the paper as it makes its way through every step of the printing process.  If just one of these sensors reports back negatively – that the paper hasn’t reached it, then the entire printing process stops. When this happens, there could actually be a physical obstruction triggering one of the sensors, althiugh that obstruction might not be paper at all – it might be a bit of dust, or a pencil that someone dropped in, or even your dog’s favorite toy.  It could also just be a sensor that has broken or become dislodged and is incorrectly reporting it’s status. It only takes one sensor to do this to throw a wrench into the whole works and cause a paper jam, even when you don’t really have one.

When your printer tries to print

If the printer is trying to print, but the page gets stuck somewhere before it exits the printer, that means there really is a problem along the paper path and that it isn’t likely to be just a sensor. A stuck, crumbled, or folded piece of paper indicates that there is indeed a physical obstruction.  In fact, it is one that the sensors are not picking up, which is why the printer continues to send the page on a crash course with whatever the problem is.  If this occurs, andnit happens near the end of the paper path, where the page is heated to fuse the toner (on lasers), then you have to be very careful when troubleshooting that.  However, since this is about inkjets, that would be outside of the scope of this article.

The first thing to do, then, is to deal with what could be a physical obstruction or a paper sensor.

You must make sure the there are no obstructions under the print head or along the paper path first.  To do this, take a piece of card stock or paper of similar weight and push it through the paper path of the printer – in the normal direction.  Then turn the printer over and give it a little shake.  Then try printing again. As silly as this soubds, it is effective at solving the printer problems that follow a paper jam the majority of the time – and I do mean at least 50% of the time, this will make the printer start working again.

If  you have no success with that step, or if you are seeing blank pages being printed – in other words, the pages are making it through the printer OK, but they are coming out with no printing on them, you may have a situation where the jam has affected the printhead. While it is possible that a bad jam has rubbed up against the nozzels on the printhead in an aggressive manner and damaged it, that’s not usually the case. It may have just forced the ink to back up into the printhead and clog those tiny printhead nozzels.  If this is the case, a cleaning may be sufficient to correct it. Try using the printer’s built in cleaning routine to clean the print heads.  You can almosy always do this from either the front panel or from the driver.  If you are doing it from the driver of a Canon, HP, or Epson Inkjet printer, look for the “maintenance” section of the driver (often a tab on the driver interface) and then locate self-cleaning or “clean-printhead”.  And while you’re there, if you see an option to do a printhead alignment do that as well. It’s a little difficult to explain what that does in a few words, but it is another remedy for not being able to print after a paper jam that might work, particularly if the jam happened around the printhead area. If.you choose to do this, the printer will provide instructions on how to complete the alignment.

If none of these work, replace the cartridges as a last resort.  It isn’t likely to solve the problem if nothing else has, so consider it carefully before doing it.  It might be best just to take the money you would be spending on ink cartridges and spend them on a quality replacement printer. Also, if you have been using non-oem consumables like ink cartridges, then there is little sense in taking this step. As much as I hate to say it – if you have been using third party – non OEM or refilled or remanufactured ink cartridges, and you are having a probsor printing,  you’ve already ruined the printer. Putting in OEM cartridges a while ago may have mitagated some of the damage done by the continued use of remanufactured cartridges – in the same way that quitting smoking when you’re 50 is better than quitting smoking when you’re 60. And that’s better than dying with a cigarette in your hand. But chances are that if you’ve been using remanufactured cartridges and you are having a problem, you’ve witnessed the death of your printer. Cut your losses and throw it in the trash and experience the rush of buying new tech.  And in the future, if you use third party consumables, and you do it being informed about the potential downsides, you have my blessing. I do believe that in some rare cases, it can be worth it in the long run – but if it’s the cost of the consumables that drives you to that behavior, consider spensing a little more ob a color laser printer instead and save a ton of money over inkjets, especially with moderate to high volume printing, and be much happier doing it.

I don’t endorse any one manufacturer holding you hostage to buy their consumable brand, but the fact is, the cheaper refilled and remanufactured cartridges are inferior. That’s why they are cheap.  You wouldn’t put a “used but cleaned out” oil filter in your car at it’s hundredth oil change, much less it’s first. If you do that with your printer, just be aware that you should expect the same results from that as you would from an “emptied” oil filter.

If you have tried all these things to solve a problem where you had a paper jam and now can’t print, it hasn’t worked, and you’re not interested in a new printer, then I’m not sure what additional advice to give, except maybe to run out to the store and see if they still make pens (with ink, not the stylus type – we used to use then to “write” on paper) and pick up a box of those.  And hey, with mobile devices what they are today, maybe you can forego the paper altogether.  At least think about it for a moment – it might suit you.


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