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Today's office is heavily dependant on the office equipment it uses. When a copier or fax goes down, or becomes a jam-o-matic, productivity plummets. The time spent waiting for a repair service to arrive can be costly, but did you know it can also be unnecessary?
Most jamming problems can be solved with a little knowledge and about ten free minutes. Trouble shooting the problem can be done in a few simple steps.
First, try different sized papers. Does the machine seem to jam more often on one size than any other? Second, determine if the paper is simply stopping, or if it is crumpling up. Look at the leading edge of the jammed sheet and see if it shows a slight dent. Last, listen to the rhythm of the machine. Does it seem off? Does it whine just before it jams, or just seem to be spinning it's wheels?
Now, let's go over the possible results and their causes. If only one size of paper is jamming this is a good sign. This means that the problem is localized to that one cassette. For a quick fix, you can just switch the position of the cassette. If it's in the top slot, move it to the bottom, or vice versa. If you have more time, take the cassette out of the machine and look inside. Find the tires used to pull the paper out of the cassette. If you can reach them, spray some FANTASTIC onto a cloth and clean the tires. Only use FANTASTIC, it works with the rubber in the tires to make them grip better. Use this method to extend the life of otherwise worn out tires.
If all cassettes are jamming, move on to the next step.
If the paper is simply stopping in the machine, without crumpling or denting, it is most likely the result of worn rollers. Follow the path of the paper with your eyes and thoroughly clean all the rollers you can reach, using the same method as above. Be careful not to use too much force when attempting to turn the rollers. Usually a roller will spin more easily in one direction than the other. If you feel the roller stopping, do not force it to turn.
If the paper is crumpling, look carefully at the spot in the machine where the paper is stopping. You might find that a paperclip, or a broken piece of plastic has worked its way into the machine. If so, removing the piece will solve your problem.
If you can't see anything obvious in the paper path, look at the edge of the paper. Even a mangled piece will have a discernable dent in the leading edge if there is something in the way. Put the sheet back in the machine at the point where it had stopped. Look where the dent lines up with the guides in the machine. From there you should be able to see what is stopping the paper. Remember to never use anything sharp inside your copier or fax. There are many problems you can cause simply by tapping the wrong thing by accident. Try guiding whatever is in the paper path out with a torn and folded paper prod. If you can't get it out this way then STOP and call for service.
The third step, listening to your machine, can save you time. If it sounds like it is just spinning its wheels, then look to the tires that move the paper. If it is whining or groans just before it jams, you will need to call for service.
Some things to keep in mind. Copiers and fax machines, as well as printers all work on exact timing. Don't assume anything. I have often found that, while I find a sheet of paper stopped inside a machine, it is not that piece of paper that caused the jam, but rather the piece that had just left the machine. If a sheet takes too long to exit a machine, this will also cause a jam. The best way to figure out where the jam is occurring is to run only a single copy, and watch the machine closely. A copier will do its level best to fool you, so be careful not to put on blinders. Keep your mind open to other possibilities if your current assumption fails to fix the machine.
If your machine is under a service contract, then by no means are you ever to take a screwdriver to it. This will void your contract. These suggestions are meant to help you solve simple problems, with simple answers. Anything difficult should be handled by your service company.