Printer care

If you use your printer properly and maintain it periodically, it will give you years and years of faithful service

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Printer care Toner packs are much larger than the cartridges that inkjets use. The former generally lasts much longer
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By  Clayton Vallabhan Published  February 14, 2011

Printers are generally sturdy workhorses that can handle a fair amount of abuse but if you want them to perform and print at their very best, there are a number of steps you can take. Here WINDOWS explains exactly what you can do to ensure your printer stays in top form.

A printer functions at its very best when it’s brand new but with time, print quality and overall performance can degrade if you don’t look after it. There are a number of factors that can affect your printer in different ways and knowing what these are will help you maintain and preserve your printer so that it’s able to perform at its best for years.

Environmental threats

Dust is one of the biggest threats to printers and it can enter your printer in a number of ways. The most widespread is via the paper tray; when a printer that hasn’t been used for a while is given a print job and the paper, which has also been sitting for a while and collected dust, is pulled into the print engine, you’re exposing the printer’s un-protected innards to dust and dirt.

In the case of inkjets the print heads can easily be affected by dust and begin to malfunction, resulting in a potentially expensive problem to fix. Overcoming problems related to dust can be as simple as covering the printer when not in use, or even by using a vacuum cleaner to clear dust away before you get busy with your printer.

Even if you use your printer frequently the area of your home or office in which it sits can make all the difference in terms of dust build-up. If you have your printer setup on a surface that’s quite low to the ground, your printer will pick up dust more quickly than if it were placed on a higher surface. This problem is compounded if you have pets that shed fur. In either case your best ally is either a vacuum cleaner or an anti-static cover that will keep dust away from your trusty printer. You could also move your printer to a location that is higher off the ground.

Printer care

Laser and inkjet printers function differently but both need to be serviced and maintained in order to give you years of hassle-free printing.

To start with, the best and possibly simplest way of extending the life of your printer is to use the print driver’s built-in maintenance routines. They really do work. Whenever possible run a clean sheet of paper through the printer. You can do this by going to any word processor and clicking on print. The printer will ‘print’ the blank page but what you are really doing is picking any lint off the print heads and roller, along with any unwanted build-up of ink or toner that is stuck to the cartridge or print head.

Most people don’t really use their printers very much and this can cause problems over time due to issues such as thickened ink and sticking gears or mechanisms, due to a lack of movement. To prevent this from happening to your printer, make sure to print something twice a week or, at the very least, just turn on your printer every couple of days.

You should also ensure that all the functionality of the printer is used including its secondary input tray (if any). Where possible print dummy documents in both colour and monochrome, so that every part of your printer is given a thorough workout to keep it in shape.

Be gentle

Printer jams can be very annoying, especially if they occur often or when you're half way through a large print job but don’t be tempted to just yank out the page. This can damage the print engine while also affecting the mechanism and gears that are responsible for moving paper through the printer.

Always attempt to follow the instructions supplied in the manual (or on your printer itself) when it comes to dealing with paper jams. There is usually a locking latch that can be used to open the printer’s outer shell thus exposing the paper jam. Once opened, the paper can be gently rolled out or in some cases with larger printers there is a mechanism that when unlocked, widens the area between the paper feed and the roller, thus allowing the paper to be easily removed.

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