No matter how advanced your printer is, a piece of crumpled paper can bring it to an acute halt. Most paper jams are simple mechanical problems. It may take patience to remove the paper, but once you find it, you know the solution. If you can't find the problem or the printer still doesn't work after removing the paper, check the manual or ask an expert for help.
Method 1 of 4: Inkjet printer
Step 1. Turn off the printer
This reduces the chance of damaging the printer or injuring yourself. Wait for the printer to finish shutting down. Unplug the printer just in case.
Step #2. Open the main panel
Remove all loose paper from the paper tray.
Do not use force, as this can permanently damage the print head
Step 3. Remove the paper slowly
To remove the paper, grip it firmly and pull it towards you very slowly. If the paper tears, paper fibers can spread and interfere with printing. Pulling too roughly can also damage yourself, as even a switched off printer can pinch or scrape your fingers.
- Use tweezers to get to the narrow pieces. Pull even more slowly when using tweezers, alternately pulling the paper back and forth.
- When possible, pull in the direction the paper would normally go through the printer.
- If there is no way to prevent tearing, grasp the paper on both sides of where it is stuck. Try to grab all the torn pieces.
Step 4. Remove the printhead and try again
If the paper is still stuck, follow the instructions for your printer model to remove the printhead or ink cartridges. Carefully pull away pieces of paper, or grab crumpled paper that is still intact with both hands and gently pull it down.
If you do not have the printer manual, search online for 'manual' and the name of your printer model
Step 5. Check the output tray
On inkjet printers, paper can sometimes get stuck in the output tray mechanisms. Look inside the tray that feeds the output tray and carefully remove all visible paper.
Some models have a button to expand this tray, which makes it easier to remove paper
Step 6. Try further disassembling the printer
If the printer still won't work, you can try taking it apart further and looking for jammed paper. Because there are so many different models of printers, you need to follow the specific instructions in your manual. Search online or contact the printer manufacturer if you do not have a manual.
Many printers have a standard way to remove the back cover and/or the input tray, both good places to start. Check for removable access panels on the back and a plastic lever deep in the input tray
Step 7. Clean the printheads
If you have removed most of the paper, but are still experiencing printing problems, have the machine clean the print head. This should help you get rid of paper microfibers clogging the nozzles.
Close all panels and replace all drawers before continuing to print
Step 8. Engage a repair company
If the printer still does not work, consider using a printer service. In some cases, buying a new inkjet printer is a cheaper option.
Method 2 of 4: Laser printer
Step 1. Turn off the printer, unplug it and open the printer
Turn off the printer and wait for the device to finish shutting down. Unplug the printer. Open the main cover where you normally place the toner cartridge.
Step 2. Wait 30 minutes for the printer to cool down
During laser printing, the paper passes two hot rollers, also known as the 'fuser'. If the paper is jammed in or near the fuser, wait at least 30 minutes for the machine to cool down. The fuser reaches dangerously high temperatures.
Some printer models recommend waiting at least 30 minutes
Step 3. If you don't see a paper jam, pull the print cartridge out of the device
In a laser printer, one of the top panels or front panels will usually hide the print cartridge from view. If you haven't found the paper yet, carefully pull the cartridge out of the device. Pull very slowly to avoid tearing the paper. Continue patiently until the paper is released. If the paper cannot be moved, continue with the next step. Don't force anything. Usually you can just pull it out. Some devices may require you to pull one or more levers.
If you can't reach the paper, use tweezers with a wide handle
Step 4. Inspect the rollers
Paper jams often happen when the paper passes between the two rollers. If the rollers turn easily when you touch them, turn them slowly until the paper is released. If the paper is stuck in a complex way, with multiple folds and tears, look at the mechanism that secures the roller to the rest of the printer. Carefully remove one of the rollers and lift it out of the printer to loosen the paper.
- It is best to follow the user manual. Be careful not to force the mechanism.
- Many models use rollers secured with a 'hole and pin' lock. Press the pin to release the roller.
Step 5. Check the manual or ask a repairer for help
If the paper still won't come off, see your printer manual for instructions on how to disassemble it further. If you've removed all the paper, but the printer still won't print, ask a printer service to check the machine for parts that need to be replaced.
Method 3 of 4: Office printer
Step 1. Look for the button to release the paper
Many office printers have the option to clear paper jams themselves. Look for a button labeled "paper release" or "paper jam." Refer to the owner's manual if the function of certain buttons is not clear.
This may be worth trying again later in the process if you've managed to remove some of the paper, but still can't print
Step 2. Restart the printer
Turn off the printer and allow the device to complete this process. Wait for a while and then turn the device back on. Sometimes a printer can resolve the error on its own during startup. Resetting a printer will recheck the paper advance and stop detecting a jam that is no longer there.
Step 3. Look at the LCD screen, if present
Many printers have a small screen that displays short messages. When there is a paper jam, such printers may try to give you an idea of where the jam is and what to do next. Follow the on-screen directions and manual to reduce the chances of damaging your printer.
Step 4. Remove any excess paper
Make sure all trays contain paper, but are not overloaded. Sometimes too little or too much paper can cause the system to register a paper jam. Try printing again after reducing the stack of paper in the device to below the recommended maximum for your model.
Step 5. Locate the paper jam
Remove all paper from the trays. Open all drawers and access panels until you locate the paper jam. If a panel will not open under gentle pressure, look for a lock or refer to the manual.
Do not put your hands in a printer while it is on. This can cause serious injuries.
- Some drawers can be completely removed. Look for an unlock.
- It may help to use a mirror when checking the drawers and back panels.
- If possible, place the printer in a place where you can get around it from all sides.
Step 6. Turn off the printer and let it cool for 30 minutes
Turn off the printer. In any case, allow the printer to cool for at least 30 minutes, or check your manual to make sure the jam mechanism is cool enough to handle.
Just to be safe, disconnect the printer from the mains power
Step 7. Remove the paper
Once you have found the paper, slowly pull it out of the device with both hands. If you have a choice, pull the end with the most paper sticking out. Do not use force as tearing the paper can cause further problems.
If you cannot remove the paper yourself, please contact your company's technical service
Step 8. If you can't find the paper jam, clean dirty parts inside the printer
Dirty mechanics are less common than an actual paper jam, but cleaning may be worth a try if you don't see any jammed paper. Please refer to the owner's manual to avoid making matters worse.
Step 9. Turn on the printer
Place all drawers and close all panels before turning on the printer. After turning the printer back on, give it time to complete the startup cycle.
Step 10. Try to run the print job again
Some printers remember a print job that has not been completed and then try to run it again automatically. For other models, you may need to re-issue the command.
If the screen shows an error message, please refer to the user manual to find out what it means
Step 11. Contact a professional
Office printers are expensive, fragile devices, and some problems are not easy to fix without specialized tools and knowledge. The office will usually have a contract with a maintenance and repair service. Contact this service and request an inspection of the device.
Method 4 of 4: Clearing a paper jam with no paper jam
Step 1. Remove the cover
Turn off the printer and remove it from the power supply. Remove the cover from top loaders, or the front panel from front loaders.
If it's a laser printer, wait 10-30 minutes before tinkering with the printer (or up to an hour with some models). Parts inside the appliance can become very hot
Step 2. Locate the feed rollers
Shine a flashlight on the parts of the device near the input tray. You should see a long cylinder, or a rod with small rubber things on it. These rubber parts are the rollers that guide the paper into the machine.
- If you don't see these rollers, turn the paper over or open the side or back cover. You may need to refer to the manual to learn how to remove these panels.
- If the roller is clearly broken, that is the cause of the problem. To determine if the roller is replaceable, see the printer manual or contact the manufacturer.
Step 3. Check the feed rollers for debris
If your printer's screen displays a 'paper jam' message and there is no paper jam in the device, then there is probably another jam. Inspect along this roller for objects that have fallen into the printer. Remove it with tweezers or by turning the printer upside down.
Step 4. Use a cloth and cleaning fluid
Dust and dirt on the rollers can cause a paper jam message. Cleaning can help, but the type of cleaning products you need depends on your printer type:
- Laser printers contain toner particles that can irritate the lungs. Wear a mask to filter out fine particles, and purchase a special toner cloth to wipe up most of these particles. Dampen it with isopropyl alcohol (99%). (Some rollers break when they come into contact with alcohol. You can check the printer manual for advice, or use distilled water instead.)
- Inkjet printers are easier to clean. Use a lint-free cloth (such as microfiber) and slightly dampen it with isopropyl alcohol, or distilled water, if you don't want to risk damaging anything.
- With extremely dirty feed rollers, you use a special product for cleaning rubber. Read all safety instructions first. These products can cause serious damage to the skin and eyes, and corrode plastic parts of the printer.
Step 5. Clean the rollers
Wipe the feed rollers with a slightly damp cloth. If the rollers won't turn, snap open the clips holding them in and remove the rollers so you can clean them on each side.
Toner wipes tear easily. Work in slow motions to avoid leaving fibers behind and building up in your printer
Step 6. Check other parts for dirt
Paper jams can also occur in other parts of the printer. Remove the printer tray and any other removable covers. All laser printers and some inkjet printers have a second pair of rollers near the output tray. A paper jam message may indicate that something has fallen against these rollers.
The 'output rollers' of laser printers get hot enough to cause burns. These are 'fusers' that burn the ink onto the paper.
These rollers are close to delicate parts of the machine, and with laser printers they require special handling. It is best to consult your printer manual for accurate cleaning instructions.
- Latches are usually a contrasting color of plastic, different from the color of the printer case and cartridges. Often they will even have a stamp or sticker indicating which way to press or pull on it.
- If your printer is increasingly experiencing a paper jam, have the device checked by a repair person. This can be caused by a defective or worn mechanism that cannot be repaired by yourself.
- Refer to the paper guide (a small lever on the input tray) of your printer. Adjust it so that it is not too loose, but does not cause friction on your paper.
- Avoid future paper jams by loading paper trays correctly, without putting too much paper on them; furthermore, do not use warped or wrinkled paper; use paper of the correct size and weight; manually feed envelopes, labels and film into the machine; and maintain the printer regularly.
- Make sure latches are fully closed when replacing print cartridges and paper trays, and when closing panels and covers.
- If the printer is in a public place, such as a school, library, copy shop, or workplace, remember that you usually need to ask technical support (IT or otherwise) for assistance first. They know the specific printer better than you do, and are likely to resolve paper jams themselves rather than risk damaging the printer by an inexperienced user.
- Do not cut the paper from the printer. This puts you at risk of destroying the printer.
- Parts of a laser printer get hot enough to burn you. Be careful.
- You can use your hands or fingers not into parts of the printer, as there is a chance that you will not be able to get them out.
- You should never push or pull too hard, whether on the paper or the various panels and latches of your printer. Things that are meant to loosen should come off easily. If something looks like it should come off easily, but just pulling can't do it, look for buttons or clamps to release the part.