Even if your printer is older than you care to admit, you can still keep it performing optimally with a few simple tricks. Many of these may seem like common sense to some, but other people may realize they have been doing gradual damage to their printer over the years.
1. Always use the on/off switch. There are a few ways to shut down your printer, and this is the safest. Just like powering down your computer is a process, shutting down your printer should not include ripping the power cord from the wall. Once you have completed a print job, push the on/off button on your printer and allow it to shut down prior to unplugging.
2. Avoid leaving the ink cartridge cradle empty. When your printer runs low on ink, wait until you have a new cartridge on hand to begin the swap-out process. If you remove the cartridge and leave it empty for a few days (or longer!) prior to inserting a new cartridge, you will find that dust and debris build up in the cradle. This can damage the new cartridge and the printer.
3. Use your printer regularly. Obviously, this is not going to be a problem for printaholics. Those who use their printer for work will actually want to consider giving it a breather once in awhile. But if you use your printer only occasionally, be sure to fire it up frequently enough. The make and model of the printer will determine what “enough” actually is, but if you use your printer about once per week, even for a small print job, you should not have a problem.
4. Use your cleaning software. Most printers come with tools that can be used to clean the printer. Follow the directions and use them! You can also search for cleaning tips for your specific printer online.
5. Use high quality paper. In some cases, this will not make a noticeable difference in the life of your printer. However, you may find that a cheaper printer jams less with more expensive paper. If you find your printer jamming fairly regularly, blame your paper quality first. Also keep in mind that each jam puts wear and tear on printer parts.
6. Read your warranty and observe its tenants. What you are able to get away with occasionally, like generic ink, may do little to extend the life of your printer. If you are fine with buying a new printer in order to save money during its lifetime, go for it. But if you want one printer to last a lifetime, follow the manufacturer’s directions.
7. Location, location, location. Store your printer in an area where it is well-supported, out of direct sunlight, heat, and cold, and relatively dust free. Also be sure the cords are out of walkways. Nothing reduces the performance of a printer more quickly than someone tripping over the cord and crashing it to the ground.
8. Watch for warning signs. If your printer begins clunking, churning, or clamoring, chances are it is on its last legs. Take care of the problems before they waste ink or ruin projects.
9. Do not use bent, torn, or crumpled paper. Those wanting to save paper should make sure any paper they reuse to print on is flat and free of creases and rips.
10. Store your bulk paper in low humidity. This will keep it from sticking and jamming. There are different opinions concerning fanning the paper, but most experienced printers seem to think this does little to help your printer.
11. Read your manual. The manufacturer’s manual may offer additional care and maintenance tips. If you bought your printer used, you may be able to find the appropriate manual online.