Maybe your tech guy’s out of the office—or you’re at home, and at home you don’t have a help desk on call. You have something important to print out—but your printer malfunctions. What do you do?
Don’t panic. We’ll show you how to be self-sufficient in fixing printer problems, no matter how much of a techno-phobe you are. Here are a few tips on how to fix your own printer—no tech department required.
Don’t throw the user’s manual away. If you’ve got an incomprehensible code popping up on your printer or computer screen when you try to print, it’s likely the meaning of that code can be found in the printer manual. So don’t throw it away—keep it somewhere where you can pick it up again if something goes wrong with your printer. It’s possible that the problem is very simple and easy to fix on your own—and the steps could be clearly spelled out in your manual.
Check the website. Okay, so you threw out the manual when you bought the printer—or you can’t find it. No big deal. Check the manufacturer’s website and see if the directions are there. Most of the time, manufacturers keep a help section that will spell out solutions to some of the more common problems you might have with the printer.
Do an online search. Your manual and the manufacturer’s website are no help—now what? Go onto Google and do an online search for the problem or error code—along with the manufacturer’s name and the printer’s model. In many cases, someone else has had this problem—and has asked about it in an online forum. It’s possible you could get to the bottom of the problem and find a solution through online research.
Make sure it’s plugged in. If you can’t connect to the printer, make sure it’s plugged in—and the outlet is working. If it’s connected to a surge protector, make sure the surge protector is on. If it still doesn’t work, unplug it from the surge protector and plug it into a wall socket that you know is working.
Make sure it’s turned on. You’d be surprised how many times help desks get calls about malfunctioning printers and computers—only to find the equipment isn’t responding because it isn’t turned on. Check to make sure your printer is turned on before looking into other solutions. When it’s on, check to see that there are no error messages or warning lights on.
Make sure it’s connected to your computer. If your printer and computer aren’t connected, the printer won’t receive transmissions from the computer to print. Make sure your computer is properly plugged in and the printer is online. Most printers will have a light indicating whether or not they’re online; if this light is off, you may need to reconnect it to the computer.
Run the diagnostics. If your printer is definitely on and online but not printing, run the diagnostics program. Your manual should tell you how, and if you don’t have your manual check your printer driver on your computer. The diagnosic program is designed to assess the printer and identify problem areas.
Clean the printer. Sometimes printers will malfunction when they’re particularly dirty. If you’re seeing streaks on your printouts, that’s probably the reason. Most printers need to be cleaned once every few weeks to ensure print quality. Your printer should have a built-in program that will clean the print heads for you, but you may have to run it several times to get rid of the problem.
If your printer malfunctions, you don’t have to call the experts. Most of the time, the problem is something simple that you can fix yourself—if you have the right information. Don’t throw your manual away—you may need it later to look up error codes. If you don’t have your manual, check with your manufacturer’s website or do an online search for the type of error you’re seeing. In addition, it’s crucial to make sure your computer is plugged in, turned on and online—as well as clean and well maintained. If you do, you should be able to keep your printer in working order—and fix it when it breaks.