Does your printer need a service?

If you have used your printer for several years without giving it any maintenance or if you have recently bought a second hand or used printer that has not been fully refurbished you should consider assessing its general condition and check its maintenance count.

Most heavy-duty laser printers have maintenance intervals ranging from 200,000 to 350,000 pages. A major service requires that the printer be thoroughly cleaned and a new maintenance kit installed. On a monochrome printer, the kit usually consists of a fuser, transfer roller and paper pick-up rollers. These components are subject to wear: the print quality will deteriorate and paper jams will become more frequent unless they are replaced.

The page count at which the last maintenance was performed or the next maintenance is due is usually recorded in the printer’s memory and it can be accessed via the LCD control panel. A printer will produce better quality output if it is serviced every 50,000 pages or once a year.  On HP printers, the maintenance count is also printed out on the configuration menu page. Most heavy-duty printers will beep and display an error message when the next maintenance falls due. Once the printer has been serviced and these components have been replaced, the maintenance count should be reset.

Regular servicing identified and resolved any problems before they become necessary to undertake expensive repairs. All printers accumulate a lot of paper dust and some waste toner that can be spread throughout the printer and may coat paper pick-up rollers and fuser rollers. This leads to more frequent paper jams, greater wear on the fuser rollers and reduced print quality. Keep the internal parts of the printer clean to maintain its print quality and enhance the service life of its components.

 Regular paper jams

Paper- feed problems are a good indication of your printer being in need of servicing.  For example the printer may not be picking up from one or more trays, or the printer may pickup multiple sheets of paper – both of which can be solved by cleaning or replacing the pick-up rollers and feed/separation rollers. 

Clean all other paper feed rollers in the paper path. Remove all grey/white crusted deposits on the rubber surfaces by scrubbing them with a cotton cloth dipped in methylated spirits, isopropyl alcohol or similar solvent. A gentle wipe is not sufficient. All the feed rollers should be a uniform colour (usually grey or black) and have a grippy surface texture.

If paper jams occur just before, during or just after the paper has passed through the fuser, you may find that one or more small pieces of paper are jammed in the fuser. You may need to remove the fuser from the printer to gain sufficient access to remove the paper.

Another possible cause of paper jamming in the fuser is that a user may have attempted to print on a transparency that is not rated for use in laser printers: the transparency melts onto the fuser rollers and obstructs the path of the paper. Again, a user may have attempted to print on labels that are not rated for use in laser printers: the glue melts in the fuser and one or more labels may be stuck onto the fuser rollers and thereby obstruct the path of the paper. You should never use a sheet of labels from which some labels have been removed. You should always change the paper type setting on the printer from plain paper to labels or transparencies (as appropriate) before attempting to print on media such as this. The printer will then adjust its fuser temperature and roller pressures accordingly to minimise the chances of damage to the printer.

If you cannot find any evidence of paper jammed in the fuser, you should check the condition of the fuser gears: you may find that one or more fuser gears are worn or some of the teeth on the gears are broken. You may find that one or more detack claws are missing or dislodged in the detack assembly.  You should also check the condition of the fuser rollers themselves: you may find ripples or cuts in the surface of the pressure roller that can catch the edge of the paper as it feeds through the printer; or you may find the remains of a plastic transparency stuck to the hot roller. You may need to overhaul or replace the fuser.

Poor print quality

Another obvious indication that your printer needs a service is a gradual deterioration in its print quality. Most print quality problems are caused by a worn, leaking or faulty toner cartridge so replacing the cartridge is always the first step. Remove the old cartridge. If the printer is a Lexmark, you should clean the primary charge roller (PCR) as described elsewhere in our Support Section. The PCR is a brown rubber roller that usually has a light grey coating of toner: if the coating is carbon black or sooty, the old toner cartridge was probably leaking. You should vacuum the inside of the printer and clean the internal paper path with a micro-fibre cloth. Insert a new toner cartridge or another cartridge that you know is in good condition. If the print quality problem persists, check the transfer roller and the fuser. A worn transfer roller will produce light and uneven quality prints; a dirty transfer roller will produce black marks on the back of every printed page. A worn hot roller in the fuser will produce unwanted black toner marks of the face of the printed output.

If your printed pages have recurring marks or lines across the page, the problem is most likely to be caused by the toner cartridge. A recurring dot or blob of toner on the page is most likely to be caused by a damaged OPC drum in the cartridge. You can visually inspect the OPC drum (usually a blue or green coated aluminium roller) and check for any signs of surface damage. You can identify the origin of the lines or toner spots by measuring their distance apart on the printed page. You can compare this distance with the circumference of the various rollers in the printer.

Other print quality problems that are usually caused by a faulty toner cartridge include very light print that is difficult to read; repetitive images or shadows of previous text repeated at intervals down the page; or the breaking up or uneven density of solid black printed sections e.g. horizontal bars on configuration pages or demo pages.

If you are really unlucky, very light or uneven prints may be caused by a failing high tension power supply or a faulty printhead (laser imaging assembly) in your printer. Sometimes, vertical white lines all the way down the printed page (in areas that you expect to be black) can be caused by a dirty mirror in the printhead. You can solve this problem by cleaning the mirror with isopropyl alcohol.

Call our Service Department on 0800 225505 for advice or to book your printer in for servicing NZ wide.


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