Keyser Soze was wrong. The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was not convincing the world that he didn’t exist. The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world that printers work. I have it on the best authority that computer printers are, in fact, an invention of the devil. Okay, so maybe printers were not invented by the devil and maybe the word “evil” is not the most appropriate one to use when describing the provenance of printers, but when the paper jams, it sure can feel like a living hell. Sometimes a paper jam in the printer isn’t really the result of paper jamming up for the obvious reasons. In fact, some paper jams in the printer can be avoided by just taking a few seconds before you start the printing process to look into some aspects that often lead to that hellish feeling that the printer has to be the work of the devil.
Overloaded Paper Tray
Too many sheets of paper in the loading dock can result in printer jams even if every sheet is as crisp and clean as the day it rolled off the factory assembly line. At the first sign of a paper jam in your printer, take a look at the paper tray to make sure the person who was printing something before you hasn’t overestimated the capacity of the paper tray. Take out some of the paper in the paper tray and try again. Because printers do sometimes seem to be pure evil, there is a likelihood that the next thing that will happen is the printing of a document that was already in the queue before you tried printing your document. Or, depending on the temperament of the printer, you may get a test page which means you will have to try printing what you originally tried before the paper jam all over again.
Wrong Type of Paper
Of course, if the printer doesn’t fail because of paper overload, you must continue troubleshooting. Part of the troubleshooting rabbit trail of printers that must be dealt with is that some printers jam not due to too much paper trying to work its way through the system, but because a specific type of paper it doesn’t like is being used. Let’s say that you see a few sheets of paper are already in the tray and you know you’ve got to print a document that needs about twice as many pages. So you add some paper on top of the paper already there and you are pretty confident it’s not enough to cause a jam for the reason stated above. You press the button and the first few pages print with no problem, but then things start going all haywire. The reason could very likely be not that too many pages are trying to slide through at once, but that hidden in there among the paper used for printing documents is a sheet or two that the person before you was using to print a T-shirt iron-on or greeting card. A good way to avoid a paper jam before it happens is to make sure that all the paper in the tray is the type of paper required for the specific printing job you have in mind.
Printers seem to possess a voracious appetite for envelope labels. Almost invariably, a sheet of envelope labels making its way through the printer will come out short one or two labels. When an envelope label (or any kind of label, really) is ripped free of the sheet of paper to which it adheres during the printing process, it can get stuck inside. Often it doesn’t just get stuck, but gets crumpled and angular and those sharp edges begin causing all manner of headaches when you try to print paper that has to work its way smoothly and effortlessly around the labels eaten by the printer. If you ever come across a printer that doesn’t print because of a paper jam and nothing you try seems to fix the problem, the chances are very good that you are facing a situation involving a missing envelope label.