When Does Your Printer Drum Need to Be Replaced?

extract cartridge of a laser printer to replace

Laser printers are capable of printing very fast, and their per-page cost is much lower than inkjets. However, they have two sets of parts that must eventually be replaced: the toner cartridges and the drums.

Like toner replacement, laser printer drum replacement can be an easy task if you take care to follow the directions. You’ll want to have a replacement drum or set of drums stocked up in advance. Here’s how to know when to replace the drum.

The Difference Between Toner Cartridges and Drum Cartridges

If you’re not sure what a drum cartridge is, learn about the basic mechanics first. A photoreceptor drum is a mechanical part that applies toner to a printed page, and it doesn’t have to be replaced as often as toner cartridges. It can last anywhere from 10,000 to 50,000 pages. 

A larger drum cartridge protects the photoreceptor drum. Color laser printers usually have a set of color drums in addition to the black drum, so different drum cartridges may need to be replaced at different times. Many laser printers use a combined toner-and-drum cartridge, so check carefully to see what your printer model uses.

Toner cartridges contain a finite amount of toner, and a little bit of this toner is applied to each printed page. Black-and-white laser printers only have one toner cartridge, while color laser printers have an additional three. 

Unlike inkjet cartridges, most laser printer toner cartridges last for a long time. Basic toner cartridges last for 1,500-1,800 pages, and high-yield cartridges can print up to 2,500. 

Business woman is using the printer

Printer Notifications

Most modern printers will give an error message or warning light when a part needs replacing. The photoreceptor drum should activate an error message when it is damaged or getting worn out, but not all printers can detect problems successfully.

Some printers won’t resume operation until the drum cartridge has been replaced. If you see an error message, replace the drum right away. Color laser printers with multiple drum cartridges may need separate replacements or may need replacements all at the same time.

Blurry Printing and Black Streaks

The first sign of drum wear is blurry printing. Although this can sometimes be resolved by cleaning the printer drum or corona wire, it may also be a sign that the drum needs replacing. Drums rely on very sensitive electronics to retain and apply toner in the correct locations, so, when those electronics are worn or damaged, blurry printing can result.

Black horizontal streaks may also appear in printed documents. This occurs when the page passes through a drum that is only damaged in certain parts. This may also be resolved with cleaning—but if the drum is old, it should be replaced.

Blank Pages

If the drum is worn out, it may produce very faded or blank pages. First, double-check the toner and run the printer troubleshooting software to make sure another issue isn’t causing it.

More than likely, the drum is too old and must be replaced before continuing to use the printer. The page quality can fade quickly, so it’s essential to have a spare drum on hand before you think you’ll need it.

technician is checking and changing the printer equipment

Replacing Your Printer Drum Yourself

Replacing a printer drum is an easy DIY job, so do it as soon the signs of wear and tear appear. Read the instructions for the printer and the printer drum carefully to make sure you don’t miss any warnings. There will typically be a lever inside the printer cover that releases the printer cartridge, so make sure to use that instead of forcing the cartridge out.

First, pull out the drum cartridge and set it on a paper towel on the table. Remove packaging from the new cartridge and insert it, taking care to remove any plastic covers or film. Hit the drum reset button, if the printer has one, and close it up. Make sure to recycle your old drum cartridges to reduce your environmental impact.

Be careful not to touch the internal wires and other parts of the printer. Also, avoid exposing the drum cartridges or the inside of the printer to light for more than two minutes. Some of the electronics are sensitive to both light and touch, so it’s easy to damage them and permanently reduce the quality of the prints.

Getting the Right Parts

To minimize drum replacements, you’ll want to buy new drums that give quality results and last for tens of thousands of pages. Inkjetsuperstore.com is your one-stop-shop for printer drums and ink and toner cartridges. We carry replacements for HP, Epson, Canon, and many more brands. We also offer bulk discounts, so your organization can stock up and save.