Why Is My Printer Not Printing? 4 Troubleshooting Solutions

man fixing printer jam

Printers are a vital part of most business operations. A stubborn printer can be a frustrating and costly inconvenience at the office. Streaked letters, zig-zagged lines across the page, paper jams and non-responses indicate an issue with your printer. 

Below, we discuss four common printer problems that are simple to troubleshoot and easy to fix.  

1. Paper Jams

It is important to know how to service a printer in the event of a paper jam. Paper jams are common and often caused by misaligning or overloading the paper tray. 

To troubleshoot a paper jam, open your paper tray and make sure the paper is aligned correctly. Remove the full stack of paper from the unit and neatly re-align it. If the stack appears too dense, check your printer’s paper capacity. You may need to remove a few sheets. 

Loading the printer with cardstock or thick paper can often trigger the paper jam warning. Turn on the specific paper type setting on the printer to avoid a jam. 

If you continue to experience a paper jam, unplug your printer and then turn it back on. This fix resets the paper sensors and allows them to assess whether there is a real jam or a ghost jam. A ghost jam occurs when you receive a paper jam warning without any sheets stuck in the printer. Ghost jams might indicate a bigger mechanical problem. 

Often, during a real paper jam, residue or small shreds of paper are left behind and become stuck in the gears that operate the duplexer (used for double-sided printing). To resolve this issue, remove the duplexer and check the rollers for small pieces of paper to enable the duplexer to roll freely. 

2. Outdated Printer Driver

A printer is an essential piece of equipment for your home office and should be on your complete checklist for working remotely. Updating the driver is an oft-overlooked element of owning a printer.

The printer driver is the software that converts the information to be printed from your computer into a language your printer can understand. If you’re having issues with your printer driver, it may be a problem with the driver version installation.

Older printer drivers go out of date, so uninstall the driver you have downloaded before replacing it with an updated version. This step should re-establish communication between your computer and your printer.

girl with head in hands frustrated

3. An Overloaded Queue 

If your print jobs are postponed, deleted or reordered, your queue might be confused due to an overloaded communication system. This confusion consequently stops the driver but doesn’t represent a mechanical issue. The overloaded queue simply stops your printer from receiving further jobs. 

Some things you can do to clear your queue are:

  • Delete jobs in the queue.
  • Turn off your printer at the power source and turn it back on again.
  • If you’re using a Windows computer, open up Windows Services and click the Print Spooler option. Find the “Stop” option, which pauses any print jobs that are confusing the printer. Use your browser to search for: C:\Windows\System32\Spool\PRINTERS. Then, delete any remaining files in your queue. Restart your computer. Then restart your printer. All should be restored. 

cmyk cartridges focus

4. Clogged Printhead

A clogged printhead occurs when the printer ink in your printer head dries up and clogs the parts. An effective way to clean your printer cartridge is by using a damp paper towel to give it a quick clean:

  • Dampen a paper towel with some warm water.
  • Carefully blot the printer cartridge using the towel with the printhead facing downwards. You will soon be able to spot bits of ink on the paper. 
  • Once you’ve blotted the printhead, press a dry paper towel to the cartridge for about a minute. 
  • Pop the cartridge back in, and your printing should be back to normal. 

If your printer doesn’t have an integrated printhead, the printhead can’t be removed and cleaned in this way. Instead, your printer’s software will have a dedicated printhead cleaning option to fix this for you. Read through your user’s guide to find the specific system for your unit. 

The Takeaway

Although many offices are moving toward a paperless work environment, many people agree on why print is still necessary in the digital age. Having more knowledge of your printer can help you fix these common problems quickly and easily. Although some of these solutions vary slightly between printer models, start with these tips when troubleshooting common printer problems.