Printer Misunderstandings – Part Deux

Xerox Colorcube 8580 printer

In my first post about printer misunderstandings, I explained the three normal ways printers are hooked up so that they can be used. In this writing, I’m going to talk about some other subjects frequently not fully understood.

Rarely Used

Container cargo freight ships with working crane loading bridge in shipyard, and cargo plane in front of the harbor, for logistic Import export background

Often, when I have to condemn a printer as “not worth repairing,” my customer will say something like, “We hardly ever print anything. How can it be bad?” You might be wondering the same thing. Printers are very much like boats and planes. What? Huh? Yes, just as boats are made to sail and planes are made to fly, printers are made to print. In all three cases, more damage occurs when these devices are just sitting – whether that’s in a dock (ship), at an airport (plane) or in your home (printer). In the case of printers, when they are unused for long periods of time, a number of negative things can happen:

  • If your printer uses ink cartridges, the ink can gel and not flow properly when the printer is used. This can cause an ink color to not print at all or to print faded or streaked.
  • The paper sitting in the printer can gather moisture from the air (yes, even in air conditioned scenarios). Moist paper can cause paper jams when the printer is used and can also cause the ink to not adhere to the paper correctly. Documents and pictures can appear faded or lack contrast when the ink isn’t applied correctly.
  • Dust and other particles from the air can settle and can damage the printhead and other mechanisms in the printer.

Reusing Paper Saves $$$

Digital printing machine during production

I believe in saving trees. Anytime we can conserve using paper, that’s a good thing. However, most of the time, it’s not a good idea to reuse paper on which you’ve already printed. I know it sounds like a good idea. However, while you might be saving trees and money when it comes to purchasing paper, you could be shortening the life of your printer. The longer we can keep your printer out of the computer recycle system, the better. Why is it not a good idea to re-use paper? See if the first reason sounds familiar:

  • The paper, which already has ink on it, may have gathered moisture from the air (yes, even in air conditioned scenarios). Even the ink itself is a form of moisture. As stated above, moist paper can cause paper jams when the printer is used and can also cause the ink to not adhere to the paper correctly. Documents and pictures can appear faded or lack contrast when the ink isn’t applied correctly.
  • Since the paper has already been through the printer once, it may not feed through cleanly which can cause jams.
  • The previous ink may rub off onto the rollers which then may later streak or smudge new, clean printed sheets.

Your Printer Takes Care of Itself

Yellow caution maintenance vector sign on white background

Actually, most non-business printers do not take care of themselves. You need to maintain them. Pretty much all printers have a maintenance option built-in to the printer itself or to the software which supports it. Regularly running the maintenance will generally lengthen the lift-span of your printer and keep your printer sheets cleaner and clearer. Maintenance can include options like cleaning the print head and pressure cleaning the spray nozzles.

Besides the specialized printer cleaning, keeping dust and dirt out of and off of the printer can also keep it running longer.

It’s Okay To Stock Up On Ink When It’s On Sale

the color printer inkjet cartridge of the printer inject

If your printer uses ink cartridges like those shown in the photo above, stocking up on them because they are on sale is never a good idea. I normally tell people to never purchase this kind of ink in a quantity that you can’t use within 90 days. Why? Because even though these cartridges are usually wrapped tightly, they will often evaporate or gel up when they sit on the shelf for a very long time. I once had a customer who called me to her home because she had put new ink in her printer and it still wouldn’t print. It turned out that the ink she had just installed had been on her closet shelf for almost a year and all the ink was either gone or had turned almost solid.

Bonus Tip

6 reams of paper on the floor

In several places above, I mentioned paper taking on moisture. Here are two tips for those of you who don’t print everyday: 1) Once you open a ream of paper, keep it stored with a cover – a zip-lock bag, for instance. Wrap it as securely as you can to keep moisture out; 2) Keep a minimum amount of paper in the printer’s paper drawer.


7 thoughts on “Printer Misunderstandings – Part Deux

    1. Claudius, my friend! You’re welcome! You’re not alone when it comes to not being aware of the maintenance – a great majority of people aren’t aware, either. ~John

  1. Lynn Perry-Liguori

    Thank you Joh Grubb, as usual you hit all the points i always say, in a nut shell. You are wonderful

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