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How to Fix a Paper Jam From A Fax Machine

Most fax machines have experienced the horror of a paper jam at some point in their lives. Paper jams are devastating and prevent you from receiving faxes. Since each paper jam is unique to the fax machine you’re using, solving paper jam problems isn’t always easy.

Today, I’m going to explain some common solutions for clearing a paper jam. If you’re having paper problems with your fax machine, then this guide can help get your machine back in proper working order.

Step 1) Identify The Paper Jam Problem

Okay. You’ve got a paper jam. What do you do now?

First, assess the situation and try to identify the problem. There are a few different reasons why a paper jam could occur, but the end result is typically the same: paper is getting jammed inside the machine, making it impossible to receive a fax.

The first thing you should watch for is a smell of burning. Burning can occur if there’s an electrical problem with your fax machine. In some cases, simple overheating could also cause a fax machine to give off a burning scent.

If you smell burning, immediately turn off the fax machine. If you see flames, then you should obviously grab a fire extinguisher and take other fire safety precautions.

However, if you don’t smell burning, then it’s best to leave your fax machine turned on. Your fax machine will clear its memory when powered off, which means that you’ll lose any incoming fax data.

Other signs of a jammed paper problem include a crinkling, ripping, or squealing sound coming from the printer.

 Step 2) Open The Fax Machine

Once you’ve made sure your paper jam hasn’t caught fire, it’s time to open the machine and get a closer look at the issue.

Look for where the paper has been jammed. Open the machine as close as you can to that point. If you hear the sound of ripping paper, then try opening another panel or section of the machine. Ripping the jammed paper will likely complicate your problem even further.

Step 3) Carefully Pull Out The Paper From The Fax Machine

Once you’ve opened the fax machine as close to the paper as possible, it’s time for the tricky part: pull the paper through the fax machine out the paper path.

Fax machines are built to dispense paper in a single direction. All of the gears, rollers, and slots are designed to run in one direction. When you pull against that direction, you’re going to cause major problems for yourself in the future – you’re probably going to be dealing with a lot more paper jam problems down the road.

That’s why you need to carefully unjam the machine and slowly pull out the paper. Pull it out through the end where it normally comes out when you receive a fax. Avoid yanking on the paper and tearing it. Putting too much force on the paper could break one of the gears or rollers inside the fax machine, which is bad news.

There’s no real trick to this. Don’t overthink this step and slowly, gently, and firmly pull the paper out the end of the machine.

Step 4) Clearing The Fax Machine

Once you’ve successfully removed the paper from the slot, take a close look at it. Is it torn in any places? If so, then you need to clear out the rest of the fax machine before you accept another fax. Clear every last bit of paper from the fax machine using any means necessary.

If you see a piece of paper stuck deep within the fax machine, then consider using tweezers to gently grab it.

Above all, resist the urge to throw your fax machine against a wall, kick it, smash it, or become physically violent in any way. Unless you want to buy a new machine, then none of these solutions will help.

Step 5) Test The Fax Machine

Did you successfully clear the paper jam? If so, then you should be able to print off a test page. Try to reprint your last received fax or simply run a blank sheet of paper through the machine.

Once you’ve ensured that the machine is running smoothly with no apparent issues, you’ve successfully unjammed your fax machine. Congratulations!

Step 6) Still Jammed? Did It Jam Immediately After You Fixed It?

If your fax machine became jammed soon after you fixed it, then there could be a number of reasons why this is occurring.

The first and most likely reason is that you’re using cheap, low-quality paper. Fax machines really don’t like cheap paper, so paying a few extra cents per sheet could save you a world of headaches in the future.

Another possible problem is that something is stuck in the machine. Open the access panel once more and look for any possible problems you may have missed when you first unjammed the paper. Those problems could include:

  • Paper clips
  • Staples
  • Pen caps
  • Crumpled papers
  • Broken rollers, chipped gears, and other problems with the paper output system

All of these problems will jam your fax machine.

Unjamming A Laser Printer Or Fax

Unjamming a laser printer or fax can be difficult. Laser printers tropically have a more enclosed casing which protects the essential components – like the fuser unit and the rollers – far away from your prying hands.

If you can’t reach the jammed paper with your hands, avoid the temptation of poking a sharp object towards it. Sharp objects could scratch the rollers and permanently damage your expensive fax machine.

Instead of using sharp objects and other solutions, the best way to unjam a laser printer is to take it apart yourself and get closer to the paper jam with your fingers. Or, call a trained professional to deal with the issue.

Other Troubleshooting Tips When Fixing A Fax Machine

  • Look at your fax machine’s digital readout screen to check for an error message; some fax machines will describe the error with a code or brief explanation.
  • If your fax machine won’t print a test page after fixing the paper jam, then look for a button that says “Ready” or “Go” to reactivate it.
  • Check the owner’s manual for any jam clearing tips specific to your fax machine; every machine is different, and fixing a paper jam might be easier than you think.

How to Avoid Paper Jams in the Future

Want to avoid ever having to read this guide again? There are a number of easy ways to prevent paper jams from giving you trouble in the future:

  • Don’t fill your fax machine with ripped or crumpled paper
  • Don’t use paper that has already been used or printed on
  • Wave stacks of paper through the air before slotting them into your machine in order to avoid static electricity buildup, which can cause pieces of paper to stick together
  • Avoid using really old fax machines (more than 5 or 10 years old)
  • Use clean, flat white sheets of good-quality paper
  • Use a canister of compressed air to blow dust, dirt, and debris out of your printer
  • Maintain normal temperature and humidity levels in your office (high humidity and temperature levels can cause paper to stick together)
  • Use good-quality paper instead of the cheaper discount brands

If you’re regularly experiencing a paper jam in your fax machine, then there are three main reasons why this could occur:

  • It’s your fax machine’s fault
  • It’s your paper’s fault
  • It’s your fault

You can fix your fax machine by consulting the instruction manual, calling tech support, or searching for your problem online. You can fix your paper problems by using high-quality clean white sheets of paper, and you can fix your problems by reading through guides like this online.

Following all of these tips won’t help you completely avoid a paper jam, but they will significantly reduce your likelihood of experiencing a jam again.

About Johnson Hur

After having graduated with a degree in Finance and working for a Fortune 500 company for several years, Johnson decided to follow his passion by embarking on a path to the digital world. He has over 8 years of experience with large companies setting marketing strategy.

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