Common print quality issues and how to manage them

15. November 2012 05:00 by Calvin Yu in Troubleshooting and Printer Tips  //  Tags:   //   Comments

You shouldn't give up on your printer at the first sign of trouble. Although printers are cheaper than ever, most models are built to last. By knowing about common quality issues and how to handle them, you can make the most of your printer and rely on it for many years to come. It's natural to be frustrated when print quality is less than perfect. Even if you invested in one of the best printers on the market, wear and tear will take their toll over time. Even the best printers start experiencing problems at some point. The trick is knowing how to address those issues. In most cases, low print quality can be resolved quickly, easily and affordably. Regardless of the specific print quality issues that you're experiencing, you should run down this list of solutions before attempting anything else. In many cases, one of these measures will resolve the problem:

  • Make sure that you're using high-quality paper. This is especially important when you absolutely need exceptional results. Extremely cheap paper often produces low-quality prints. Resolving this issue is as simple as upgrading to better paper.
  • Clean out the interior of the printer. You can use a damp cloth to get the job done right. Just make sure to squeeze out as much excess moisture as possible. The cloth should be just damp enough to remove dust and debris.
  • Remove the ink or toner cartridge and shake it around. In some cases, the toner may just need to be loosened up again inside the cartridge. That's especially true if you haven't used the printer in some time. After shaking it up, replace it and try printing again.
  • Replace the ink or toner cartridge. If shaking it around doesn't help, you might just have a defective toner or ink cartridge. Make sure to buy your compatible toner and ink cartridges from a reputable and reliable supplier. Check the expiration dates on your cartridges and make sure to use them in a timely manner.

Common Print Quality Issues Refer to the following techniques to tackle specific print quality issues.

  • Vertical Lines - If fine, black lines are running vertically on your printed copies, the drum in your cartridge assembly is probably damaged. The easiest way to resolve this is by swapping it out with a new one. If the lines are smudged, the rollers may need to be replaced. This can also be caused by a damaged fuser, which is the mechanism that makes the toner stick to the paper.
  • Faded, Streaked Lines - Are there faded vertical lines or streaks on your printed copies? If so, the toner might just be low. Shaking up the cartridge could do the trick. If you try that and the problem persists, replace the cartridge entirely. If it still happens, check your print settings to make sure that you're using an appropriate print density.
  • Excessive Toner - Is there excess toner on your printed copies? This often happens when the fuser is defective. If the toner is collected along the sides of the paper, the rollers or guides may just be dirty.
  • Faded Spots - This is a somewhat unusual problem. Make sure that the paper you're using isn't damp at all. If there are wet spots on the paper, they could be to blame. Make sure that you're using decent paper to prevent this problem.

As you can see, the majority of print quality issues can be handled in a minute or two. If a part needs to be replaced, however, it's generally best to have a technician do the work.

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