With the right care and maintenance, a quality printer can provide many years of trouble-free service, but it is important to care for that printer the right way. Like any piece of computer hardware, a printer requires specific maintenance, and if that maintenance is not performed, the useful life of the printer will be greatly reduced.
Cleaning the Ink Cartridges
If your printer is an inkjet or photo printer, cleaning of the print cartridges should be part of your maintenance routine. These ink cartridges contain tiny jets that are used to spray the ink on the paper, and over time some of those jets can become clogged. These clogged jets will cause printing to become uneven, and they may cause the color balance to be off as well. By taking the time to clean the cartridges, you can lengthen their life while getting more out of your printer.
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Many printers include a handy utility to clean the cartridges with just a couple of clicks. These utiliites are designed to clean and align the print cartridges through an easy-to-use interface, without the need to remove the cartridges from the printer.
Examine the Toner
If you own a laser printer, it is important to keep a close watch on the toner cartridge, especially if the quality of print has decreased. The toner could be getting empty, or it may have even sprung a leak. To check the condition of the toner cartridge, lift the door that covers the cartridge and carefully lift it free of the printer. Look inside the printer where the toner cartridge was; if you see black spots inside the toner, it is likely that the cartridge is leaking and needs to be replaced. Use a soft, lightly moistened cloth to remove any loose ink and then install a replacement cartridge. You can also use a hand vacuum cleaner with a crevice attachment to suck up the loose ink; just be sure you do not scratch the metal pieces inside the printer.
Check the Rollers
If your printer has more than one print tray, it is important to watch for paper feeding problems. If the paper is jamming or not feeding from a particular tray it may be time to change the tray rollers. These rollers will wear smooth over time, and when they are too slick they will no longer be able to grab the paper properly.
To change the rollers, pull the tray out until it is free of the printer, then locate the rollers and carefully pull them loose from the prong. Slide the new rollers onto the prong and push them until they lock into place. Then replace the tray and try your print job again.