Do it Yourself Copier Repair


Copiers aren't just copiers anymore. With the advent of sophisticated, onboard electronics, copiers can now be used as printers, scanners and fax machines, making them an attractive all-in-one solution for small and large business office environments. Service contracts for repairs on these machines can be expensive, so any repairs that can be performed by the users that don't void the manufacturer's warranty can make a positive impact on the office's productivity. Power down the copier and then unplug the machine from the wall outlet before performing any repairs to the equipment.

Paper Jams

When a copy machine is used to copy or print, paper jams are likely to be the most encountered trouble issue. Many paper jams can be remedied without replacing parts in the copier.

Be gentle when removing paper from the paper path while clearing a jam. The paper left in the paper path should be free from the grip of the paper path rollers. Look for handles to push, pull, turn or release if you encounter resistance when trying to remove a piece of paper from the machine. Aggressive removal of the paper from the grip of the paper path rollers may result in torn bits of paper being left behind. Even after the original jam problem is resolved, those stray bits of paper left in the machine's paper path will induce a new jam issue that might not be as easy to resolve by the end user.

Remove the stack of paper from the paper tray that was being used to copy or print from. Inspect the stack of paper for damage such as folded corners or ripped edges. Don't just open the tray and inspect the paper where it sits. Remove the stack and turn it over to look at the bottom of the stack. Remove any folded, wavy or damaged paper found in the stack, fan the paper thoroughly and then replace the paper stack in the tray.

Inspect the paper guides that hold the stack in place within the tray. The guides should neither be too tight nor too loose. Either state will cause jams. The paper stack should lay flat in the tray and have a small amount of play around the edges--usually no more than about 1/8th of an inch.

Note also the height of the paper stack in the tray. Somewhere on the paper guides there will be a mark to indicate the maximum stack height, or if the copier is very low capacity there may not be a mark. There may only be a maximum number of sheets specified in the owner's manual. Be certain the paper stack does not exceed that height mark or sheet count. If the stack is too high, there will be paper jams.

Dirty paper rollers can also cause paper jams. The feed and transport rollers in the copier will accumulate a buildup of paper dust, fuser oil and toner residue. This buildup will reduce the roller's effectiveness and can cause paper jams. Clean the rollers with a soft, lint-free cloth dampened with water. Use a gentle scrubbing motion on the rollers to clean off the buildup of dust and residue. Open the interior access panels and clean all the visible rollers.

Do not use alcohol or other cleaning agents unless directed to do so by a representative of the machine's manufacturer or a service person employed by a service company authorized by the machine's manufacturer. Alcohol or other harsh cleaning agents can damage or degrade the material used in the rollers, which in turn reduces the effective life of the roller. Use a mild soap and water solution if you feel that water alone is not sufficient to adequately clean the buildup from the rollers. Make a cleaning solution with water and mild dish detergent or the liquid soap from the restroom to gently scrub the rollers clean.

No Power

When a copy machine exhibits a no-power condition, check the power cord to be certain it is plugged in at both ends--at the wall outlet and at the back of the machine. Even if you are certain that the machine never gets unplugged, check the cord. If your office has cleaning staff, the copy machine might have been unplugged to plug in a vacuum cleaner. If the cleaning staff forgot to plug the copier back into the wall outlet when the vacuuming was finished, the copier will exhibit a no-power condition when a user turns the power switch to the On position.

Open all the covers and access panels and then close them again. Don't slam the covers, but close them firmly to be certain they are completely latched. Don't force the covers and panels closed. If a cover or access panel does not close with gentle firmness, look inside the machine to be certain that all paper path latches and handles have been returned to their operating position.

Unplug the copier and plug in a known working device to the outlet such as an electric pencil sharpener, a lamp or a radio. If the known working device works on that outlet, the no-power condition is with the copy machine itself. If the known working device does not work on that outlet, check the circuit breaker box for tripped breakers.

Copy Quality

Spots, lines and light or dark exposure are common copy-quality issues experienced with copy machines. Check the original document used to make the copy when a copy-quality issue arises. The copy machine may be copying what it sees. Clean up or obtain a new original if the issue is present on the original document.

Many copy-quality issues can be remedied by cleaning the platen glass. Spots and lines on the outputted sheets can be caused by dirt on the platen glass. If the machine has an automatic document handler, there may be two platen glasses--a large sheet of glass and then a long, narrow strip of glass next to it. Clean both glasses with a soft, lint-free cloth dampened with water. Use a glass cleaner if the dirt will not yield to water alone. Do not use an all-purpose cleaner or a multisurface cleaner as these solutions have chemical agents in them that could damage an antistatic coating present on the platen glasses. If you must use a cleaning agent, use a product just for glass.

Print to the copier if it can to be used as a printer or print an internal test sheet if the copier has that capability. If the copy-quality issue is present on the printed output either sent through the network or from the machine's internal memory storage, then the problem is not in the optical system, which includes the platen glasses. Scratches and nicks on the drum surface will produce lines and spots on the printed output as can scratches and nicks on the fuser roller or fuser belt. Some copiers have drum cartridge units and fusing units that can be removed and replaced by the end user. If your copier has removable drum and fusing units, pull them out and inspect the drum and roller for nicks and scratches. Replace the unit that is found to be damaged and then run another printed output.

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