If you run a business, you probably rely heavily on printing for a variety of needs. Whether you need to print contracts or you’re printing presentation materials, a printer malfunction can equate disaster—especially if it happens at the last minute. Regular printing maintenance is critical for avoiding these mishaps and keeping your company running at full steam.
Always Keep Your Electronics Clean
Electronics are well-known dust magnets. But dust accumulation can be detrimental to performance, so it’s important to keep your equipment clean. Commercial keyboard cleaners, or compressed air, can work, but it’s not recommended. That’s because you may end up blowing dust and debris further into the crevices, where it can lead to more damage. A small, portable vacuum cleaner with a hose works best to clear the dust from those nooks and crannies. If dust builds up in critical areas, your printer won’t get the necessary air flow and it could damage the internal parts, leaving it useless.
Clean the Interior Gears and Rollers
When you’re cleaning your printer, remove the toner cartridge and clean the gears and rollers that the paper runs through. Wiping them gently with water is usually effective, although there are specialty cleaners you can purchase. It’s also possible to use rubbing alcohol, but sparingly.
Run Your Printer’s Built-In Cleaning Cycle Periodically
Most modern printers offer built-in cleaning cycles that serve to keep the ink heads clean. Sometimes this is the same as running a printer test page. In either case, it’s good to do now and then to ensure that everything is in working order. If you’re using laser printer, you may need to use a specific paper designed for cleaning cycles.
Print a Blank Page
Printing a blank page is an easy way to remove extra lint and particles that remain inside your printer even after cleaning attempts. It won’t use any ink, and running a page through the printing cycle will help capture tiny debris from the rollers and other internal parts.
Cover It Up When Not in Use
If you work from an office, you should cover your printer before closing up shop in the evenings and on weekends, or whenever your printer won’t be used for a while. This prevents added dirt and dust from creeping into those hard-to-reach areas in the first place, and will also protect your printer from mishaps such as water leaks, which can cause permanent damage to electronics.
Keep Extra Toner and Ink Cartridges on Hand
Ink and toner cartridges can malfunction from time to time, and they also run out. If you find yourself out of toner in the midst of printing a large batch of documents and you’re not keeping a close eye on the print job, you might end up with multiple blurry, unusable pages. Not only is it a waste of paper, but you’ll have to run to the store to purchase a new cartridge if you don’t have one on standby. It’s a good idea to keep tabs on the levels in your cartridges—most printers will give you a warning when it’s running low—and avoid running large print jobs if your levels are low. Print smaller batches at a time so you can swap out the cartridges before you waste a whole ream of paper.
Always Power Down Correctly
One of the easiest ways to damage a printer is by improper shutdowns. Like a computer, a printer should be shut down using the recommended procedure. Turn your printer off when not in use to avoid improper shutdowns due to power interruptions, and unplug it during an electrical storm. Use a surge protector during normal use to avoid damage from power surges.
Taking good care of your printer doesn’t take a lot of extra effort, but it can keep your business running smoothly and prevent unnecessary losses and expenses from wasting paper or having to replace equipment before its expected lifespan. Keep the product manual filed within easy access in case you need to contact the company for a more serious problem.