Stuck in a paper jam?

It always seems to happen at the most inopportune moment, doesn't it? There you are, gently feeding the paper into the printer. You click send, the printer whirrs, only for it to stop abruptly. Paper jam.

Now, we know it's difficult, but resist your first instinct to throw the printer out of the nearest window. It'll make a mess of your room and you won't have a printer anymore.

Paper jams are just one of those frustrating things that happen. Printing should be a simple and easy thing to do, and usually it is. It's just now and again, and it's pretty rare, that the paper gets stuck in the printer.

Sorting the jam

The first thing to do if you have a paper jam is turn the printer off. You're about to stick your hand in the machine so make sure it's not connected to any power source.

Next, see if you can actually see the paper. It might be half sticking out of the paper tray or something – if so, try and 'feed' it out. You'll probably find the firm-but-slow technique works well here – grip the paper hard but pull it out slowly but surely. The key thing is to make sure you don't rip the paper – this could leave a little scrap of paper lodged somewhere which could cause lots of problems.

Still not sorted? Then open the printer 'hood' and slide out the ink or toner cartridge so you can have a proper look inside – you'll probably find the paper has got itself lodged in here or behind the rollers somewhere. Again, adopt firm-but-slow and manually remove it. If you can't do it this way, try moving the rollers – this should help coax the paper out of hiding.

What could you do to prevent it happening again?

Sometimes a print jam just happens. However, if you find it's happening quite a lot, there could be something specific that's causing it. There's a few things you could look at.

Paper tray – a paper tray is pretty robust, but make sure you don't overfill it. Try reducing the amount of paper in the tray and just adding more when you need it.

Correct paper – sounds a little obvious, but make sure you're using the correct paper for your printer. If you have a standard mono printer for black-and-white prints, use standard paper, not card or photo paper. These could clog up your machine and cause problems.

Printer itself – if you can't see anything obvious that might be causing a problem, you might need to give your printer a spring clean. A good place to start is the printer rollers – these could have become clogged up with dried ink or toner. If this is the case, removing them will probably sort it.

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