Basic Printer Troubleshooting

Basic Network Printer Troubleshooting

If a computer is on a network, it is important to determine if every other computer on the network is having a problem printing or if this computer is the only one having a problem.

  1. If everyone is having a problem, it is likely there is either something wrong with the printer or there is a network problem.
  2. If only one computer is having a problem, it is likely a problem with that PC, its connection to the network (or printer) or a problem with the application or file that PC is working with.

If There Are Errors on the Printer Display

Most networked printers will have a display that will tell you its status.

No Display

  • Turn the printer on.

Offline

  • Press the Go or Online button. If this does not change the printer display to Online, power the printer off for 1 minute and then turn it back on.

Paper Jam

  • Open the doors and remove any paper, Paper may also be logded under the toner cartridge so you may have to pull it out.
  • If you believe you have removed the paper but the display still says Paper Jam, power the printer off for 1 minute and turn it back on.

Processing Job

  • If the printer displays Processing Job but nothing is printing the job may just be really large and taking a while to print.
  • If it has not printed after 5 minutes, press the Cancel Job button on the printer.
  • If the job will not cancel, power the printer off for 1 minute and turn it back on.

IO or Other Error

  • Most IO errors will be cleared by powering the printer off for 1 minute and turing it back on.
  • Check to make sure the network cable on the printer is plugged securely into the printer.

Tray Empty

  • Add paper to the appropriate tray.

Flashing Lights

  • Most personal deskjet, ink jet and bubble jet printers will have flashing light codes to tell you what is wrong. These differ from manufacturer to manufacturer and also from model to model. Consult the manual or manufacturer's web site.

If There Is No Error on the Printer Display

If the printer display says Ready but you are still unable to print, follow these troubleshooting steps.

Work Offline / Pause Printing

  • Click Start > Settings > Printers.
  • Right-click the printer.
  • Make sure Work Offline or Pause Printing are NOT selected.
  • If either is checked, click it to remove the check. If the print job does not print, reboot your PC. When you log back in, you should get a message that there is a job in the queue. You can choose to print it at this point.

Cable Connections

Check to make sure all cables are connected securely. This includes the power cable, connections from your PC to the printer (for a local printer) and connections from the printer to the network jack in the wall (network printers.) Sometimes they look like they're plugged in all the way when they're not. To be safe, unplug the cable and plug it back in, especially the network cable.

Printer Drivers

In the case of local printers, sometimes a driver can become corrupted. Please try downloading the newest driver from your manufacturer's web site and reinstall the printer.

Software vs. Document / File Problems

Sometimes, the problem printing is related to one particular software package or a certain file.

  • Try printing from another application such as Word, WordPerfect, GroupWise, Excel, etc.
  • If you can't print from any other applications, reboot your PC and check the printer for any error messages.
  • If you can print from another application, it could be a problem with the application itself of there could be something wrong with the file you are working on.
  • Try opening a new, blank document, typing in a few words and try to print the new document. If it prints, there is something wrong with your file. If it doesn't print, reboot your PC and try printing again. If it still doesn't print, try reinstalling the application.

Deleting Stuck Print Jobs

Sometimes print jobs may get stuck in the queue and will need to be deleted before anyone else can print.

  • To delete a print job, press the Cancel button on the printer.
  • You can also delete your own jobs by clicking Start > Settings > Printers, double-clicking the printer and deleting the job from the list.
  • If you are having a problem deleting a print job, please contact the Help Desk.
  • The printer may need to be powered off for 1 minute to clear out its internal memory

Basic Printer Troubleshooting By Type

INKJET PRINTERS

Problem
Possible Cause
Prints garbage
This usually happens because the wrong printer driver is installed or is corrupted. Reinstall driver.
No response from printer,
computer gives error message
Check that cables are properly connected and look for an Online or Select button to press on the printer. Many PC printers require an IEEE 1284 cable, which is different from the standard bi-directional parallel cable. Likewise, printers for older Macintoshes require either a serial cable or a LocalTalk cable. Consult your manual to find out what cabling you need.
Print head cannot travel its full horizontal distance
Open the cover and make sure there is nothing obstructing the movement of the print head. Obstructions can result if you haven't removed some of the packaging, or if there is a paper jam. If this is a new printer, remember that you must remove the safety tape, which is put there to prevent the print head from slamming back and forth during shipping.
Acts like it is printing but puts no ink on the page
There is no ink cartridge installed. In many cases, this is a separate item from the print head assembly, which is already installed in the printer from the factory.
Paper jams often
The feeder bin or tray may be overloaded; remove some paper. Excess humidity may be causing pages to stick together; in that case, remove all sheets and use only as much as needed. The paper may have already been through the printer; the feeding process tends to warp and, due to the action of the feed mechanism, thicken areas of the page by bunching it up. Try not to use paper that's already been fed through the printer.
Text has wrong print attributes (e.g., bold text not printed as bold)
This usually happens because the wrong printer driver is installed. See information above about drivers.
Text is faded
One or more of the inkwells in the print cartridge is almost empty. Unless your printer's ink cartridge can have individual colors replenished, this usually means you need to replace the whole cartridge.
Parts of characters missing, or characters not correct color
The ink cartridge is either either clogged or running out of ink. Run the software cleaning utility (almost always accessible from the printer) in order to fix a clog. Replace the ink cartridge if the clog cannot be fixed or if the cartridge is almost empty.
Printout is smeared
The paper is mismatched to the paper setting for the printer. For example, if you are using high-quality photo paper, set the printer's output for that paper; do not use the plain paper setting.

LASER PRINTERS

Problem
Possible Cause
Prints garbage
This is usually the result of a wrong or corrupt printer driver, such as a PostScript driver on a non-PostScript printer.
Refuses to print
Check cables and front panel settings. Make sure the printer is selected or online. Also, many PC printers require an IEEE 1284 cable, which is different from the standard bi-directional parallel cable. Likewise, printers for older Macintoshes require either a LocalTalk or a serial cable. The user manual will specify what cabling is required.
Letters jumble together
This usually happens because the font is unavailable.
Printing is faded
The fuser is probably almost empty. You may be able to prolong its life by shaking it. If not, replace it.
Printing takes a long time; often only half of a page prints
The printer is trying to print text in graphics mode. Put a font change code at the beginning of the document for a font that exists on the printer.
Printing is smeared, or there are faint lines on the page
The fuser may be dirty or broken. This may require replacement.

DOT MATRIX PRINTERS

Problem
Possible Cause
Prints garbage
This usually happens because the wrong printer driver is installed.
Refuses to print
The cables are not connected correctly, the printer driver is unselected, or the Select button on the printer isn't pressed.
Text has wrong print attributes (e.g., bold text not printed as bold)
This usually happens because the wrong printer driver is installed.
Parts of characters missing
There is a stuck pin. Have the print head repaired or replaced.
Fading print
The ribbon is old, or there may be bad print head spacing adjustment.

Brand Specific Troubleshooting

EPSON Inkjets

Banding

Banding may be caused by a number of different reasons.

Incompatible paper

Using an incompatible type paper can cause banding due to the waythe ink is absorbed into the paper. Use genuine EPSON brand ink jetpaper to make sure the paper is not causing the problem.

Paper thickness lever in wrong position

Make sure the paper thickness lever is in the normal position forink jet paper and not in the envelope position. See your user's manualfor thickness lever setting instructions).

Video driver conflict

Some video drivers may cause a conflict in memory between the printerdriver and video memory. Try changing to the Windows video driverprovided by Microsoft or check to see if the video card manufacturerhas an updated video driver available. This is often the cause ofstrange printing problems such as heavy banding and missing characters.

Wrong driver or driver setup

Make sure you are using the correct printer driver for your EPSON inkjet model. Also make sure you have selected the correct print settingsto print with for the type of paper and resolution in the driver setup. MicroWeave should be turned on in the driver.

Clogged nozzle

Print the demo or self test page by pressing and holding the appropriate button for a few moments while applyingpower to the printer. See below for procedure.Check to see if white lines appear through your text. Also determine if the banding affects the color or black ink cartridge. If no banding is present then the cause is probably caused by the software or video driver.

If the white lines are present, perform two or more cleaning cycles on the affected color or black print head. (See instuctions under the printer's top cover or in the User's Manual for cleaning cycle instructions.)After performing the cleaning cycles check to see if the banding has improved or cleared. Most clogged nozzle problems are cleared with a few cleaning cycles but in some stubborn cases it may be necessary to perform many cleaning cycles in order to clear a blocked nozzle.

False Out-Of-Paper Message

First try printing with the printer directly connected to thecomputer without any switchbox, Zip drive, scanner or any otherparallel port device connected to the same port. If this is theproblem then install a second parallel card for LPT2.

Make sure to use a printer cable no longer than 6 feet.

Next make sure your hard disk has plenty of contiguous space 30 - 50MBavailable to spool the data to be printed. Run Scandisk to make surethere are no crosslinked files and then run Defrag to see if your harddisk needs to be defragmented.

Your computer's parallel port must be set up properly for your printer.

  • Check how LPT1 is set in your computer's CMOS/BIOS setup. It should be set to either Standard (SPP), Normal, or Compatible (contact your computer manufacturer/vendor if necessary).
  • Check how LPT1 is set in Windows 95. If set to ECP Printer Port, you should change it to Standard Printer Port. An ECP or EPP port seems to cause some communication problems and out of paper messages.

Use the following steps to change the port type:

  1. Click on Start
  2. Go to Settings
  3. Choose Control Panel
  4. Double click on System
  5. Click on the Device Manager tab
  6. Double click on "Ports (COM & LPT)"
  7. Click on the Printer Port (LPTx) to highlight
  8. Click on Properties
  9. Click on Driver tab.
  10. Click on Change Driver
  11. Click on Show All Devices
  12. Click on Printer Port (not ECP) under the Standard Port Type for the manufacturer
  13. Click on OK until you get out of the System Properties
  14. Reboot Computer

Check your Print Spooler setup:

1) Create a dedicated spool directory such as C:\SPOOL. Click Start, Programs, MS-DOS Prompt. Type CD\ and press enter. Type MD SPOOL and press enter. Type EXIT and press enter.

2) Click Start, Programs, Epson, Spool Manager. Highlight your Stylus Color printer model, click Options, Default Spool Directory. Double click on the C:\ folder. Scroll down the list of your directories and highlight "spool". Click OK twice.

3) Click Queue, Setup. There should be a dot next to "Spool to local printer" and the box next to "Use Print Manager for this port" should be MARKED. Verify that the spool directory is C:\SPOOL. If not, Click Browse and then double click on the c:\. Scroll down the list of your directories and highlight spool. Click OK three times, you will be back at the spool manager.

4) Click Start, Settings, Printers. Highlight your Stylus Color printer model, click File, Properties, Details. At the bottom of the details screen click Spool Settings. Click on "Print Directly to Printer" and click OK.

5) At the bottom of the details screen click Port Settings. Unmark both "Spool MS-DOS Print Jobs" and "Check Port State Before Printing". Click OK. At the bottom of the details screen click OK.

6) Close the printers box and turn the printer off. Click Start, Shutdown, Restart the Computer, Yes. Once Windows has completely restarted, turn the printer back on and try printing again.

The printer won't print my documents:

Check the printer to make sure it is plugged in and turned on. Click "Start", "Settings", and "Printers". If the printer you want to use is not listed, you will have to install that printer. You can do this by clicking "Add Printer" and following the installation process through to completion. If the printer appears light or grayed-out, you're printer is off-line. Double-click on the printer in question. Then click "Printer" and uncheck "Pause Printing" and "Use Printer Off-line". Next, make sure that you have chosen the correct printer. You can check this by going back into the file you were trying to print and click on "File" and "Print." The name of the printer will appear near the top of that window next to "Name." If the correct printer does not appear in this box, click on the down arrow to the right of the name of the printer being used. Find your printer's name and highlight it by clicking the left mouse button on it. Once you have ensured that the correct printer is chosen and that the printer is not off-line or paused, ensure that you are logged onto the network. To do this, click "Start" and look to see if your logon name is listed after "Log Off". If your logon name is not there, you need to log back onto the network. To start this process, ensure that you have saved your work. Then, click "Start" and "Log Off…" This will bring up a dialog box. Click "Yes." You will be prompted to enter your name and password to log back onto the network. Once you finish this, click "Ok" or "Enter." Open your file again and try to print it. If you still cannot print, please call a technician to resolve the issue.

Documents come out faded or striped:

This is usually due to dirty or clogged print heads, or the printer being out of ink. Try running a print-head cleaning utility to clean the heads. Most printers come with this to help with dirty or clogged heads. Do this by going to "Start", "Settings', "Printers", and then right clicking on the printer in question. There should be a utility to perform this task located here. Try cleaning the heads, and then print a page. If you still get fades or stripes, try it once more. If after two times your pages are still coming out faded or striped, then you may need to replace the ink. If, however, the ink level is not an issue, you should contact a professional for support.

I am receiving an "out of memory" error or a spooler error:

This is caused when the machine that the printer is connected to runs out of memory, or has an internal error. This usually happens because of large print jobs. If you get this error frequently you might want to consider upgrading the memory on the computer with the printer attached to it. It can also be caused by lack of free disk space.

Check to see if you have enough free space.

  • Double click on "My Computer"
  • Right click on the "C" Drive and click on "Properties."

The free space should be listed on that screen. If you only have a couple of megabytes or less, that could be your problem. You will need to either clean up your drive or replace it with a bigger drive.

If you have adequate disk space, try uninstalling and then reinstalling the printer.

This can be done by going to

  • "Start," "Settings," "Printers,"
  • Right click on the printer
  • Select "Delete." You want to remove it completely from the system.
  • Then click "Add Printer" and reinstall the same printer.

If it was used across a network make sure you reestablish the "share" with the same name. This can be done by right clicking on the printer and choosing "Share This Printer".

I am getting Out of Memory errors.

Try the following steps:

  • Shut down all other programs running except the one you are printing from.
  • Ensure printer is set as the default printer.
  • Turn off Print Manager.
  • Verify a proper SET TEMP statement, the drive that contains the SET TEMP directory may not have enough available space. This can be done from the DOS command prompt, by typing SET. Find the "TEMP=" statement. Examples are TEMP=C:\DOS or TEMP=C:\WINDOWS.
  • Reduce the printer resolution (from 720 x 360 to 360 to 360) by selecting the standard or draft mode.

  • If printing a multiple page document, print only 1-2 pages at a time.
  • Lower the video resolution to 680 x 480.

Canon Ink Cartridges

Canon BJC-4100

Hardware Troubleshooting Tips

After installing the cartridge and pressing the button, I hear 3 beeps and the cartridge stays in the middle.

Three audible beeps will sound if the cartridge is seated incorrectly. Remove and reseat the cartridge to fix the problem. Click Installation Tips for detailed instructions about installing your cartridge.

What do I do if the printer will not power on?

Make sure the AC adapter is connected securely into the printer and into a wall outlet. If the printer still does not respond, try the printer in another wall outlet. Be sure that the wall outlet you are using has power. If the problem still persists, call Technical Support for Service Options.

Why does the cartridge move but the ink does not print?

Check to see if the orange shipping tape has been removed from the bottom of the ink cartridge. (Click Installation Tips for more information.) Perform the Print Head Cleaning procedure. If print head cleanings do not fix the problem, your BJ cartridge may be out of ink. Replace the cartridge and try printing again. Click Installation Tips for more information.

Why is my printer printing garbage or extra characters?

The first step is to ensure the printer is selected as the default printer. There may be print jobs queued up in Print Manager. Delete any pending print jobs, and attempt to print again. If the problem persists, then disable Print Manager.

If you would like to use Print Manager, make sure you have enough space left on your hard drive, and you have a valid SET TEMP statement in your AUTOEXEC.BAT file.

There may be a communication problem between the printer and your computer. Check to see if your Centronics-compatible Parallel Printer Cable is securely connected to the PC and the printer. If the cable is secure refer to the Software Troubleshooting Tips.

Why am I missing colors on the self test?

Check to see if the orange shipping tape has been removed from the bottom of the ink cartridge. Click Installation Tips. Perform the Print Head Cleaning procedure. If print head cleanings do not fix the problem, your BJ cartridge may be out of ink. Replace the cartridge and try printing again.

Why don't I have communication with the printer?

There are several reasons why you don't have any communication with your BJC-4100. Check the following:

  • Be sure that Printer Cable is properly connected.
  • Be sure that your printer is turned on, the online light is on, and has paper in it.
  • Be sure that you have properly installed the printer driver that came with your printer.

If after following the above steps you still don't have communication with your printer try the following:

  • Try printing from DOS. Exit Windows™. At the DOS prompt, type DIR>PRN. You should get an immediate reaction from your printer. If you do not, go on to step 2.
  • Ensure your printer is securely attached, and that it is the only device attached to the parallel port.
  • Try installing an emulation driver. If you can print with the emulation driver then you need to delete and reinstall the driver that came with your printer.

If the above does not work then most likely you have a problem with your Parallel Printer Cable. Replace your printer cable.

I am getting Out of Memory errors.

Try the following steps:

  • Shut down all other programs running except the one you are printing from.
  • Ensure the printer is set as the default.
  • Turn off Print Manager.
  • Verify a proper SET TEMP statement, the drive that contains the SET TEMP directory may not have enough available space. This can be done from the DOS command prompt, by typing SET. Find the "TEMP=" statement. Examples are TEMP=C:\DOS or TEMP=C:\WINDOWS.
  • Reduce the printer resolution (from 720 x 360 to 360 to 360) by selecting the standard or draft mode.
  • If printing a multiple page document, print only 1-2 pages at a time.

  • Lower the video resolution to 680 x 480.

How do I do a Print Head Cleaning?

Click here for more information about performing a Print Head Cleaning.

How do I replace the print cartridges?

The following procedure describes how to replace either the BC-20 Black BJ cartridge or the BC-21 Color BJ cartridge. Follow the instructions in this topic to replace an old BJ cartridge or to change cartridges when you want to switch from high-speed monochrome printing to color printing (or vice- versa).

You only need to replace the BC-21 Color BJ cartridge when the print head is damaged (or after approximately 2,000 pages). If one of the ink tanks (either color or black) in your BC-21 Color BJ cartridge is out of ink, see Replacing an Ink Tank for instructions on how to replace an ink tank.