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How to Clear (Fix) Printer Paper Jams Like a Pro

Did you know that 30% of printer issues reported by home office users and small businesses are related to paper jams? That’s right; paper jams are more than just a minor inconvenience; they can disrupt your workflow and even lead to costly repairs if not addressed promptly.

Now that you’re aware of how common this issue is, let’s dive into the nitty-gritty of resolving paper jams in HP and Brother printers. Whether you’re a home office user, a small business owner, or an IT support staff member, this guide is tailored to help you tackle this pesky problem head-on.

What is a printer paper jam?

“A printer paper jam happens when a sheet of paper gets stuck in the printer, stopping it from working. This can happen if you put too many papers in the tray, mix different types of paper, or use paper that doesn’t fit your printer.”

Say Goodbye to Printer Paper Jams Forever

Close-up of printer internals showing paper jam and expert's hands with tools

Paper jams can bring your printing tasks to a screeching halt, affecting a range of models from HP to Brother. This guide offers a comprehensive overview to help you understand the scope of the issue and how to resolve it, whether you’re dealing with an office printer or a home device.

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The Anatomy of a Paper Jam

Types of Paper Jams

When it comes to paper jams in printers, understanding the root cause is crucial for effective troubleshooting. Generally, paper jams can be categorized into two main types: Mechanical and Software-induced.

Key Takeaways:

  • Mechanical jams are usually physical and can often be resolved manually.
  • Software-induced jams require a look into the printer’s settings and may need a software update.
  • Knowing the type of jam you’re dealing with can significantly speed up the troubleshooting process.

Mechanical Paper Jams

Mechanical paper jams occur due to physical obstructions or issues within the printer. These could range from a small piece of paper stuck in the feed roller to more complex issues like a malfunctioning sensor. The key to resolving these is usually a hands-on approach, involving opening up the printer and manually removing the obstruction.


  • Often, it is easy to diagnose visually
  • Usually resolved without requiring technical expertise


  • Risk of damaging the printer if not handled carefully
  • May require disassembly, which can be time-consuming

Software-induced Paper Jams

Software-induced paper jams are a bit more elusive. These occur when the printer’s software miscommunicates with the hardware, leading to a jam. For instance, if the printer driver is outdated or incompatible, it may send incorrect printing commands. These issues often require a software update or reconfiguration to resolve.


  • Usually fixed with a software update
  • There is less risk of physical damage to the printer


  • May require technical expertise to diagnose and fix
  • It could be time-consuming if multiple software issues are present

By understanding these two primary types of paper jams, you’re better equipped to tackle the problem head-on. Whether it’s a mechanical issue that you can see and touch or a software glitch that requires a deeper dive into settings, knowing the difference is half the battle in efficient troubleshooting.


  1. HP Support – Fixing a Paper Jam
  2. Brother Support – Paper Jam Solutions
  3. Tech Advisor – How to Fix a Paper Jam

Preventive Measures

The “Preventive Measures” serves as a comprehensive guide to proactive steps you can take to minimize the risk of paper jams in your printer. It’s designed to equip you with the knowledge and best practices to avoid common pitfalls that lead to these frustrating issues.

Proper Paper Loading

“Proper Paper Loading” delves into the specifics of how to correctly insert paper into your printer’s paper tray. This is a crucial step often overlooked, yet it’s the cornerstone of preventing paper jams. The section provides a step-by-step guide on aligning paper, choosing the right paper quality, and adhering to your printer’s capacity guidelines.

Best Practices for Inserting Paper

  1. Align the Paper: Always make sure the paper is aligned correctly in the paper tray. Misaligned paper is a common cause of paper jams.
  2. Paper Quality: Use good quality paper that isn’t torn, wrinkled, or damp.
  3. Paper Capacity: Don’t overload the paper tray. Stick to the printer’s capacity guidelines.
  4. Paper Type: Ensure you’re using the correct type of paper for your printer. Different printers require different paper types.

Regular Printer Maintenance

“Regular Printer Maintenance” focuses on the ongoing care required to keep your printer functioning optimally. It’s not just about fixing issues as they arise; it’s about preventing them in the first place. This section offers practical advice on cleaning, software updates, and periodic checks to ensure your printer remains jam-free.

Cleaning and Software Updates

  1. Clean the Rollers: Dust and grime on the rollers can lead to paper jams. Clean them with a lint-free cloth and water.
  2. Update Software: Keep your printer’s software up-to-date to ensure optimal performance. Manufacturers often release updates that fix bugs, including those related to paper jams.
  3. Check for Obstructions: Periodically inspect the printer for any foreign objects that could lead to jams.
  4. Professional Service: For high-use printers, consider a professional maintenance service every 6-12 months.

Quick Fixes for Common Paper Jams

HP Printers

Step-by-step guide for HP models

  1. Turn Off the Printer: Safety first. Turn off the printer to avoid any electrical issues or injuries.
  2. Open the Paper Tray: Gently pull out the paper tray and remove any jammed paper. Sometimes, the paper might be stuck deeper inside, so you might have to open the back panel.
  3. Check the Print Carriage: Move the print carriage to ensure it’s working properly. If it’s stuck, gently move it to the correct position.
  4. Close and Restart: Once you’re sure all jammed paper is removed, close all the trays and panels. Turn the printer back on and run a test print.

Note: If the problem persists, you may need to update your printer’s firmware.

Brother Printers

Step-by-step guide for Brother models

  1. Disconnect the Printer: Unplug all cables and disconnect it from the power source.
  2. Open Front Cover: Open the front cover of your Brother printer carefully.
  3. Remove Drum and Toner: Take out the drum unit along with the toner cartridge.
  4. Locate and Remove Jammed Paper: Check for jammed paper in the drum unit area and the front cover. Remove it cautiously.
  5. Reassemble and Test: Put the drum unit and toner cartridge back in. Close the front cover, reconnect all cables, and run a test print.

Note: For persistent issues, consider mechanical adjustments or consult a professional.

Advanced Troubleshooting

Firmware Updates

How and why to update your printer’s firmware

Firmware updates are essential for the optimal performance of your printer. They often contain fixes for common issues like paper jams.

  1. Check for Updates: Go to your printer manufacturer’s website and look for firmware updates specific to your model.
  2. Download and Install: Download the firmware and follow the on-screen instructions to install it.
  3. Restart Printer: After the update is complete, restart your printer to apply the changes.

Note: Always backup your printer settings before updating the firmware.

Mechanical Adjustments

Tweaking printer parts for optimal performance

Mechanical adjustments can be a bit complex but are necessary for the long-term performance of your printer.

  1. Consult the Manual: Always refer to your printer’s manual for specific adjustment instructions.
  2. Adjust Rollers: If paper isn’t feeding properly, adjusting the paper rollers might solve the issue.
  3. Clean Print Heads: Over time, print heads can get clogged. Cleaning them can improve print quality.

Note: Mechanical adjustments should be your last resort and are best done by professionals.

When to Seek Professional Help for Printer Issues

Common Indicators:

  • Hardware Malfunctions: Unresponsive buttons, paper jams, or strange noises.
  • Software Errors: Frequent error messages, driver issues, or connectivity problems.
  • Poor Print Quality: Blurred text, incorrect colors, or streaks on the paper.
  • Inconsistent Performance: Printer works intermittently or takes too long to print.

Pros and Cons of DIY Fixes:

  • Pros: Cost-effective, immediate action, educational.
  • Cons: Risk of worsening the issue, time-consuming, lack of expertise.

Pros and Cons of Professional Help:

  • Pros: Expertise, warranty, long-term solution.
  • Cons: Cost, possible downtime, need to vet service providers.

Case Studies on Printer Issues

  1. 3D Printing – NinjaTek: Issues with 3D-printed parts for a Martian rover challenge were resolved using specialized filaments. Source
  • Takeaway: Material selection is crucial in 3D printing.
  1. Food Packaging – Crest Foods: In-house printer maintenance was challenging, leading to increased downtime. Switching to KEYENCE printers improved reliability and reduced downtime. Source
  • Takeaway: Printer choice impacts maintenance and operational efficiency.
  1. Healthcare – UniPrint: Printer management issues in healthcare were solved by implementing UniPrint Infinity, improving workflow and data security. Source
  • Takeaway: Secure and efficient printing solutions are vital in healthcare for both operational efficiency and patient data security.

These case studies offer valuable insights into the complexities of printer management across different sectors. They highlight the importance of choosing the right hardware and software solutions to mitigate printer-related issues effectively.

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Tony Hoffman

Tony Hoffman is a tech expert with over 10 years of experience in the printer and scanner industries. He has developed a keen eye for the latest innovations and trends in printing technology making him a go-to resource for consumers and professionals alike. His engaging writing style and ability to break down complex topics make his articles and reviews accessible and informative for a wide range of readers. Outside of his work as a tech writer Tony enjoys tinkering with gadgets and exploring the outdoors.View Author posts

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