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Most Common Causes of Printer Failure

Whether you are working in an office and dealing with all kinds of documents, or you are just at your home working on your school assignment, it is highly likely that you will have to use a printer every now and then. In fact, you may already have a printer in your home or office since they can be quite handy.

However, there can be many causes where your printer may fail to function which can be quite frustrating. Thus, we are here with a complete guide regarding the most common causes of printer failure. Not only that but you will also learn methods to prevent printer failures by going through this guide till the end.

If your office printer has already stopped working, then you must get it fixed right away. Otherwise, you will not be able to print any further documents using your printer which can be quite the issue in an office space. Therefore, let’s jump right into some of the most common causes of printer failures given down below:

Most Common Causes of Printer Failures

1. Paper Jams

While it is quite self-explanatory, one of the most common ways you may face printer failures is having paper jams inside your printer. This simply means that a piece of the printing paper got stuck in some important part of the printer. In such a case, it is better to consult a professional for getting your printer working yet again.

2. Bad Print Quality

Apart from having stuck paper inside your printer, you may also face issues regarding bad print quality if you are not using high-quality paper with your printer. So, if you are using a high-end printer, pair it with high-end printing paper as well.

3. Ink Cartridge Issues

Out of all the various components present inside a printer, it is generally the ink cartridge issues that fail first. This is because of the complex designs of printer cartridges which can lead to all kinds of issues like the following:

  • Fading and Ghosting: If the printing cartridges of your printer are clogged or not cleaned properly, they will not be able to dispense properly. As a result, depending on the document you are printing, it may look faded or have ghosting artifacts on the documents that you are handling.
  • Clogged Nozzles: Apart from drying on paper, the ink of your printer can also get dried up in multiple places. And one of the common places where printer ink dries up other than the printheads is the nozzles of the printer cartridges. So, ensure your ink cartridge is not clogged up at any time.
  • Fuser and Toner: While laser printers don’t have to deal with dried-up ink, they still need many other parts to function well. Two of these components include the fuser and toner which are responsible for warming up the toner which is then printed on the paper. So, make sure that your printer’s user works well as well.
  • Low Ink Density: In case you are using your printer after a long time but the ink still hasn’t dried up, you need to consider that there is a possibility that the ink has lost density and has become unusable overtime.

4. Loaded Printing Queue

In case you are familiar with printers and printing software in general, then you must know that all printers have a printing queue. This queue simply contains a list of all the printing commands given to the printer. As a result, if multiple computers give multiple printing commands to a printer at the same time, this queue will get filled up. And depending on the printer that you have, all of the pending printing commands may take hours to complete, which can be an issue in many cases.

5. Clogged Printheads

Those of you who have an inkjet printer must know that such printers have small nozzles that dispense the printing ink. However, if you don’t use your printer often, the ink inside these nozzles dries up. And in many cases, this dried-up ink then clogs the printheads, which makes your printer unusable.

6. Overheating Issues

Whether you are using an inkjet printer or a laser printer, they both produce heat during operation. And while laser printers output even more heat, both of these printers will definitely heat up if you are printing a large number of documents at once. As a result, if you are overusing your printer during summers, then it might overheat which will automatically turn off your printer for a few minutes as a safety measure.

How to Prevent Printer Failures?

As you have now been through the most common causes of printer failures, you would also want to prevent the same to get your printer working again. Since you are most likely facing one of the printer failures that have been discussed up above, here are methods to prevent all of them respectively:

  • Paper Jams: If you feel that there are papers or paper bits jammed inside your printer, it is recommended to avoid opening your printer for fixing it alone. Instead, you should get it serviced at a well place and avoid putting smaller pieces of paper inside your printer ever again.
  • Bad Print Quality: Since the print quality of your printer depends not only on the ink cartridge but also on the paper quality, any bad print quality issues are most likely related to the paper being used. Hence, ensure that you are using high-quality paper for printing while using your machine.
  • Ink Cartridge Issues: The easiest way to avoid ink cartridge issues is to use high-quality ink cartridges for your computer. It is highly important to ensure that you are replacing the ink cartridges of your printer on time using high-quality ink cartridge replacements.
  • Loaded Printing Queue: If your printer has been printing a large number of documents for a long time, it is highly likely that it already has a loaded printing queue. So, simply avoid adding more printing instructions until all the previous commands are completed.
  • Clogged Printheads: If your printer’s printheads are clogged up with dry ink, you will need to clean them up. You can do this using brushes, sharp picks, and other cleaning tools explicitly made for printers.
  • Overheating Issues: Getting rid of overheating issues for your printer is much easier than you may think. You simply need to put your printer in a well-ventilated space. And if possible, you should put your printer in an air-conditioned room for your peace of mind.

Printer Failure – FAQs

1. What causes a printer to malfunction and stop working?

Ans: If you have recently gotten your printer, then you may be wondering about the possible causes of printer malfunctions. While there are many things that can go wrong inside a printer, the two primary ones include issues with either the ink cartridge or the paper itself. This can include issues like low ink, broken ink cartridge, missing paper, stuck paper, and other similar issues you can see as warnings if your printer is malfunctioning.

2. What part of a printer is most likely to fail over time?

Ans: When it comes to the most vulnerable part of most mainstream printers, it is the ink cartridge that will most likely fail first. This is because ink cartridges can have various kinds of issues like empty ink, dried-up ink, low ink, clogged ink outlets, and even compatibility issues depending on the ink cartridge you are using inside your printer.

3. How do you diagnose and find problems with your printer?

Ans: In case you feel that your printer isn’t working the way it’s supposed to, you should consider diagnosing your printer and try finding problems with it. For the same, you should first unplug and restart your printer after checking all of its connections. Then, uninstall the current printer driver and install the latest one. It is also recommended that you clear and reset the print spooler to find any possible issues with your printer.

4. How long does the average printer last for?

Ans: Whether you are getting an entry-level printer or a high-end one, you would want to know how long you can expect your printer to last. In that case, you will be glad to know that most printers out there last for 3-5 years, mainly if they are regularly serviced and cared for. After 3-5 years, you will need to get a new printer since your current one won’t work much longer.


Like any other electronic device, your printer can face issues over time. If the printer in your office or home gets used quite often, then there is an even more significant probability of your printer facing all kinds of issues. And unless you want a broken printer to affect your work, you would want to avoid all kinds of printer failures. Hence, earlier in this article, we have already stated some of the most common causes of printer failures. You can even find a few methods to prevent printer failures in the first place. And if you can take better care of your printer after going through this guide, consider leaving your thoughts and words in the comments section down below.

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