Wont be using your printer?

Power button

Give your office machines the best chance to survive the lockdown.

With many offices closing for a minimum period of a few weeks you may not be using your printers and copiers in that time. There are a few things to consider when putting machines essentially into storage. This list isn’t anywhere near all encompassing or doesn’t claim to have all the answers but just some general best practices which may or may not apply to the machines you use. There are generally 2 classes of printer engines – inkjet and laser. They work very differently and require different approaches. Inkjets are more likely to fail if not used for a long period but lasers aren’t perfect!

There is one golden rule for them all though:


Inkjet Printers:

  • Shut it down with the power switch and wait for all lights and sounds to be gone. The printer will “park” the printhead onto a pad which is designed to keep the ink from clogging up. If the printheads can’t get back to home position you will have streaks in your prints – if you are lucky.
  • If you can, print something every now and then. Try to run a sheet or 2 each week just to keep the ink flowing. This will greatly reduce the likelihood of clogging.
  • Check for an expiry date. This is rare but some cartridges will stop working on a particular date even if you haven’t used them.
  • Don’t store the printer on its side. Keep the machine in its normal flat position. Ink can spill inside the machine and ruin your day.
  • Plan on replacing the ink or printhead when you get back to using the machine. We don’t know how supply chains will be affected by the COVID19 pandemic. It might be an idea to have spares ready so that you have one less worry when the doors open again.

Laser Printers:

Shut down properly. Follow the manufacturers instructions for a proper shutdown. Modern copiers can have several power switches and buttons. It can be confusing but generally if there is a power push button on the control panel and a toggle switch- like a light switch -on the back or side, go for the push button first. This should start the shutdown sequence which will move the hard drive arm to a safe position to stop the disk being damaged. It also moves certain parts of the printer so they move away from other parts. For example the fuser, which is the very hot part that the paper goes through just before exiting the machine has 2 rollers in there. One or both of them are made of rubber and if they are left squeezed together for a long time they can develop a flat spot that will cause image problems and probably a banging sound as the rollers rotate. This can be very costly to replace.

Many laser printers will be just fine after several months and I’ve seen them jump to life – just fine after years of storage but there’s no harm in taking precautions if they are available.

  • This is related to the fuser unit too but aimed at the less advanced and smaller printers which don’t have the fancy motors to retract and protect everything. If your printer has little levers on the fuser that are marked with an envelope or have a jam symbol you may be able to flip them over to release the pressure on the aforementioned rollers. The fuser will almost always be on the side that opens up for jam removal.
  • On some machines you wont be able to close the door with these levers open, so in that case its better to have the door closed not force anything. Drums are nocturnal and don’t like being in the light so keep the doors shut.
  • If you have any questions about the best way to temporarily lay off your office machines ask your service guy or feel free to contact Docuflow for free advice.
  • Take care out there! JP