Quick maintenance tips can save you hours of aggravation

When working out of your home office, there’s nothing worse than wasting hours on end trying to get your printer working. Most home printers are very easy to maintain and keep healthy, yet too many people working out of their home do not take the time to stop printer problems before they start.

Here are five simple, easy-to-initiate tips on keeping your home office printing up and running.

Treat gently

It’s surprising how some people treat their home printers. They pile stacks of paper, books, laptops, and even food containers and coffee cups atop them, causing stress and strain to the body of the printer and liquid or detritus to fall into paper trays. Sometimes people keep their home printers in such tight spaces that they block the output tray, causing jams that can cause further problems.

Always keep your printer on a flat, level surface. Avoid setting anything atop the printer; make sure the output tray and paper trays are clear. Another good idea would be to place your printer in such a place where it will not be bumped into by passers-by. With wireless printers becoming more common, you are less restricted about where you place your printer so long as it is within reach of your home WiFi.

Turn off when not in use

Unless you’re using it throughout the day or every day, it’s not s lousy idea to turn your printer off while not in use. While technically there is nothing wrong with leaving your printer on all day or even overnight, its parts will last longer and require less maintenance if turned off during periods when it won’t be used for a while.

If you’re turning your printer back on after it has not been used for a day or so, give it some time to warm up and run through any self-check or self-maintenance routines. These routines may give you timely warnings of any potential issues such as clogged printer nozzles or low cartridges.

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Regular user-level maintenance

Like any other household appliance, a home printer will benefit significantly from simple user-level maintenance. Look into purchasing a printer maintenance kit designed for your model printer and follow its instructions regarding the cleaning of nozzles and rollers. If you decide to forego the maintenance kit, look online for cleaning guidelines from the manufacturer. Give the paper tray an occasional wipe down to remove any dust that paper may drag into the printer.

You might also consider investing in a small vacuum to run along the inside of your printer now and then. This will keep dust, grit, or loose tears of paper from gumming up the works. Many people use canned air to help clean their computer’s innards, but with a printer, you’ll have much better results sucking the dirt up instead of just blowing it around.

Use the recommended inks and toner

Your printer manual should indicate the approved ink or toner cartridges to use with your home printer. If the manual has gone astray, you can often find the information you need on the printer manufacturer’s website. Many companies offer off-brand or recycled cartridges that are often less expensive than the manufacturer’s recommendations. Still, there are often quality issues that may not only impact your printer’s health but the quality of your output as well.

If you insist on exploring off-brand cartridges, make sure to read user reviews to know which cartridges have a dependable reputation and which ones tend to cause problems.

Smart paper use

Refilling the paper tray is a minor but annoying chore. There is a strong temptation to fill it all the way to cut down on the number of times you have to go hunting for paper and refilling the tray. Too much paper in a tray can lead to misaligned printing and printer jams—the latter of which has the potential to cause lasting harm to your printer.

Always use paper that is wrinkle-free and has been stored in a dry place and free of dust. Even slightly damp paper can cause curling, jams, and uneven ink coverage. Carefully fan the paper before putting it into the tray to dispense with any static that may cause pages to stick together when entering the printer.

Simple steps can go a long way to maintaining your printer’s life and usefulness to your home office set up. None of these tips should take very much time, but they can save you hours—even days—of headaches.

And remember to keep the cat off it.