Printer Troubleshooting Tools – CompTIA A+ 220-901 – 4.6

You should keep a number of tools available to help with your printer issues. In this video, you’ll learn how to use laser printer maintenance kits, toner vacuums, compressed air, and print spooler to help troubleshoot printer problems.

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Laser printers are mechanical work horses. There is a lot of moving parts. There is heat, there is pressure, there is toner. And all of these moving parts tend to wear out over time. That’s why with many laser printers you can purchase standard maintenance kits. These will have replacement feed rollers, new fuser units, and anything else that might wear out over time. The real question, is when do you perform this laser printer maintenance? There’s usually a page counter on the laser printer so you can tell after a certain number of pages that it may be time to perform maintenance.

To perform this laser printer maintenance, usually power down the laser printer. You remove any power sources. And you want to be very careful when replacing things like a fuser unit. These are very hot inside of the printer and you want to be careful not to burn yourself. And once you’re finished with your laser printer maintenance, you reset the page counter back to zero and you simply wait until that printer is used again so you can repeat the maintenance process at the proper point.

The inside of a laser printer can get pretty dirty and if you have a laser printer toner cartridge that has a crack or a leak, you can get that toner everywhere inside of your printer. This toner dust can be very difficult to remove, and you want to use a vacuum cleaner that is specifically designed for toner. This is going to be filtering out the toner properly and it’s going to be anti-static so it won’t damage any of the sensitive components inside of your laser printer. Whenever you’re cleaning inside or outside of your laser printer, you want to follow the manufacturer’s specifications. There are certain components you do not want to get isopropyl alcohol near, or IPA. So you don’t want to use any harsh chemicals on the inside or outside of your printer. Usually you’re using a damp cloth and simply wiping away anything that might be dirty on the inside or outside.

On the inside of the printer, you want to carefully wipe away the toner dust or to vacuum it up with a toner vacuum. If you have toner on your skin, you may want to wash it off with cold water. Don’t use hot water because that will simply melt the toner and make it more difficult to remove. And if you do have some rollers that are having some problems grabbing the paper, that is one of the few components that you could use isopropyl alcohol to completely clean and make them grip that paper a little bit better.

If you maintain computers or printers for any amount of time, you may see this canned air. It’s a fluorocarbon gas, and it’s compressed into a liquid that you can spray and gas will shoot out so that you can clean the inside of devices. This is not a great choice for cleaning printers, or really any technology, because the toner, of course, is a powder that can go everywhere. You’ll have paper dust inside of the printer. It’s often best to take the printer outside if you plan to use any compressed air inside of the device. And it’s also advised not to use chemical based compressed air, primarily because it’s not good for the environment and it’s not good if you do happen to get any of that liquid onto any of the components. Instead, use something like an external air compressor where you can use as much air as you need and you won’t have to worry about damaging any of the components with this liquid.

If you’re troubleshooting printers, then you also need to be very familiar with the print spooler service. This is the process that is managing the printing in the background so that we can send our print job and then continue to use our computer normally. This runs as a service inside of Windows, so it doesn’t require any specific user intervention. In fact, most users have no idea that a print spooler is actually working behind the scenes. Unfortunately the print spooler is not a perfect piece of software; it can occasionally crash due to problems with print jobs or other things in the operating system. So it may require a manual restart. If your user is trying to send things to the printer and they’re never getting there, you may want to check the spooler service first. You would restart the spooler service just like any other service. You can stop it and restart it, and you may want to check the recovery options so that the printer service can automatically restart itself self if it runs into any problems.