Paper Jams and Ghost Jams
If your printer says you have a paper jam, there are a couple of potential culprits. First, make sure the paper is properly aligned in the paper tray. If your paper is askew even a little bit, it can quickly turn into a jam. Usually, removing the paper from the unit and lining it up better to the feeding elements will clear up the problem. Paper trays are designed to hold a specific paper capacity. For some, it could be just 100 sheets, while others can hold an entire ream. Check your printer’s user guide for the recommended paper capacity – an overstuffed paper tray can instantly flag the paper jam warning in your machine. You should also make sure the paper or media type setting on the printer menu matches your current print job. Printers include settings for many different paper types like card stock, photo paper or presentation paper. Thicker paper can cause a paper jam if the settings are off and a quick change of the paper type can resolve your paper jam message right away.
Pick up rollers are the rollers that pick up the paper from the tray and feed it to the printer. These parts have also been known to cause a jams after repeated use and eventually may need to be replaced.
When your printer says that there’s a paper jam, and there isn’t, chances are it’s because there’s a mechanical problem afoot. Don’t immediately smash your printer in a field though! In searching for a solution for a ghost-jammed HP® printer, Neal Poole discovered that often real paper jams could leave residue behind that interferes with printer operation long after the jam is gone.
Small amounts of shredded paper junk lodged between gears that move your rear duplexer may leave your printer thinking there’s something lodged in the duplexer, not the gear. Examine the mechanical parts surrounding your ghost jam and make sure they operate cleanly (some models give you a more precise idea where the jam is located, especially for more complex office units). Here’s one approach posted on Fixya that can help:
**A side note: this is explicitly for the HP® OfficeJet® L7680, but the general principles apply across printer models and brands**
Remove the rear duplexer and grip any of the four rollers. Do they move freely? If no, your next step is to . . .
Touch two of the brass contact points with a paper clip. Bridging this contact makes the printer think the duplexer is still installed, and you’ll want to maintain this contact all the way through the final step.
Press OK on the control panel.
Take a look at the white plastic gears on the left-hand side. Do they move freely, or do they stall, skip, freeze, or jam? If it’s the second scenario, you have paper shards, which you will need to clear from the gears.
Grip the furthest rubber roller and rotate. Check for shards of paper in the gear teeth.
Once the rollers and gears spin freely, you’ve cleared the ghost jam, and you can remove the paper clip and reassemble.