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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Printers

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Printers


Having a burning question? Chances are someone might have asked the same question before. Here is a collection of frequently asked questions to our tech support through e-mail and phone calls. Of course, if you don't see your question answered here, contact technical support.

  • What type of cable do I need to connect the printer to my computer?
  • What's the difference between bi-directional and IEEE?
  • What should I do with my empty toner cartridge?
  • How do I set the default printer?(Windows 9x)
  • What is Duty cycle? How does it effect me?
  • How do I calculate cost of ownership/cost per page?
  • I want sharp prints. What should I look for?
  • My printer won't print. What could be causing it?
  • The prints on my dot matrix printer are always coming out too light. What's wrong?
  • I'm getting White Lines, Ghosting, Blotching, or blank spots in the text of my prints from my Laser Printer. What should I do?
  • HP 4000 Printer started printing blank pages. Changed the toner cartridge. Turned the printer OFF and ON and yet it still prints blank pages.
  • HP DeskJet 960C stopped printing in the middle of a print document. Now, the amber light is flashing and will not print.
  • Brother HL-6050 is printing documents and the documents have a dark shadow in the background, but the text is clear.
  • Lexmark Optra M412 is making a grinding noise in the back of the machine. Small plastic gears have been found in the back area of the printer.
  • HP 4000N display is reading "41.3 unexpected paper size".
  • HP 4600 Color LaserJet has a paper jam around the exit area.
  • HP 2100 powers up fine and indicates that it is ready, however, when commanded to print, all of the LED lights stay on and the printer will not print when commanded to do so from the computer. The fuser/maintenance kit was just replaced.
  • HP 4300 LaserJet printer. The toner brushes right off the paper.
  • All-in-One Fax, Scanner, Copier, and Printer make¡¯s a line down the middle of the pages only when making copies. When printing, the pages come out clear.
  • HP LaserJet P3005 has a blank display. The printer powers on, but there is nothing in the window. What is happening?
  • HP 8100N LaserJet Printer displays a 50.1 service error code in the display window. Changing the Fuser did not fix the problem.
  • HP LaserJet 4200 printer makes a flat crease going down the middle of every other document printed. Changing the toner cartridge does not fix the problem.
  • HP 4550 Color LaserJet makes several thin faded lines all the way down each page when printing color or black and white. Changed all the toners and changed the drum, but it still continues to do the same thing.



  • What type of cable do I need to connect the printer to my computer?
    Printers can be connected in a number of ways, however the two most common methods of connection are through a printer cable or through a USB cable. Printer cables generally have a 25-pin male connector on one end (DB25) and a centronix 36-pin male connector on the other. The DB25 connects with the parallel port on your system, while the centronix goes into the printer. Many new printers have a USB plug in addition to the standard centronix 36-pin connector. With these printers a standard A to B USB cable can be used instead of a printer cable to achieve faster throughput. Go to Top

  • What's the difference between bi-directional and IEEE?
    All printer cables these days are bi-directional. IEEE is an enhancement to bi-directional. IEEE allows simultaneous reception and sending of signal between the printer and the computer. Some newer models of printers require IEEE cables. Check out your printer manual to decide whether IEEE is required. IEEE printer cables are back-compatible and will work with any bi-directional printers. However, bi-directional cables are not good enough for printers that require IEEE cables. Go to Top
  • What should I do with my empty toner cartridge?
    The best thing to do with cartridges when you are done is to send them to a place that does cartridge remanufacturing. Often the manufacturer will do this, sometimes with no cost to ship the cartridge back. It is also good to check your local listings for places that specialize in this service. These places will often have remanufactured cartridges for sale, and may even give you a little bit for your empty cartridges. Simple refilling of toner is not recommended as toner itself is very messy and there are other parts that should be replaced regularly in the cartridge. Go to Top

  • How do I set the default printer?(Windows 9x)
    Go to the Printers menu by going to: Start -> Settings -> Printers. To set the default printer, right click the icon for the printer you want as the default. On the menu that comes up select set as default. Go to Top

  • What is Duty cycle? How does it effect me?
    Duty cycle is generally given in pages per month, and is the manufacturer's maximum recommended usage level. If you intend to use your printer for a business, you may want to gauge how much you print in a month and try to find a printer with a greater then or equal duty cycle. Printers targeted at the home market may not have a duty cycle listed. These are generally intended for relatively light usage, which is fine for home use. Go to Top

  • How do I calculate cost of ownership/cost per page?
    The cost of ownership is one of the most overlooked factors when buying a home printer. It's highly suggested that you take it into consideration when you make a printer purchase.

    To calculate cost of ownership, you need three things:
    1. The cost of your ink cartridge/toner cartridge
    2. The cost of your paper (per sheet)
    3. The number of pages you can print on average from a cartridge (often available on manufacturer's website) Once you have these factors, take the cost of the cartridge, and divide this by the average yield of the cartridge. This is your per page cost for ink. Add this number to your cost for page for paper to get your cost of ownership. You will usually find that paying a bit more for a printer in the beginning will save you more in the long run on your printing costs. Go to Top

  • I want sharp prints. What should I look for?
    The term you want to look for is the Resolution. It is given in DPI. HP: "DPI refers to the number of dots of ink that the printer can lay down in a line one inch long. This measure of text and image quality provides a standard for comparison: the general perception is that the higher the number, the sharper the output will be." Other factors like dot placement, and special printer features may also come into play as well. It is good to research your potential purchase. Go to Top

  • My printer won't print. What could be causing it?
    A number of things can cause your printer not to print. Ask the following questions:
    1. Is the printer plugged in?
    2. Is the printer online? Many printers have an On-line LED/LCD and button. If the printer isn't online it will not print.
    3. Is the Ink cartridge, or Toner cartridge full? Some newer printers will stop working completely if they detect an empty cartridge. Most will at least give a warning.
    4. Does it have paper? Be sure the paper is installed correctly, and there is enough for your print job. Most printers can detect when they are out of paper. When using form-fed paper it is possible to get an out of paper message if you do not have the paper inserted aligned correctly.
    5. Is there a paper jam? Paper jam will stop a print job in mid-stride. When you get your printer always read the manual on how to clear a paper jam. There are many parts that can be damaged inside your printer by being rough while clearing a paper jam. This is especially true with laser printers.
    6. Is the printers' memory full or corrupted? Try turning off the printer for a couple of minutes, and turning it back on. Go to Top

  • The prints on my dot matrix printer are always coming out too light. How can I fix it?
    If you've already tried using a new ribbon and that didn't help, you probably need to adjust the print head by moving it closer to the platen. This is usually accomplished by the use of a small lever. Refer to your manual or manufacturers site for information on this. The process may be referred to as "head gap adjustment". Note: The platen is the roller that the printhead pins hit if you don't have paper in the printer. Go to Top

  • I'm getting Ghosting, Blotching, or blank spots in the text of my prints from my Laser Printer. What should I do?
    White lines, Blotching, or blank spots usually indicate a issue with the toner or photosensitive drum. Try removing the cartridge, shaking it, and putting it back in. Check the printer's rollers to insure that nothing has built up on them. If this doesn't solve the problem try replacing the toner cartridge.
    Ghosting can be caused by a number of things. If the ghosting is heavy and dark it can sometimes indicate a oribken with the drum. This can be cleared up by replacing the toner cartridge. If the ghosting isn't dark and occurs with a particular document even after restarting the printer:
    1. Lower the complexity of the document. This would include such things as lowering the dpi for the print, and avoiding over-use of grays.
    2. Before the page that is having the ghosting problem, print an entire page of black. Go to Top

    References: | HP: Support & troubleshooting | Brother Solutions Center | Canon: Support-Consumer Products | Lexmark: Technical Support | Xerox: Technical Support |

    (Sources: Hewlett-Packard, Panasonic, Brother, Xerox)


    By Chris Nemia Copyright (C) 2008 Directron.com

  • HP 4000 Printer started printing blank pages. Changed the toner cartridge. Turned the printer OFF and ON and yet it still prints blank pages.
    Blank pages are caused by 3 elements:
    1. The Scanner shutter door is jammed open and will not close.
    2: The Formatter Board is defective.
    3: The Seal in the Toner Cartridge has not been removed completely.
    Removing the printer's top cover and resetting the scanner shutter will fix the jammed scanner. The formatter board can be replaced by removing the rear screws located at the backside of the formatter board. Remove the board after the screws are out and replace the board. The seal on the toner cartridge is located on the left side of the cartridge and it is normally tagged with an orange thumb pull tab. Pull the seal completely out, reinstall the toner cartridge and conduct a test page. Go to Top

  • HP DeskJet 960C stopped printing in the middle of a print document. Now, the amber light is flashing and will not print.
    The Amber light is designated as the "Ink Error" light. With regards to a 960C Hewlett Packard or almost any inkjet printer, the Amber light is indicating that one of the Ink Cartridges (Tri-Color/Black) is empty, defective, unrecognizable, or just simply needs to be changed. The procedure is; lift up the front cover, look at the Black Ink Cartridge, and examine the Ink Level Window on the Cartridge, located at the center of the Cartridge. If the square window appears to be a solid Green then that means the cartridge is completely full. If it is Half Green/Half Black then it is indicating that the cartridge is half way full, and if the square window is completely Black, then the cartridge is completely empty. Also, remove and examine the Tri-Color Cartridge. If the Tri-Color Cartridge feels very light or if the Tri Colors on the bottom of the Cartridge appear to be discolored i.e. All Magenta, All Cyan, or All Yellow, then the Cartridge should immediately be changed. After replacing the Black or Tri-Color Cartridge, your printers Green Power Light will flash and allow you to continue your print job. Go to Top

  • Brother HL-6050 is printing documents and the documents have a dark shadow in the background, but the text is clear.
    The Drum unit needs to be changed. The photoconductor inside the drum unit has wear on it, and as a result, documents that print have a shadowy background. In the Brother series the product number for the toner begins with TN and the drum begins with DR. Go to Top

  • Lexmark Optra M412 is making a grinding noise in the back of the machine. Small plastic gears have been found in the back area of the printer.
    The ¡°Rear Paper Exit Frame¡± needs to be replaced. After a few years of printing, the heating element (Fuser Assembly) gets hot and it will eventually erode the plastic in this area causing the gear mounts to become brittle and literally break apart. The Rear Paper Exit Frame should be replaced and tested at a depot facility. Go to Top

  • HP 4000N display is reading "41.3 unexpected paper size".
    "41.3 Unexpected Paper Size" means that the paper size you are trying to print is not the same as the settings on the tray. Basically, you are is sending a print document/job to the printer and the paper size that you selected from your computer was not the same size that is configured in the printer. To fix this, you must first determine what paper size you have selected from your Print Screen. Then you must go to your printer and push the "Menu" button until you see "Printing Menu" displayed in the window. Then push the "Item" button until you see "Paper = Legal (for example)". If "Paper = Legal" is displayed in the window and you selected "Letter" from your computer then you all you need to do is push the "Value" button until you see "Letter" in the display window and then push the "Select" button to * (Star it) and now the printer will be configured for "Letter" instead of "Legal". Go to Top

  • HP 4600 Color LaserJet has a paper jam around the exit area.
    The fuser is defective or the gears on the fuser are grinding causing the fuser to jam. The Color LaserJet will need a Fuser Kit replaced. The Part Number is: C9725A and the cost general runs $225.00 - $255.00 for each kit. Changing the fuser requires that the user open the top cover, unscrew (turn counter clockwise) the large blue plastic retainer screws (2 of them) that are built into the fuser itself. The entire fuser will lift right out of the fuser area allowing you to install the new fuser. Go to Top

  • HP 2100 powers up fine and indicates that it is ready, however, when commanded to print, all of the LED lights stay on and the printer will not print when commanded to do so from the computer. The fuser/maintenance kit was just replaced.
    This problem occurs due to a faulty formatter board. Formatter Boards for the HP 2100 can be purchased through HP Hub Vendors for $65.00 each and the installation takes 30 to 40 minutes. A configuration and network test is recommended after the formatter board installation is complete. Go to Top

  • HP 4300 LaserJet printer. The toner brushes right off the paper.
    The Fuser Assembly will need to be changed. The fuser assembly is the heating element in the printer and in this case, it is not getting hot; therefore, the toner will not melt to the paper. Fuser Assembly will cost (on the average) $95 - $225 dollars depending on the make and model of the LaserJet printer. Go to Top

  • All-in-One Fax, Scanner, Copier, and Printer make's a line down the middle of the pages only when making copies. When printing, the pages come out clear.
    The line that is being produced on the copies is caused by some sort of debris that is normally found in the ADF glass scanner area. The types of debris known to have been found in the area are: Dried Liquid Paper (which can be removed with isopropyl alcohol and a lint free cloth), Staples, and Paper Clips. Removing these items will clear up the copies being produced. Go to Top

  • HP LaserJet P3005 has a blank display. The printer powers on, but there is nothing in the window. What is happening?
    To correct this problem, the printer may only require a ¡°firmware¡± update. The manufacturer often has links to firmware updates, and it only requires a download utility driver to update the firmware. If that fails to correct the problem, then the formatter board will need to be replaced. Go to Top

  • HP 8100N LaserJet Printer displays a 50.1 service error code in the display window. Changing the Fuser did not fix the problem.
    The 110V Low Voltage Power Supply or DC Controller Board needs to be replaced. This is a rare but not uncommon problem associated with this series of printers. Replacement is not recommended by the user and a repair depot should perform this replacement and test/calibrate the printer after the LVPS or DC Controller board is replaced. Go to Top

  • HP LaserJet 4200 printer makes a flat crease going down the middle of every other document printed. Changing the toner cartridge does not fix the problem.
    The fuser assembly needs to be replaced. Also, many online stores sell what is known as a ¡°Maintenance Kit¡±. A Maintenance Kit comes with the Fuser Assembly, Transfer Roller, Pick Up Roller, and Pick Up Feed Separation Rollers. It is recommended to change this kit to prevent future paper jams that might occur after every 200,000 pager intervals. Go to Top

  • HP 4550 Color LaserJet makes several thin faded lines all the way down each page when printing color or black and white. Changed all the toners and changed the drum, but it still continues to do the same thing.
    The Transfer Belt Assembly needs to be replaced. The Transfer Belt Assembly is a large (photo film like material) that transfers the image to the document before fusing. If this assembly becomes worn, then print quality will start to deteriorate and the assembly will require replacement. The installation is easy, and the kit comes with installation instructions. Go to Top

    Related Items: | FAQ-General | FAQ-Hard Drives | FAQ-Hard Drive(2) | FAQ-Motherboards | FAQ-Video Cards | FAQ-Cases | FAQ-Memory | FAQ-CD, CDRW&DVD | FAQ-CPU | FAQ-Monitors | FAQ-Modems | FAQ-Networks | FAQ-Sound Cards | Printers, Scanners |



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