Printer Quality Issues and What to Do About Them

When it comes to printing at home, there is probably not a single person who hasn’t had issues with their printer not doing the job it was meant to correctly. Things like running out of toner or continually finding photocopies of someone’s butt in the tray are more technical issues than anything and usually much easier to solve (track down the butt).

But there is another aspect that frequently occurs and not everyone really knows what to do about them, in fact whenever a quality issue appears, most people think they either need to replace the ink toner cartridge or the printer itself. And while in extreme cases that may be needed, most of the time all it takes is a quick adjustment to get the quality of that printer’s life back in motion.

For each of these possible issues, it is always recommended to make sure printer cartridges are installed correctly and that you aren’t out of ink, then to print a few extra pages to see if the issue persists. After that we move onto the more tech savvy things.

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• Light Print

This is what happens when parts of your paper or all of it come out in a very light tone, as though the image or text has faded even though you just printed it!

Now the most common cause is usually from ink being low, but in some cases it could be the wrong kind of paper being used so the toner doesn’t set in (though this is rare), or it could just require the toner to be removed, shaken then returned to the printer. The last major step is going to the control panel of your printer driver, opening print quality and then increasing the toner density to the level you want. If none of those still work make sure you aren’t printing everything as a watermark and that you don’t have those special ‘eco’ modes turned on, which are meant to save toner by printing lighter.

• Specks, Lines and Defects

These are the extra marks on a paper or pieces of missing texts and images that break up on the paper. Most of the time these problems appear due to the printer needing to be cleaned out, as excess ink or toner has gotten into the printer. If you’ve already run a few pages and still seeing the issue, then you’ll likely need to get the printer cleaned, including the printing drum or fuser (if laser). If you don’t know how to do this, it is definitely recommended that you pass it off to someone that does, but if you’d like to learn you can go to this cleaning guide. You can also check your printer cartridge for any kinds of leaks, if you find some you will end up needing to replace it, but don’t assume it is leaking if you can’t see anything running.

• Misformed, Crooked, and Blurred Characters

These are the text forms or images that seem to screw-up naturally, looking like some of the words were poorly written or not fitting along a line or in some cases just not visible because it looks like it got smudged.

To fix this one, it falls along the opposite lines of the problem with light print; usually decreasing the toner density will help the issue, though in most cases the issue is the paper or something far worse like the alignment instruments in the printer being faulty. If changing the paper out, or making sure the printer remains in a suitable environment for it (like a terrarium), then you’ll likely need the printer brought into maintenance or even replaced all together.

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• Ghosting

One of the more common occurrences, which result in text or images being slightly behind the text or image, making it look almost like a shadow in the background of the original image. This ghosting can be caused from a few possible things. Make sure the print setup is properly calibrated for the right size paper you are using and make sure the paper is right. If that isn’t the case then you’ll want to focus on adjusting the print heads through printer settings to realign them. And in extreme cases (for laser printers) you’ll probably need to replace the printer drum.

These types of fixes and problems are just a small collection of the possible situations that could occur and basic helpful hints in figuring out what is wrong and how to fix it. If you want to know other solutions for a particular type of issue then you’ll need to look it up more heavily.


Do you have any tips to solve print quality issues? Do share your views in the comment section, we’ll be glad to hear from you.

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