As the number of people starting, operating and managing their own businesses grows, the sale of at-home and small-business office equipment like desktop laser printers has increased. Multi-purpose laser printers by companies like Epson, Lexmark and Hewlett Packard provide ease of printing, scanning and copying use. The laser printers also come with their own set of challenges and problems.

Paper that is too heavy or thick might get jammed in the paper feeder. The printer rollers will continue to move and attempt to push the paper through, which can cause the laser printer to make a loud noise. If you pull the paper too forcefully in order to clear the jam, you could cause a portion of the paper to break off and get stuck in the machine. To avoid this, open the printer’s front and back panels, areas that generally make it easy for you to gently pull the paper away from the rollers. It is also important that you use accurate paper settings when printing your documents. For example, if you are printing a legal sized document, you will want to use 8 X 14 inch paper and a legal sized printing tray.

Cable Connections

A weak or missing Universal Serial Bus (USB) cable connection from your personal computer to your laser printer can inhibit your machine’s printing ability. The power can be turned on, but absent a secure cable connection, the two machines will not be able to communicate with one another. If you send a document to the printer and it does not print, check and ensure that one end of the USB cable is securely connected to the computer and that the other end of the USB cable is securely connected to the printer.

Ink Smears

A dirty print head can cause the ink to smear. Owner’s manuals provide specific instructions on how to clean the print head. However, ink heads can be cleaned on some machines through the printer control panel by selecting Setup, Maintenance, then Head Cleaning.

Low-quality ink cartridges or cartridges with low ink levels will cause documents to print too lightly or not at all. Documents also might not print if the cartridges are improperly inserted or calibrated in the laser printer. To check the quality of your ink cartridges, run a printer test. Typically, most laser printers will pop up with a low-ink message if the cartridges are running low on ink. When ink volume is empty, some laser printers like the Epson Stylus will stop printing altogether.


Even though printer cables can fit comfortably into sockets at the back of your personal computer, your laser printer still might not work. Personal computers that have insufficient hard drive or Random Access Memory (RAM) space might inhibit a printer’s ability to work. Before you purchase a laser printer, check with the store technician or clerk to ensure that the printer is compatible with your computer’s operating system and that you have enough memory on your computer to load the printer’s software onto your hard drive.

Telephones and Answering Machines

Many laser printers are multi-purpose machines that offer printing, faxing, scanning and copying features. If you have a multi-purpose printer and set it up so that you can fax documents or photographs, your answering machine might cease to function properly or altogether. Plug a Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) filter into your home or office wall jack so you can use the telephone and fax simultaneously. You might also have to contact your DSL or telephone provider to get a second phone cable installed so that the printer fax can work with your telephone.