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Why Does My Copy Machine Always Break Down?

November 6th, 2019 | 7 min. read

By Marissa Olson


You're making a copy of your passport before you dash off on a business trip. Or maybe you're printing a presentation on your copy machine for a customer who arrives in an hour. Or you're copying an important office memo scheduled for immediate release. 

And then you see those frightening words pop up on the copier screen, "Copy Machine Error," or "Paper Jam." You plead with the machine to behave and start furiously pressing buttons and yanking on the paper.

Whatever you use your office copier for, chances are, it's an imperative task. There's never a good time for a copy machine to break down, but doesn’t it seem like they often break at the worst times? You rely on your copier machine to uphold your professional image. 

Printouts with red ink that looks pink, streaks on the page, or crumpled paper, aren't the look you're going for. The good news is, there are ways to prevent these unfortunate copier malfunctions. 

Take a look at some common reasons why your copy machine keeps breaking and what you can do to prevent it.


Copy Machine Break Downs?

Here’s Why


1. You Have The Wrong Size Copy Machine

Many offices purchase a copier based on price or functionality. But did you know your copier's capacity is equally, if not more important? Office copiers exist in a range of sizes, options, and speeds.

Each machine has a maximum volume it's designed to produce each month before it starts to wear down. Too much output volume on less capable devices will contribute to their demise.

Conversely, inadequate output on large machines designed for steady use can also have a negative impact. A minimum output volume also exists, and when volume runs low, machines can start to break down.

The key to finding the right-sized machine is to know your daily output requirements before you make a purchase. Small offices may only make 5-20 copies a day, while some companies print in the thousands.

Work with a company that will honestly assess your needs before selling you more or less than you need.

2. Your Copy Machine is Overheating

Humans aren't the only ones to blow their top when being pulled in all directions. Office copiers also overheat when they exceed their desired limit. Many copiers serve as multifunction printers, performing countless tasks.

When copiers aren't given a break to cool down, they can start to malfunction. Copier machines also overheat when they aren't given room to breathe. Machines tucked in a tight corner or stacked with paper can't release the heat they produce. 

It's best to store your copier in a well-ventilated area with breathing room on all four sides. If your copier is in use all day long, consider investing in multiple machines to reduce the wear and tear.


3. It’s Jammed With Paper or Dust

A paper jam alone can cause breakage, but more often, it's how we handle it. Paper jams can feel like a battle between man and machine when we try to pry the trapped paper loose. The delicate components of the device aren't built for that tug of war, and can easily break under pressure.

When we pull on the paper, it often rips, which causes a secondary problem. Small pieces of paper lodged in the machine lead to further damage and more complicated jams.

Paper jams can sometimes be avoided by fanning the paper before you load and loading it right side up. That's right; there's a top and a bottom to paper; just look for the arrow on the package.

Paper dust is an inevitable part of copier usage that also clogs up the intricate system. From a foggy printout to deadlocked parts, paper dust is a pesky nemesis. Avoid paper jams and dust issues by treating your copier with care.

This includes following manual instructions for handling paper jams and dusting your copier regularly. Gentle cleaning of surface areas with Windex and checking paper drawers for loose particles will help you avert this crisis.

For more helpful tips, check out our video on YouTube, Most Common Problems with an Office Copier - How to Avoid Them

4. It’s Due For a Check-Up

Copier maintenance is an essential part of extending the life of your machine. The truth is, copiers are a little like cars, and the average person doesn't really know what's going on under the hood.

Once it breaks, productivity stops and is halted until repairs can be made. That's why it's important to schedule regular maintenance since prevention is always less costly than repair. Imagine how much time and money you can save just by keeping your copier healthy.

Experts can pinpoint not only structural issues but technological ones before they put a cramp in your productivity. Consider a service like PrintCare, which encompasses everything from toners and drums to parts, labor, and services.

Also, print management software, such as PaperCut, even enables technicians to monitor and audit digital copiers for the most efficient and environmentally sound usage. 

5. Your Copier is Past Its Prime

The average copier lasts about seven years before it bites the dust. Today's digital machines can print, scan, copy, and fax, and are comprised of more sophisticated parts. If you're still using a non-digital copier, you're due for an upgrade.

The initial investment in a new office copier will save you a bundle down the road. These high-tech machines are incredibly efficient and are designed to conserve energy.

They are less prone to wear and tear and overheating, and also cut back on labor costs thanks to their smart technology.
Digital multifunction printers can do multiple jobs, including: 

  • Scan to email
  • Scan to the cloud
  • Allow “follow me” printing
  • Improve information security
  • Launch a business process
  • Process business forms


Imagine the time and resources you'd save with a machine that's your personal assistant. In fact, an office copier is a digital assistant for multiple employees, producing a high return on investment. 

If you're spending more time kicking your copier or yanking the paper from its grasp than enjoying high-quality output, then it's time to buy a new machine.


What’s Next: Avoiding Copy Machine Break Downs

To enjoy the freedom from office copier malfunction, it starts with choosing the right machine. Make sure that you’re purchasing your office copier machines from reputable companies that are transparent in their mission. 

You deserve a copier that fits your needs, not one that over or underperforms. The right salesperson can help you select the right fit and train you for wise usage. 

Your dealer should offer fair market value and provide post-purchase perks like digital monitoring and maintenance. Once you've selected the right team to provide and the right machine to perform, follow our tips to prevent office copier breakage. 

With an ounce of care and prevention, you'll prevent a pound of problems and enjoy your copier for years to come.

To access more resources on anything copy machine-related, visit our Ultimate Office Copier Resources Page

At AIS, we’re not just an office technology company. We’re here to provide you with the support and tools you need so that you make the best purchasing decisions for your business. If you’d like to learn more on copy machine troubleshooting, or any of the products and services we offer, reach out to us here. We’re here to give you peace of mind to help you win more business.


Marissa Olson

A true southerner from Atlanta, Georgia, Marissa has always had a strong passion for writing and storytelling. She moved out west in 2018 where she became an expert on all things business technology-related as the Content Producer at AIS. Coupled with her knowledge of SEO best practices, she's been integral in catapulting AIS to the digital forefront of the industry. In her free time, she enjoys sipping wine and hanging out with her rescue-dog, WIllow. Basically, she loves wine and dogs, but not whiny dogs.