How To Break the Break-Fix Cycle of Printer Maintenance

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When it comes to printer maintenance, you probably find yourself caught up in the dreaded break/fix cycle. Many businesses don't think about taking care of their printer fleet until something goes terribly wrong during a job. But the old philosophy of "If it ain't broke, don't think about" can only lead to future frustration when those error messages start popping up, bringing your office's workflow to a grinding halt at the worst possible time. (Not that there's any good time for your printers to suddenly stop working.)   

Fortunately, there are ways to effectively break this break/fix cycle of printer maintenance. Wouldn't you rather take care of the problem on your own schedule? Or better yet, reduce printer breakdowns to a minimum? In this article, we’ll cover some best practices to make that wish a reality. 

Planned Maintenance vs. Break/Fix

Businesses often choose between planned maintenance and the break/fix method. Some may worry that a regular maintenance schedule of their printer fleet might take too much time and money, but you know what's really expensive and time consuming? Calling in a printer specialist for an emergency repair job, or worse, having to buy a new machine all together. 

Here's how the two approaches to printer maintenance stack up: 

Break/Fix Maintenance:

  • Reactive Approach: This involves addressing issues only when they occur, which can lead to significant work stoppages. 
  • Higher Costs: Emergency repairs and part replacements come with a big price tag and missed deadlines. 
  • Unpredictable: Without a solid maintenance plan, printer issues can arise unexpectedly, causing major delays and frustration to your customers and employees. 

(NOTE: For most desktop printers, reactive break-fix device repair involves sending the device back to the manufacturer. Not the retailer, but the actual maker of the printer. The truth is most people just go ahead and buy a new device. This ends up being more expensive than a monthly maintenance contract.) 

Planned Maintenance:

  • Proactive Approach: Regularly scheduled printer maintenance prevents problems before they happen, keeping your office humming along. 
  • Cost-Effective: Planned maintenance can save money in the long run by reducing the need for high-dollar emergency repairs.
  • Improved Efficiency: With a maintenance plan, printers are less likely to break down, resulting in fewer disruptions and increased productivity. 

It's simple: When your printers work, your office can too. So plan ahead and let preventative maintenance help you keep your workflow flowing right along. 

Best Practices to Avoid Printer Malfunctions 

As you can see, preventative maintenance is the number one way to extend the life and quality of your printer. But what exactly does "preventative maintenance" entail? Well, we're certainly not going to prevent you from finding out. ;)  


Here are our top 7 secrets to keeping your printers problem-free:

1. Scheduled Cleanings

  • Every Month: Put monthly in-house cleanings on your calendar to keep dust and debris from building up on the inside and outside of your printer. A clean printer makes clean prints, free of streaks and paper jams.  

NOTE: Allowing dirt to accumulate on the sensitive parts of a printer leads to streaks and artifacts in your prints – and worse: It can cause the device to break down altogether because of changes in pressure between gears, changes in stickiness in the buttons, friction between moving parts, etc. In fact, poor printer hygience and lack of printer cleanings are common causes for a device becoming unusable.   

  • Every Year: Consider adding annual professional maintenance to perform more thorough cleanings to your devices and address any potential issues.  

NOTE: Outsourcing these cleanings to an experienced managed print team will guarantee cleanings get done. Not only that, but our expert FlexTG technicians will be able to identify and fix problems that may not be apparent during your own routine cleanings. 

2. Component Checks

  • Keep Things Rolling: Regularly inspecting and cleaning your printer rollers will ensure smooth paper feeding. Outside dust and particles from the paper itself can build up on the rollers over time, leading to loading issues and printer jams. Save the jam for your breakfast toast, and clean your rollers on a regular basis with dry brushes or specialty electronics vacuums.     
  • Watch For Wear and Tear: Look for signs of wear on components like the printhead and toner drum. Replacing parts as needed will avoid serious breakdowns. It's natural for components to degrade over time. The more you use your printer, the sooner it will need your care to fix the wear. But replacing parts proactively will keep your print quality high and system malfunctions low.  

NOTE: It's quite possible that your IT team, knowledgeable in network security, computer optimization and software rollouts, lacks specialized know-how on printheads, toner drums and loading issues. Managed print technicians live and breathe printing devices and tackle both the mundane and exotic printer challenges, leaving your IT team to do what it does best.

3. Proper Placement

  • Location, Location, Location: It's best to keep your printer in a clean, dry space away from direct sunlight and dust, which can wreak havoc on the device's delicate system. No, printers aren't asthmatic vampires, but prolonged contact with debris and outside light can damage their internal components and shorten their lifespans. 
  • Keep Your Cool: Want to keep your printer working well? Well, keep it away from heat sources like air vents and hot water dispensers. Heat can quickly dry out your printer's ink and damage sensitive internal components beyond repair. High temperatures can also cause the machine's plastic parts to warp and weaken. The hard-working printer will get hot enough on its own. Keep your cool, by keeping it in a nice, cool place.  

4. Quality Paper

  • Pay More and Save: All paper is the same, right? Wrong. Low-quality paper may be slightly cheaper to buy, but it can cause jams and leave residue inside your printer, which can lead to costly maintenance issues. Always use the highest-quality paper your company can afford. The long-term savings will be worth it. 
  • Don't Use Damaged Paper: Before loading your printer, it's important to inspect the paper for tears, folds, or wrinkles. Damaged paper can jam the printer and affect print quality. It may seem nit-picky, but a little imperfection in your paper can lead to big problems in your printing.  

Note: Using heavier paper weights beyond the recommendations of the machine can create issues, as well. Managed print providers assist in making appropriate machine recommendations so that you may avoid maintenance issues caused by this oversight.  

5. Care & Feeding (Of Your Paper)

  • Store Your Paper Properly: Like your printer, you should keep your paper supply in a cool, dry place. This will help prevent damage from moisture. Even a little bit of humidity can cause your paper to stick together, leading to feeding issues in the printing process. 
  • Load Your Paper Correctly: Whenever anyone is loading paper into your printer, it is important for them to follow manufacturer guidelines. Incorrectly loading (including overloading) can cause jams and feeding problems. Train employees on the proper techniques to keep everyone on the same... page. 😉  

6. Driver Updates

  • Stay Up-To-Date: Outdated drivers can cause communication issues between your printer and computer. Just like your team, if they can't talk to each other, they won't well together. Regularly check for system updates and promptly install them to maintain compatibility and performance. (If only it was that easy for human co-workers.) 
  • Firm-up Your Firmware: Keeping your printer’s internal system programming updated is essential to avoiding issues, from small system bugs to massive malware invasions that can compromise your entire company's security. Manufacturers release updates regularly, so stay informed to keep your printer fleet functional.

7. Spare Parts

  • Keep a Maintenance Kit: A good printer maintenance kit will include essential items, like replacement rollers and cleaning tools, that are specifically designed to be compatible with your machine.  Routine maintenance is always easier when you have the right tools for the job. 
  • Have Backups On Hand: By keeping spare print cartridges nearby, you can quickly switch them as soon as there's a dip in print quality.  

NOTE: Toner can be a sore topic within an organization. Whose job is it to keep it resupplied? Whose fault is it when we run out? Or you might have the opposite problem – closets full of unused, unopened toner boxes. By setting up automated toner replenishment services (a standard and data-driven component of managed print), you can “set it and forget it.”  

By including these preventative maintenance steps and best practices into your company's printing operations, you can significantly reduce the risk of malfunctions while saving both time and money. It's like bringing your car in for regular oil changes instead of having your engine randomly seize up, forcing you to buy a whole new car.  

But if this process of regular printer maintenance seems a bit daunting, consider partnering with a managed print services provider to take care of your printer fleet. With over 29,000 happy clients across the nation – many of them household names with extremely recognizable logos – we have the expertise and resources to make your break-fix dilemma a thing of the past. 

Our trained professionals can effortlessly keep things on track, with routine scheduled in-house care of your devices, and automated, usage-driven renewals of consumables such as paper and toner.  

Break the break/fix cycle without breaking the bank.  

rinter maintenance might not be your top priority—until it's too late. Keep your operations running smoothly with our expert care. Contact us today for a quick consultation and let us do the heavy lifting. Your printers are our priority, so you can focus on moving forward.

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