7 Common Toner Problems and How to Fix Them

Talking of common toner problems, Matthew Inman comes to mind — known for his satirical drawings. Inman is witty. He’s perfected the art of overdosing his readers with fits of laughter while delivering worthwhile messages.

So what’s a comic to do with toner problems?

Inman understands your pain with printers. He’s captured the story so nicely in his famous work titled “Why I believe printers are sent from hell to make us miserable.” OK, you probably don’t share his strong opinion on the subject, but you get the point. Printers, in this case, those that use toners, can cause grief if you don’t understand what’s going on.

Toners are laser printers’ alternative to inks in inkjet printers. If you use a laser printer, then you’re familiar with toners and fusers.

Let’s examine common toner problems you may have experienced or might face in future — with solutions to help you get past the mess.

Low Toner Error

Image credit: Flickr

Cause: You may have just replaced your toner only to find your computer giving you “low toner error.” Printer error messages are sometimes unreliable. Unless your toner cartridge is broken or damaged, resetting your printer is all you need to fix this glitch.

Cure: Use a hard reset. Hard resets are usually simple to follow. Find the particular printer model’s reset instructions on the manufacturer’s website. Some printers even come with video guides, and you can also call your manufacturer’s product support for help.

Blotchy, Streaked or Faded Printouts

Your printer works but produces blotchy, streaked or faded printouts. This problem is common. Have you used the correct paper, and verified that your printer’s components function well? Then check your toner.

Cause: If you seldom print documents, your toner might have settled and would need to be “awakened.”

Cure: Remove your toner and gently rock it from side to side — DON’T shake the toner. Make sure you don’t touch the toner roll as it may leave fingerprints.

Fuser Errors

The fuser is a part of laser printers that fuses the toner and paper together. The toner is useless without a functioning fuser.

Image credit: Dell

Just like other vital parts of the printer — the toner cartridge and the drum unit — the fuser would eventually need replacing. HP and Dell says that the fuser has a lifespan is 100,000 prints. Most consumers wouldn’t need to replace their fusers in a very long time. Albeit, regular printer problems, like paper jams, wears out the fuser faster.

Image credit: HP

Causes: Fuser errors indicates there’s a problem in your fuser driver circuit. Here are all the fuser errors you may experience and what they mean.

  • 50.1 and 50.8: Low temperature in the fuser.
  • 50.2: Fuser warm-up service error.

The 50.2 error is common with HP laser printers. The error happens if your printer’s thermistors (which reads the fuser temperature as it warms up) fails to give an accurate reading of the fuser temperature in the expected time frame.

The 50.2 error is indicative that a component of the engine control board or fuser is malfunctioning.

  • 50.3 and 50.9: Fuser high-temperature error.

Fuser error 50.3 signals that your machine is overheating. Your fuser may overheat due to the type of paper you use. If you use thick paper for a prolonged printing session overheating is likely to occur. Your printer would have to heat its fuser to a higher temperature to bond the toner to the thick paper. If your printer’s fuser runs at a higher temperature for a prolonged period, it would overheat.

  • 50.4: Faulty fuser

Change the fuser if this error occurs.

  • 50.5: Fuser inconsistency (shows as 13.2 error in some cases)

This error signifies that the inserted fuser isn’t the correct fuser for that model of printer. In some cases, the error code would be 13.20 error.

  • 50.6: Open fuser error

This error signifies that the Alternating Current (AC) needed to warm up the fuser isn’t completing its circuit. The incomplete circuit may be happening from inside the fuser or the current is breaking from the power supply.

  • 50.7: Pressure release mechanism failure error

Much like the fuser warm-up service error, the pressure release mechanism failure results from inadequate power supply — having other power usurping devices in the same circuit as your printer may cause the machine to work improperly end up giving you a 50.7 error.

Cures: You can use some solutions to prevent fuser errors. Since most fuser errors are interconnected, it wouldn’t help much to give you individual solutions for each error type. Use the solutions here to minimize or eliminate fuser errors:

Improve power supply: An error may result if your printer runs on a power generating source that doesn’t meet its power requirement. Most fusers need as much as 350 Fahrenheit (i.e., 177 Celsius) to 425 Fahrenheit (i.e., 218 Celsius) of heat to work — that’s a lot of power consumed. When the power supply is less than required, the temperature control for your fuser won’t work, causing it to malfunction.

  • Improve your printer’s power supply by plugging the machine straight to the wall outlet. Do not connect any other heating device to the same circuit or outlet as your printer.
  • If you are experiencing a 50.6 fuser error, there’s very little you can do about it. Reseat the fusing unit to ensure it’s making proper contact with the connector.

Verify shipping: If you’ve just replaced your fuser, check if you were shipped the correct fuser for your printer and voltage standards. As an example, fusers for HP printers 4240, 4250,4350, and M4345 models look the same and even fit in the machines, but won’t heat up well resulting in a bad print quality and errors (usually a 50.2 fuser error).

  • If you’ve been shipped the wrong fuser then you can return it to get the appropriate one. It’s helpful to know the return policies of your seller before making a purchase.
  • This solution fits error code 13.20 or 50.5. Take the fuser out and check its barcode label for the part number and then verify if the part number on your model printer matches; this verified if you are with the correct fuser or not.

Unplug your machine for 20 to 30 minutes: Unplug and leave your printer for 20 to 30 minutes, and then turn it on again to see if the error is resolved. This solution comes handy when dealing with 50.2 and 50.3 errors.

Ventilation for the machine: Make sure your machine has adequate ventilation. Give three to four inches of space on all sides of your device to allow it cool. Ventilating your printer prevents fuser error 50.3.

Break large printing jobs into smaller tasks: Breaking large print volume into intervals gives your fuser time to cool off. Just like in the point above, breaking tasks to smaller bits prevents fuser error 50.3.

Reconnect the connectors: If you are technically inclined, then reconnect the connectors of your printer’s DC controller PCA and fuser control PCA (here’s a glossary of laser printer terms to help). Ask for professional help from sales support, or a local printer maintenance support.

Replace the fuser: Under certain conditions, the best line of action is to replace the fuser; these conditions are

  • If experiencing fuser errors 50.1 or 50.4.
  • You should also replace the fuser if you’ve tried all alternative solutions (as explained above) when experiencing a 50.2 fuser error.

Half-page Printouts

Your printer rolls out half-page of content and leaves half the page blank — a number of things could cause this. Yes, your toner may be responsible for the half-page print-out, but you want to run a few checks before concluding.

Cause: Half-page printouts could result from some errors. To find out what’s going on, follow these steps in ‘Cure’ below.

Cure: Diagnose for errors following these steps.

  1. Unplug your printer,
  2. Turn off your computer,
  3. Restart both devices.
  4. Run a page to test if the printer is back to normal

If this test page doesn’t come out well, you should notice some error lights on the printer. Search Google for what the error lights mean and take it from there.

Toner or drum unit problems would go with corresponding error messages. Usually, error messages would explain the problem, if not, a quick search online should lead you in the right direction.

Black and White Image with Color or Traces of Color

Image credit: YouTube

You may have noticed that having all your colors turned on in spite of printing black and white documents gives a richer look. Your document’s better look results from the better gradations and smoother color tone that’s only possible if all your colors are turned on. In contrast, using black ink alone — for a black and white image print out — produces poor prints.

Cause: If you find color traces or colors on your black and white images, then you have a color leak. Your toner may need replacing.

Cure: Remove the leaking ink and clean the printer, and then replace the bad ink or toner with a new one.

Gray Background or Print

Your printer’s photoreceptor or print density setting is usually responsible for gray text printouts — instead of black. If your laser printer has print density control, then it allows you to manipulate the tones of your printed ink. You can decrease or increase your print density for a lighter or darker hue.

Cause: If your printer’s print density isn’t the cause of your gray text, it’s the photoreceptor. Your photoreceptor wears out over time and reduces the charge it holds, consequently transferring less toner from the printer’s developer to your page.

Cure: Increase your print density setting to make your prints black again. However, over time your photoreceptor would need replacing. On the flip side, excess toner from a high print density setting would give a gray background. Find the best setting by slowly adjusting your print density setting.

Spots Spaced at Regular Intervals

Cause: You can determine the cause of spots on a printed page by observing the pattern of the spots. Toner deposits on the fuser would leave spots at regular, close intervals.

Image Credit: HowStuffWorks

Cure: Turn your printer off for a minimum of 15 minutes for the fuser to cool off. Make sure the fuser completely cools off to avoid getting burned. Check for toner deposits on the fuser cleaning pad, and if necessary, replace the cleaning pad. If the spots persist, seek professional help.

To Wrap Up

Inman says “Your printer will always stop working at 3 AM when you’re trying to print out a report that’s due the next morning,” and that’s probably right — if you don’t have this guide handy.

One more thing. If you have unused toners and want to sell, we pay the best market rates, and you don’t have to ever haul anything down to a store, the whole transaction happens online — just let us know.

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