Copy Machine Troubleshooting

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Businesses have enough trouble tending to their daily operations without problems from pesky office equipment. The copy machine is an integral part of any organization, and when it starts acting up, the first thing you may want to do is give it a swift kick to its side. Before resorting to such drastic measures or calling a repairman, try some basic troubleshooters.

Common Problems

Ensure that the machine is plugged in to a functioning electrical outlet and that all covers and trays are closed and secure in place. Before use, you always want to make sure that the machine is ready to copy (green light) and that the paper is loaded properly, as paper often cause a lot of copier problems. If the machine indicates a misfeed, paper jam or is not catching the paper, remove the cassettes or cover and check to see if there's any jammed or crumpled paper in the system. If so, clear it out. Check again to ensure the paper is loaded properly, and that the cassette claws are holding the paper in place.

If a jam occurs every time you try to make copies, check to see that the system is cleared of any miscellaneous paper, and open and close the cover, as that resets the process. Humidity sometimes causes a jam; in that instance, replace the paper with paper fresh from a sealed package.

If everything's quiet on the power and paper-loading front, other issues could arise. For instance, the "Maintenance" light may pop on out of nowhere. No need to worry. Depending on the equipment type, after a certain number of printed copies (usually in the thousands), a default maintenance indicator flashes. Upon the next servicing, a specialist will reset the machine.


If your copies come out light, it may be time to replace the toner, especially if the "Add Toner" indicator appears. However, that message may appear when the toner is just fine or brand new. Opening and closing the front cover will activate the toner motor, and after a few minutes, wait to see if the message still appears. If so, repeat the process a few times.

On a related note, if you set the copier to print multiple copies and only one prints, toner again may be the cause. If the "Add Toner" message appears, do just that. Until the copier has its fill of fresh toner, it will print just one copy.

If none of the above troubleshooting tips get the copier going, or if there are bigger, more technical issues, refer to the printer manual and/or call the repairman.