Printing problems are generally caused by either a printer malfunction or a toner cartridge malfunction. The following tips can ensure good toner cartridge performance or help determine the cause when a problem arises.

  • Troubleshooting: The best way to determine whether a problem is caused by the toner cartridge or the machine is to replace the cartridge with one that you know is working well. Or you can switch the cartridge to another machine. If changing the toner cartridge corrects the problem or the problem follows the cartridge to another printer, then the cartridge is most likely defective.
  • Maintain Equipment: Clean copy machines and printers frequently according to the instructions on your equipment.
  • Use dry paper: Since paper absorbs moisture, try replacing the copier paper with clean, dry paper.
  • Keep packaged until use: Do not remove the toner cartridge from its package until you are ready to use it. The shelf life of a cartridge in an unopened package is approximately 2.5 years. The shelf life of a cartridge in an opened package is approximately six months.
  • Handling: When handling a toner cartridge, never touch the drum surface and always protect it from light. Place empty cartridges back in the protective foil bag.
  • Storage: Do not expose cartridges to cold or hot temperatures or extreme humidity.

Technical Tips

Humidity can create special problems for laser printers and copiers. Toner is hydroscopic: it absorbs moisture very rapidly. The finer the toner particle is, the more susceptible it is to moisture absorption. It can begin to become a problem when the environment achieves a humidity level of 50% or above. The result can be print defects and/or light printing. For this reason toner needs to be stored in a cool dry storage space. On the flip side, very low moisture levels below 10% can cause problems with static electricity. Static electricity can cause print defects which will move around on the printed page and appear as streaks or "fish eyes". Proper storage of toner and proper operating environment for the machine will keep many potential problems at bay. Happy printing!

The table below summarizes many of the common problems that laser toner cartridges may give, as well as their effect on your printer's results. This can help you diagnose problems with your printer.

Problem Effect on Printing
Toner cartridge is defective. Blank pages; thin, dark vertical lines
Laser cartridge is not seated properly Repetitive defects or horizontal lines
Cartridge is leaking Marks on the back of the page
Cartridge is low or empty. Light or faded print
Paper is improperly loaded Skewed printing
Cartridge's waste bin is full Random splotches on printed paper