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Why Is My Printer Printing Lines?

Frustrated Man Next To Printer

The worst thing is you never know when it’s going to strike.

You are using the printer the same way that you always do – the same way that you always have (maybe four years and years), and suddenly, the print projects start going sideways. 

At first, you notice a couple of fine lines printing in the “background” of your documents. 

But before you know it, the lines are becoming more of a headache, more pronounced, and are even ruining your print projects.

What a nightmare, right?

Luckily, with the help of this detailed guide, you’ll be able to identify the most common reasons your printer is pumping out unexpected lines and how to fix them! Let’s jump in.

Why Is My Printer Printing Lines?

Printer’s Connection Has Dropped

Believe it or not, one of the most common reasons that your printer has decided to go on the fritz and start printing odd lines is because it’s dropped a connection with the device it was printing from

Now, this wasn’t all that common a problem in the past – mostly because printers up until maybe 15 or 20 years ago were primarily hardwired directly into a single device they could print from.

Today, though, nothing could be further from the truth.

Almost all of today’s printers – including budget options – ship straight from the factory with Wi-Fi (at minimum) and sometimes even Bluetooth connectivity.

This means pretty much anything and everything can connect to these printers wirelessly. But it also means that they are particularly prone to dropping connections, with the project almost instantly turning into just a bunch of squiggly lines on the page.

If this happens to you, it’s good to double-check that the connection is secure and go back to a hardwired hookup. You’ll eliminate this problem almost completely.

Print Head Out of Alignment

This might be the most common reason your printer is pumping out nothing but odd lines instead of the text or pictures you are expecting it to print.

You can usually diagnose a printer head out of alignment if you see odd, inconsistent, and sometimes even streaks, stripes, and unwanted lines wandering all over the page.

Printer heads don’t generally come out of alignment (at least not on brand-new printers), but it’s not impossible. Worst of all, anything can throw printer heads out of whack, including incorrectly installing new ink cartridges or not even seating them fully.

It’s enough to make anybody nuts.

If you’re dealing with this root cause issue, though, realignment is pretty straightforward (as well as fully automated).

All you have to do is fire up either the diagnostic tools of your printer (included with the printer software) or go into the print settings on your computer. Use the alignment tool, follow the on-screen prompts, and then let the printer go to work.

Before you know it, you’ll be back in alignment and rocking and rolling once again. 

Printer Can’t Translate Print Order

It’s easy to take the technology that surrounds us for granted.

As far as technology is concerned, we live in some of the most exciting times in human history. Every day, it feels like there’s a new big breakthrough that would have been front-page news in the past – but today, it’s just sort of shrugged debt.

Take today’s HD quality inkjet and laser printers, for example.

These things are legitimate modern marvels capable of lightning-fast, highly accurate, and consistent print jobs that even printers of 15, 20, or 30 years ago never could have come close to. 

Even more incredible, though, is that printers operate by “interpreting” the data sent over from many different devices and then printing it based on that interpretation. 

As you can expect, sometimes the message of what you want to be printed gets lost in translation somewhere along the line and causes the printer to malfunction

When this is the case, you usually see lines, funny symbols, a strange format, or a whole host of other printing “oddities” pop up. You’ll be able to spot it right away with just a little bit of experience, even. 

Sometimes all you have to do to fix this is to resend the file you want to print. Sometimes you have to send that file from a different device or a different kind of device.

Now and again, though, the printer will need their software or their drivers updated (or rolled back) to get back up and running again. That’s not going to take long, but it can be a little annoying.

Printer Trouble with Your Ink 

Lines that are zipping all over the printed page – especially if they are in different colors – can often be linked back to your printer having trouble with the ink cartridges or toner that is tucked “under the hood”. 

Using OEM cartridges generally avoids this problem, but with the price of ink skyrocketing (one of the most expensive liquids per volume on the planet today), many folks are trying to find ways to cut costs without cutting corners. 

The trouble here is that sometimes that non-OEM ink is a little “gummy” inside the printer heads, which causes the problems. That gummy ink dries turns into an obstruction and gets scraped across the page on the printer head until things get cleaned up.

Cleaning a printer head (and replacing ink cartridges or toner) is a model-by-model project, one you’re going to want to look up for your specific printer on YouTube.

Knock this project out in a couple of minutes, though, and you should be back better than brand-new.

Always Run a Printer Test Page After Troubleshooting

No matter how you go about resolving your printer printing lines across your paper, you’ll want to be sure that you print a test page (and calibration) after the troubleshooting is done.

This is the only way to be sure that your printer is back up and running, that everything is squared away, and that the problem has been resolved. 

You are all set if the print test page comes out the way it’s supposed to look. 

If not, it’s back to the drawing board using the tips and tricks we highlighted above to get things settled down.

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