If you’re new to using paper shredders you might soon be finding out that sometimes they get clogged. Until you can unjam them, the device won’t be able to operate. That can be annoying but in most cases, you might be able to solve it in a few minutes. In this article, we’ll go through various ways on how to unclog a paper shredder.
Each shredder has a particular amount of paper that it can handle, beyond which clogging happens easily. It can also get jammed as some shredded pieces of paper accumulate in the shredding mechanism, even without taking too much paper at a time.
If the clogged paper prevents the blades to rotate, the paper shredder will not work.
The top of the range paper shredders are less prone to clogging, although these machines are recommended for intensive use and quite expensive. On the other hand, this is more likely to happen on lower-end machines, frequently used in home offices or small offices. But don’ despair, there are ways to fix it.
How to Fix a Paper Shredder Jam
In this article, you will find various ways how to unclog a paper shredder. We’ll go over automatic and manual ways to fix your clogged shredder.
As said before, a paper shredder gets jammed when too much paper clogs in its mechanism and prevents its blades to rotate.
The objective of this article is to reveal to you how to fix a jammed paper shredder.
It should be the first method to apply when you notice the problem. If it works, the solution will be easy and fast.
The shredder comes with a built-in option that can make its shredding mechanism run in reverse. Since the problem is that the shredder got clogged up by rotating in one direction, the device will try to unjam by rotating in the opposite way.
This is how you should do about it:
- Press the reverse button and the shredder will try to rotate backward;
- After the device rotates in reverse successfully and unclogs, try to shred again using less paper;
- If it doesn’t, sometimes alternating between forwards and backward movement might help;
- In any of the cases, if it doesn’t start rotating freely, don’t insist.
If this attempt was not successful, it’s time to try the manual options.
First of all, before you do any of the following, unplug the shredder’s power cord. The manual fixes include trying to unclog the shredder mechanism. This is a shredder and its blades are dangerous. Be absolutely sure that the shredder has no power to prevent accidents.
There are various manual ways to go about this process. Some of them include:
Lift the top of the shredder
Several modern shredders come along with two pieces that include the mechanical part and the wastebasket. Removing the mechanical section helps in accessing both sides of the paper to unclog the equipment. You can lift the top off the wastebasket or unlock it if it uses the locking mechanism.
Even without power, you can get hurt in the blades. For that reason, avoid direct hand contact.
You can opt to remove the small pieces of paper in the blades using tweezers. You need to check whether the jamming is on the outside or the bottom of the shredder mechanism. Go for the largest blocks of paper first.
Use a knife or scissors
Shredders will cut the paper into small strips that wrap around the cylindrical rollers, and this can result in clogging. To avoid that, use a knife or scissors to slice papers. It makes the shredding process much more manageable.
Use a narrow screwdriver
If in some instances you have might have difficulties reaching the clogged paper. f that’s the case, try using a narrow or precision screwdriver.
Feed the shredder with a heavy card stock
So you removed most of the clogged paper which was jamming the shredder.
To be sure it runs well, install the top of the shredder back and get away from its blades. Plug the power cord and check if the blades rotate backward and forward.
If they are rotating well, great job, you fixed it.
To finish the cleaning process, you may want to feed the shredder with card stock or more paper. Just make sure not to feed it more than it can handle.
The card or paper feed will push the clogged pieces of paper. Push the paper or card stock into the center of the paper slot as you run the equipment and check whether it works. If it fails, try another option to avoid worsening the problem.
Use shredder oil
Using shredder oil can also help. Read on to know how.
How to lubricate paper shredder
Shredder oil is an excellent remedy for a nasty clog. Add it to the jammed spot to aid in lubrication.
Remember, you need to leave the oil to soak up the paper conveniently. For that reason, apply the oil and leave it to rest for half an hour before you run the shredder again. Make sure that the lubricant is an aerosol lubricant to avoid causing some damage.
A great option is the Fellowes Powershred Performance Shredder Oil, which comes in a 16 oz (473ml) bottle.
Click the image to check the price on Amazon now!
In case you’re wondering, Fellowes is a reputable brand when it comes to power shredders and office gear.
Moreover, this bottle also features an extended nozzle. That makes its application very easy. If you ever applied oil without a nozzle in a tight spot, you know what I’m talking about.
If you aren’t doing it already, lubricate your shredder regularly. It will run better.
Let’s see how to lubricate paper shredder. It’s quite easy. There are two methods to consider:
This is the way to do it if the shredding mechanism is out of reach.
To start, be sure to do this on a surface that can be easily cleaned afterward.
Apply oil on a sheet in a zig-zag pattern and make sure that there’s oil going to all edges of the sheet.
Insert that sheet in the machine so it shreds it. As the blades shred the sheet, they will become lubricated.
A few minutes later you can shred two or three sheets of paper to remove excess oil from the blades.
Apply the oil directly on the blades using the extended nozzle.
After applying, make the shredder work in the reverse direction for 15-20 seconds.
That will ensure that the oil spreads evenly across the shredding mechanism.
Some minutes later, shred two or three sheets of paper to remove excess oil from the blades.
These are the best ways how to fix a paper shredder jam
While I can’t guarantee that these specific procedures will work in your case, they will surely fix most situations.
Try out one after the other if the preceding fails to work. Do not force the device if it fails to work because it can lead to unexpected damage. Instead, seek professional intervention.
And remember, anytime you take an object or a hand near the shredder, unplug its power cord before. Put safety first.
Further information on paper shredders
If you’re in a hurry you could shred paper without a paper shredder.
To know what to look for, check out our paper shredder buying guide.