Why is my printer smoking?

Smoking is an ambiguous adjective. We might use ‘smoking hot’ to signify our liking of something. Your printer smoking – not so good. In fact, if your printer either smokes or steams, you could be in trouble.

Plug it out immediately, before you even read on. No, seriously. Turn your printer off immediately, then unplug it. A smoking printer represents a fire hazard. Sometimes it is a simple problem, but you take no chances until you are sure. 

The next thing to do is to check for signs of burning – a smell, blackened plastic, hot spots, and so on. If you have any doubts, consult a professional before you use the machine again. 

Why does a printer smoke?

There are a number of reasons why your printer might smoke, and most of them are related to internal malfunctions, or to improper usage.

Overheating is the most common reason. If the internal components, such as the fuser unit or the toner cartridge, get too hot, they may begin to emit smoke. Toner can spill out of the cartridge and get overheated during printing, leading to smoke.

There may be an electrical issue. Faulty wiring, power surges, and other problems, can cause overheating and lead to smoking.

The mechanical bits of the printer might generate friction, which can lead to smoke. Similarly blocked airvents can lead to poor ventilation, which can cause overheating. 

If you use incorrect products in your printer, this can also be a factor. So can wear and tear. So when you see smoke initially, there is no way of telling the exact cause without an examination. 

Is it normal for a printer to steam?

Steam, like smoke, is not a normal thing to come out of a printer. As with smoke, your first step is to unplug the printer. Steam comes from moisture, so unplug rather than switch off. You don’t want to be touching switches or any part of a circuit if there is moisture in it.

Steam always indicates the presence of moisture or water in the printer. There are no exceptions. So be very careful. 

Once everything is switched off, you can check for the moisture. If you find any, it could be due to a spilled liquid or a leak. Allow the printer to dry out completely before you attempt to use it again. You can help the drying process by gently using a hair dryer, and by dabbing with a tissue or a soft dry cloth.

If the printer continues to steam when you turn it on again, or if you suspect there might be internal water damage, then switch off and consult an expert.

How do you know if you need a new printer?

If your printer continues to smoke or steam, it might be a sign you need to buy a new one. There are other signs too. If your printer breaks down frequently and constantly requires repairs, it could have reached the end of it’s life cycle. 

Sometimes a printer doesn’t so much reach the end of it’s life cycle, as the technology moves on. A perfectly good printer might become incompatible with new devices in your office or home. If it no longer connects to your phone or laptop, it might be time to change it.

Towards the end of it’s life, the print quality may begin to deteriorate. Maintenance costs will rise, and there will be growing compatibility issues. 

Printer manufacturers know that their devices have a shelf life. So when that time comes, they stop issuing software updates and fixes. All these are signs pointing you towards a new printer.

Brother Printer Smoking

Each printer manufacturer has it’s own guidelines when steam or smoke comes from their devices. Sometimes the problems are major, or terminal. At other times there can be quick fixes. Brother recommend you switch off and unplug the printer, then allow it to cool down completely. Check for visible damage (burn marks, blackening, melted plastic), then check with a qualified printer technician. 

Learn more about Brother printer smoking.

Canon Printer Smoking

Canon recognise that steaming can be an issue. But it is not always a major problem. The paper you are using might be causing the trouble. Depending on how it is stored, the paper might be slightly damp. And when you print, the paper is heated rapidly, releasing warm, moist air. Steam is the end result. This is normal, and should not cause concern. Just use the printer in a well ventilated space, and store your paper in a dry environment.

But if you see smoke, unplug and call an expert.

Learn more about Canon printer smoking.

HP Printer Smoking

HP say that small amounts of moisture may appear on the trailing edge of paper after printing. This is generally due to paper absorbing moisture very easily. When heated in the printer, that moisture can be released. It is not normally a problem. 

The first thing is to check that it is steam, and not smoke. If you are sure, then switch the printer off for ten seconds, switch it on again, and do a test print. If that works, there should be no problem. If the test print is not a success, then consult an expert.

Smoke, on the other hand, is always a problem. A product with smoking parts should not be used. 

Learn more about HP printer smoking.


Printers can smoke, and printers can steam.

If they steam, it can be a sign of a major malfunction, but is normally just moisture on the paper, or moisture in the printer. Switch the printer off, rest it a moment, then switch it on again. Use it in a well ventilated space, and keep the paper away from damp storage areas. Only if the problem persists do you need to worry.

But if your printer is smoking, you need to switch it off and unplug it immediately – it can be a fire hazard. And call in an expert. Though it can be a solvable issue, it might be a sign that your printer has reached the end of it’s life, and it is time to get a new one. 

At inkshop.ie, we would be glad to help you figure out what to do next, if you notice any emanations from your printer.

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