How Long Can You Run a Paper Shredder?

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With the average person producing about 4.5 pounds (2.04 kg) of paper waste each day, it’s no wonder paper shredders have become such a popular home-office appliance. There are all sorts of paper shredders — from small and simple to large and complex. But how long can you run a paper shredder?

Most standard paper shredders can run for around 5-15 minutes before they need to be cooled down. Some office-grade paper shredders can usually run for a bit longer — up to around 30 minutes. However, some industrial-grade paper shredders can run for hours at a time.

In this article, I’ll look at how long different paper shredders can run, factors that can affect their performance, and tips for prolonging the life of your shredder.

How Long Does It Take a Paper Shredder To Cool Down?

Standard paper shredders take around 5-15 minutes to cool down. Strip-cut shredders typically have the shortest cooling time because they use the least energy. Cross-cut shredders have a slightly longer cooling time, and micro-cut shredders have the longest cooling time.

I’ll go into more detail on each type of shredder in the next section.

In the meantime, it’s important to note that all paper shredders have a limit on how long they can run. If you try to shred too much paper at once, the shredder will overheat, potentially damaging the blades and motor.

It’s best to shred small amounts of paper simultaneously to avoid overloading the shredder. If you need to shred a large amount of paper, I recommend you do it in batches and give the shredder enough time to cool down in-between shreddings.

Read: Why Do Paper Shredders Overheat? – Troubleshooting Guide

Types of Paper Shredders

Paper shredders are categorized according to the size of their shreds. The size of the shreds determines how long the paper shredder can run.

There are three types of paper shredders:

1. Strip-Cut Shredder 

A cross-cut shredder has a single blade that cuts paper into long vertical strips. This shredder isn’t as secure as other types since the strips can be pieced back together easily and quickly. On the other hand, strip-cut shredders are typically the fastest and most economical type because they use the least amount of energy and can shred more paper in a shorter timeframe.

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2. Cross-Cut Shredder

A cross-cut paper shredder is the most common type of shredder. It has two rotating blades that cut paper horizontally and vertically into small pieces. This shredder is more secure than a strip-cut shredder because the pieces are significantly smaller and more difficult to put back together. Although cross-cut shredders take more time to shred paper than strip-cut shredders, they’re still relatively fast.

3. Micro-Cut Shredder

A micro-cut shredder is the most advanced type of shredder. It has multiple blades that cut paper into very small pieces. This shredder is the most secure since the pieces are incredibly difficult to put back together. However, micro-cut shredders are slower than other types because they have to cut the paper more times. They also use more energy than the others.

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Factors Affecting The Performance Of A Shredder

Different factors can affect the performance of a paper shredder. Here are some of the most common ones:

  • The type of paper shredder. As I mentioned, strip-cut shredders are the fastest, while micro-cut shredders are the slowest.
  • The quality of the paper shredder. A higher-quality shredder will have a stronger motor and sharper blades which can shred paper faster.
  • The amount of paper. Shredders can only handle so much paper at a time. If you try to shred too much, the shredder will jam.
  • The size of the paper shredder. Smaller shredders have a smaller throat, so you’ll have to cut the paper into smaller pieces before feeding it through.
  • The condition of the paper. If the paper is wrinkled or damp, it will be more difficult to shred.
  • The capacity of the paper shredder. If the paper shredder has a small bin, it will need to be emptied more often, slowing down the shredding process.
  • How often the paper shredder is used. If the shredder is used frequently, the blades will dull over time, and it will take longer to shred paper.

As you can see, several factors can affect a paper shredder’s performance. Keep them in mind when using one to get the best results.

How To Run a Paper Shredder Properly?

Always remove all staples, paper clips, and other metal objects from your documents before shredding. These objects can damage the blades of the shredder.

Once you’ve removed the items I mentioned above, you can start running a paper shredder properly as follows:

  1. Insert the document into the shredder and push it until it’s completely in.
  2. Hold the document as the shredder starts tearing it into small pieces.
  3. Keep your hand close to the document’s end to ensure it doesn’t get stuck. 
  4. Once the document has been shredded, release it and let it fall into the bin.
  5. When you’re finished shredding, turn off the shredder and unplug it from the power outlet.

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What To Do if Your Paper Shredder Jams?

Just like any other machinery, paper shredders can jam if they’re overloaded or if the paper is too thick. If your shredder jams, do the following:

  1. Turn it off and unplug it from the power source.
  2. After the shredder is turned off, remove the paper causing the jam. If the paper is too thick, you can use a pair of tweezers or needle-nosed pliers to remove it from the blades. Avoid using your fingers as you could get injured.
  3. Once the blades are clear, use a can of compressed air or a vacuum cleaner with the hose attachment to clear out any other debris inside the shredder. 
  4. Plug it in and turn it on to see if it’s working properly. If it isn’t, take it to a service center for repair.

How To Maintain Your Paper Shredder?

Paper shredders must be cleaned and maintained regularly to ensure that they operate properly and don’t get clogged.

Here are a few tips on how to maintain your paper shredder:

  • Always unplug your shredder before cleaning. Unplugging it will prevent you from getting injured if the blades start moving while you’re cleaning it. 
  • Clean the blades of the shredder every month or so. Since the blade is constantly cutting paper, it can get dull over time. Wipe the blades with a damp cloth, and be sure to dry them completely to prevent rusting.
  • Sharpen the blades from time to time. The frequency of sharpening will depend on how often you use your shredder. If you use it frequently, you’ll need to sharpen the blades more often.
  • Lubricate the blades every few months. Lubrication protects the blades from getting dull and rusting. You can use a few drops of machine oil or vegetable oil for this purpose.
  • Empty the paper shredded from the shredder regularly. Leaving the paper in the shredder for too long can cause the blades to get clogged. Use a vacuum cleaner to remove loose bits of paper from the machine.
  • Store your shredder in a cool, dry place to prevent the blades from rusting.

Paper Shredder Safety Tips

Although paper shredders are handy, they can be dangerous if not used properly. 

Here are a few safety tips to keep in mind:

  • Never put your hand or any other body part inside the shredder.
  • Always unplug the paper shredder when you’re not using it. 
  • Make sure the paper shredder is properly assembled before use.
  • Don’t overload the paper shredder with too much paper.
  • Keep the area around the paper shredder clear of obstructions.
  • Always use caution when handling shredded paper, as it can be dangerous if mishandled.

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Conclusion

Paper shredders are handy, but you must use them properly so they can work correctly and safely. Familiarizing yourself with your paper shredder and following the tips in this article will help you get the most out of it.

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