Jammed Paper Shredder Won’t Feed Paper. How To Fix It?

Having a paper shredder jam on you while you’re busy using it can cause bottlenecks in your schedule. Luckily, the steps to fix that are pretty simple. 

Here’s how to fix a jammed paper shredder that won’t feed paper:

  1. Determine the make and model of your paper shredder.
  2. Check if your model has a reverse button.
  3. Grab a screwdriver, pliers, or tweezers.
  4. Remove the shredding section.
  5. Inspect the blades.
  6. Clear the blades of jammed paper.
  7. Lubricate the blades.
  8. Shred a few papers as a test run.

There are different types of paper shredders, each requiring a slightly different process to fix a jam. The steps above are simply a general guide on how to fix paper shredders. If you need additional guidance on performing the above steps, continue reading.

1. Determine the Make and Model of Your Paper Shredder

The first thing you need to figure out is the make and model of your paper shredder. If you cannot determine that, you should at least know which type of paper shredder you own. You need this information to plan your next move. 

The best source of information on your paper shredder is likely the user’s manual. If you can’t find the manual, you can also skim through this article to know the type of shredder you own. 

Once you have this information, you can proceed to the next step

2. Check if Your Model Has a Reverse Button

This is pretty easy to locate. Inspect the top of your paper shredder around the feeder. You should see a button that reads “reverse,” or in some cases, you would see a backward-facing arrow or the letter “R.” This function allows the shredder to rotate in the opposite direction, which ultimately frees the blades of any stuck paper. If the stuck material doesn’t come out of the shredder while running it in reverse, switch back to forward or regular rotation of the blades.

However, you should be aware that there’s a slight chance running the shredder in reverse will worsen the problem. This happens when shreds of interlocking paper are stuck in the blades. In this case, if the backward and forward rotation of the blades isn’t clearing the jam, move on to the next step.

Most of the time, you can fix a jam with this method. You have to get your hands dirty, but it’s pretty doable. That said, let’s find out what to do next if the reverse method doesn’t work for you.

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3. Grab a Screwdriver, Pliers, or Tweezers

For this next step, you’ll need two things. 

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  • Screwdriver: This is to unscrew your shredding section to access the blades.
  • Pliers or Tweezers: This is for clearing the blades of stuck paper.

Depending on the type of paper shredder, you can use the tools mentioned above to fix your jammed paper shredder problem. I should note at this point that you need to ensure the machine is unplugged from here on out. Otherwise, you won’t be able to work with it safely.

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4. Remove the Shredding Section

The shredding section is the part of the machine that holds the rotating blades. Do not, under any circumstances, put your fingers in or anywhere near the blades. After ensuring that the paper shredder is unplugged, remove the shredding section.

Some models will provide access to the blades from the bottom of the shredding section. However, with other models, you’ll have to use a screwdriver. Remove the screws from the top or bottom (depending on the model) and find a way to the blades. 

Keep your fingers clear of the blades at all times, and ensure none of your body parts come into contact with the sharp blades. Wear gloves if you have to. Detach the shredding section and place it on a table or desk before you start working on it. 

Don’t start clearing the jammed blades by putting the shredding section in your lap. There’s a risk of dropping this vital part of the machine and damaging it when you make any sudden movements. 

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5. Inspect the Blades

Inspect the blades and try to determine the seriousness of the jam. If the problem arose because your paper shredder would not feed paper at all, that can indicate a blockage in all or most of the shredder blades. However, if your shredder was initially taking in the paper but would only feed on the left or right side, that would mean fixing it would be easier. 

6. Clear the Blades of Jammed Paper

This is where you make use of the pliers or tweezers. Once you’ve removed the shredding section and inspected the blade, you should have a pretty good idea of the type of effort and time required for the cleaning task. 

To clear the blades of jammed paper:

  1. Place the shredding section on a table or any flat surface. 
  2. Grab the pliers and start pulling the shred of paper stuck in the blades. This will take some time since you have to clean all the blades individually. 
  3. Make sure you remove all the paper bits stuck in your shredder. That means cleaning the top and bottom of the blades. This isn’t a difficult task to accomplish, but it does require a certain level of patience. Ensure you do not unnecessarily damage the blades by poking them with your pliers or tweezers. 

7. Lubricate the blades

Once you’ve removed all the paper bits from the blades, it’s time to oil them. Like any other machine with moving metal parts, your shredder requires you to lubricate the blades to keep them functioning smoothly.

As you use your shredder over time, the dust from the shredded paper gets into the blades and gear mechanism. Therefore, you must oil your paper shredder right after clearing it of any paper jams. As a rule of thumb, you should oil your shredder every time you empty the wastebasket.

This is a simple task if you do it right and a messy one if you don’t pay attention to what you’re doing. 

The following are two different ways to lubricate your paper shredder:

  • Oiled sheets: These sheets are sealed with oil inside, and they help deliver the right amount of oil to your machine. You can find a pack of Amazon Basics Paper Shredder Sheets (available on Amazon.com) that lubricate and sharpen the blades on your shredder. 
  • Shredder oil: You can buy a great variety of shredder oils from several places. I recommend Fellowes Powershred Shredder Performance Oil. It comes in a bottle with an extension nozzle, making the oiling process more manageable and less messy. It’s also pretty simple to use, which is always a plus

Typically, you’d take a few sheets of paper and soak them with shredder oil. You’d then feed the oiled sheets into the shredder using the reverse option multiple times. This way, the oil will be distributed evenly through the blades.

You can also pour oil directly onto the blades while simultaneously rotating them, but this can waste the oil and make an incredible mess at the same time.

Ensure you never use WD-40 for this purpose or any aerosol-based lubricants. I know it may seem the most logical choice in this case, but WD-40 is flammable, and it could cause your machine to catch on fire and cause unnecessary property damage. 

If you’d like to save more money and still be able to oil your shredder, all you need is canola or any cooking oil. After all, the primary ingredient of a shredder lubricant is similar to cooking oil, so why not save a few bucks?

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8. Shred a Few Papers as a Test Run

After you’re done oiling your shredder, it’s time for a test run. Shred a few sheets of paper and see if there has been any performance improvement. The sheets of paper used for a test run should soak in any excess oil and demonstrate the results of your hard work. 

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Final Thoughts

Hopefully, this article helped you fix the problem of a jammed paper shredder. The above steps should successfully get you back to your shredding spree. If you read the above steps carefully and do them properly, you’ll know exactly what to do the next time you have a jammed paper shredder.

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