When you use a printer, the printouts you get should be in excellent condition. However, there’s always a chance of quality issues affecting your documents. For instance, some printouts have vertical or horizontal lines that ruin the document.
When your printout has vertical or horizontal lines, start by checking the original image or document on your printer. Ensure the original file is not corrupted and the print quality settings are set correctly. Vertical or horizontal streaks can also be caused by low ink levels, dirty printheads, and poorly distributed toner in a cartridge.
This guide will walk you through each possible reason your printout has vertical or horizontal lines. You’ll also discover how to fix the problem and resume high-quality printing.
Why Are There Vertical Or Horizontal Lines When Printing?
Vertical and horizontal streaks in your printed documents can be pretty frustrating. Still, there’s no need for alarm as the likely causes are straightforward.
Here are the reasons you find vertical and horizontal lines when printing and how you can resolve them:
Image Or Document Problems
What it is: Your printer’s purpose is to replicate every detail you see on your computer screen to the best of its abilities. That includes words, images, patterns and anything else in your document.
So, whenever your printer experiences some kind of drop-in printing quality, the first thing you should troubleshoot is the original image or document you’re trying to print.
There are plenty of settings that you can adjust to that will either improve or reduce the quality of your printer’s output.
Why it happens: When you discover vertical or horizontal lines on your printed document, you should first focus your attention on your computer. Then, check that the document or image you’re trying to print is free from those lines or other streaks that would appear in the printout.
Besides that, other quality-related issues could originate from the computer file. For example, an image stretched too much on your computer will create defects like vertical or horizontal lines.
Besides that, setting your printer resolution too low can also cause defects in the print output, like the vertical or horizontal streaks you see on the paper.
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How to fix it: Fixing this problem will require you to check the original document or image you’re trying to print and the printer settings on your computer.
Firstly, check that there are no streaks in the original document or image. Then, ensure that any images are at the correct size and not excessively stretched.
Finally, check your printer settings to ensure the resolution is not too low. The resolution should be set to a moderate or higher option instead.
Low Ink Levels
What it is: Your printer’s ink or toner is the most crucial consumable needed for the device to function correctly. Printer ink is typically separated according to color.
So, black and white printers will only have one or more black ink cartridges. Meanwhile, color printers will have an additional tricolor cartridge with cyan, magenta, and yellow ink.
As you continue printing documents, the ink levels will gradually drop. When a cartridge is empty, you must replace it with a new one.
Why it happens: Printing streaks, vertical or horizontal, can also occur when your printer’s ink reaches low levels. When that happens, the cartridges fail to distribute the ink evenly, causing the appearance of unwanted lines throughout the printout.
How to fix it: The solution to this problem is pretty straightforward: you’ll have to replace the almost-empty ink cartridge with a new, full one.
A new ink cartridge will have enough ink to deposit evenly onto the paper as it should, preventing any appearance of vertical or horizontal streaks.
What it is: The printhead is a component that houses ink cartridges securely. It also moves your cartridges from side to side so they can release ink onto the paper sheet that passes underneath.
The ink from the cartridges will have to pass through the printhead onto the paper below.
Why it happens: As mentioned earlier, printer ink flows through the printhead to the paper underneath. Unfortunately, that can cause the printhead to become dirty after extended use.
That’s especially true if you haven’t used the printer for a while. Any leftover ink on the printhead will dry and harden slightly when left unused.
As a result, the dirty printhead affects how ink travels from the cartridge to the paper underneath. The end result will be lines that run vertically or even horizontally, depending on how dirty the printhead is.
How to fix it: You can solve this problem by cleaning the printhead. That will begin with you removing the printhead. Then, briefly soak the dirty part in a mixture of 50% water and 50% isopropyl alcohol. The mixture will clean dried ink and anything else dirtying the printhead.
Lastly, rest the printhead on a kitchen towel to remove any excess moisture before reinstalling it in your printer.
Poorly Distributed Toner
What it is: Some printers use toner instead of ink. Unlike liquid ink, toner is a dry powdery mixture that rests in a drum unit until needed.
When you print a document, the printer will use heat and electrostatic energy to deposit the toner onto paper and produce the printout you want.
Why it happens: As you saw earlier, toner differs from ink because it’s a dry powder. So, while liquid ink will distribute itself evenly within a cartridge, toner can be distributed unevenly.
In other words, the toner cartridge might have too much powder on one side compared to the other. That poorly distributed toner will cause quality problems with your printouts, including unwanted vertical and horizontal streaks.
The toner likely became unevenly distributed because the cartridge was left resting on one side during storage.
Similarly, the same would happen if the printer as a whole was turned on its side and left that way for an extended period during maintenance.
How to fix it: Firstly, remove the printer and take it to a well-ventilated space. Then, shake the toner cartridge for a few moments. You’re doing that to redistribute the toner powder within the cartridge.
If that doesn’t work, the second solution is to replace the cartridge with a new one. Again, be sure to choose a genuine cartridge compatible with your printer to reduce the odds of a fault or problem with the unit.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Need a bit more help? Here are some frequently asked questions (FAQs) to guide you further.
How Do You Troubleshoot A Printer Problem?
You can troubleshoot a printer problem by running its troubleshooting feature. Manufacturers typically include this feature with their printer management application. When you use it, the printer will diagnose itself for issues and let you know what’s wrong.
How Do You Clean A Dirty Printer?
A simple brush is enough to remove a lot of debris from a dirty printer. You can also use a vacuum but keep it at its lowest power setting. When it comes to electrical contacts, clean those using isopropyl alcohol (often called rubbing alcohol), which is safe for electronics.
How Often Should A Printer Be Cleaned?
You should clean a printer at least once every 6 months. However, you should clean the device more often if you use it heavily. For example, an office printer used often every day should be cleaned once every 2 months.
Is Toner The Same As Ink?
No, toner and ink are not the same. Printer toner consists of a dry powder, while printer ink is liquid. Printers that use toners are often found in office environments that print high quantities of black and white documents.
Can You Print Without Toner?
No, you cannot print without toner. So, once you notice your toner levels running low, you should purchase a replacement. Having a replacement on-hand will ensure that your printing activities aren’t interrupted.