Why Do Paper Shredders Make Noise and Won’t Feed Paper? – Troubleshooting Guide

Whether you’re using a paper shredder to get rid of documents with private information or you want to make the recycling process easier, it can be frustrating when it stops working. Does your shredder make strange noises or won’t feed paper? If so, you might wonder what’s causing it, and how you can fix the problem. 

If your shredder makes strange noises or won’t shred paper, it could be due to a paper jam, overheating, problems with the sensors, or a lack of maintenance. Easy fixes include removing the jammed paper, cleaning it, and conducting proper maintenance. You could also wait for it to cool down. 

In this article, I’ll discuss the common reasons your paper shredder is making noise and won’t feed paper. I’ll also provide some tips on easy fixes and how to properly maintain your shredder to prevent these issues. 

1. The Shredder Is Jammed 

If you aren’t able to feed paper into the paper shredder, it’s usually because the shredder is jammed. Your shredder may get jammed due to a lack of maintenance, if it has exceeded the maximum load, or for no reason at all. Some shredders will have a light that indicates that it is jammed. 

If the shredder gets stuck in the reverse function or it won’t take paper in, it could be a sign of jam. Sometimes a jammed shredder will only take in paper from one side, make strange noises, or get stuck while you’re busy shredding a piece of paper. 

Jammed shredders are common, and most jams can easily be fixed. However, avoid using a jammed shredder as forcing the paper in may damage the internal parts. 

How To Fix?

Fixing a jammed paper shredder is pretty straightforward and requires you to remove the jammed paper. 

Here’s how to do it: 

  1. Switch off the paper shredder as soon as you notice that it’s jammed and wait for the blades to stop moving. Unplug it from the wall to prevent it from accidentally turning on again. 
  2. Using a pair of tweezers, gently remove the pieces of paper stuck in the blades. 
  3. If you can’t remove the paper, you’ll have to open the shredder’s casing. However, always read the manual before doing so. Also, avoid removing the paper with your bare hands or using anything that may get stuck inside the shredder. 
  4. If your shredder has a reverse function, you can use it to fix a paper jam. Once you’re sure that there’s no paper stuck in the machine, double-check it before you start shredding again. If the paper shredder’s collection bin is full, empty it before you shred to prevent it from getting jammed again. 

Read: How To Use A Paper Shredder?

2. The Shredder Is Overheating

Overheating may also cause your paper shredder to make strange sounds or even shut off. This is a more common problem in smaller shredders since the motor is more likely to overheat. However, most shredders will only overheat if you overburden them. If your shredder is overheating regularly, it could be a sign that you need a larger shredder. 

Some shredders will have an auto-stop function when they overheat, while others will shred more slowly. If you hear strange sounds coming from your shredder, switch it off immediately. In most cases, allowing the shredder to cool down will resolve the overheating problem. 

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However, if you leave the paper shredder on for too long when it overheats, it may damage the motor or other components. Always check the user manual to see the maximum runtime and shredding capacity, and avoid exceeding it. 

Read: How Long Can You Run A Paper Shredder?

How To Fix?

If your paper shredder overheats regularly, the only solution is to let it cool down. Most shredders will cool down after 30 minutes, but you can double-check this in the manual. If your shredder shuts down automatically due to overheating, don’t try to use it again until you’re sure it has cooled down. 

The best way to prevent your paper shredder from overheating is to use it according to the user manual’s guidelines. Storing and using your shredder in a cool and well-ventilated area can also help prevent the motor from overheating. 

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

3. Problem With the Shredder’s Sensors

Does your paper shredder make strange sounds or run continuously even when there’s no paper in it? If so, there could be a problem with the shredder’s sensors. Most shredders have multiple sensors to ensure they don’t shred anything that will damage the blade. Some of the more modern shredders will have sensors for safety. 

Unfortunately, these sensors can cause the shredder to malfunction if there’s dust or dirt blocking them. In most cases, cleaning the sensors will resolve this issue. However, if the sensors are damaged, they may need to be replaced. 

Read: How To Fix A Paper Shredder That Won’t Turn On?

How To Fix?

The best way to fix sensor problems is to clean the sensors thoroughly. To do so, follow these steps:

  1. Turn the shredder off, and unplug it from the wall. 
  2. Open the casing and use a vacuum cleaner (with a pipe attachment) or duster to remove the dirt and dust. Avoid using water as it will damage the shredder’s motor and cause short circuits. 
  3. After cleaning the shredder, lubricate the blades thoroughly with mechanical oil or a substitute. This will reduce the strange sounds that your shredder may make. Also, take care not to use a cloth or duster directly on the blades. 

4. The Shredder Needs Maintenance 

If you use your shredder regularly, such as in an office environment, you’ll need to service it often. If the shredder makes strange noises and won’t feed paper, it’s usually a sign that the shredder needs maintenance

Other signs that your shredder needs maintenance include: 

  • It only shreds the paper partially
  • It makes a high-pitched grinding sound when you start it 
  • It operates slower than usual
  • It stops abruptly for no reason

Smaller shredders need to be serviced more often, especially if you use them a lot. If you have an office or industrial shredder, you don’t need to do full maintenance as often, but the maintenance process is more thorough. However, most shredders only need to be serviced a few times yearly. 

How To Fix?

Every shredder is different, and you’ll need to consult the user manual to see how to conduct maintenance. However, you should check a few common things when servicing it. 

Follow these steps to service your paper shredder:

  1. Check the servicing process in the user manual. 
  2. Use the reverse function to loosen up pieces of paper stuck in the shredder’s blades. If your shredder doesn’t have a reverse function, you can use a tweezer to remove any visible pieces of paper. 
  3. Switch off the shredder, unplug it from the socket, and empty the paper bin. 
  4. Use a vacuum cleaner to remove pieces of paper around the shredder’s blades. Also, clean the area where you insert the paper into the shredder. 
  5. Use a microfiber cloth to thoroughly clean the shredder and take care when cleaning near the blades. 
  6. Use shredder oil or mechanical oil to lubricate the shredder’s blades. 

Always test the shredder after full maintenance as there may be something stuck in the blades. If the shredder still makes strange sounds after you’ve serviced it completely, there could be something wrong with the internal components. In this case, your only option is to have it repaired or buy a new shredder. 

Read: Why Do Paper Shredders Overheat? – Troubleshooting Guide

Summary 

If you use a paper shredder regularly to dispose of important documents, it can be irritating if your shredder won’t feed paper or makes strange noises. 

Fortunately, it’s usually caused by minor issues such as a paper jam, a dirt build-up around the sensors, or a lack of maintenance. However, there could also be something wrong with the shredder’s internal components. 

If your sensor is experiencing these problems, try these fixes: 

  • Clean the shredder thoroughly. 
  • Wait for the shredder to cool down. 
  • Remove the jammed paper from the sensor’s blades and lubricate them. 
  • Conduct a full service of the shredder.
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