Why Do Paper Shredders Overheat? – Troubleshooting Guide

Have you ever been in the middle of shredding crucial documents, and suddenly, the shredder overheats and turns off? It’s about as frustrating as it gets, especially when you’re in a hurry. But why do paper shredders overheat in the first place?

Paper shredders overheat when users do not adhere to the manufacturer’s guidelines. Overheating causes include continued operations, shorter cooling times, being left on when not in use, mega shredding sessions, and insufficient blade lubrication. Always adhere to the guidelines in the user manual.

In this article, I’ll discuss each cause of overheating in paper shredders. Furthermore, you’ll find guidelines on preventing overheating in your paper shredder and enhancing its efficiency. Keep reading to end this challenge once and for all.

1. Continued Operations

Continued operations are when users operate the paper shredder for too long without any break in between. Think of it this way: You’re supposed to work for about eight hours a day, but you end up working more than 15 hours. Your body gets tired, and in the same way, your paper shredder needs some time to “rest.”

When using the paper shredder for too long without any break, it continues to generate heat as it works. The heat generated is not dissipated quickly enough, leading to the machine overheating.

All paper shredders come with a user manual to guide you on how long the machine should operate. It’s your responsibility to check your machine’s duty cycle and stay within its limits.

How To Fix?

Adhere to the manufacturer’s set “Duty Cycle.”

Every paper shredder comes with a defined duty cycle. Manufacturers set these cycles based on how long their machines can operate without overworking and overheating.

The duty cycle is usually defined in terms of minutes, and it varies from one model to another. Most paper shredders have a duty cycle of between 15 to 30 minutes. For such shredders, you can continuously operate them for up to 30 minutes without worrying about overheating.

You should check the user manual or the manufacturer’s website to find out the duty cycle of your paper shredder. Once you know this, make sure not to exceed the set time.

If you have a lot of papers to shred, take breaks in between so you don’t overwork your machine.

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2. Shorter Cooling Time

The cooling time of a paper shredder is the amount of time it takes for the machine to cool after use. Most paper shredders have a cooling time of about 30 minutes. However, this cooling time may be shorter in some models, like the Fellowes.

A shorter cooling time is not ideal because it doesn’t give the paper shredder enough time to cool before being used again. A shorter cooling time increases the chances of your paper shredder overheating.

If, for instance, the manufacturer recommends a cooling time of between 30 minutes to one hour, you should give your paper shredder at least 30 minutes to cool down. Allowing your shredder enough cooling time ensures that the blades are able to dissipate excess heat in preparation for the next duty cycle.

How To Fix?

Allow for sufficient cooling time.

If you don’t allow your machine to cool down, it will continue to generate heat, and this will cause overheating.

Most paper shredders have a cooling time of between 30 minutes to one hour. If your manufacturer recommends a cooling time of one hour, don’t cool the shredder for 45 minutes and start using it again. Ensure you give it the stipulated time and this, apart from preventing overheating, increases the lifespan of the machine.

You can also prevent overheating by using your paper shredder less often. If you only need to shred a few papers, do it once or twice a week instead of daily.

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3. Being Left on After the Shredding Cycle

Leaving your paper shredder on after the shredding cycle is one of the most common causes of overheating. When you leave your machine on, it continues to generate heat even when it’s not in use.

The heat generated isn’t dissipated quickly, and this causes the machine to overheat. It’s essential to note that most paper shredders have a sensor that turns off the machine when it gets too hot. However, this may not be enough to prevent damage to your shredder.

There’s also the possibility of your shredder re-engaging when left on. This happens when there are small pieces of paper stuck in the blades. The small pieces of paper cause the blades to turn, generating heat.

How To Fix?

Turn the shredder off and disconnect it from the power source when not in use. If you’re not going to use it for an extended period, unplug it from the power source and store it in a cool, dry place.

Turning the shredder off prevents it from re-engaging when not in use.

You should also clean your paper shredder regularly to prevent overheating. Dust and paper buildup can increase friction, and this, in turn, will cause your machine to overheat.

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4. Mega Shredding Sessions

Most people make the mistake of saving their shredding work for a mega shredding session. In this case, you have a lot of paper to shred, so you do it all at once.

Mega shredding sessions are not ideal because they put a lot of strain on the paper shredder.

The paper shredder has to work for an extended period, and this generates a lot of heat. The intense friction on the blades also increases the chances of your paper shredder overheating.

How To Fix?

Do not engage in mega shredding sessions. Only shred a reasonable amount of paper during one session.

All shredders have a page capacity for shredding. Less expensive models may shred one to three pages in a single pass, whereas higher-end models can shred up to 20 pages at one time. Check the instructions on your particular model to determine how many pages you can safely shred at once. Do not exceed this amount in one pass.

Adhere to the manufacturer’s guidelines on how long to spend on one shredding session, or the number of documents in one session. Do not exceed these recommendations.

Additionally, do not save up papers to shred — shred them as needed. This prevents the chances of needing to shred hundreds of documents at once, thus reducing the strain on your paper shredder.

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5. Insufficient Oil on the Blades

Like cars and other machines, paper shredders need regular oiling for optimal operation.

As your shredder operates, paper dust accumulates on the blades and in the cutting assembly. The paper dust reduces your shredder’s efficiency by increasing the friction between the blades and the papers.

If you don’t oil your paper shredder regularly, the blades will create a lot of friction as they try to cut through the paper. The excessive friction will cause your machine to overheat.

How To Fix?

Clean the blades and cutting assembly.

To do so, follow these steps:

  1. Unplug the paper shredder from the power source.
  2. Remove any jammed papers from the cutting assembly.
  3. Use a brush or compressed air to remove any paper dust from the cutting assembly and the blades.
  4. Apply a few drops of oil to the blades and use a cotton swab to spread it evenly.
  5. Reassemble the paper shredder and plug it into the power source.
  6. Run the paper shredder for a few seconds to distribute the oil evenly.
  7. Unplug the machine and empty the wastebasket.

It’s advisable to clean your paper shredder every time you empty the wastebasket. If you use your machine frequently, you may need to clean it more often.

Expert Tip: According to the EZ Office Products, you should oil paper shredders for every 30 minutes of shredding time.

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Final Thoughts

Paper shredders often overheat when the manufacturer’s user guidelines are not applied. If you occasionally use a paper shredder, adhere to the requirements set in the user’s manual to prevent overheating.

Finally, remember that all machines require servicing for optimal operations. Oil and clean your paper shredder regularly, and you’ll be amazed at how efficient it will serve you.

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