Why Is My Printer Printing Lines? (Horizontal or Vertical)

If your printer is printing vertical or horizontal lines there can be various reasons. A little troubleshooting and our fixes should be able to resolve this issue quickly

Lines appearing on printed pages are common and can result from various factors. Be it Hp, Epson, Canon, or any other prominent printer; none has escaped from this.

Common Causes and Solutions

Many users have been victims of unpredictable lines and have addressed this issue several times on community forums. Surprisingly many have visited service centers fearing a serious issue with their printer.

We have faced the same issue with some of our printers, and here are the potential causes and their solutions.

Clogged Print Heads

Image of Print head

Even printers with exceptional print quality can encounter clogged print heads. These print heads, responsible for depositing ink onto the paper, can gradually accumulate dried ink or debris over time, disrupting the ink flow. As a result, your prints might exhibit uneven ink distribution and unsightly lines.

Prominent printer manufacturers like HP, Epson, and Canon printers have addressed this issue and provided a solution through their respective software, where you can initiate print head cleaning cycles. These cycles involve the printer expelling ink through the print heads to dislodge any clogs, but unfortunately, this is limited to modern and expensive printers.

How to fix:

  1. Firstly, run a print head cleaning cycle from the printer’s settings and do a sample print.
  2. If it doesn’t work, use manufacturer-recommended cleaning solutions or distilled water to manually clean print heads, which should work.

Tip: Print regularly to prevent ink from drying and clogging the print heads.

Low Ink Levels

Verifying Ink cartridge

We advise using genuine cartridges for HP, Epson, or Canon printers, as they provide consistent ink flow. Usually, when ink levels run low, the printer might struggle to deliver ink evenly, leading to gaps and lines in your printed material.

Irrespective of printer manufacturers and the cost of the device, they feature some form of technology that provides information about real-time ink levels. If there are none, you can identify by the print quality getting gradually low.

With this awareness, you can replace cartridges promptly designed for your printer model and minimize the occurrence of lines while printing.

How to fix

  1. Start by checking the ink levels through the manual indicator or the software.
  2. Use genuine cartridges compatible with your printer model if the ink levels are good but the print is poor with lines.

Tip: Keep compatible spare cartridges handy for uninterrupted printing.

Misaligned Print Heads

Aligning Misaligned print heads

Most prominent printers like HP, Epson, and Canon prioritize print precision, but misaligned print heads can ruin print quality and speed. Usually, when the print heads are not aligned, the ink deposition on the paper can deviate, resulting in visible lines across your prints.

Modern printer manufacturers have incorporated alignment tools in their software interfaces to counter this issue. You can align the print heads correctly by managing the alignment options through these tools. Before working on print heads, consider the state and capability of your printer and make changes accordingly.

How to fix:

  1. Start by accessing your printer settings and initiate a print head alignment process.
  2. If your printer is old, check for the manual and make changes. If unconfident, visit the service center.

Tip: Perform alignment monthly for precise ink deposition and potential problems.

Paper Jam or Debris

Paper jam error

Even the most advanced printers that are extremely capable and efficient can have paper jams or interference from foreign objects. Small paper, dust, or debris fragments are frequently to blame as they can seriously affect the printing quality by causing undesirable vertical or horizontal lines to appear on your prints.

To securely remove any trapped paper pieces in the event of a paper jam, ensure the inside of your printer is clean and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. For excellent printing results, you should also frequently check the printer for debris and dust accumulation, especially around the paper feed area.

How to fix:

  1. The first thing to do in case of a paper jam is to turn off the printer and unplug it before attempting to remove the paper.
  2. Pull the jammed paper gently out toward paper movement and look for debris.
  3. If there is a potential foreign material or a lot of debris, use-lint free cloth or a smooth brush to brush them off.

Tip: Performing regular cleaning once in a while, as it reduces debris build-up.

Worn or Damaged Rollers

Fixing Damaged roller

Even though most printers feature rollers engineered for reliable paper handling, these rollers can wear down or become damaged over time, leading to irregular paper movement.

As a result, horizontal or vertical lines appear on your prints. Unfortunately, there are no indications for wear on the roller, like ink levels, and it is your role to identify the rollers and their condition.

Usually, many printer manufacturers deny self-repair. However, some models may guide roller maintenance or replacement. Once you ensure the components are in good shape, you can proceed with the print and notice consistent paper movement, and the prints are clear without forming lines.

How to fix

  1. Before dealing with your roller, consult the printer manual to locate rollers and assess their condition.
  2. If damaged, order and replace worn rollers following the manufacturer’s instructions.

Tip: To prevent roller damage, keep paper trays free from dust and debris.

Incorrect Paper Type or Quality

Image of Canon printing sheets

Even top-tier printer brands rely on suitable paper to deliver optimal results. Using the wrong paper type or poor-quality paper can result in issues like smudging, bleeding, and lines in your prints.

To achieve the best print quality, verify the printer’s manual and use the recommended paper suggested based on the specific purpose.

Suppose you own an HP, Epson, Canon, or a printer from prominent manufacturers. In that case, you might have noticed that they offer a range of paper options designed to work seamlessly with their printers.

How to fix:

  1. Start by discarding existing paper and loading the printer with recommended paper.
  2. Always load paper properly in the tray to prevent misfeeding for best results.

Tip: Store paper in a dry place to avoid moisture-related issues. If you find a fold or torn paper, do not introduce them to the printer.

Network, Firmware, or Driver Issues

Printer offline error

Firmware and outdated or faulty drivers can introduce irregularities into your printing process, possibly resulting in the appearance of lines on your prints. Updating your printer’s firmware and drivers is crucial to ensuring maximum performance.

However, network-related issues can also cause printing problems, as data transmission between your computer and the printer may not be complete. This inadequate data may result in printing mistakes that result in lines on the printed page.

How to fix:

  1. Start by visiting the manufacturer’s website for updates and find your printer model’s “Support” or “Downloads” section.
  2. Download the matching firmware and drivers of the printer for your OS and follow installation instructions from the manufacturer.
  3. Reboot your computer after updates and update printer firmware for network compatibility.
  4. In case of a network issue, match the printer’s network settings with your computer/router and temporarily turn off security software/firewalls affecting printer communication.
  5. Ensure to stay within the printer’s wireless signal range to minimize interference.

Tip: Maintain a stable connection and turn on auto-updates to avoid manual intervention.

Electrostatic Interference

The issues caused to printers due to electrostatic interference are rare but are possible. Even though this is an occasional concern, many printer manufacturers have acknowledged it and have ruled out the cause as the exposure to modern electronic environments.

These interferences are often caused by nearby improperly grounded or unregulated electronic devices and can disrupt the printing process, forming lines on your prints.

How to fix

  1. First, turn off your printer and place it away from other electronic devices.
  2. Next, use a grounded surge protector to reduce electrostatic interference, which will fix the issue.

Tip: Never connect multiple high-voltages to a single outlet; use grounding mats if needed.

NOTE: The how-to steps listed for each cause are generic. We suggest considering them as a reference, as the troubleshooting and fixing approach changes according to the manufacturer and the model.


Why is my printer not printing even though the ink is full?

A common reason is clogged print heads. Run cleaning cycles to clear dried ink. Also, check for misaligned print heads or update drivers and firmware.

How do I address misaligned print heads?

Access printer settings, run the alignment process, and follow on-screen instructions. This ensures accurate ink deposition, preventing lines and poor prints.

Why update firmware and drivers?

Outdated firmware or drivers can cause printing inconsistencies. New updates improve printer performance, solve issues, and enhance print quality.


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