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How to Unjam A Paper Shredder

In the modern world, the safe disposal of confidential and potentially sensitive information is vital, whether at home or in the office. One of the easiest and most effective ways to do this is by using an office shredder, a device that can quickly destroy documents and aid you and your business in meeting GDPR regulations. But what happens when this essential piece of office equipment becomes jammed? And what causes such a problem to occur?
The main paper shredder jam causes tend to be:
  • Putting in too many sheets of paper
  • Shredding the wrong materials
  • Not oiling (lubricating) your shredder
  • Shredder jams can be especially inconvenient when you have a large volume of sensitive material to destroy, plus fixing a shredder’s paper jam can also be a very fiddly and time-consuming business. Here’s our guide to how to unjam a paper shredder, as well as how to minimise the risk of one happening at all.
How to unjam a shredder
If you find yourself in a situation where you’re halfway through shredding important and sensitive information, but find your shredder becoming blocked and jamming on you, it can be frustrating. A jam doesn’t have to put a complete halt to your shredding – just follow these simple steps and you’ll be back up and running in no time.
  1. Unplug the shredder
This is the first and most important part of any attempt at fixing a paper jam. That’s because once you start to investigate the cause it could possibly start working again unexpectedly with potentially very dangerous results for you.
  1. Remove the top of the shredder
Most shredders should allow you to remove the top section from the bottom. The top is where the shredding mechanism is kept, with the bottom being the wastepaper basket. Once the top section is removed, you’ll be able to get a better visual idea of where the blockage has occurred in the shredder.
  1. Empty the wastebasket
Quite often the simple cause of a jammed shredder is that the wastebasket is full. Empty the wastebasket, reconnect the shredder to the mains and see if this has resolved the problem.
  1. Clear the blades
If small pieces of paper have become stuck in the teeth of the shredder, the whole shredder can become blocked and cease to work. Initially, use a pair of tweezers to try and pick the stuck paper from within the blades. You can do this from both the top and bottom sides of the shredder in order to get the best angle to remove the paper.
  1. Switch to reverse
If the shredder jam has still not been solved then try running it in reverse – most have a control that let you do this and it may well shift the blockage. There is, however, a risk that it may make the paper shredder jam a little worse.
  1. Use shredder oil
Keeping your blades lubricated is an important part of shredder maintenance and failing to do this can result in the machine seizing up. If you haven’t used any shredder oil recently, try doing this in order to get it moving again.
  1. If the shredder jams in reverse switch back to auto/forward
If it’s now jammed in both directions you should then alternate between working it backwards and forwards as this can often shift the jam after a few attempts.
  1. Feed through a single piece of paper
Once you’ve tried all these possibilities to get the shredder moving again, try sending through a single piece of paper to test if the blockage has been removed. If this works, be careful not to overload the shredder with numerous sheets of paper or thick items again as this could be what caused the initial problem.
  1. Reduce the thickness of your load before re-shredding
Do not feed in more paper than the machine can handle – giving it too much at once can cause paper to get jammed in the blades.

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