MBM Destroyit 2270 Cross Cut ShredderA paper shredder should be a solid piece of machinery that should hold up with continued use. While this may describe most high-quality shredders, even the best of them can become subject to a jam. There are many reasons for why a paper jam occurs, which I will cover in this article, and there are also many ways to clear one out without having to contact a technician.

Before continuing with this article, remember that you don’t want to force your shredder to do anything. Trying to force paper, or continue running the motor, may result in a broken gear or a stripped belt.

There are many reasons why your paper may become jammed, here are the 3 most common reasons:

  1. Too Many Sheets – using too many sheets of paper, more than your paper shredder can handle, leads to the number one reason a jam occurs. While you may not always be able to count out the number of sheets you are shredding, try to start off small and build up from that. I personally recommend scaling back 20% from the manufacturers recommended maximum capacity. Many modern shredders now include a capacity indicator that consists of lights indicating how much stress the motor is under
  2. Shredding Items Other Than Paper – While many modern shredders can handle shredding credit cards, CDs and DVDs, this is not the case with all of them. Cross cut shredders, in particular, can choke on thick plastic. Before shredding credit cards, old ID badges, CDs and DVDs, check your owners manual and make sure your shredder can handle it. Many modern shredders can handle this material, with many including a bypass slot for “other” material.

    Staples and paper clips can also cause jams, not to mention premature wear. Many modern shredders can handle staples and paper clips. I personally still like to remove paper clips wherever I can, even when the shredder can handle them. Metal shredding metal is never a good thing on a regular basis.

  3. Shredder Oil – Shredders need to be oiled, especially cross cut shredders. If your shredder is running slower than normal, or has even seized, it may be a result of lack of lubrication. I recommend oiling a shredder after every bag change. Many modern office shredders now include automatic oilers or oiling reminder lights.

Now that I have described the most common types of jams, let me explain how to fix them.

  1. Too Many Sheets – if your shredder is clogged with too many sheets of paper, check to see if your shredder is equipped with a reverse button.If it is, you’re in luck. Many jams can be cleared by backing the paper back out.

    If your shredder doesn’t have a reverse button, or is simply too clogged to back out, I recommend squirting some shredder oil along the mouth of the shredder and wait 10-15 minutes. This will allow the oil to soften the paper, making it easy to pass through. Think of it as fiber for your shredder.

    If that still isn’t working, unplug the shredder and remove the shredder head. Try pulling the paper out from under the shredder. If you still can’t get the paper out, you may have to contact a Service Technician. Sorry!

  2. Shredding Items Other Than Paper – First turn unplug your shredder. Credit cards, CDs, DVDs and other plastic material can usually be fished out using needle nose pliers. First try pulling the jammed item out from the top of the shredder. Most of this material will come out easily. If you still can’t clear the plastic out of the shredder head, remove the shredder head and try pulling the material out from underneath the head.
  3. Shredder Oil – This is an easy fix. Oil your shredder. If you have never oiled your shredder before, you may need to squirt shredder oil directly onto the shredder blades to help free them up. If the shredder is still working, put shredder oil on paper (full width) and run it through the shredder. If your shredder is equipped with a reverse switch, run it for a few seconds after oiling the blades. This will help ensure proper lubrication.

    Don’t use WD-40, vegetable oil, car oil or other non-certified products for oiling a shredder. Use shredder oil. There is a big difference between real shredder oil and other oils. You can find oil here.

Hopefully these tips help you out. If you are still unable to clear your paper jam, try contacting Office Zone’s Service Department at 1-800-543-5454 x129. They should be able to help you out. You can find our entire selection of paper shredders here.

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