What Causes Laserjet Printer Pages to Be Smeared?

By Shea Laverty

Clean prints present a professional image to clients and colleagues.
i Jack Hollingsworth/Photodisc/Getty Images

If your business makes use of printed invoices and other hard-copy documents, smeared pages from inkjet printer are unacceptable. Smeared print often suggests a hardware problem, requiring that you open the printer to diagnose the issue. Depending on the cause, repairing the problem may require a service technician.

Failing Toner Cartridge

The source of your smeared print may be something as simple as an old cartridge, or one that no longer functions properly. As toner cartridges age or develop a defect, issues can occur including toner residue build-up. These issues contribute to print smear, as they may affect the way the toner is distributed onto the page. Incorrect distribution can lead to smearing, especially if a failing cartridge is leaking or using too much toner. Solve this issue by replacing the cartridge.

Spill Contamination

Another cause of smeared print may be spill contamination. If toner has spilled inside the printer, this spilled toner can transfer to the paper during printing. Depending on the amount of contamination, the issue may resolve itself after a few prints. If not, clean the printer's interior or use the printer's cleaning page to stop the spilled toner smearing the page.

Incorrect Fuser Setting

Smeared print may also be the result of using the wrong fuser setting. Fuser settings enable the printer to properly fuse the toner particles onto the paper. Different fuser settings are available for different types of paper. If the smearing has occurred only after a recent change of paper, change the fuser settings using your printer's software.

Defective Fuser

Print smearing may also be a result of the fuser itself suffering from defect or damage. The fuser bonds the toner particles to the paper, which easily produces smearing and other negative effects if defective or otherwise malfunctioning. If the fuser cannot be repaired, it typically must be replaced.

Defective DC Controller

If replacing the fuser does not alleviated print smearing, the DC controller may be at fault. The DC controller regulates the temperature of the fuser, which must be precisely controlled to facilitate toner adhesion. If the DC controller is defective or malfunctioning, then a new fuser will not fix the problem. If you determine the DC controller to be at fault, you'll have to either repair or replace it.

Incompatible Paper

Print smears may be due to the paper type being incompatible with your printer. While the paper may feed through the machine, the features of its surface may make it unsuitable for use in your laser printer. This is especially true with specialty papers, such as those that are thicker than standard copy paper or have a glossy surface. Print the same page with the paper you regularly use. If the standard copy doesn't smear, it may be that your paper is not compatible.