3 Reasons Your Printer is Printing Blocks and Symbols

Printers not printing properly can be a pain, particularly when printing complete nonsense.  In this particular case, your printer is printing blocks and symbols and you can’t seem to figure out why.

Well, there are a variety of reasons as to why this is happening.  But to keep things simple and easy, I’ll narrow it down to the 3 top reasons that I believe could be causing the problem.

I’ll give you a hint so you can get an idea of where we’re heading.

This could be a combination of the printer heads, the cartridge, the paper being jammed, and/or print drivers malfunctioning.

Let’s find out more about these areas and discover how to solve them to get your printer working correctly.

Faulty Print Cartridge

Printer is printing blocks and symbols

This can be a frustrating problem, but fortunately, there are some things you can do to fix it.

First, check to make sure that the print cartridge is properly installed in the printer.  My concept of troubleshooting is to always start with the easiest thing first. 

If the cartridge is installed properly, then try removing and re-inserting it to see if that clears up the problem.  If not, then you may need to replace the print cartridge with a new one.

This may mean that you spend a few bucks to purchase a new ink or toner cartridge, just to troubleshoot a “printing problem”.  But look at it this way, at some point your printer will run out of ink or toner, and you will need to replace it with a new one. 

You’re just doing it sooner rather than later, that’s all.

If however, replacing the ink or toner cartridge doesn’t solve your issue, just make sure to hold on to your receipt.  That way you can take it back to the store (just make sure it’s still in good condition before returning it).  Or you can just hold on to it, for when you do need it.

Like I said, sooner rather than later…  

But let’s back to our troubleshooting process.

If you’re still having trouble, then it’s possible that there’s something wrong with the printer itself.  But, before you decide to replace it with a new printer, hang with me here, and let’s try some other troubleshooting methods.  

Let’s explore inside the printer and see what’s happening…

Internal Component Issues

Printer is printing blocks and symbols

Now it’s time to get our hands dirty. 

There are two main areas here that I’d recommend you pay attention to.  Possible paper jam, and cleaning out the internal components of the printer.

Possible Paper Jam

This issue is more prevalent with laser printers than it is with inkjet printers.  But the reality is that more people use laserjet printers than they do inkjet printers, so laser printers will be the focus here.

Laser printers are notorious for having paper jam issues. 

In order to clear the paper jam, you need to open the printer, remove the toner cartridge, and/or open the paper tray and remove the paper jam.  After some time, particles of paper can sometimes get caught along the paper path, which can cause your printer to malfunction.

So look out for any small paper particles that may have been left from previous paper jams, which could be causing issues.

Also, make sure there are no paper jams that didn’t get cleared out all the way.

In other cases, wear and tear may cause internal components to stop working properly.  In this case, those components may need to be replaced

Usually, this is done by a specialist who services printers.  Check with the manufacturer to see if your printer can get serviced by a trained technician.

Cleaning the Printer

Sometimes you may need to get in there and clean the internal components of the printer, particularly if it’s a laser printer.

Here’s a quick guide on how to clean your printer and get it working properly again.

  1. First, unplug the printer and open up the case. Check for any loose ink or toner cartridges.  If you find any, tighten them up or replace them with new ones.  Just like we mentioned in the section above.
  2. Next, use a soft cloth to gently wipe down all of the exposed electrical components inside the printer.  Be careful not to touch any of the moving parts.  If there are some areas that are harder to reach, there are other methods that you can use to clean your printer.  Here are some cleaning supplies that you can that I’d recommend that’ll get the job done:
  3. You can also use Compressed Air to blow out any dust that might be lodged in the printhead carriage or other hard-to-reach areas. 

Once you’re finished, reassemble the printer, plug it back in and see if cleaning it solved the issue.

Here’s a quick tutorial on how to clean out your printer.

If all else fails, with troubleshooting the internal components of your printer, again you can contact the manufacturer for additional assistance.

…but wait! 

Before you throw in the towel completely here.  I have one more tip I’d like for you to try.  

Troubleshoot the Print Drivers

I purposefully left this one for last, because it’s probably the most obvious one, that most people would automatically default to.  However, I wanted to provide you with more options, in the event troubleshooting the print drivers didn’t solve your issue, and you’re left with nothing else to work with. 

For those that are not familiar with the term print drivers, let’s define it here. 

What are print drivers?

A print driver is a piece of software that allows the printer to communicate with the computer.  When you click on “print” from your computer, the print driver is what allows you to be able to see the printer and send a print job to it.

Without the correct print driver, you will not be able to print.

Usually, when a printer is printing blocks and symbols, one of the first things that jump out to me at first is to check the print drivers.  Maybe something happened to the driver at some point that’s preventing the printer from printing correctly.

Sometimes a Windows update can cause the malfunction to occur.

The first thing I would recommend is uninstalling the printer software and re-installing it again.  Before uninstalling the drivers, however, go and locate the media that came with the printer.  If it’s a network printer in an office, then ask your IT person if they can re-install the printer for you.

If you were the one that installed the printer, then you’ll need to locate that media.  The best thing to do is to go online to the manufacturer’s website to find and download the latest print drivers for your printer.

Their website usually has the most updated drivers for your printer.

Nine times out of ten, uninstalling and re-installing the correct print drivers will solve this issue.

Final Thoughts

So if you’re printer is printing blocks and symbols every time you send a print job to the printer, there could be a few things that are going on with your printer that are making it behave this way.

Checking the ink or toner cartridges can definitely be the culprit, so be sure to check and see if you have a faulty cartridge.  

Other things might be going in with the internal comments.  Cleaning out your printer with the proper cleaning supplies can help here as well.

And finally, uninstalling the print drivers and installing the most updated print drivers from the manufacturer’s website, almost always solve these types of issues with printers not printing properly.


Advanced-PCs, computer, Local printer, Network Printer, Printer

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