Everything You Need To Know About Paper Jams



A 2012 survey by market research agency Deep Blue found that 64% of people quoted paper jams as their main frustration when manual shredding.

With this in mind, read ahead for an overview of how to prevent or clear a paper jam; as well as what to do when your shredder has simply stopped shredding. 


Paper Jams: The Culprits

When a shredding paper jam occurs it always comes down to two factors: User error, or machine failure.

User error:

Unfortunately the most common problem is usually human error. Whether it be through lack of knowledge or a simple mistake, the most common source of shredder malfunction is down to us.

-          Loading too much paper

This is the number one cause of shredders jamming, but can be easily avoided. Most models come with an indication as to how many sheets can be loaded at once - either through a sheet capacity indicator, a simple icon found on the shredder or it’s box, or in the user manual.

Top tip:

Avoid wrinkling or creasing paper before shredding as this can increase the thickness of the paper being shredded, effectively doubling the workload.

-          Forced feeding

This is when paper is fed into a shredder, but not enough time has been taken between feeding sheets. Just because the paper has disappeared from view does not mean it has been entirely destroyed. 

You could potentially be shredding more than the allocated amount at once. When inserting, wait until the document has been shredded before adding additional sheets.

-          Inserted foreign object

While some shredders can tackle more solid objects such as paperclips, staples - and in some cases CD’s and credit cards - it is important to realise the limitations of your shredder.

A common cause of shredder breakdown or jam can be due to insertion of large paper clips or bulldog clips, so remember to check documents prior to use. 

-          Paper thickness

Feeding thicker pieces of paper through your shredder can contribute to jamming. Avoid using a higher GSM than indicated in your user manual.

-          Lack of care 

Machine welfare is important and oiling your blades to keep them clean can significantly reduce the potential of a paper jam.

Oiling: Some machines make oiling easy. If you have an auto -oiling shredder such as our Auto Feed 500X, simply top up your oil reservoir every 2-3 times that the bin is emptied, or, if using a regular shredder, run a Rexel Oil Sheet through the blades every so often to ensure that paper jams become a thing of the past.


Machine Error:

Shredders do unfortunately break down from time to time. In this situation the best solution for shredder repair is to follow the basic steps below, and if they do not work to speak directly with the company that provided your model.



How To Clear a Paper Jam: Step-by-Step

When a jam starts you can usually hear the beginnings either by a whirring, straining noise and the inserted paper will move more slowly. Fortunately shredders come with the ability to resolve most issues.


1.    Address the issue

Switch shredder to reverse, then forward. In most cases if the shredding direction is changed, jams are swiftly resolved. 

N.B For those using Rexel Auto Feed shredders: rely on the anti-jamming feature to detect this and resolve the issue automatically.

If this doesn’t work, we recommend the following steps: 

2.    Stop and unplug your shredder

Not only is a safety requirement, but powering your shredder down could prevent potential further damage to its blades.

3.    Empty the wastebasket

In some cases, paper jams occur due to no space for the additional waste. In emptying, you will also be able to assess the situation and see where the issue lies.

4.    Investigate

With the device still unplugged, examine the area where the jam occurred. Remove any paper from the shredder head or manual slot and push through any smaller blockages using a cotton bud to clean the area.

5.    Replace any removed shredder parts

If investigating a shredder with a detachable head, Replace this and attempt to shred your document again.


6. Support

If none of these fixes work, please take the following steps to resolve additional issues:

-          For smaller Rexel shredders still in warranty - return your shredder to your dealer for assistance, or if outside the warranty period, contact our customer service team.

-          For larger Rexel Auto Feed shredders still in warranty, engineers are available, or for models out of warranty, assistance can be provided for a premium.


Avoid the Jams

Fortunately - as touched on in our step by step guide - many of our Auto Feed models have jam free technology to prevent hold ups before they have even begun. To find out more, browse our award-winning Auto Feed range which also provides a massive 98% increase in productivity by reducing time spent at the shredder.


A Selection of Rexel Paper Shredders

Rexel Auto+ 500x Cross Cut Paper Shredder Rexel Auto+ 100x Cross Cut Paper Shredder Rexel JOY Paper Shredder

£945.99 (Ex VAT)

£179.99 (Ex VAT)

£49.99 (Ex VAT)

JOY Paper Shredder

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