All About Shredders

   Shredder Maintenance

    Taking care of your shredder so it can take care of business

Learning how to maintain your shredder can be a cost-saver at home or in a business settng. Some aspects of caring for paper shredders are fairly straight-forward and "doable" even for people who are not mechanically inclined. However, to avoid damaging expensive equipment or voiding your shredder's warranty, it's important to use good judgment and know when to call in professional maintenance and repair technicians, especially when it comes to high-end shredders.

Shredder oil is good to have on hand, especially since using any other lubricants may clog the cutting head as well as void your shredder's warranty. Shredder oil about $7 per bottle for 4 ounces or $20 for aerosol shredder oil. Experts recommend oiling the cutting blades of cross-cut and confetti shredders (and some models of strip-cut shredders) at least monthly, but perhaps as often as weekly or every other day, depending on how frequently the machine is used. (A good rule of thumb is to apply oil every time you change the waste bag.) Using shredder oil softens paper dust and results in less noise and fewer paper jams and can also improve sheet capacity while saving wear-and-tear on the motor. To apply, follow the instructions that came with your shredder, as well as the oil bottle. On some models, you simply squeeze the oil directly from the bottle along the length of the blades. Check the manual to see if you should run the shredder (perhaps in reverse) for a bit after oiling to help distribute the oil. With some shredders, the approach is to apply a few beads of oil to a sheet of paper and send it through the shredder. In any case, run a couple of sheets of paper through the shredder after oiling to remove excess oil. Some top-quality shredders come equipped with auto lubricating devices.

You can probably clear most paper jams by yourself. Fellowes, a top manufacturer of personal and commercial-quality shredders, recommends the following steps: 1. Try waiting half an hour or more to see if the shredder is just cooling down after a long run time. 2. Empty the waste bag if it's full and put the shredder in reverse mode. 3. If the shredder jams in reverse, try running it in auto mode for five seconds and repeat if necessary. You may need to grab the offending paper to help ease it out. Above all, practice safe shredding and don't stick your hands into the mechanism.

To improve the life of your shredder, allow it to rest by not running it constantly. Make sure you're using the shredder in the capacity for which it was designed. If you do have a problem, consult the terms of the warranty. Most cover basic parts for a year, and may cover the cutting heads for even longer.

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