How to Fix Common Paper Shredder Problems?

2 June 2019 Shares

Home Paper Shredders How to Fix Common Paper Shredder Problems?

By 2 June 2019 Shares

How to Fix Common Paper Shredder Problems?

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Paper-Jams | Weird Noises | Shredder Not Working | Overheating Issues

You are in the middle of your monthly shredding session. It is you together with a paper shredder against that growing pile of old, but confidential, documents that were collecting dust on your desk. The shredder is doing its job and grinds through the documents you feed it, but then all of a sudden the shredder stops working. The sheets you just fed to the shredder are half shredded, half readable and are patiently waiting for you to solve the problem. Now what?

Like with all household items or office appliances paper shredders can have issues that need to be fixed, whether it is by a professional repairman or by you. These issues can present themselves in various ways. That is why sometimes it is difficult to pinpoint where the problem is coming from, especially when the shredder isn’t operating at all or when it is indicating a problem that you already addressed. For instance, a blinking icon for a full paper bin even though you just emptied it.

Read more about paper shredders in our shredder guide.



Together we will fix your paper shredder issue

In this article, we will help you tackle the most common issues that your paper shredder at home and in the office could have. We will try to help you identify what problem your shredder is having, why it is having that problem, and how you can fix it. Lastly, we will also provide you with some general tips and guidelines on how to use and maintain your shredder properly in order to help prevent these problems from occurring regularly and to prolong your shredder’s lifespan.

Recommended Shredder Tools

Safety First

  • Before you start fixing the problem with your shredder assure your own safety.
  • NEVER put your hands or fingers near the blades of the shredder.
  • Instead of using your hands use tools such as tweezers when needed, to avoid damaging the blades.
  • Shredders are machines that don’t distinguish between paper and fingers.

Paper Shredding Troubleshooting FAQ

Disclaimer: Use the follow tips and tricks at your own risk.



1. My shredder has jammed. How to fix and unjam a paper shredder?


Symptoms of a Paper Jam

How to unjam paper shredder? A jammer or clogged shredder is one of the most common and annoying problems a paper shredder can have, and it can present in a variety of ways, depending on the model and make of the shredder. Some higher-end shredders have a light indicator that shows the users when it is jammed or even when it is going to jam due to exceeding the maximum load. However, paper jams are usually not too difficult to solve by yourself. If your shredder is jammed or clogged it may present with these symptoms:

  • Not fully shredding the paper.
  • Getting stuck in the reverse function.
  • Making strange grinding or high pitch noises.
  • Not pulling in paper or only pulling it on one side.
  • Paper shredder stops working in the middle of a shredding session.
  • Blinking indicators that informs you about the paper jam.
  • The shredder only works in reverse.

Quick Fix

To fix a paper jam there are several things you can do but remember to NEVER put your fingers near the blades or feed opening. Also, check the user manual of your shredder to see what kind of tips the manufacturer gives you to solve the paper-jam.

Before you turn off the clogged shredder and going near the blades, try using the reverse function which most shredders have. This can, in some cases, solve a simple jam. If this doesn’t help or your shredder doesn’t have a reverse function, try turning it off and unplugging it. Then you can start to carefully pluck the paper shreds causing the jam out from the blades with a pair of tweezers. In some cases, gently running a vacuum cleaner parallel to the blades (within close proximity but not touching them) can suck out paper dust and particles which can cause a jam as well.

cleaned paper shredder cutting blades
Dust-free paper shredder blades.

Turn on your paper shredder again and check if the paper shredder is unjammed. If it is, also lubricate the paper shredder blades to make sure the cutting blades run smoothly. If your shredder is still jammed after applying this advice, please see the sources below which address this problem in more depth.

Jam proof shredders prevent a paper jam as much as possible

Helpful Resources

Is your HSM or Fellowes shredder jammed and we were not about to help you fix it? Then you can also look for a specific HSM or Fellowes shredder troubleshooting manual on the official brand page, you can also find contact information from the brand itself here, so you can ask them for help directly. Hopefully, they will know exactly what the problem is and have a solution for it.



Tips from manufactures:

  • Fellowes: How To Get Out Of A Paper Jam – Do you have a Fellowes shredder and is it currently jammed? This official page on will help you solve your paper jam.
  • Fellowes: What Causes a Paper Jam – Preventing a paper jam is always better than fixing it. In this article, fellowes explains what could be the cause of your current paper jam.
  • Amazon Basics: Shredder Troubleshooting FAQ – This PDF provides five possible steps on how to clear a paper jam, as well as giving some tips on how to solve other common problems that paper shredders can have.
  • Staples: How to unjam a shredder – We like this page because it provides information about the cause of paper jams and how prevent them through maintenance and proper use. Perhaps more importantly it also describes 5 basic steps to fixing a jam, accompanied with visuals and offers additional steps for paper jams that cannot be fixed with the five basic starting steps.

How to Prevent a Paper Jam:


2. Help! My shredder stopped working. Can paper shredders overheat?


Symptoms of Overheating

Do you have a shredder that won’t shred? What many people don’t realize is that most paper shredders have a maximum run-time because their motor gets warm from shredding. This means that if a shredder is used for a long time consecutively, the machine will eventually shut off to cool down. The maximum run-time and cool down period differ per shredder, but these are usually specified in the user manual for your device. There are also paper shredders which can run continuously, so there is no maximum run-time. These are heavy-duty type shredders and industrial paper shredders.

So, if your shredder has suddenly stopped running in the middle of a shredding job, but doesn’t appear to be jammed, chances are that it is taking a break to cool down. It will start up again, usually within the next 30 minutes after leaving it to cool down. If your shredder does not start up again after the defined cool downtime, it could have a different problem, such as a paper jam or a full paper bin, which are both easily solved. However, the worst-case scenario for a shredder is when it has a technical or motor flaw for which you will need to contact the manufacture. But let’s hope this is not the case.

Quick Fix

Unfortunately, if your paper shredder has overheated and decided to take a timeout, there is not much you can do. The shutdown is a security measure of the shredder to prevent damage to the motor of the machine. The best thing you can do is leave it alone for a while (check your manual to see how many minutes) and try again later. Also, in the future try to prevent it from overheating too often. If your shredder overheats often it is probably a sign that you need a more heavy-duty shredder which better suits your needs and can handle shredding larger amounts of paper for a longer period of time. Nevertheless, here are some sources that provide more information about the matter.

Helpful Resources


Tips from manufactures:

  • Amazon Basics: Shredder Troubleshooting FAQ – We recommend this document again if you want to find out more about common reasons for why your shredder may not power on or work at all, including a shut down for thermal protection.

How to Prevent Overheating:

Sensor Problem

3. My shredder has a mind of its own. Is there something wrong with its sensors?


Symptoms of Sensor Issues

Sometimes paper shredders can have problems that cause them to act as though they are haunted or have a mind of their own. What is meant by this is that they may not stop after shredding (constantly running in “Auto / On” mode), randomly start shredding by themselves or indicates that the paper bin is full, or the door is open when they are not. These problems can be related to an issue with the shredder’s sensors, and are usually triggered by dust or dirt, which partially block one or more of them. Cleaning these sensors usually does the trick and resolves the problem.

Quick Fix

The most straight forward way to fixing these problems, caused by a dirty sensor, is to clean them, but this may not be as easy as it sounds because the sensors can be hidden away inside your shredder. A paper shredder can have several different sensors. Most of them are safety precautions for the user or to prevent the shredder from damaging itself.

High-end shredders have various sensors and indicators, but the main ones are:

  • Load indicator sensor – registers when paper is being inserted.
  • Bin / bag full sensor – indicates when the paper bin is full.
  • Door sensor – shows when the paper bin or door is not closed or properly attached to the shredder.

The reason why cleaning a dirty sensor is not always an easy fix is because different shredders have sensors in different spots, and some are easier to reach than others. However, the location of the sensors can normally be found in the user manual and once you have found the location of the sensor in the manual you can proceed to turn off the shredder or unplug it completely. Afterward, using a flashlight you can search for the sensor on the shredder and use a vacuum cleaner, microfiber cloth, straw or pipet to clean off the dust and dirt. After the sensors are clean and the shredder put back together, you can turn it on again and hopefully the problem is solved. If you would like to read more about the process of cleaning your shredder and finding the sensors here are some sources that may help:

Helpful Resources



Tips from manufactures:

How to Prevent Sensory Issues:

Weird Noises

4. My paper shredder is making weird noises and not taking in paper. Does it need maintenance?


Symptoms of Needing a Maintenance

Like most appliances paper shredders need to have the occasional maintenance in order to keep up their routine. This is especially important for shredders that are used frequently, such as paper shredders that are used in an office environment. However, here the maintenance is quickly neglected, which can directly reflect in the shredder’s performance.

Signs that a shredder is in desperate need of a maintenance include:

  • Shredder running but not taking/pulling in paper.
  • Paper not being shredded properly.
  • Shredder hesitating to start or producing high pitched noise, grinding noise, or more noise than usual.
  • Paper shredder runs slower than it used to.

But don’t worry these symptoms are usually quite easy to resolve.

Quick Fix

The proper solution for these symptoms is giving your office or home shredder a well-earned and thorough maintenance. A maintenance for your shredder in this situation ultimately means giving it a deep cleaning.

  1. This process should be started with briefly activating the reverse function to loosen up any paper fibers or particles that were left behind.
  2. Then turn off or unplug the shredder and clean the paper bin.
  3. After you have emptied, cleaned, dried, and place the bin back, you carefully vacuuming along the opening slit where you usually insert paper, but make sure not to touch the blades of shredder.
  4. Using a vacuum will remove any paper dust left between the blades and the edges of the opening.
  5. The final step is lubricating the blades of the shredder with official shredder oil, this will help your shredder’s blades move smoothly and shred well.

Once a full maintenance has been done the above-mentioned symptoms should disappear right away. Regular maintenance will also help your shredder live a long and healthy life and minimize the number of problems it faces along the way. For further information on how to clean your paper shredder take a look at the following recommended links.

Helpful Resources



Tips from manufactures:

How to Prevent Problems from Poor Maintenance:


How to maintain your shredder?


To keep your paper shredder happy and healthy it is important to use it correctly and maintain it well. It should be noted that heavy-duty shredders, which can generally handle more when it comes to shredding, tend to have fewer problems like jamming, overheating, and do not need maintenance as often as cheaper home shredders. Nevertheless, by using your shredder correctly and maintaining it well you will minimize the number of problems that it has and maximize its lifespan, therefore keeping both you and the shredder happy.

Here are some tips on how you can keep yourself and your shredder happy:

Replace your old shredder?

Did our tips and tricks not solve the problems you have with your paper shredder? Well, it could be that your paper shredder is a bit worn out. It just doesn’t shred your confidential documents the way it did when it was brand new. Back in the good old days, it shredded through documents like they were butter. You could feed it almost anything, without a problem. But now, your shredder looks dusty, old and tired. This could mean that it is time to replace your old shredder with a new one.

We can help you find a new paper shredder that suits your needs perfectly. Check out our paper shredder page where you can find the best paper shredders. Or read our paper shredder buying guide for more tips on shredding machines.

Recommended Shredder Tools

13 Comments on “How to Fix Common Paper Shredder Problems?

    1. Dear Vernitia, possibly there is something wrong with the sensors of the shredder. You can read more about this in this guide (#3). Also we recommend to contact the manufacturer of your paper shredder machine. Hope you can solve the problem quickly.

  1. My boss recently gave me the office Fellows shedder 99 CI. I emptied the bin closed it, plugged it in but it will not turn on. I need help to get it operational. It was working fine at the office.

    1. Dear Ernie, there is an on/off switch at the rear of the shredder. Did you turn that on?

  2. I tried to shred a plastic envelope and ever since then my Shredder is making a loud grinding noise so I stopped using it but that was the only thing that I did that I regret

  3. I have another Shredder that seems to have a switching problem every time I turn the on switch sometimes the light comes on sometimes it won’t sometimes Shredder will work sometimes it won’t

    1. Dear Bryan, please contact the manufacturer for tips on how to repair your shredder.

  4. Request a quote for a shredder Rexel Rsm1130, mercury schreder with a product code 2102407eu
    I am residing in South Africa in the Eastern Cape in East London. Alternatively if you can refer me to a local business shop

  5. Only one side of my shredder working, what could cause that. There is no paper jam, thank you

    1. My Rexel paper shredder the motor starts when I try to insert the paper but does not take it in the paper

      1. Hi Francis. Can you see the blades rotating? Try lubricate the shredder with some shredder oil and see of that fixes the issue. Otherwise, I recommend you to contact Rexel for more help.

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