In the modern world, the safe disposal of confidential and potentially sensitive information is vital, whether at home or in the office. One of the easiest and most effective ways to do this is by using an office shredder, a device that can quickly destroy documents and aid you and your business in meeting GDPR regulations. But what happens when this essential piece of office equipment becomes jammed? And what causes such a problem to occur?
Here at Viking, we know how valuable a shredder can be when it comes to disposing of documents securely. Here’s our guide on how to unjam a shredder.

Paper Shredder Keeps Jamming?

Just like any essential piece of equipment, whether it be your computer or a simple stapler, it can be incredibly frustrating when your shredder becomes jammed. If you’re wondering why the shredder is jammed, there can be several reasons that this happens, including:

• Putting too many sheets in at any one time
• Not lubricating the shredder regularly enough
• Attempting to shred unsuitable materials

Taking a further look at the final point on the list, certain shredders are built to handle different material than others. For instance, some shredders are designed to take everything from multiple sheets of paper through to compact discs. It’s important that you only feed items into your shredder that you’re certain it can take.

How to Unblock a Shredder

If you find yourself in a situation where you’re halfway through shredding important and sensitive information, but find your shredder becoming blocked and jamming, it can be frustrating. A jam doesn’t have to put a complete halt to your shredding – just follow these simple steps and you’ll be back up and running in no time.

1. Unplug your shredder
The first, and most important, step is to unplug the shredder from the socket to ensure there’s absolutely no power getting to it and no risk of it starting up again unexpectedly whilst you’re trying to diagnose the problem. This can have potentially harmful results to you, so extreme caution is advised.

2. Remove the top of the shredder
Most shredders should allow you to remove the top section from the bottom. The top is where the shredding mechanism is kept, with the bottom being the wastepaper basket. Once the top section is removed, you’ll be able to get a better visual idea of where the blockage has occurred in the shredder and therefore how to unjam the shredder from the top.

3. Empty the paper basket
A shredder can sometimes become stuck quite simply because the wastebasket is full. Make sure you completely empty the wastebasket before reconnecting it to the shredder and plugging it back in. If the shredder still isn’t working, you can rule out an overfull wastebasket as the source of the problem.

4. Clear the blades
If small pieces of paper have become stuck in the teeth of the shredder, the whole shredder can become blocked and cease to work. Initially, use a pair of tweezers to try and pick the stuck paper from within the blades. You can do this from both the top and bottom sides of the shredder in order to get the best angle to remove the paper.

5. Put it in reverse
Once you’ve cleared the blades, you can try switching the shredder back on. If it’s still not working, try putting the shredder in reverse, as this may help any pieces of paper that are stuck to work themselves out of the blades. Then, try switching it back to the forwards setting and see if this has helped. If your paper shredder is still jammed, alternate between the two settings to try and shift the paper jam.

6. Use shredder oil
Keeping your blades lubricated is an important part of shredder maintenance, and failing to do this can result in the machine seizing up. If you haven’t used any shredder oil recently, try doing this in order to get it moving again.

7. Feed through a single piece of paper
Once you’ve tried all these possibilities on how to unjam a shredder, try sending through a single piece of paper to test if the blockage has been removed. If this works, be careful not to overload the shredder with numerous sheets of paper or thick items again, as this could be what caused the initial problem.

What Can I Shred Safely?

If you find yourself wondering “can you shred paper along with staples?”, it’s well worth finding out the answer to your question before trying it out. Often the question ‘how to unblock a shredder” could be solved simply by ensuring you’re only shredding items that your shredder is designed to shred. For example, some home shredders may only be designed to shred paper in a strip cut, whereas a shredder designed for office-based use might have extra features, such as CD/DVD shredding and can handle paperclips and staples.

It’s also important to bear in mind the cutter type of your shredder. When it comes to cutter type, crosscut, micro cut, and strip cut shredders all shred their contents to varying degrees, ensuring different levels of security in the process.
Sheet capacity is another factor that can have a bearing on how likely your shredder is to jam. Put simply, sheet capacity is the number of sheets of paper that can be fed into the shredder at any one time. You should always bear this capacity in mind and make sure you don’t try to feed too many sheets at any one time, to ensure that your shredder does not become jammed. Sheet capacity can range from four sheets upwards, depending on your needs.
So how to unjam a shredder effectively? Make sure you have the right shredder to fit your needs. If you have a device that can handle your exact requirements, it’s much less likely to become jammed and cause you delay when disposing of sensitive information.