It’s summer, and the humidity is here. The printer on your desk, or in your office, is a complicated piece of machinery and can be directly affected by high or low levels of humidity.

Perhaps the biggest issue that can affect your printer is how humidity affects the paper you feed through it. Paper, by it’s very nature, is very dry. Typically containing four to five percent moisture, excessive levels of humidity – or even the lack of humidity – can affect it. When the air in your work space lacks standard levels of humidity, the paper can be prone to static electricity, which in turn could cause it to jam in the printer. High humidity, of course, can dampen the paper and negatively affect the print quality.

Inkjet Printers
As the name implies, inkjet printers apply liquid ink directly onto a piece of paper. With excess humidity in the air, ink dries slower and is more apt to smudge. Slow-drying ink can also have more time to spread out on the paper or even soak into the paper, causing the final printout to lack the expected sharpness. Lack of humidity, on the other hand, can pull the moisture out of the ink, causing the ink jet heads to clog more easily.

Laser Printers and Copiers
Laser printers and copiers both face different humidity-related issues. They operate though fusion, which uses heat to melt toner particles onto paper. The paper designated especially for use in laser printers is typically dryer than regular paper. “Regular”, or non-laser printing paper, will have a higher moisture content that might cause it to boil at uneven temperatures as it passes through the fuser unit, causing the paper to wrinkle. The toner might also not be able to stick to these kinds of paper. As you might guess, even trying to use laser-printer paper in an excessively humid environment might cause these same issues as the dry paper absorbs the humidity.

Managing Humidity
You probably already know whether or not your print environment is excessively humid or excessively dry. We can feel it on our skin fairly easily. If that’s the case, consider installing a humidifier or dehumidifier in the area around your printer. Store the paper you plan to use off of the ground and in an environment that is similar to where you have set up your printer. Also remember to keep the paper wrapped in it’s protective packaging until you’re ready to use it.