Troubleshooting Common Fax Machine Problems: A Handy Guide

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In an age where communication has seen tremendous advancement, the fax machine continues to hold its ground, especially in certain business environments. Although newer communication methods exist, faxing remains a steadfast and reliable method of transmitting data. However, as with any equipment, fax machines can run into issues, which can be frustrating when urgent communication is on the line. 

As such, identifying common fax machine issues is paramount for immediate resolution. To resolve these issues promptly, it’s crucial to identify common fax machine problems. You might also be curious about how to test a fax machine to ensure it’s functioning correctly. Generally, understanding how to test a machine’s functionality is essential when determining problems associated with fax machines. 

This article explores common fax machine problems and ways to troubleshoot them effectively. Read on to learn more. 

  • No Dial Tone

Firstly, one of the most common issues is not getting a dial tone when trying to send a fax. One common reason for this issue is the machine failing to produce a dial tone due to the line being connected to the ‘Ext’ port.

To resolve this problem, ensure the phone line is properly connected to the fax machine’s ‘Line’ port and not the ‘Ext’ port. If the line is secure, try using a different phone cable or test the line with a regular telephone to ascertain whether the problem is with the line or the machine itself.

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  •  Paper Jams

When paper gets stuck inside the fax machine, it causes interruptions in sending or receiving faxes. For instance, you frequently experienced paper jams until you realized you used thicker paper than what’s recommended. Because of this, it’s important to use the recommended paper thickness, as thicker or textured paper can lead to jams.

But aside from paper quality, there are other causes of paper jams, such as lack of maintenance and improper paper alignment. To resolve these issues, regularly check and clean the internal parts of the fax machine. Dust and debris can cause paper to get stuck. Also, ensure that the paper is loaded straight and that there aren’t too many sheets inserted.

  •  Poor Print Quality

When the received faxes are blurry, have lines, or are too light/dark, they can be another fax machine problem to be wary of. A common indicator of this problem is noticing faint lines on the received faxes, which suggests poor print quality.

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To resolve this issue, check and replace the toner/ink, as low or expired toner can cause poor print quality. Also, clean the scanner area with a soft cloth regularly. Dust or dirt on the scanner area can result in lines or blurs.  

  • Error Codes On Display

Another faxing problem is when the machine displays various error codes. For example, seeing an ‘E22’ error on your device can indicate a memory overflow issue. To troubleshoot this problem, consult the user manual for the specific error code. Most manuals will provide a list of common error codes and how to address them. If the manual doesn’t help, consider reaching out to the manufacturer’s customer service team to seek assistance with the troubleshooting.

  • Fax Transmission Fails

When the fax machine dials out but can’t connect or gets disconnected during the transmission, it can signal that your device isn’t functioning properly. To remedy this situation, it’s essential to check the phone line by ensuring there’s a stable connection. Be mindful of some external factors, such as storms or maintenance work, because they can affect line quality and contribute to fax transmission failures.

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Additionally, adjust the transmission speed. Slowing down the fax machine transmission speed can help in cases of poor line quality.

  • Memory Issues

Your fax machine is having problems when it indicates its memory is full. To address this problem, you should reduce storage by deleting any old faxes stored in the memory. Increasing the capacity of your fax machine can also help resolve memory issues. Some machines allow memory upgrades, so check the user manual for compatibility.

  • Inability To Receive Faxes

Another issue you should be aware of is when the machine can send faxes but can’t receive them. In this situation, it’s crucial to check the phone line by ensuring it’s connected to the ‘Line’ port and not the ‘Ext’ port. Also, the fax machine might be set to ‘Manual Receive,’ so changing the setting to ‘Auto Receive’ is important to receive faxes without any problems. 

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  • Fax Machine Does Not Turn On

When the machine doesn’t respond when the power button is pressed, there might be a problem with your device that you should address right away. To do this, you must check the power source. Ensure the machine is plugged into a working outlet. If unsure, plug another device into the same outlet to check. Moreover, examine the circuit breaker as it might trip during power surges. Make sure to reset it and try again. 

  • Busy Signal When Sending A Fax

Constantly receiving a busy signal when dialing out can be a fax machine issue that should be resolved right away. To handle this problem, you should try redialing. It’s possible that the receiving end is busy with another fax or call. Wait for a few minutes and redial. 

Moreover, if the problem persists, there might be an issue with the phone line. So, it’s best to conduct a line check to address the problem. 

  •  Can’t Send To A Specific Number

When faxes go through to other numbers but consistently fail to reach a specific one, it’s a sign that your fax machine requires troubleshooting. To get started, you should verify the number by ensuring it’s correct and still in service.

Additionally, check the compatibility. Older fax machines might have compatibility issues with newer ones. This is rare but worth considering to ensure optimal machine performance.


While fax machines are durable and reliable tools for communication, they can have various issues from dial tone problems to memory issues. By being equipped with the knowledge about these common problems and their solutions, you can ensure optimal machine performance. Always keep this guide handy and don’t forget to refer to the user manual or consult the manufacturer when in doubt.