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Shredder Maintenance Tips

Doing a little bit of routine maintenance on your paper shredder will keep it running at its peak performance, and prevent unnecessary wear on the motor. Regardless of the brand or type of shredder you have, these tips will keep your shredder running at its best, and help extend its lifetime.

Keep your shredder lubricated

All machinery needs to be properly lubricated for best performance. Without the proper lubrication, your machine can generate excess heat, and the blades will take more wear. A properly oiled shredder will run smoother and quieter as well.
Always check your user manual, the manufacturer may have specific instructions for you to follow, as well as guidelines on frequency of oiling. Generally, you want to oil your shredder each time you empty its waste collection bin. Micro-cut shredders may need more frequent oiling, while strip-cut shredders are fine with less frequent oiling. If your shredder is running slower than usual, making odd noises, or straining to shred, then it is definitely past due for an oiling.
  • Method 1: Direct oiling
    • Use your shredders reverse function to clear any stuck paper
    • Distribute the oil into the cutting feed from end to end in one smooth motion
    • Turn on the shredder and let it run without paper to help disperse the oil
    • Run a couple of sheets of paper through the shredder to help clean off excess oil

  • Method 2: Lubricated paper
    • Drip oil down one side of a sheet of paper, but don't completely soak it
    • Place a blank sheet on top, so that the oil is sandwiched between
    • Run the sheet through the shredder as usual
    • Run a couple of sheets of paper through the shredder to help clean off excess oil

  • Method 3: Wax paper
    • Take a regular sheet of waxed paper and run it through the shredder just as you would normal paper
    • Repeat with a second sheet

NOTE: Only use shredder oil that is specifically made for paper shredders. Cooking oils and industrial oils like WD-40 can be a fire danger and should never be used. It can also cause paper jams in the cutting cylinders, and cause severe damage to the cutting mechanism.

Keep your shredder clean

Depending on how much it is used, a paper shredder needs a regular cleaning schedule. In a business setting this may be as often as once a month, while a personal shredder may only need cleaning once or twice a year. Cleaning the shredder serves two purposes. Firstly, removing stuck paper will help the blades stay sharper for longer. Secondly, it allows you to remove any paper dust build-up before it gets too thick and harms the machine, and it's better for air quality too.

  • Turn off and unplug your shredder
  • Open the machine cover; refer to your user manual if you need
  • Use a brush and dust the blades carefully (never blow on the cutting assembly as moisture can damage the components)

NOTE: Always use extreme caution when accessing the blades as they are very sharp.

Never overload your shredder

When you purchased your shredder, once of the main specifications is shredding capacity. That number refers to the maximum number of pieces of paper that you can shred at one time. You shouldn't always run your shredder at its maximum, as it will cause excessive wear on the motor.

It's also important to only shred materials your shredder can accept. While some shredders accept CDs and credit cards, shredding them in a paper-only rated shredder can cause irreparable damage to the cutting cylinder and motor.

Don't skip cool-down time

Shredders have a continuous or maximum run time rating. This rating tells you how long you can safely run your shredder for before it needs cool-down time. Smaller, personal shredders will need more cool-down time between batches because their motors are smaller and not built for a large volume of shredding. Large office shredders often need only a minute or less. Refer to your manual to know the continuous run time and cool-down time recommended for your specific machine.

Hopefully, following these simple tips will keep your shredder running in top form for its very long life.

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