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Why does my laser printer print with vertical lines?

Why does my laser printer print with vertical lines?

If you are experiencing lines down the prints from your laser printer, chances are they will look something like those shown on the image below. Whilst it is the black shown here you may experience cyan, magenta or yellow lines from colour laser printers. The position, thickness and definition may change but the cause will remain the same.

Toner Striped

What causes these lines?

Distinct lines of this nature are usually caused by a defect of the colours or drum roller within the cartridge or a drum unit/photoconductor unit. The defect can be anything from a physical dent in the roller to a manufacturing defect that is preventing even distribution of the toner powder.

What can be done to resolve this?

Sadly there is not much that can be done as an end user to fix the issue with the existing set of components installed. What is required is the identification and the replacing of the defective component. Unless you noticed the lines appear immediately after changing a certain drum or toner cartridge, this may be easier said than done. With the cost of replacement toner cartridges and photoconductor units I am sure you will be keen to get it right the first time.

How can I identify the defective component?

As mentioned previously, problems of this nature are generally caused by the roller of the photoconductor. As such we need to work out where the photoconductor lies in your particular machine. If your printer takes separate drum units and toner cartridges then it is the drum unit that would need replacing. If no separate drum unit is available for your printer it is likely that the toner cartridge has the photoconductor as part of the cartridge. If you are unsure simply look for a shiny roller, either clearly visible on you toner cartridge or tucked away behind a protective flap. Please see the image below and the green photocusductor unit roller clearly visible.

Drum Roller Example If such a roller is visible on the appropriate colour cartridge for your printer I would recommend replacing this unit. It is even possible that you will be able to see the defect if you turn the roller gently.

I hope this guide has helped resolve any print quality issues you have experienced. If however you have any other questions or would like clarification of any points please let us know in the comments below.

About the author

I have been involved in the printer industry since I was 18 and have been an employee of Refresh Cartridges since early 2009. I am a dedicated family man, gamer, music fan and friend to all. I write the majority of the content here on Igloo and am responsible for its upkeep.

Refresh Cartridges


  1. Angelica

    so our brother printer mfc-9325-cw prints a yellow line every time we print something with color its only a very thin line on the left side what can we do to fix it

    1. RefreshCarts

      A vertical line like this could be caused by either a toner cartridge or a drum unit. By any chance did this start to happen immediately after changing a toner/drum? If so this is likely the cause.

  2. martin taylor

    I get orange horizontal lines when printing on my epson sx200. what is happening ?

    1. Sharon

      Same here! My Epson printer is just a few weeks old and my hubby installed the first (and only so far) set of cartridges at the time of purchase … Unfortunately the problem seems to be getting worse which is a nightmare as I mainly purchased it for photo-quality/art prints that I use in my crafting for my online shop!! Thank goodness I came across this article though – thank you! I may not currently be able to solve the problem but at least I now know what's causing it! 🙂

  3. April

    I am getting vertical magenta lines on all my printouts. I replaced my black cartridge when the printer told me to do so (this was after weeks of warnings to "purchase" a black toner cartridge) and as soon as I did this – the printer told me to replace the Magenta cartridge – I didn't even get a "purchase magenta cartridge" warnings like I usually do? And now I have vertical lines??? I check the green rollers and I don't see anything wrong with them? I am getting an error message (cartridge not engaged) occasionally when I take the cartridge out – but not every time I take it out?
    Any ideas?

  4. Maggie

    I have just got a Dell 1320c and am getting coloured thin lines horizontally across page. When I open the front the black shiny part has lines of colour on …if I wipe with soft cloth they just come back …Where is the drum on the 1320c please ?

  5. Marge

    My HP MFP M476 has started producing vertical lines on both front and back of the paper but only on the first page. If you were to print 100 pages, the last 99 would be just fine. I have spent hours on this and just gave up and reprint the first page twice, so the first time it's got lines and the second time it's perfect! Is this some type of toner leak??

  6. JMP

    I've always used a cartridge over +/- 8 months and my drum lasted 3.5 years. I replaced both the cartridge and the drum in March 2017 and for the past few weeks I have vertical lines clearly visible when printing photos but minimally (if at all) with printing text. I can see the lines 'shaded' on the toner roll but is the toner to blame or could the drum be causing this?

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