How to Use a Fax Machine

How to Use a Fax Machine

It is hard to believe that there are people working in offices these days who may have never been around a fax machine. Though email and Internet fax services have pretty much replaced fax machines in many parts of the world, it is still important to know how to use an office or home fax machine in case you end up working with one in the future.

Here are easy instructions for how to send and receive a fax with a standard fax machine.

Sending A Fax

Start by turning the fax machine on and making sure it is connected securely to a telephone line.

Make sure you have the proper fax number for the destination of the fax you want to send.

Get all of the papers you want to fax in order, and place them in the proper order for the receiver.

Before you send your fax, you’ll need to prepare one more piece of paper, called a coversheet, that gives the receiver the following information —

  • recipient’s name
  • recipient’s fax number and/or phone number
  • sender’s name
  • sender’s fax number and / or phone number
  • a short message for the recipient of the fax — this is like adding a subject line to an e-mail
  • the number of pages of your fax (including the coversheet)

Next, lay the documents (face up) in the fax machine’s feeder tray, making sure to put the cover sheet on top.

You can dial the recipient’s fax number the way you would dial a regular phone — make sure to use the proper prefixes, especially if you’re sending a fax internationally.

Once you’ve entered the right number, press the button labeled either “fax” or “send”. Every fax machine is a little bit different, but the “send” button should be pretty obvious.

What happens now? The fax machine scans each of the pages into its own memory banks. Once all of the pages to be faxes has been scanned by the fax machine, there will be a series of electronic tones. These noises signal that the sending and receiving fax machines are in communication. It will take a few moments for the fax to be completely sent, but you should have confirmation of sending within a minute or so. There should be some kind of display monitor to let you know that the fax was sent. Some models are also set up to print out a fax confirmation.

Receiving A Fax

Start by turning the fax machine on and ensuring it is properly connected to a telephone line. You should also double check that the sender of the fax has the right fax number for your machine.

Check that your fax machine has plenty of ink in the toner cartridge. Most models of toner cartridge have a method to indicate when the toner is low. If your fax machine is relatively new, it will probably warn you when the toner gets low.

After you check the level of toner in the fax machine, make sure there is enough paper loaded in the paper tray to receive the entire fax you need. If you want to avoid a potential paper jam, you can run your thumb along the bottom of the pages in the tray to separate them from each other while you’re checking the paper level.

If you have a phone attached to your fax machine, it may ring when a fax is incoming. If you pick up the phone, you’ll interrupt the fax, so leave it alone. You can turn the ringer off the phone if this noise is bothersome.

You will hear the same electronic noises that you heard when sending a fax — this indicates that a sender’s fax machine has found your fax machine properly.

Your fax machine will start printing out every page of the sender’s fax automatically. While it is printing, check the coversheet to make sure your fax machine prints out the same number of pages as the sender thinks they sent.

In some cases, you should call or email the sender of the fax to confirm that it went through. This usually is only necessary for extremely important documents, or if the sender requests this kind of confirmation on their own.

How to Fix A Fax Machine

Because fax machines are complex with many delicate moving parts, they need a lot of maintenance. Doing a few small things during the life of your fax machine can keep it operating properly for a long time. When your fax machine gets a paper jam or other common fax machine problem (such as poor image quality or issues with a connection), these tips should help you fix the machine on your own without much of a headache.

Poor Image Quality

If your fax pages come out too dark or too light you should probably change the “darkness” or “density” settings on your machine. Have the fax receiver do a test print to determine first if the problem is with your machine or there’s — but if the receiver’s test comes out okay, you’ll need to clean up your fax machine on your hands and knees.

Just open up the “document feed” portion of the fax machine and gently wipe down all the surfaces and moving parts with a barely damp cloth. If your fax machine also has a scanner attached to it, clean the glass face of the scanner window as well. This should help with any image quality issues.

Paper Jams

Paper jams are the most common fax machine problem. If you have a smaller office size fax machine, there are just two areas in the machine where paper gets jammed — the document feeder and the printer itself. Larger fax machines can scan themselves and determine where the jam is, but smaller ones can’t.

The easiest way to remove jammed paper is to pull the paper in the direction that it naturally wants to move. Simply jerking the paper out of the machine in the opposite direction of its natural movement will probably damage small moving parts or leave paper behind further complicating the problem.

Communication Errors

These are the least easy fax machine problems to fix. Unless you’re a fax machine specialist or you have a friend at the tech support line for your fax company, you’re going to be spending a lot of time on the phone and probably end up fairly frustrated.

Why? When a fax machine signals a communication error, your only option for fixing the problem is to call the manufacturer to see what that error means. Even if you can interpret the error, there’s almost no chance you can fix it yourself. The only other way to fix a potential communication error problem is to have your phone company check the phone line used by the fax machine.

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