What to Do If my Fellowes Shredder Won't Shut Off?

posted this on May 30, 2016

So, you’re having a weird problem with your paper shredder. Namely, your machine has an automatic stop/start feature and after you shred something, the unit won’t shut off. You’re worried. Should your return the shredder? Is there something really wrong with it?

Relax. In most instances, a shredder that continuously runs isn’t broken, it merely needs some basic maintenance. Most shredders, including models from Fellowes, GBC, MBM, Martin Yale, HSM and Dahle contain two tiny electronic sensors near the paper entry area. These sensors are designed to shoot signals back and forth enabling the shredder to turn itself on when paper enters the machine. After the paper has made it through the entry slot, the sensors then tell the machine to shut off.

It sounds like a simple enough process, but sometimes these sensors can malfunction or become blocked. This can happen when oil, paper dust, or debris covers the sensors. Covered-up sensors essentially tell the shredder that paper has entered it, thus causing it to continuously run. While this problem can occur in both cross- and strip-cut shredding machines, it tends to happen more often in cross-cut units because those units are oiled more frequently and create more paper dust than strip cut units.

This is a simple problem with an equally simple solution: wipe the debris or gunk off the sensors. That will make your machine as good as new. Here’s how to do it:

  1. First, unplug your shredder. Then look for the sensors in the paper entry area. In the center of the opening, there will be two things that look like marbles – these are what you’re looking for. (Please note that if your shredder has a safety flap over the cutting mechanism, you may have to lift it to find the sensors.)
  2. After you’ve found the sensors, use a slightly damp cotton ball or Q-tip to clear away any oil or paper dust. You can use a pair of needle-nose pliers or tweezers to clear away any large chunks of debris.
  3. You’re done! Your shredder should be working properly now.

Most of the time, these simple steps will solve the problem. You can do them as part of regular maintenance to keep your machine in good working order.

If your machine is a model that lacks the electronic sensors – such as a smaller deskside shredder designed for home use – you can still fix the problem on your own because those machines have mechanical sensors. These are also located in the middle of the paper entry and they look like small plastic dividers. (In most of these models, the sensors are white, but they could also be gray or black.) The sensors are depressed when paper enters the machine, which causes it to start shredding. Once the paper is gone, the machine stops.

  1. Sometimes bits of paper can weigh down on the sensors, thus causing the machine to run non-stop. But it’s easy to clear up this problem by doing the following:
  2. Unplug the shredder and locate the sensors.

Remove any debris. Use tweezers or pliers, if necessary, but be careful to not press down too hard on the sensors to avoid damaging them.

That’s all there is to it! Hopefully this article has helped you understand why your paper shredder won’t turn itself off. If these tips don’t solve your problem, consult your instruction manual or the manufacturer for additional help.

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