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How to Troubleshoot Paper Towel Dispensers

Kristy Martz

Paper-towel dispensers are often found in the bathrooms and kitchens of businesses. When a paper-towel dispenser becomes jammed, address the issue right away so that the jam doesn't become worse.

How to Troubleshoot Paper-Towel Dispensers

  1. Open the paper-towel dispenser's cover. Some paper-towel dispensers require a key to unlock them. The lock is generally located on the top of the paper-towel dispenser.

  2. Tear off the paper towels just above the rollers. Remove the roll of paper towels. Pull the lever of the paper-towel dispenser a few times to dislodge any remaining paper towels.

  3. Look for jams. Check every space inside the paper-towel dispenser for wads of paper towels. Remove any stray bits of paper towel that you find.

  4. Replace the roll of paper towels. Make sure the roll is not backward. Sometimes the paper towels will still come out of the dispenser if the roll is backward, but will tear off inside the dispenser and cause jams.

  5. Feed the paper towels through the rollers. Pull the paper-towel dispenser's lever three or four times to make sure the paper is completely fed through.

  6. Close the paper-towel dispenser's cover. If there is a key, lock the paper-towel dispenser.


Sometimes simply removing and replacing a roll of paper towels will clear any jams.


Remember to lock paper-towel dispensers that have a key. An unlocked paper-towel dispenser can pop open and injure a person's arm.