How to Unjam a Shredder

Grum, grum, grum goes the shredder until, gru… it stops dead. Or the shredder just keeps on running and running and running…

Either fix is plenty easy, and takes just a moment to do.


If the shredder stalls, 99% of the time it’s because there’s too much material stuffed in it. Push the REVERSE button if it has one, and see if the stuff will back out. Most shredders have an overload circuit that shuts it off if the motor jams because there’s too much stuff jammed in it.

Unplug the shredder. See if you can pull the stuff out by hand. You should be able to get most of it. If it’s a thick wad of stuff, pick stuff out from the center to unjam it.

Plug the shredder in again. Switch it to FORWARD, and it should run.


If the darn thing won’t stop running, make sure it’s set to AUTOMATIC and not to FORWARD. If it’s in AUTOMATIC, unplug it. Turn the shredder upside down and shake it a little bit.If something has jammed the internal switch, it might just simply fall out. Plug the shredder back in. If it still keeps running, switch it to REVERSE, and then back to AUTOMATIC.

If it keeps on going, unplug it again. Turn the shredder over and look into the long groove down the center. Look for something like a staple, or a paper clip, wedged in the groove. You may need to use a pair of needle-nose pliers to remove it.

Have a look at the limit switch. It’s a little tiny metal arm, usually in the very center of the groove. When you shove paper in, you move the arm, which turns on the motor. Use a can of compressed air to blow any chads – in the paper business little bits of loose paper are called chad – away from the little metal arm.

Now, with all your tools out of the shredder, plug it in again.

TA-DAAAAAA! You may shred when ready! Well Done!


The deal with home shredders is that there’s not much you can do to maintain them. Buy a can of shredder oil from your office supply store and use it according to the instructions. Blow the thing out with compressed air every month or so.

If the repair methods we’ve mentioned here are not successful, it might be time to recycle you shredder and get a new one.

Please note: do not do this procedure if you are not certain that you can complete it safely, or if it doesn’t seem accurate. Skippity Whistles provides this information as advice, and cannot accept any liability for your usage of it.


©2022 All right reserved


Published by John D Reinhart

Author, technical writer, videographer, actor, and naval historian John D Reinhart is a very busy guy. You can find his novels as

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