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Why am I having problems sending/receiving faxes?

  • What do I do if I have problems faxing?

(Submitted by John Chilcoat)

Before we begin, it may be beneficial to go over some general faxing terminology and their respective definitions.

  • VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol)
    • Using the internet to make and receive telephone and fax calls
  • PTSN (Public Switched Telephone Network)
    • Original standard phone line
  • “Handshake”
    • The sounds made when the receiving fax machine initially picks up.
    • Used to establish communication protocols and transmission speed, which is based on the quality of the phone line being used.
  • Direct Dial
    • Dialing a fax number and waiting for the receiving side to pick up before hitting send.
  • Memory Dial
    • Dialing a number and having the machine scan the entire document before calling the other fax machine.

Listed below are (3) common issues, and their potential causes, that could cause trouble for you when trying to send or receive a fax.

  1. Fax is taking too long to send or receive.
    The greatest cause for this issue hinges upon the size and coverage of the document(s) being faxed. For example, a document that contains pictures or a full page of text will take longer to fax than a document with half of a page of text that contains no pictures.

    Another cause for delays stems from the type and quality of fax line being used. For instance, VOIP is usually slower than a PTSN line due to the following reasons:
    • Default Line Speed for Transmittal: VOIP is 9600 to 14400 while a PTSN is 14400 to 33600.
    • Default Pages-per-minute Capability: VOIP typically takes 30 to 60 seconds per page to transmit where a PTSN is about half of that at a speed of 15-30 seconds per page.
    • Lastly, there are no standard VOIP faxing protocols, whereas a PTSN does have standard protocols.

    A final cause for a lag in sending or receiving faxes has to do with static or electrical noise, which can cause the speed of the data transfer to drop. This happens because the machine is attempting to achieve the best quality and accuracy for the data transfer.
     
  2. Not sending or receiving faxes at all.
    Not being able to send or receive faxes at all could be the result of a problem with either the line or the machine itself. To determine which is the most likely cause, there are several troubleshooting steps that we recommend, such as:
    • Determine what number the machine is faxing on.
      You can ascertain this information by placing a call from the fax machine to any phone that has a caller id feature, like your cell phone. Once you have determined what number the fax machine is using to place calls, then use that number to call the fax machine from another phone line.
      • If the machine does pick up, but does not show the correct fax line number, then the problem lies with either the company providing the fax line or there is an incorrect configuration setting for the fax machine line in your phone system.
      • If the machine does not pick up, then possibly placing a service call for the machine may be prudent.
      • If neither of the above steps has solved the problem, then call the fax machine with the phone line unplugged. In this case, if the fax machine answers, then the phone line is mis-routed and needs to be addressed by either your IT department or the phone company.
      • Finally, ensure that the phone line for the fax machine is plugged into the line jack and not the telephone jack.
    • On the fax option of the machine look for a “speaker” or “on hook” button.
      Press this button and try dialing another fax machine. Look for any error messages from the machine or the phone company. (If there is an error message, many times it will direct you as to what steps may be taken to fix the issue, i.e., you need to dial the area code for this number, you need to dial a 1 to reach this number, or you need to enter a pin to dial long distance, etc.)
    • Try the “direct-dial” method of sending a fax. (See appendix above for definition)
      If this method is successful, then a service call for machine may be prudent as an improper setting on the machine may be the cause for this issue.
    • Power the machine off and then back on again.
      Sometimes power surges or local storms can cause the machine’s logic to “lock up”. When this occurs, turning the machine off, waiting a minute or two, and then powering the machine back on may serve to clear the issue, allowing your fax to return to proper functioning.
       
  3. Machine not powering on. (Especially after a thunderstorm.)
    • First, try plugging the machine into a different wall outlet, one that you know is working.
    • Secondly, if the machine is plugged into a surge suppressor, then try plugging the machine directly into the wall instead. In this case, the surge suppressor may be faulty.
    • Lastly, if neither of the above options work, then a service call may be needed to see if the machine is damaged or in need of repair.