Shredder Running Continuously

In most cases, if a shredder is running continuously, this does not indicate that anything is broken.

A majority of Fellowes shredders have 2 small electronic sensors in the throat of the paper entry slot. These are designed to work by shooting a signal to each other; when the signal is broken (by paper entering the throat) the shredder turns on, and when the paper passes through completely, the sensors are able to recognize the signals and the shredder turns off.

If paper dust, debris or oil has covered the sensors it can break the signals (indicating to the shredder that paper is being entered) and can cause the shredder to run continuously. This is a little bit more of a problem on cross cut shredders since the oil can very easily cloud the sensors.

The good news is that it is as simple as wiping off the sensors to clear away anything that may interfere.

To locate the sensors, unplug shredder and look in the paper entry throat and in the very center there will be two small sensors that look like small glass beads or marbles. If your model has a safety flap over the cutters, you may need to lift this to get access.  Please note that if you have an Intellishred shredder (i.e. PS79Ci, 79Ci, SB89Ci, SB99Ci, etc.) there is a paper gauge lever in the middle of the entry.  You will need to look past this lever in order to locate the auto sensors.


Once you locate the sensors, use a q-tip dampened with rubbing alcohol to wipe away any residue or dust. You may need to clean it a couple of times.  Also if there is any visible paper debris in this area, remove with q-tip or needle nosed pliers.

Almost all of the time, this procedure will solve the problem, and may be repeated as part of routine maintenance as needed.

If you do not have electronic sensors, see below for additional instructions.
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Some of Fellowes smaller home shredders offer a mechanical sensor rather than the electronic version.

Mechanical sensors are also located in the very center of the paper entry throat and look like a small plastic divider in the middle of the cutting blades. In most models the sensor is white, but can also be gray or black.

How does it work? When paper is entered into the shredder, the mechanical sensor is pressed down causing the shredder to start shredding. Once paper has passed through, the sensor will release to normal position and stop shredding.

If paper debris is putting some weight on the sensor it could be 'stuck down' and not able to return to the normal position. This can happen more often if you recently had a jam that was able to be reversed out.

With the shredder unplugged, locate the sensor and remove any paper debris from around or under the sensor . If the shreds are not reachable, use a tweezers or needle nosed pliers to remove unnecessary paper.

Be careful to not put too much force on or around the mechanical sensor as to not damage it.

If you are having difficulty with this troubleshooting, or the troubleshooting did not resolve your problem, click the "Ask a Question" tab above to contact a customer service representative by email 24 hours a day. Generally customer service will respond the next business day.