ADF's are built to standards of durability and ease of use that ensure that they give reasonably trouble-free service for reasonable amounts of time. "Reasonable" is this case is only partly in the eye of the beholder: the very cheapest devices, built of string and tissue-paper, aren't going to work very long! Again, we jest; but it's perfectly true that reliability is very much a function of the size and cost of the machine: with a $49 unit, the maker has no profit margin in the components used - they must be cheap - whereas in a $3,000 ADF there had better be care to use the most reliable even if more expensive parts!
That being said, in all cases simple care of the machine will ensure the best operation. Keep it clean. Don't overload it or try to run too-thick paper through it. Don't operate it in bright sunshine or in windy areas. Keep staples and other adventitious substances out of it. Don't over-run it!
Should a problem occur, step one is to make sure just what's happening. If it's obviously physical, then something probably needs to be done to the ADF. Perhaps there's a loose scrap of paper somewhere in the works: perhaps a roller is worn out. If it's not apparent from inspection what the problem is, then open the ADF up and see. Be very aware in this instance that you aren't meant to take the machine apart: screws and nuts that are tight, or pieces connected tightly together, are not meant to be touched! Only things that obviously open up - or for which there are explicit instructions to open up - should be moved!
Failing that, consult the documentation that SHOULD accompany your machine. If your problem is listed, follow the instructions. (Here we paraphrase some examples from HP: freely available on the internet). Id the paper doesn't go through the ADF straight, then make sure there isn't too much of a load in the input, or that the paper isn't too thick - and about six other possibilities. If your ADF is powered up but won't feed, turn it off, remove and replug any connections, turn it on and try again. (This is invariably Plan "A" when mysterious problems occur). Failing that, if the scanner (or whatever we're using here) works but the ADF won't, then expert service is needed.
There is an enormous amount of publicly-generated information in user groups which may pertain to your situation. When you search the internet, always include your manufacturer' name or abbreviation and the model number: "Canon CB12335": as well as a brief problem description.
Some self-help maintenance can be done: cleaning the machine is obvious. You can also buy maintenance kits for some problems, either from the manufacturer or from OEM's - of which there will be a few or many depending on how popular your machine is! But beware: "kit" is a very flexible word and may encompass nothing more than a few mylar sheets, which you could probably pick up at a stationery store. In every case these "kits" will be limited to the needful for fixing ONE problem or a group of closely related ones.
Finally, be aware of your limitations. Some problems will need expertise which you'll have to pay for. And if the expert is worth his/her salt s/he will be able to tell if you're been messing around with the machine, and will likely charge you more as a result!
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