How to Fix a Clogged Epson Printer

Published: 22nd July 2006
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Epson printers have proven to be among the best inkjet printers in the world in terms of performance and economy. That being said, there are also crucial maintenance requirements to remember when using your printer.

Epson printing technology is unique, so it is helpful to understand some of the basic mechanics of the ink delivery system.

The print head built into the carriage. The carriage holds the ink cartridges and moves laterally across the paper when printing. The print head contains thousands of tiny nozzles that actually squirt the ink onto paper. The print head is the ink "control center" for the printer.

By far, the biggest issue with Epson printers is there tendency for their print heads to become clogged with ink. Since the nozzles are (depending on the model) a fraction of the size of a human hair, it is easy to see how clogging can become an issue.

I. Signs that your printer may be clogged

A. Full cartridge but no ink coming out on printed paper

B. Broken or white horizontal lines

C. Print becomes faint, then disappears completely on within first page but the cartridge is not empty.

D. Printed material comes out in one or two colors only

The first and best way to keep your Epson printer in good condition and free from clogs is to print regularly. The more you print the less problems you will have.

Printing regularly keeps the ink in the print head moving and fresh; preventing the ink from drying. Printing at least a page a week of black text and a page containing all three colors (cyan, magenta and yellow) is good for maintaining top printing performance.

Here is a link to a tune up pattern we recommend to use once a week if you do not print very often with your Epson printer.

The second defense against clogs is to make sure that you power down your printer using its' power button instead of the off switch on a power strip. This is especially important if you do not print at least once a week. Turning your printer off with your power strip prevents the printers' built in shut down process from sealing the print head.

If the print head is not sealed, the ink will slowly dry and harden in the print head. Eventually, the ink will dry and turn to the consistency of maple syrup or even putty. When this happens, the print head will partially or completely clog.

The next preventative tip is to remember to always keep a cartridge installed in the printer.

If you run out of ink, and take the empty cartridge with you to your local office supply store, make sure you replace it promptly. The ink will dry wherever exposed to the air, including in the ink-receptacle area where you just removed the cartridge from the carriage.

Try not to take a cartridge out of the carriage unless you are replacing it within a couple minutes.

If you have received this article a day late and found that you have a clog, don't despair, there is hope.

Start with the easiest solution, try running a cleaning cycle using your printer utilities program. A few cleaning cycles (or cartridge priming cycle) will usually clear any air bubbles from a cartridge change or a small clog from the nozzles.

Select the utility tab (it might also be named "Maintenance") and there you'll find the head cleaning tool and nozzle check. Run the head cleaning cycle, then a nozzle check after to see the progress. Repeat these two steps 1- 4 times as until clear.

There is said to be a small chance of damaging the print head if multiple cleanings are performed consecutively without a nozzle check, so make sure to remember to do both

If no success there are still a couple of things you can try.

Option # 1. You can try using ammonia (or Windex is ok also) with a cotton swab. Basically, you'll need to first remove the cartridge of the color that's giving you problems. Put some ammonia in the top of the printhead (the carriage part in the printer) and let it sit overnight. Also put a little more ammonia in the printhead-resting seat. (The rubber part that seals off the printhead unit when in it's resting position.)

You will also take an ammonia dampened cotton swab and try gently wiping off the bottom part of the printhead (the end closest to the paper)

You can also take an old, inkjet cartridge and drill a hole in it, clean it out with the ammonia, fill it back up with ammonia and seal the hole. Put the improvised cleaning back in place and then run a few cleaning cycles or a long print routine. Then replace with regular cartridge to see if any progress has been made. Be warned that this could get messy, so have paper towels nearby.

The final option to fix a stubborn clog is to use a specific cleaner called "Print Head Clog Buster" which is made specifically for this purpose.

It's a 1 ounce bottle of cleanser that also comes with a plastic tube syringe for shooting cleaner directly through the printhead ports (works much better than a q-tip). It also comes with detailed instructions on how to use it. This is specially formulated, and works very well for stubborn clogs.

If you are interested in the Clog buster cleaner kit, the price is $14.95 with free shipping.

Here's a quick link that will add it to your shopping cart:

Hopefully this information will keep your Epson printing for years to come.

Remember… Print weekly, and enjoy your printer for years to come.

Bob Stephens is director of operations for ASAP Inkjets, and an

authority on inkjet technology & mechanics. ASAP Inkjets offers

inkjet cartridges and laser toner at up to 80% below retail.

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