Fixing Clogged Print Heads

If your printer won’t print a decent “Nozzle Check” without missing lines, head cleanings with the Epson maintenance utility haven’t worked and you have tried replacing the offending cartridges and the issue still persists even after the new cartridges are installed, you can can be pretty sure you have clogged print heads. 

This is usually caused buy not printing often enough and therefore allowing ink to dry in or on the print heads. Low quality aftermarket ink can contribute to this problem but, I have even seen brand new Epson ink cartridges come with old dried out ink as well, although that is very uncommon.

It is important to note that while many printer manufacturers use cheap disposable print heads attached to their cartridges, Epson does not. Epson print heads are part of the printer itself which enables Epson to use higher quality print heads with a much better print quality than most similarly priced printers.

While this practice is great for print quality, most long term users of an Epson printer will eventually encounter clogs that can not be cleared by using the standard Epson cleaning utility or by just replacing the guilty ink cartridge.

When this happens you have 4 choices, you can:
1.) Have the printer repaired. This will be almost as or more expensive than buying a new printer unless you have a expensive professional printer.

2.) Replace the print head yourself. This can be very difficult if you don’t know what your doing and almost as expensive as buying a new printer.

3.) Toss the printer, save the ink and buy a new printer. The best choice for many people if the easier methods of cleaning don’t work. 

4.) Clean the print head yourself. I consider this to be the best choice but, if the clog(s) is/are difficult and the print head needs to be removed, many people are better off just replacing the printer.

Cleaning your Epson print heads (Starting with the easiest method):
1.) Turn your printer on/ Press the ink button until the cartridges move into the position needed for changing them/ Do not turn the printer off but, instead unplug the printer. You can now move the ink cart carriage freely from side to side. 
Watch this video:
I use Windex (original formula W/ammonia) Some people say not to use Windex but, often they are trying to sell you their own formula.

If this doesn’t work you can leave the paper towel under the print heads for about 8-24 hours. If you need to do this, make as many folds in the paper towel as you can make and still have the ability to slide the ink cart carriage over it. You will also want to completely soak the towel with Windex. The ammonia in the Windex will help soften the ink. 

As long as a nozzle check shows that you are making improvements you can repeat these steps as necessary, intermingled with head cleanings with the Epson utility although, you should not do more than three Epson utility head cleanings at a time or that may further clog your print heads. 

2.) Buy a head cleaning kit that comes with a syringe and a piece of tubing. you can use their cleaning fluid or Windex. I use Windex sometimes with a little isopropyl alcohol added. Clean as directed. Here’s an example: You only have to do the colors that are clogged.

3.) Remove your print head. Example: Place the print head in a small flat bottomed bowl with Windex. Fill the bowl as high as you can fill it without the Windex touching the electrical contacts. Then use your syringe and tubing to draw the Windex up through the print heads and into the syringe, cover and let soak over night and repeat (minus the soaking). 

Now to check if it is completely unclogged use your syringe and tubing to GENTLY squirt some Windex back through the print heads it should look like this: 
Now reinstall.

IMPORTANT: if any of the electrical contacts got wet during this process do not reinstall until you are COMPLETELY sure they are dry. Also avoid touching any electrical contacts.

This last fix is the most difficult and many people may not want to go that far but, as long as your print heads are not damaged this will return them to new-like condition.

Another important note is: Always unplug your printer before attempting any of the above steps. 

Almost every Epson owner will eventually run into this problem but, to keep it at bay for as long as possible:
1.) print at least a test page every 3-4 days. 

2.) Only use quality ink. However by NO MEANS am I saying only use Epson ink.

Epson ink is very expensive and head cleanings will deplete an Epson ink cartridge in no time at all. I use a continuous ink supply system but, even if you use quality aftermarket ink cartridges you can save around 75% over buying Epson ink. Even in a worst case scenario where the crappy ink you bought was responsible for completely destroying your printer, by the time that happened most likely you would have saved enough money to buy more than one new printer. That said, your best off sticking to quality aftermarket ink.

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