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Clean Those Print Heads

Friday, June 23rd, 2006 by | Filed Under: Printing Help
 
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Q:
The print heads in my inkjet printer are clogged. I’m not sure how to go about cleaning them. Can you give me some tips?

A:
Sure, that’s no problem at all! Clogged print heads is a common problem with inkjet printers and I’m sure it’s happened to all of us at one point or another. Before we get started, I just want to say that it’s a good idea if you frequently check your print heads for problems like this. If there is a clog issue, it’s obviously best to get it taken care of quickly. If you let it go, it will just get worse and worse.

A printer head can sometimes get clogged if there is a long period of time between printing sessions. If you don’t use your printer all that often, yours may be clogged even more. What happens is that the tiny holes that make up an inkjet’s printer head become backed up with dried out ink. Yuck! Well, there are a few things you can do.

Several newer printers come with a built in cleaning system. You can just run some test prints through your printer and the job is done. Your printer may have come with a cleaning program that you can use to go through the steps of cleaning the print heads. Something like this will usually solve the clog problem, but not always. It just depends on how bad the clog is.

Another solution could be to just change the ink cartridge. This only works if your ink cartridge actually includes the print head. If it does, you can switch that clogged cartridge with a fresh one and the problem will be solved. But, if you do this every time you have a clog, it could turn into a lot of money spent on ink cartridges, especially if you don’t use your printer that often. Also, if the print head isn’t contained in the cartridge, they can only be replaced by a technician and they often cost as much as a new printer. Crazy, huh?

You can also try the “printing a test print over and over again” method. If you print so many tests, it may eventually unclog the dried ink and improve your print heads. But, keep in mind, this trial and error process can take up to 15 or 20 prints and it will also waste a lot of your ink.

So, if I haven’t yet fixed your problem yet, let’s try something else. Often times, just soaking the print heads in distilled water with a little bit of rubbing alcohol or ammonia can do the trick. (You could also use a special cartridge flush solution, but that’s going to cost you more money). Go ahead and remove the print heads from your printer and just soak them in any of the above liquids. Depending on the blockage, soak them for 10 minutes up to an overnight time period. This method works well by breaking up the bits of dried ink and it should eventually create a clear ink passage again.

Hopefully one of these methods will help clear up your inkjet print head clog troubles and you will be able to print beautifully once again!

~ Erin

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