Tips and Tricks 6 – How to Cure Blocked Heads

OK – so you already have blocked printer heads. What now?! Here is how to cure them:

1. First, check it isn’t something else! It is easy to forget to remove a ‘pull’ label and this has the same effect as putting your finger over a straw full of liquid. The vacuum stops the liquid escaping. And since the printer does not know if the label has been removed, it tries to draw ink against the vacuum and nothing happens! This looks exactly the same as a blocked head so check for this first. I did this myself not so long ago and I should know better!

2. Try cleaning the heads. Inkjet printers will get a blocked head at some point no matter what you do. This is why they have the built-in cleaning routines. So clean the heads and print a nozzle-check pattern. If it isn’t perfect, repeat and see if it improves. If not, repeat once more and then stop.

3. If repeated cleans don’t work, leave it overnight. Allow ink to flow into the blocked head. Sometimes this will loosen the blockage and the next time you clean the heads there can be an improvement. Also, if the blockage is an air bubble, sometimes leaving it a while allows the bubble to work its way out.

4. Most of the time, the above will solve the problem but occasionally even this won’t work. It is worth replacing the cartridge at this point. On very rare occasions you can get a faulty cartridge where the air-release hole isn’t properly formed. The air can’t escape so neither can the ink. Before you go any further it is worth checking for this. With the £10 originals this is an expensive gamble but with ours it is less painful and worth a go.

5. If none of the above work, then you may need some head-cleaning solution. If the ink has really dried solid (should not happen if you follow our guidelines) then it will need some help to break down. Beware of kits that force cleaning solution through the head usually with some kind of syringe. These can cause more damage than good. Our friends at octoink are experts at this so give them a call

And of course, if you ever need any advice please feel free to call us on +44 1253 403020

The Ink Squid

Tips and Tricks 5 – How to Avoid Blocked Heads

As requested, here are the main ways to avoid blocking the heads on you inkjet printer:

1) Print regularly – if you leave a printer unused for a period of time, the ink starts to dry out in the heads so try and print something in colour at least once per week

2) Never take cartridges out of a printer for more than a few minutes. On many models this exposes the heads to air and the ink will start to dry immediately. With Epson printers this can ruin a printer very quickly indeed.

3) Try not to leave a printer with empty cartridges installed (for the same reason as above)

4) Switch the printer off at the power button first before pulling the plug out (the printer goes through a mini head-cleaning procedure before shutting down and this reduces the chances of getting blocked heads)

5) Try to avoid running cartridges completely dry before changing them. This is a little out of your hands as the printer estimates when a cartridge is empty. The idea is that a little bit of ink is left in the cartridge so that no air gets into the ink line but sometimes the printer gets this calculation wrong. The first you should know that a cartridge needs replacing should be the message from the printer and not a deterioration in print quality. If the quality drops first then air is already in the line and this can be a pain to correct! If this happens a lot then try keeping an eye on the cartridge levels and changing them a little earlier.

6) Try not to keep the printer near a heat source (like a radiator) or in front of window in direct sunlight. This will heat the printer up (especially since many models are black) and bake the heads

7) The same for the cartridges – don’t leave them in direct light or near a heat source

In the next ‘Tips and Tricks’ – what to do if you already have blocked heads.

The Ink Squid

Tips and Tricks 1 – blocked print-heads

This is one we come across every day and the most common cause is taking cartridges out of the printer.

At least once a week someone walks into the shop with a bag of ink cartridges asking if we supply them. They have taken them out of the printer and exposed the ink-soaked print-heads to air. Since ink is designed to dry almost instantly, as soon as the head is exposed to air, it starts to dry out.

This is bad news for most printers but particularly so for Epsons. Within a few hours, the heads will be blocked and will need cleaning. If the printer is left like this, the printer will almost always be a write-off within a few days.

The golden rules…?
1. Never ever take the cartridges out of the printer for more than a couple of minutes
2. When a cartridge runs out, replace it straight away