I’m Answering Inkjet-related Questions on Photojojo.com for 48 Hours Starting 6/23/2008

On Monday and Tuesday, June 23 and 24th I’ll be answering questions on one of my favorite Photo-related sites, Photojojo.com. You can read the press release here, that describes the event. I’m really looking forward to it!

picture-24.jpg To go directly to the forum to read the Questions and Answers, visit this page on Photojojo.com.

Andrew Darlow

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Ann Helgeson - June 24, 2008

Our little museum has a Canon i9900 printer which worked well for about a year and then started producing photos with a magenta or sometimes a green cast – like a sheet of film of that color was put over them. It does this all the time now. In the past I cleaned the printheads with water and alcohol and windex and it would be OK for awhile.

Now all the printer will do respectably is print type (no pictures) in black.

Any ideas what is wrong?

Andrew Darlow - June 24, 2008

Hi Ann:

It sounds like the heads are clogged. I would run a nozzle check page to see the current situation.

I have some tips on Photojojo.com (copied below) about how to deal with clogged nozzles on an Epson printer. It may help with the Canon as well, though I have not done the procedure I describe there on a Canon i9900 printer.

This is an age-old question, not only with the Epson 1280, but with many other inkjet printers. I would venture to say that clogging of inkjet heads has caused more people to pull hair out of their heads than just about any other inkjet printing subject.

Though I’m not using it much these days, I have an Epson Stylus Photo 1280, and the following tips can also be used for other Epson printers. In some cases, these tips will work with other printer brands as well. Just to be safe, I should say that these suggestions are based on my personal experiences and though I doubt they will do any harm, proceed at your own risk. They are my recommendations and won’t necessarily be the same as the recommendations of the printer manufacturer.

1. First, for best results, you should operate your printer in a room with relative humidity levels ideally between about 35-60%. With lower humidity levels, the printheads will be more prone to clogging. Adding a humidifier to a room is one way to bring up the level, or you can create a mini-greenhouse environment by covering your printer with plastic and placing a 1 quart plastic container about 1/2 filled with distilled water with about 10 holes the size of a pencil eraser cut in the top of the plastic cover. An electric drill makes this pretty easy to do. Basically, whatever will allow water to evaporate out without having a completely open container near your printer is fine. Plastic wrap with a few slits in it can also be used as a cover.

Then carefully place the container on the exit tray of the printer and cover the printer and tray with plastic. The water will slowly evaporate and help keep the heads from clogging. Even though the water is distilled, over time mold can grow (yummy!), so clean the container every month or so and replace the water. This procedure has also been helpful for a client of mine with an Epson Stylus Pro 4000 printer.

2. Cover the printer when not in use with a plastic sheet or bag, but still allow some air to enter. Often, clogging occurs due to dust and pet hair finding its way into your printer’s delicate printheads.

3. After running a nozzle check through the printer utility, check it for any gaps. If there are any, do a single cleaning cycle. If that does not fix the problem, proceed with the suggestion below.

4. One way to deal with clogs is to press the button usually used when changing cartridges for about a half second (on the Epson 1280, it is a yellow button hidden under the printer’s front plastic panel). After the print head moves to the left, pull out the plug from the wall or power strip. Then check the parking pads for any dust or hair (you’d be surprised what ends up in there, especially if you have furry pets or other friends around). This debris can be gently removed with a toothpick and/or tweezers. A flashlight is recommended to do this properly.

The pads will have various colors of ink in them, and they reside just below where the printhead normally parks. Then clean the area around the pads with a lint-free cloth and saturate the parking pads with about 5-10 drops of distilled water or Windex glass cleaner. Then plug the printer’s power cord in and press the same button you pressed before and let the printer sit for about 24 hours. Then run a nozzle check and make a print to see if that clears the problem. Rubber gloves can keep your hands from getting full of ink.

5. I also recommend running a nozzle check every few days, and also print a small 2×3 inch print of an image like the test target I suggested in number 3 above. This should also help to reduce the amount of clogging.

6. Never run your printer’s cleaning cycle more than 3 times in a row after doing a nozzle check. You will waste a lot of ink and probably just make the problem worse.

7. If that doesn’t work, there is a good description of another technique I’ve used successfully that involves folding a paper towel, saturating it with Windex or a similar cleaning fluid, and running the head manually over it. I usually tape it down as well, and I like to use Viva paper towels for this because they produce virtually no lint.

You can find the forum thread here: http://www.retouchpro.com/forums/archive/t-7324.html

Hope that helps!


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