Caring for Epson Printers & other inkjets

by Izzy Goodman

Ink is a lubricant for the print heads. Some inkjets work by heating the heads, causing expansion, which forces ink out. To prevent the heads from burning out, some color ink is used even if you only print in black or vice versa. If you printed with a color missing, you could destroy that print head from the heat of running without ink to lubricate it. That's why most printers won't allow you to print with a color missing even if you aren't using it. If you allow a color to go empty, the residual ink in the head could clog and become permanently blocked. You might never be able to print that color again. So always replace ink cartridges as soon as they are empty. At about $3 a cartridge, it's foolish not to.

Leaving your printer on takes very little power. Every so often the printer force out a drop of ink so it doesn't clog. If you turn your printer off, the next time you turn it on it will do a cleaning which wastes a lot of ink. Considering that some companies give you only 3-7 ml to begin with, you don't want to waste it on a cleaning. The excess ink is soaked up by the waste pad beneath the printer. When the waste pad is full, the printer stops working. The cost of repairing it is more than a new printer. Shutting off an inkjet between uses can actually shorten its life.

If you feel you must shut off your printer, never do it through a power strip. When you shut down a printer by pressing its power button, it goes through a shut down routine designed to clear the ink from the heads. If you use a power strip, it won't go through this routine.

If you leave the printer off for extended periods of time, the ink in the heads will clog and you may have to throw the printer away. Before you do so, try our Epson head cleaning kit. Someone I know with a Canon (though this can happen with any inkjet) had to have the heads replaced twice within the first few months before the tech at the authorized Canon repair center told her to stop turning it off. Since then it has worked perfectly for over a year.

Incidentally, the tech had to replace her ink cartridges in order to run a print test. He used compatible cartridges. When she questioned this he said, "They're all the same." If a Canon tech can use compatible cartridges, so can you. Check out the savings available right on this site.

Warning about running out of ink with Epson printers

This applies to other brands of printer as well. If the printer were to continue printing without ink, air would get into the jets and the residual ink remaining will coagulate. Air in the tiny tubes can also break the vacuum effect needed to continue pulling ink into to the head. This may permanently block those heads from ever printing again. Over time, the heads could permanently burn out. To prevent this from happening, Epson printers report that the cartridge is out of ink when there is still some left - in order to force you to replace the ink before it runs out. However, the printer doesn't know exactly how much ink is really left. It estimates. This means that things can go wrong and it is possible for you to be printing with an empty cartridge.

Some people take a half-empty cartridge out and put it back in. This can fool the printer into thinking it is a new cartridge. But then it will continue printing after the ink has run out, which could lead to that print head failing. So playing games like this is false economy. You save a dollar's worth of ink at the risk of your whole printer.

This is why you must take special precautions with our re-usable and refillable cartridges. The chips are designed to reset to full after hitting empty or running a replace procedure. You get a warning that your black ink is low, so you replace it. Other cartridges may reset to full, even the cyan which was 3/4 empty. The printer believes it to be full and continues printing even when there is no ink. So when changing any cartridge, check the others to make sure they are at least half full. The back of the ink tanks are transparent as are the refillables so you can see ho much ink remains. Don't risk your printer trying to save a dollar's worth of ink!

What to do if your printer stops printing a color?
Call Epson and have them walk you through solving the problem. Under no circumstances should you tell them you used third-party ink cartridges. They will sieze upon this as an excuse to stop talking to you. If they can't solve the problem over the phone and your printer is still under warranty, they will fedex you a new one. You will then return the bad one to them in the same box - removing the cartridges from the printer first.

What if the printer is no longer under warranty?
Our Epson head cleaning kit can often solve the problem. It forces a special cleaning solution to the head under pressure. The solution will force out the air and break down clots.

Paper Isn't Feeding Correctly
Over time the printer rollers collect paper lint which renders them less effective at pulling in the paper. Here is some advice I found online which has worked for me but I use isopropyl alcohol instead of water. I find it more effective and it evaporates quickly, so no need to dry it.

"I found only one pickup roller, on the lower right. It's a big one with a notch so as to allow the paper to pass to the print stage after the initial grab. I use a long QTrip moistened with distilled water, holding it against the wheel while I press the paper feed button (the one that has a graphic of a sheet of paper with a turned down "ear"). This has always worked. It may be necessary to repeat this several times. Also helps to finish the procedure with a dry Qtip to dry the roller, or use compressed air. Or go get a cup of coffee!"