by Izzy Goodman
If you are using refillable cartridges, read the specific instructions for them.
The printer recognizes the cartridge and shows it as full but that color does not print: Did you take the tape off the top of the cartridge (or on the refillable cartridge, did you remove the plastic plug on top closest to the edge)? It covers a tiny air hole. Air has to get in for ink to flow out. If you did remove the tape, perhaps a tiny bit remains which is still covering the hole. Take a sharp object like a pin or scissors and carefully scrape the top of the cartridge to make sure the hole is uncovered.
Print a nozzle check pattern. Does ANY of that color print? If no color is showing, either the print head or the cartridge is clogged. To determine which, take a tissue and hold it at the bottom of the cartridge where the printer punctured it. Shake the cartridge gently. If the tissue is stained with ink, the cartridge is doing its job. All it does is drip ink into the printer. It has no way to reach into the printer and prevent that ink from making it to the page. So what you have is a head clog.
Incidentally, we deal with several cartridge manufacturers. When someone orders two or more of each cartridge, we generally split the order between two brands. There is a reason for this. If a customer says their black cartridge doesn't print, we tell them to use the other one. If both don't print, that is a good indication that the printer is clogged. What are the chances that two different manufacturers produced a defective cartridge of the same color and the same customer got both?
If there is some color showing, perhaps the print heads for that color are clogged. Run a head cleaning and try another nozzle check. Did it get better? If so, you have a head clog. You may have to run several cleanings, but not too many. If there is no improvement after 3 or 4, stop. Running more can damage the printer.
What the head cleaning does is squirt out ink in the hope of washing away the clog. Since ink won't dissolve an ink clot, you really should have a head cleaning kit on hand. But here are some steps you can try if you are in a rush or can't afford the $7 to fix your printer.
Leave the printer on for a day
run several head cleanings and print the nozzle check pattern
remove and reinsert the cartridges
run one head cleaning
wait about an hour then run some head cleanings.
if that still doesn't work, your heads may be clogged to the point where only the head cleaning kit will help or you may need to remove the heads and clean them throughly. For many printers this is not as hard as it sounds. Judy Hammond, editor of the Butler Area Merchants Association newspaper, is one of our customers. She had two printers with this issue. She found a video on youtube on removing the print heads and did it herself. She told me it was not that hard and took about 5 minutes. But then she discovered the real reason the heads had clogged, which is the next topic.
In dry areas with low humidity, ink tends to clog a lot faster. After removing and cleaning the heads, the printers still kept clogging so she went back to google and found another solution. She put a humidifier next to the printers. After a few hours, she ran a head cleaning and then they began working and continued to do so.