Ink Maintenance

Ink Maintenance


Printer Cleaning

You can clean any printer’s exterior with a damp cloth, but interior cleaning differs for inkjet and laser printers. For inkjets, open the ink-cartridge access panel and use a dry cloth or chamois cleaning swabs to remove any dust or ink. Then run your printer’s head-cleaning software to clear the ink nozzle. For laser printers, remove the toner cartridge and wipe the toner cavity and rollers with a dry cloth, while avoiding the transfer roller that sits directly under the cartridge. Resist the urge to clean the optical mirror near the toner cavity; you’ll only distort it.

Ink Cartridge Storage

Store your inkjet and toner cartridges in the UPRIGHT POSITION. This simple step solves 50% of printing problems. During shipping, cartridges tend to get thrown around and are not always in the upright position. This allows the ink to move to the opposite end of the cartridge where it gets retained in a sponge. Then the ink must move all the way down the sponge to print. So please, store the cartridge upright at least several hours before installing.

Printer Head Cleaning

Run your print head cleaning function when installing a new cartridge. Make sure to remove any print head tape and vent hole tapes on the cartridge itself. Place the cartridge in your machine and perform the cleaning cycle on your printer 2-3 times in a row to get a good flow of ink.

Lines, Faint/Missing Colors

If you have lines in your print, faint colors or missing colors (usually HP/Lexmark), place a half inch of hot water (not boiling, however) from your tap into a paper cup or dish. Place the UPRIGHT cartridge in the cup/dish just enough so the small copper bottom print head sits in the water. Let it soak there for about a minute. Remove the cartridge and CAREFULLY dry it off with a soft paper towel. You can add some isopropyl alcohol to the water to make it a bit more effective, if needed. Re-install the cartridge and perform the cleaning cycle before attempting to print anything.

Obtaining Fuller Color

If the above tips helped, but you think you should be getting even fuller colors, try this procedure: With your “paint” program, draw 3 large boxes. Make one box red, one box blue and the last box yellow. Make another one black if black is giving you a problem. By printing the color boxes at the highest resolution (dpi) possible, it will force the cartridge to push ink onto the page at a greater rate and once good flow is established, you shouldn’t have another problem again with that cartridge.

Cleaning Printer Cartridge

Take a paper towel and fold it up several times to make it thick and soft. Put it on a hard surface such as a kitchen counter or table. Remove cartridge from printer and place it on the paper towel print head down (upright position). While applying even pressure pushing the cartridge down into the paper towel, rock the cartridge back and forth. If you lift the cartridge up, you should be able to see small spots of ink on the towel. This motion pushes any dried particles out of the print head so it can print properly. Perform the rocking motion several times before replacing it in the printer and reprinting. Adding hot water (not boiling) to the towel can also help.

Solving Printer Ink Cartridge Problems from Shipping

Just allowing the cartridge to sit upright in the printer overnight also solves a lot of the problems encountered with the shipping. Gravity during the night will allow the ink to return to the bottom of the cartridge and then it should work just fine.

Three Enemies of Ink Cartridges

Remember the three enemies of ink – moisture, extreme heat, and extreme cold. When you set up your printer, make sure it is NOT in a window with direct sunlight beating on it on a summer day (even if you have air conditioning). Also, make sure you don’t have your printer in a damp basement area without adequate air flow. And then there’s the obvious enemy – extreme temperatures. If a cartridge gets TOO HOT or TOO COLD in storage or in shipping, you may experience difficulties. When receiving a shipment from us in summer heat waves or winter cold blasts, be sure to bring in your mail as soon as it is delivered. If you are at work when your mail arrives, have your order shipped to your place of employment to avoid any extreme temperatures. Ink is more fragile than people often realize. Take care of your ink and it will produce many thousands of pages of text and pictures for the life of the cartridge.

Remove Printer Cartridge Head Tape or Protective Clips

If your printer light keeps blinking or your printer won’t recognize your new cartridge, make sure you have removed any print head tape or protective clips on the cartridge. Ensure the back of the cartridge is free from any particles by wiping it with a damp paper towel. Sometimes you will get an error message or cue from your printer saying this is not an original (brand name) product. Simply shut down the printer. Replace the cartridge and start it all back up. This will override the message and permit you to use remanufactured or compatible cartridges in your printers.

Low Printer Ink Limits

It is not recommended that you continue to print much after the “low ink” warning light comes on. You can print a few pages (5-10) but you don’t want to run the cartridge dry. An inkjet printer works by heating a small amount of ink, which is then “jetted” onto your paper. The ink cools the resistors used to heat the ink. If there is no ink in your cartridge, the resistors overheat and burn out. This shortens the life of the printhead and can also clog your printer with dry ink waiting for you to purchase a new cartridge and install it. Keep a spare cartridge on hand and you’ll always be ready to print and never risk a printer problem.

Printer Ink Cartridge Protective Clip

If you are having trouble making the cartridge fit in your printer even though you are certain you purchased the correct cartridge number, it may be because some cartridge models have a temporary plastic clip attached to them. This is done to protect the cartridge during transit/shipping. Make sure you remove this temporary clip before trying to install the cartridge in your printer.

Compatible Printer Ink Cartridge Error Message

If your printer gives you an error message after installing the compatible cartridge, it is likely due to dirty electrical contacts on the cartridge or possibly on the printer where the electrical contacts meet. Clean off the contacts with a folded paper towel dipped in alcohol and try again. Be especially careful not to pull up the edges of the cartridge’s electrical ribbon (copper). A circular motion works best for this. Make sure you “drop” the cartridge into the printer holder and then wiggle the cartridge slightly to the left and right a few times. Now lock the cartridge into place and resume printing.

Multi-Color Ink Cartridge Missing Colors

If colors are missing from a multi-color cartridge, it is likely that the cartridge has become deprimed. This means an air bubble may be trapped inside the cartridge between the ink and the printhead preventing proper ink flow. Many times, all it takes is a couple of cleaning cycles with your printer utilities program or a few hard shakes (like shaking down a medical thermometer) with a paper towel folded over the end of the cartridge to get it primed and working again.

Printer Cleaning Utility

To run a “cleaning utility” for your printer, go to your “Control Panel” and right click on your printer’s icon. Under “printer preferences” or “properties” you should find your printer utilities and see an option for cleaning or priming the cartridge. You should run 2-3 cleaning cycles each time a new cartridge is installed in the printer.

One Simple Trick to Print Faster AND Cheaper!

TSpeed up your printer’s output and save money! You can “trick” an inkjet printer into speeding up, and save a few bucks in the process: Turn off the color. Yep, it’s that simple. You see, unless color is crucial for yourdocument, you’re wasting ink and slowing down the printer if you output in color.

Don’t believe us? Test it… Print a color page, then print it again in grayscale. To do this, go to Start > Settings > Printers and right-click on the printer’s icon. Go to Properties and find the tab that lets you change from color to grayscale. Now, print the page again. The file I tested took more than 2 minutes to print in color; the grayscale version took only 35 seconds. When you do need color, simply change the settings back. This is also a good tip to keep in mind if you have children using your printer. They want to print everything and that’s bad enough, but when they print everything in color, that’s even worse. Don’t show the kids how to change the printer settings and you’ll save yourself a lot of ink and a lot of frustration. Just another example of Ink Spot trying to save you money.

Static Electricity

Cold winter weather outside means dry, warm temps inside. This produces static electricity and that can be bad for laser printers. The most common static electricity issue is blurred print, since the static on the paper does not allow the toner to “stay in place” before the fuser adheres it to your paper. Thus, the end result is an image or letters that are blurred. Solution? Use a furnace humidifier to increase the humidity in your entire home or office every time the heat clicks on. If that is not an option, try a portable humidifier in the same room as the laser printer.

Page Count and Toner Usage

Many things affect page count of toner cartridges. The more toner printed on the page (percent of page coverage), the density setting of the machine (how light or dark it prints) and the number of pages printed with bold text or graphics cause the greatest variance. Studies of original equipment manufacturers (OEM) toner using the exact same laser printer, same density setting and same page coverage have shown variances of up to 30% in page yield! You simply will not always get the same page yield out of each toner, because you don’t always print the exact same thing for the life of the toner.

General Toner Troubleshooting

The best way to determine whether a problem is with a toner cartridge or with the laser printer itself is to replace the toner cartridge. You may either switch the toner out with another one in your supply or put it in another laser printer compatible with that toner part. If switching the toner cartridge with another one seems to correct the problem, then it was a cartridge issue. If the problem persists even after switching out the toner cartridge, then it most likely is the laser printer itself.

Laser printer prints light

Many of the newer laser printers have the print density (lightness or darkness) preset to "econo-mode" from the factory to give you the most page yield for the particular toner cartridge. However, you may prefer a little darker print to make your work look more presentable or easier to read. Make sure you check the print quality setting, the density setting and the retention setting of your laser printer (see your individual printer manuals for how to do this). Switching the toner out with another won’t change the result if the printer is preset to draft, econo-mode, etc. Cleaning your corona wire, scanner lens (on all in one printers) or beam-to-drum mirror will eliminate many light print issues if you already have the print density set to your desired choice and still aren’t getting the darkness you wish on your printed pages.

Image Defects

The most likely cause of image defects (other than a bad toner cartridge) is fuser issues. Many laser printers have a maintenance kit which includes the fuser, transfer roller and rubber paper pick-ups. These are replaced on a regular basis based on page count when the printer displays "USER MAINTENANCE" in its readout. Laser printers that do not have regularly scheduled maintenance programming built into them may only have the fuser replaced when an image problem occurs. Since the fuser is what adheres the toner powder to the page, replacing this part of your laser printer usually solves any image or print issues that are not traced back to the toner cartridge itself.