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How to Avoid, or Easily Repair, Common Ink Cartridge Problems

No matter how much you care for your computer components, follow the manufacturer’s recommendations or use common sense, you still cannot seem to avoid all of the little aggravating things that can go wrong with printers. From blurry printer output and ink spills to ghosting and fading, there are a multitude of things that can turn an otherwise convenient experience into an infuriating nightmare. Before you assume your printer or ink cartridge is destined for the trash, learn about how to avoid, prevent and easily repair some of the most common ink cartridge problems. Don’t worry because it doesn’t require a technical degree or loads of cash to get your printer back in perfect working order.

Handle Your Printer Cartridge with Care

You might think that replacing your ink cartridge is as simple as pulling out the old model and either refilling the original or replacing it with a remanufactured or new piece. Unfortunately, many unwittingly mishandle their new cartridge, which can actually cause a world of problems. The cartridge’s electrical contacts can easily become covered with dirt, dust or your skin’s oils. This will cause a poor connection, and even result in an unwanted error message. To assure this doesn’t happen, wipe off the contact with rubbing alcohol before installing the cartridge. It doesn’t matter if you’re using Epson ink cartridge or Canon ink cartridges, if you aren’t treating it right it’s not going to work.

Avoid the Dreaded Poor Printer Output

If you’re a casual printer user, you may be doing more harm to your cartridge than you realize. A printer cartridge is covered with several hundred miniscule openings, each of which can easily become clogged whenever the printer is left unused for several weeks or months. Save yourself the aggravation of a clogged printerhead, or nozzles, by periodically using the printer or covering the nozzles with a piece of paper. If the nozzles do become clogged with dried ink, simply remove the cartridge and soak the printerhead in a solution of one part ammonia and one part warm water for about five minutes. This should be enough to dislodge the dry ink, and restore your cartridge.

If you plan on leaving your printer idle for several months, or even years, it’s crucial to remove your cartridge from the unit and store it inside a plastic bag. This will ensure that when you’re printer is once again needed, the cartridge’s printerhead with be moist and ready to go.

Misusing Your Power Strip

In order to prevent damage caused by power surges, many savvy consumers plug all of their electrical components into power strips. Beyond the safety issue, power strips are often more convenient when it comes time to power down your computer and all of its periphery components, including the printer. Unfortunately, when you turn off the power strip instead of the printer itself it can actually dry out the printer nozzles. Manually flipping the printer’s “on/off” switch in many models will actually signal the unit to cap the printerhead, which will prevent it from drying out.

A Proper Cleaning is in Order

Dust, dirt and debris can wreak havoc on your printer’s external and internal components. To ensure that your printer paper is fed smoothly into the unit and every other moving part or mechanism works smoothly, it’s important to “dust” the printer’s interior at least once a month. A can of compressed air is the most effective way to clean the printer, but there’s an even simpler solution to the problem. When not in use, protect your printer with a plastic or cloth cover. This is especially important if you live with shedding pets, or don’t get around to dusting very often.

Spilled Ink

Another unwanted consequence of improperly replacing your ink cartridge is the dreaded spilled ink. Aside from the wasted money, your spilled ink can permanently stain anything in its path. The best way to avoid dripping or splashing ink is by using caution when removing or installing the cartridge. Never yank or tug on the cartridge if it’s jammed. Instead, gently shimmy it until the unit comes free. If you do spill ink on the carpet or your clothing, work quickly to remove the stain with an all-purpose cleaner. If this doesn’t work, it’s time to bring in the big guns, which include bleach, ammonia or even dry cleaning solution.