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Why Your Printer Keeps Clogging

2010-06-06

It used to be that if your printer kept clogging, you had little recourse but to take the unit in for repairs or overhauls. The small moving parts found in even the simplest of printers, faxes and copiers were complex enough that servicing them was generally left to professionals in the early days. Although technology hasn't become any easier to understand, over time, users began to develop a few tricks that really helped them get some extra mileage out of even the most economically affordable cartridges.

Your Basic Inkjet Anatomy

While most of us are familiar with the theory behind inkjet printers, a brief examination would reveal ink being fed to dispersing nozzles via tubes or conduits. These channels draw the dyes from the bottom of their respective cartridges, with each line separated by its ink color. There are any number of spots along this journey where dried, sticky globs can obstruct flow, resulting in a clogged cartridge. Printer ink is made to set quickly in normal atmosphere, so clogs can occur when you take the cartridges out for your printer ink refills, if you wait too long. Finding the precise location of a stoppage is easy with some simple testing, and correcting the problem should be a snap afterwards.

Regular Checkups

A color bar calibration test pattern is one of the best ways to tell which of the nozzles is blocked. These are far superior to the standard test pages that most operating systems can print out as a default administrative function. Checking the patterns on your color bars can unveil blank spots where a particular nozzle failed to eject ink, and they can also indicate print head alignment problems. As a standard solution, blockages can be easily eradicated using the printer's built-in cleaning functions, which are accessible through the accompanying driver software.

Blockage Causes

Printer ink refills are a great way to avoid most blockages, because they generally include a flush or cleaning. This prevents ink from drying on the print head nozzle, the most likely place for troublesome buildups. Interestingly enough, you can avoid a dried print head by making sure to shut your unit down properly. Removing power from the source, such as a plug or power strip, will leave the heads open, or "unsealed." The printer's normal shutdown sequence usually takes care of sealing print heads so the liquid ink inside them is not subjected to air. Affordable cartridges that let you get a hands-on feel for the condition of your print heads are a great way to save money on products purported to clean your printer for you.

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