Printer prints out blank pages - heads need cleaned? How?

I have an Epson CX3200 Stylus all-in-one scanner/printer. I got it for free and have been using it as just a scanner for a long time, but decided to print yesterday and so got new cartridges. Put them in, but printer won’t print anything on the pages. It makes the noises and moves the heads, working with all its might, but the pages come out blank.

I’ve read up a little and it seems that the heads are clogged. What’s the best way to clean them? Hot water? Isopropyl alcohol? Windex? Any advice?

The printer driver includes a head cleaning utility - try that first before moving on to anything more drastic.

Click Start>Settings>Printers, then right-click the printer name and select ‘properties’, then click the ‘printing preferences’ button, then the ‘maintenance’ tab. The cleaning cycle will go through progressively intense cleaning routines, after each of which it will print a test pattern so you can see if it’s working.

If that doesn’t work, I’ve heard you can remove the cartridges and drip a little methylated spirit down each of the ink tubes, then run the cleaning cycle to flush it through, but there’s a risk you’ll completely knacker the printer that way (your risk).

This is part of the reason I moved away from Epson printers - the print heads are part of the printer, not the cartridge, so when they become blocked, it’s a big problem.

I did that about 12 times. Looks like I may have to try something more drastic. I read about hot water being useful for this on some page a little while ago. Maybe I’ll try that first.

A quick google search reveals that there’s plenty of advice out there specific to Epson printers:

Some of it sounds a bit drastic though, I’d start with the gentler methods. BTW, you should be able to buy little bottles of ink solvent (like this stuff: ) more or less anywhere you can buy ink.

Every printer has cleaning instructions on the web site of the manufacture. There’s no getting around reading the FAQs pages and help info on the web, when it’s hardware mantainance.

If the cartridges are new, make sure you removed the tape.

Epson cartridges don’t have tape. The print heads are part of the printer - the cartridge is (more or less) just a pot of ink. The spout on the bottom is covered with a membrane that is pierced by part of the print head mechanism when the cartridge is first installed.

I had the same problem with a cheap home-use Epsom and a brand-new black cartridge, and after repeatedly trying all the fixes their literature recommended, ended up replacing it with a Brother printer that – knock on wood laminate! – is holding up fine.

I’ve been through this with a couple of Epson printers, possibly even that same model (seems very familiar, but I’m no spring chicken). GF and I bought them at CostCo a few years back. She still has hers, I replaced mine with an HP (more on that below)

What worked for me was to start printing a fairly dense page, and then dump a cap full of denatured alcohol onto the paper while it was being (not) printed. Then running a number of dry sheets through, then a half dozen or so head cleaning cycles. If you wet the paper before the print starts, it becomes translucent enough that the optical detector will think it is not there, and won’t print.

Note that this is a fairly messy process.

The real solution, though, is to buy a new printer that uses head cartridges that contain the actual nozzles: HP, Lexmark, or Dell (which are re-branded Lexmark). Because of all the head cleaning cycles needed, I think I got about 25% usage from the Epson ink, so my HP has been considerably more economical, even though the consumables are more expensive on a per-unit basis.

I’ve only manually cleaned the inside of my HP once, and the only thing I remember is that the list of supplies from HP was q-tips, tissues, bottled water. Because they said tap water could damage some of the parts. YMMV.

My Epson printer had to have the tape removed from the cartridge, otherwise no ink would come out.

I found that buying a laser printer was the only reliable solution to the clogged nozzle problem.

I concur with this. I got a decent laser (Samsung 2010) on sale at Best Buy about a year ago for $80. The replacement cartridges cost slightly more than that, but they last forever.

I only jumped into this thread because of my years of experience supporting Lexmark printers. It seems that’s not of use here.

Interesting. Was it a refilled one?

I’ve mentioned this before - I have dismantled a fairly large number of dead Epson printers (I use or sell the stepper motors and other parts). In the base of the printers, there’s a large block of absorbent wadding known as the waste ink reservoir. On all of the machines I’ve taken apart, this is always very thoroughly soaked with ink and the (fairly big) voids in it are filled with dried ink sludge.

So I don’t consider it the slightest exaggeration to say that half or more of the ink installed in an Epson printer ends up in the waste tank. Every time you print something, the printer does a little dance first - it does a much longer dance when it’s first switched on and sometimes it does it spontaneously during the day. In all of these cases, it’s pissing ink through the print heads into the waste reservoir to stop the print heads blocking up.

As a general rule, start with the less drastic and move up as needed.
A generic list might be as follows. Do each step, then test it to see if it’s printing yet.
[li]Try the printers head-cleaning routines.[/li][li]Clean the nozzels using a cotton swab & room-temp plain bottled water.[/li][li]Repeat with heated water.[/li][li]Repeat with room-temp denatured alcohol.[/li][li]Repeat with heated alcohol.[/li][li]Repeat with ink-solvent, first room-temp, then heated. (But check ingredients first. Many are nothing more than alcohol, which you’ve already tried.)[/li][li]If possible, remove the print nozzle piece and let it soak in the cleaner. Follow the same progression, first room-temp water, heated water, room-temp alcohol, etc. (You’re now risking damage to the printer, but it doesn’t work anyway.)[/li][li]Throw the damn thing out and buy a laser printer, which won’t have these problems and prints pages at 1/2 to 1/4 the cost of an ink-jet.[/li][/ol]

I think I’ll be buying the L A S E R printer!!!

Does a color laser printer print at as high a quality as an ink jet?

BTW, the laser printer that I bought for $80 was black and white. As I recall, laser printers are better at color than inkjets as well, although the print quality differences aren’t as pronounces as with black. But wait for others to comment on this.

I think that the best deal that I’ve seen on a new color laser was around $500, but I couldn’t justify the price or the space requirements (that f’er was big).

What do you need to print? Because I don’t think that most people really need to print color. (If you need to print pictures, take a memory stick to Wal-Mart, etc. and get them printed there. IMHO.)

Originally Posted by robcaro
My Epson printer had to have the tape removed from the cartridge, otherwise no ink would come out.

No, I never have used refilled cartridges. The tape covers some vents in the top of the cartridge which when open allow it to breath thereby letting the ink go out.