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Top 5 Tips for a Healthy Inkjet Printer

Inkjet Printer


Good habits in life typically produce favorable results, like exercise, eating right and getting enough sleep.  While your inkjet printer is just a machine, it too needs attention to maintain proper function.

Here are my top 5 best tips to protect the health of your printer.

1. Don't Remove Cartridges Until You Have Replacements

This is the most common error made by printer owners, so it is our number one tip.  If you need to buy new supplies or if the cartridges are empty, always keep the cartridges in your printer until you have replacements in hand.  Simply write down your cartridge number or printer make and model and bring it with you when you come.

This is especially true for people who own a printer with a fixed printhead (one that is built into your machine).  Epson, Brother, Kodak, and most Canon printers have a fixed printhead.

Removing the cartridges results in the ink ports (little needle like pieces in the printer that pierce the bottom of the cartridges) being exposed to the air.  This means that the ink will immediately start to dry up inside these little ports which can begin to dry in less than 5 minutes (manufacturer-listed time), causing blockage and printing problems.

A different problem can result with cartridges with integrated printheads (printhead built into the cartridge) like HP, Lexmark, Dell and some Canon cartridges.  Printers that use this type of cartridge have a small foam piece that presses up against the bottom of the cartridges when the printer is not being used, thereby sealing off the printhead from the air.  This drastically reduces the amount of evaporation and clogging in the nozzles of the printhead (shiny silver rectangle on the bottom of the cartridge).

When you remove an integrated inkjet cartridge from the printer, the nozzles that have ink in them begin to dry and it doesn't take long before you will have problems getting the ink to flow again.  Simply put; keep the cartridges in your printer until you have replacements.

Save your empty cartridges after replacement and bring them with you next time and we will recycle them for you for free.  If you throw them in the trash, they can take up to 1,000 years to decompose in a landfill.

2. Power Off Your Printer Whenever You Can 

Power off your printer -- especially if you aren't going to be using it for more than four or five days.

By doing this, your printer will go through an additional programmed function that will prepare the printhead for inactivity.  It will do this by sealing the printhead in a rubber boot to prevent air from getting to it.

Air is the enemy of ink.  Over time, ink in the printhead of a rarely used printer will gum up and water in the ink will begin to evaporate. If the ink dries in your printhead, it will be a major headache to fix and can cause premature failure of the cartridge.

Your printer will be in much better shape if you do this when you are on vacation or need to transport your printer to a new location.

3. Let Your New Ink Cartridges Settle

It can be good to wait a day or two before installing new Epson, Brother or Canon cartridges, especially if you live in a location above 5000 feet, the reservoir may become pressurized when the cartridge moves up in elevation rapidly.  .

Since the air is less dense at higher elevations, the internal ink chamber air will need to equalize, which sometimes takes a couple days.  Pulling off the vent tape immediately upon receiving cartridges at high elevations will occasionally result in ink coming out as the cartridge equalizes in pressure.

Letting the cartridges rest will also allow the ink inside sponge-filled cartridges to settle back to the bottom.  Letting them sit upright for a day or two can help the ink settle down inside the sponge.  ALWAYS STORE YOUR INK CARTRIDGES IN AN UPRIGHT POSITION.

4. Reboot Your Printer and Computer Periodically

Behold the power of the power button! Rebooting your printer and computer can many times solve strange electronic issues that pop up.

I have learned this from experience.  This simple and effective technique tends to solve more strange electronic problems than any other bit of advice I can provide.  A fresh reboot will flush out any remnant processes from memory, and start you with a clean slate.   If you use Microsoft Outlook for email and experience anything strange, reboot your computer and the problem will usually go away.


5. If You Can -- Repair Rather than Replace

Consider getting your old printer repaired instead of replaced. 

On average, printer supplies from four or more years ago are much less expensive than supplies for newer printers, and last up to four times as long.

Although an old printer may cost $120 to repair, if used often the repair will pay for itself in short order with lower-cost and higher-volume printer cartridges.

If you are compelled to get a new printer, consider keeping your old one around for printing non-essential material (quick drafts, documents, etc.).  If you leave the fancy printing to your new printer, and use your old "workhorse" printer for the bulk duties, you may find your older, less sophisticated printer will turn out to be much easier on your wallet. 






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Page Last Updated:  December 23, 2010  
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