Common Inkjet Printer Problems
Inkjet printers aren’t nearly as complex as laser printers; therefore, there’s less that can go wrong with them. However, many inkjet printers are inexpensive and just aren’t built to last. Most problems with inkjet printers involve either communications problems (drivers) or problems with print quality.
Poor print quality is the most common problem. One of the biggest complaints is horizontal white lines running through each line of print. These white lines are caused by clogged nozzles that aren’t dispensing ink. Some printer manufacturers are trying to solve this problem by incorporating the print head into the ink cartridge. (Each time you buy a new ink cartridge, you also get a new print head.) Replacing the print head along with the ink cartridge may sound like a good solution at first, but what happens if you are using a printer that doesn’t have a disposable print head, or if your ink cartridges aren’t ready to change yet?
You can try to clean the print heads of your printer by using a cotton swab soaked with rubbing alcohol to wipe the surface of the print head. Alcohol is a solvent and will usually help to dissolve any ink buildup that might be clogging the print head. Use a soft cloth or paper towel to gently wipe any excess ink off of the print head. When you’re done manually cleaning the print head, turn the printer on and run the printer’s built-in cleaning process. (Check the instruction manual for your printer to see how to do this.)
You might also check to see if there is paper dust that has worked its way in between the print cartridge and the cartridge housing. Notice that there are electrical contact points in the print cartridge. Over time (and lots of printing) dust can accumulate from the paper and interfere with the printer ability to send instructions to the print cartridge. To remove this dust, clean the connection between the print cartridge and the cartridge housing with your cotton swab soaked in rubbing alcohol. (Make sure to let it dry before plugging the ink cartridge back in and turning the printer back on.)
If cleaning the print heads doesn’t help, there are a few other things that you can check. Sometimes the print head ribbon can become loose. Make sure that the print head ribbon is secured firmly to the print head.
If all of these techniques fail to fix the problem, the print head might need to be replaced.
The other major cause of inkjet printer malfunctions is communications failures. Inkjet printers are susceptible to the same sort of communications problems as any other printer. Therefore, if your printer is printing gibberish, or nothing at all, turn off the printer and the PC to which it is connected. Verify that all cables are tight and that the printer is getting power. Turn the printer back on and then the PC. Most of the time, this will fix any sort of communications problems that might be present. Finally, check to see if your drivers are current, or need to be reinstalled.