How to unblock and keep your inkjet print heads clean

Inkjet Tips & Tricks #1  
                 KEEPING YOUR PRINT HEADS CLEAN!
               by Terry Fielding

*Important note: We hereby delcare and take and hold no responsibility for any damage that may result from the following procedure. Please only attempt if you feel comfortable with being hands on and recognise the risks associated with undertaking this exercise. Inkjet Wholesale cannot be held responsible for any damage caused by those prepare to engage in such exercises. These instructions here are just suggestions.

Canon Print Head Photo
Ok What am I talking about here in respect to these things called Print Heads?  Every inkjet printer uses these microscopic ink jet openings to lay ink down on the paper. The same ink that dries nicely on your paper will also dry nicely in the orifice that the ink flows through to get the paper. Sometimes you can "clean" the print heads with some printer maintenance program, but OFTEN it is next to impossible. Many times I had this problem with my otherwise excellent Canon printer. I had plenty of ink in the cartridges, but it would not flow through the print head completely. The problem happens most often because people just donít use their printer everyday.
 
In my experience, prevention is better than a cure when it comes to ink jet printers. Not only will "cleaning" or "heavy cleaning" drain your time, but it is will also drain your wallet as cleaning generally uses large amounts of ink. Canon will clean the head with air in the regular cleaning setting, but often this does not work and you have to resort to heavy cleaning-- and WOW, half the ink in your cartridge has been used up to get your printer to work right. 
 
The answer to trouble free, quality printing is simple--- print one full colour print every single day, whether you need it or not. This will keep your print heads flowing and clean.  You can print out one of our test patterns located here. Printing these images, especially the Standard Blocks should get the ink to flow.
 
If this is not possible, then the next best thing to do is to run a cleaning cycle or two when you can. Save the "Heavy Duty" cleaning cycles for real problems as this uses significant amounts of ink. While you are in the maintenance mode, you should also do a realignment to ensure lines come out straight.
 
Please see * note at bottom before attempting any of these following procedures. If youíve put in a new cartridge and cleaned the nozzles several times, and the nozzle check STILL shows a clogged nozzle- I have found that it maybe necessary to spray compressed air through the WHITE flow-through delivery sponge*. This is the little circular inlet that sits directly under the bottom ink cartridge hole in the print head: Take out the ink cartridges and remove the print head.
 
You'll see 5mm holes into which the ink is delivered from the cartridge. Get a can of compressed air and spray from the cartridge side a few short bursts. Hold tissue on the outside of the print head where the copper nozzles are- otherwise, you will get ink all over everything as the air cleans out the sponge inlets. Wipe off the outside copper nozzles, because ink will have poured out. No need to use any solvent, just a dry lint free paper. I've used 100% isopropyl alcohol at times- I don't suggest any other solvent for printer cleaning. Put your cartridges back in, run clean cycles to get the ink running again, realign the nozzles, and with a bit of luck, your printer will magically work again.
 
If you have an AC powered air compressor- (like for working power tools) this works even better- just CONTROL THE AMOUNT OF AIR- don't get crazy or you'll destroy the sponge inlets.
 
In rare cases, this will not be enough- and you'll still have a colour that may be partially clogged resulting in uneven printing or stripping, which appears after a couple of prints. In worse cases, the head is still clogged. Be aware, when you don't get ANY colour coming out at all, itís usually a bad cart.
 
Here are a couple of options:
 
1) Hold the print head under reasonably hot running tap water for a minute. This will flush out the nozzles. You can hold both the metal nozzle side and the sponge side under the water. Shake out the excess water when done. It will take a print or two to get ink to fill in the sponges again after you do this. BE CAREFUL not to hit or touch the nozzles themselves with the metal faucet tap. If you bang on the nozzles- you will ruin them, they are delicate microscopic holes. Be careful.
 
2) If THAT doesn't work, you can use isopropyl alcohol and with a syringe, squirt some into the sponge side, a good amount to flush dried ink. DO NOT EVER USE ANYTHING ELSE (except water), because stronger solvents will melt the sponge, and that will totally ruin the printer head.
 
3) If still no joy, then print head is probably beyond repair. These are a common spare part for Canon printers that can be ordered from your local dealer. If you have an Epson, then it would be more economical to purchase another printer as these print heads are not designed to be replaced.
 
*Important note: We hold no responsibility for any damage that may result from the following procedure. Please only attempt if you feel comfortable with being hands on and recognise the risks associated with undertaking this exercise. Inkjet wholesale cannot be held responsible for any damage caused by those prepare to engage in such exercises. These instructions here are just suggestions.