Inkjet Head Cleaning

If you are like me and run an increasingly paperless operation, that old printer probably sits idle for weeks or months at a time. Unfortunately inkjets with pigment inks dont like this very much and tend to dry out the print head. Attempts to print, or use the included clean or deep clean functions only use a lot of ink or can burn the print head out   because the lack of ink flowing stops the cooling effect on the head.


So, based on recent research and experience i can report sucess with a range of Canon pixma and i series printers using the following tips:


1. Once the printer starts printing streaky or incompletely on ANY nozzles, stop printing asap, to protect the head.

2. If the printer has sat for any period, ie. months, clean the head using the method below.

3. If repeated clean cycles fail to unblock the head, use the cleaning method below.

4. If you get waste ink tank messages, there are hacks to reset the waste ink counter.


The soak/syringe method

Various places on the net have tips for head rejuvenation. The service manual for these printers helpfully states that a blocked head is solved by tossing the printer. Heads are available but at a prohitively high cost.

The solution to this was really provided here. In essence:

  • get a 5ml syringe.
  • get a full set of empty ink cartridges, and drill a hole in the top of each ink tank the same size as the syringe spout. The syringe then forms a tight seal into the cart.
  • I had to remove the venty bits at the cart top first, and block up one or two small pin sized vent holes using a soldering iron.
  • remove the head from the printer, insert the empty cartridges, and over a sink inject warm to hot water into the cartridge holes one at a time.
  • a healthy head will show a nice squirt from each nozzle.
  • if some nozzles   squirt well, but others not, keep injecting intil all are free.
  • if none squirt, then the head is more severly dried out. Place a few mm of water, or 50:50 isopropyl alcohol in a saucer, and sit the head plus modified cartridges in it to soak. Fill the carts with the solution.
  • my initial problem was impatience, overnite was simply not long enough. After a couple days ink will start to bleed into the clean water, and then he syringing can resume.
  • lastly i injected 100% isopropyl into the carts for a final clean of any stuborn bits.
  • dry off head espcially the electrical connectors, refit the head, and some good carts, and printing works 100% right from the first print.


Another piece of in built obselence saved from the landfill.

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