My print quality is poor and I think my print heads may be clogged. How do I clean the print heads?

Poor quality prints are a common occurrence and can have several possible causes. Sometimes we need to eliminate the probable causes one at a time before going to the expense of replacing an ink cartridge. The first step is to perform a test print out to see exactly where the problem is. Is the issue the ink coverage or is it in the alignment of the print? The alignment problem is easily noticeable as the text may be slanted or distorted but other print clearly enough. The other problem that you can encounter is the obvious poor quality of the print with parts missing or gaps appearing in the text or image.

Printing a test print will reveal where the problem is. To print a test page go to file print > properties > maintenance > print head alignment. You will need to load several sheets of paper in the printer as you will more than likely be printing out several test pages. The alignment test page will show if the letters are slanted and ask you to choose the best settings from the display in an effort to reset the alignment. It’s quite rare for the alignment to require must adjustment but it does happen from time to time. If the alignment is not the issue then it’s time to print out a text page to check the print quality.

To print this test page go to file print > properties > maintenance > nozzle check. This will print four lines of each colour and display any broken lines or gaps in the printing. If the four lines are not completely solid, it will be necessary to perform a head cleaning procedure in an effort to clear any blockages either in the print head or ink cartridges. To perform this the head cleaning procedure go to file print > properties > maintenance > head cleaning. After each head cleaning procedure it is necessary to print a test page and you will be prompted to do this by the cleaning programme.

If the print out is not to the standard required it may be necessary to perform this procedure several times. This of course will affect the life of the ink cartridge as quite a lot of ink is dispensed during the head cleaning as it is forced through the print head as it tries to clear any blockage. If none of the above make much difference to the print quality it is worth trying a new cartridge in case one of the cartridge is faulty – try replacing the black or one of the colour inks that show up particularly bad on the test page print out. In some cases the print head may be worn and require replacement, in this case it may be more economical to replace the printer depending on the value of the current printer.