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Me and my genius buddy Steve, pondering the Epson Stylus Pro clog conundrum

First, I am sorry about your clog.  Second, I feel your pain.  Third, so does half the world…

Through MYX900.com I get contacted by Epson Stylus Pro 4900, 7900, 9900, and 11880 users from all over the world.  USA, Asia, Africa, New Zealand, Brazil, Italy, Canada, Germany and on and on.  This is great because each user offers their experience, their struggles, and as a result I gain knowledge.

If you area facing an un-clearable clog on your machine, based on my experiences and those that have been shared with me, you might try the following:

1 – Step one on the journey to clear deadly clogs is to call Epson at (562) 276-1305 .  But chances are unless you are prepared to spend about as much money to fix your machine as you did to buy it, you’ll leave the phone call still searching for answers.  …On to step two

2 – If you own an Epson Stylus Pro printer with an X900 head you are no stranger to nozzle clogs or cleanings.  Still this is step one, so try some standard cleanings – but understand them first HERE.

3 – If standard cleanings don’t clear your clogs try pairs cleanings in service mode, there are four different levels of intensity.  Finally if your deadly clogs persist, try SS Cleanings but they can be dangerous.  Flowing ink not only creates color on paper, but it acts as a coolant inside a piezoelectric head on it’s way to the paper.  A clogged head has reduced ink flow and therefore is a hot head as well, so understand SS Cleanings before you try them so you don’t fry your head – HERE

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The Epson Stylus Pro Clog Conundrum

4 – Once you have tried all of the above cleanings and your most stubborn clogs are still not clear – you are most likely scared, you hate Epson, the thought of buying more expensive ink carts to flush down the sewer makes you ill, and you feel abandoned….  but if you’re anything like me you still somehow innocently cling to hope that your next nozzle test will be a clear nozzle test.  Trust me, it won’t be.  Not if you keep this pace.   …On to step five

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Follow the path of ink, from your carts to your nozzles

5 – Here is where my friends from New Zealand to Africa, the UK to the US – all of the emails research and experimentation are paying off.  There actually IS hope.  One Epson Stylus Pro 4900 user, a guy by the name of John Schwaller, actually cleared an un-clearable clog by refilling the printer with ink.  It’s the first step in your printer’s life – to fill itself with ink – the dampers, the lines, and the head.  This process is called an “Ink Charge”.  If you go into the service mode, under cleanings, you will find the ink charge option last on the list.  It is not possible to charge pairs only, but it is possible to charge just one side of the machine rather than both.  That helps save ink, a little.  What John told me was he performed a few ink charge processes.  His machine was a 4900, so the lines aren’t very long, which leads me to believe a 4900 is the least expensive machine to try this on.  Either way it’s a roll of the dice.  There is no danger here though, except to your wallet.  Charging your machine does not fire the nozzles in the head, so there is no danger of overheating them.  I have not tested this, yet, but I expect this process – when you already have ink-filled lines to begin with – must push a ton of ink through your clogged head, effectively flushing it.    …which brings us to step six

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6 – While it is very tempting I know, the thought of removing your X900 head and soaking it in Windex, Simple Green, your mother’s favorite cake mix or even gasoline (trust me I have tried them all, including ultrasonic cleanings) this is dangerous territory.  The internals of your amazingly tiny piezoelectric maze of a printhead are exceptionally fragile.  It is therefore best to leave the application of fluid pressure to the engineers who created this clog-monster of a machine in the first place – leave the head in place.  Should I say that again?  LEAVE THE HEAD IN PLACE until you have no intentions of using it again.  But before you declare your X900 head dead and replace it, there’s one more thing to try – an ink charge series using cleaning carts filled with Epson’s own cleaning fluid.  I don’t know yet if this will work, but I will by the end of this week.  Stay tuned for updates!

Eric

132 comments
  1. Michael Dimen said:

    I’ve had a 4900 for several years, bought new. I had one clog a year ago, but cleared it with a few nozzle checks; it went away. The printer is located in my cellar, which stays around 60 in the summer and 50 in the winter, and is generally moist. I don’t print too often; it’s a weekend and semi-retirement home (yes, I’m a prosumer….and I own a 4900 b/c it’s brilliant!).

    Well recently the odds caught up with me, and I found I had a few nozzles clogged in the VM and LK channels. NOTHING worked! Power cleanings, paper towels soaked with ammonia and alcohol left for a week(!). NOTHING! Then I downloaded the “Epson Pro 4900 Program for printhead unclogging and printer adjustments”. It works a treat! Yes, it pulled quite a bit of ink, and just about filled the waste tank, but the nozzle check was clean and crisp, perhaps sharper than I’d ever seen before. My 4900 has returned to me, and I’m a happy boy!!!

  2. Gerard said:

    The worst printer of my life I have 2 epson and I liked other espson in my life is a shit………………

  3. Mister Tee said:

    My 4900 developed an unclearable green channel clog that I worked to clear for months. I tried all the cleaning methods without success. One day I ran a ozone generator in my office to clear it of musty smell. The following day my printer started working perfectly.

  4. Michael Clark said:

    Epson 7900 total single channel clog “fix”.

    I am sorry to say that I am one of the many 7900 owners who have experienced a total color channel failure (green channel on mine). No matter what cleaning methods I tried (and I have tried all of them including SSC cleans except for removing and soaking the printhead), my nozzle test print would always be bare for my green channel. Same thing if I printed single green channel tests using the latest QImage software. I had some color even though it was only a single green channel test, but absolutely no green. In my case this started very suddenly after a firmware update.

    After wasting who knows how many dollars on new ink and tanks, I decided to try one last thing before relegating my 7900 to B&W printing only. What I did was bypass the printer driver by printing with Photoshop (CS6 in my case) using the PS printer color management. First I tried a green channel test target composed of several different green hues ranging from 100% to mixed. And what do you know- it printed perfectly! So next I immediately printed another nozzle check and guess what? No green again. Next I printed a color print with a lot of green tones, again using PS to manage colors. Again, the greens were right on (I create my own paper profiles so the color match is very close). So I printed another nozzle pattern, and again absolutely no green. Therefore, in my case the problem is somewhere in the Epson firmware rather than the hardware. I suspect it was related to some kind of firmware upgrade problem either using a corrupted firmware file or experiencing some type of anomaly during the update. I have since reverted to earlier versions of firmware with no success. My green channel continues to be absent in nozzle checks, but works fine when I print using other engines. And thankfully, no need to replace my printhead.

    So if you have one of those sudden onset total channel clogs based on nozzle checks, it may be worth a try giving this a shot.

    • Antonio said:

      I really suggest you use epson 7700 or 9700 driver and print a prn file with only black 100% color. CMYK and no color management.
      Then you can use this prn to change black channel and change color info with any ex editor.
      With this method using a prn printer software, you can test each channel on your printer, and know that is exactelly the channel and not more than one channel. This is the only way to avoid driver rasterization and know exactelly what channel is working and not.

    • Doug said:

      Hi Michael — I experienced the same symptom last week on my 9900. I am converting things over to the Piezography Pro B&W inks and had loaded the PiezoFlush fluid in a new set of carts. Everything was going fine flushing out the color inks and then I lost the OR channel completely. Strange, in 7 years of running this printer I never had a problem with OR (plenty of problems with other colors!). After 2 days of trying to clear the clog, I started printing purge files and noticed that OR seemed to print fine with no banding. Nozzle check still showed nothing. I contacted the Piezography tech and he said it sounded like a pressure problem, and told me to switch the chips on the OR and another working cart, then run a CL4 on OR/GR. I did this and still had the same problem. Then it occurred to me that the GR channel is connected to OR so I swapped out the GR cart too. Ran the CL4 again and voila, my OR channel came back! Because of a defect in the GR cart, the OR could not pressurize properly to print the nozzle check. Which indicates to me that the nozzle check requires a slightly different pressurization setup than normal printing.

      So, it would be interesting if you tried a new OR and/or GR cart and see if this solves your problem. I would say use an old one but there may not be enough ink to run the CL4.

      PS: I’m told the 9900 firmware update HW124G5 (6/14/16) contains some fixes for pressurization and the Piezo tech was insistent that this be installed.

    • Mario said:

      Hi, are you sure your green is not process color from mixing cyan and yellow, rather than the green? The driver is trying to print with the green channel, which is clogged, but bypassing the driver allows you to get the greens otherwise. Just a thought.

  5. Josh W said:

    I’ve got a nasty clog in our 11880. I’ve done all the cleanings (except the SS), windex paper towels, printing a large field of the missing color and I’ve had no success. I have not tried the Ink fill idea yet, becuase I don’t want to flush that much ink just yet. But I’m wondering if anyone has had any success using a cleaning cartridge. Flushing the troubled channel with individual channel cleanings and refilling with ink in the same fashion as to not waste ink in all other channels?

    Any help is appreciated.

    Thanks!

    • Antonio said:

      first… sorry my english not so good.
      I HAve same 11880. After 4 years i learn something.
      1)change 5 dampers. is easy.
      Next step is something i don’t like to do but this prcedure suppose to be last chance.
      PLEASE DO NOT touch the nozzle plate, do not clean, nothing. don’t see it. print head know you are looking it, will clog more. 😎
      2) remove print head and purge it with destilled water or Home clean solution (amonia,water,alcohol)
      this procedue can be done with a seringe but please with very low presure, to avoid damage nozzle plate. is very easy to ungluue it from bottom of printhead.
      Maybe in this procedure will note that some channels are more hard to purge than anothers. don’t worry. just remove all ink from inside print head.
      3)Now remove the 10 channels manifold.
      4) put print head on a sealed plastic box, to avoid dry water or solution inside and on nozle plate.
      5) now is time to clean manifold. This part have inside filters and they are very easy to clog, and do not let ink flow in to the printhead.
      i use a ultrasonic cleaner with destiled water.
      After 5 minutes cleaning cycle on ultrasonic, i use a seringe to purge it and see how easy water flow into the manifold.
      6) if you can’t unclog the manifold you can buy a new one on chinneess web. 7700,7900, manifold will work ver fine on 11880.
      7) install manifold, printhead.
      8) after install printhead and dampers, you have all filters on printhead cleaned.
      9) now run on service mode 3 cleaning CL1 cycles. i agee. this cyscles are best.
      10) run two or three pair cleaning cycles on all channels.
      11) try to print a nozzle test, and see results.
      12) good luck
      again sorry my bad english

      • Josh W said:

        Thanks Antonio. Not sure I’m ready to dive into a complete overhaul just yet though. Still hanging on to hope that I can clear the clog without have to take things apart.

    • Antonio said:

      Do you have empty cartridges with 15% of ink? i need chips to use on my own reffill system. 15% or more let me resett chips without NonOriginal cartridge message.

  6. Antonio said:

    Hello Guys
    Can i use a 4900 printhead on 7900/9900…???
    Just like DX5 8 chnnels printheads.

  7. Amo said:

    I just feel like pulling my hair out with this Epson printer, I have a Epson Stylus Pro 3880, and the MK black head is clogged, I tried cleaning with windex, nozzle cleaning, maintenance cleaning, I do not know what more to do, and I have a job to be deliver ever since, can some one please tell me what to do, because the tech support at EPSON said they cannot help me and tell me to go and get it fix at a service center. Which I know, I will have to pay a pound and a crown.
    Best Regards,
    Amo

    • Eric said:

      You should be ok with a 3880, I haven’t heard many bad things about those heads. They are far more durable than the X900 heads. So you did the windex on a lint-free paper towel trick? How long did you leave it for? And remember, after cleanings you will not always get an accurate nozzle check. Sometimes you need to do a print or two before a nozzle check. Firing blanks does not always mean clogs. Could be air in there.

    • Don said:

      Hello. For anyone who is interested, me and my technicians use a high strength pink piezo cleaning solution for epson and fix many clogged epson printheads every year. We had the same issue and after speaking to the right people, have discovered there is a specific chemical (2-peroledon, spelling?) that breaks through and dissolves ink that most solutions lack, and is designed specially for epson printers. Most cleaning fluids don’t have this chemical so that they can sell it for use with HP printers also. Finding one that can only be used in epson printers and has this chemical has been very important to us. We buy it through a small online company by the name of CO Ink Distributions. They also provide help when we come across issues we can’t resolve in house, and they’ve never charged us for technical assistance which is surprising

  8. rose lee said:

    Fantastic commentary , Apropos , others are interested in a Eng 4900 form , my colleague discovered a blank document here https://goo.gl/S0WTUQ.

  9. Rick said:

    Did the cleaning fluid work

  10. Reggy said:

    I found your site because someone on Craigs List is giving away an old 7900 pro with, you guessed it, a clogged print head. Many years back I had one of Epson’s first 7 color printers and it did a beautiful job when it worked. Sadly, as ha been said, the ink levels seemed to evaporate right in front of you, and even when it was in near daily use, it still managed to clog.

    In contrast, and much like Eric’s experiences, at work we had wide format HP printers. We had the first one for a good three years before it required any service and this was in daily use. We did some rough calculations based on the amount of paper that we ordered for it and roughly we were running over a mile of paper through the thing every year. Back in the old days we had a fair amount of trouble with the ripping software, but the printer proper, that HP was built like a tank.

    Sadly, I was semi excited to see the free large format Epson but after reading what they are and that they still have not improved, I think I am going to let this one sit on the freepile and save myself a bunch of $$ on the overpriced consumables.

    • Sky Ray said:

      I have finally decided NOT to cut my losses of over 6k on this (7900) machine; including two head replacements & supplies, with only 325 pages to show for it. After doing some intensive research I found that it can be converted to a machine dedicated to printing exclusively black & white. Also, by leaving the printer on on along with an old Dell PC, I can set it up to run a test print every 30 hours or so to keep it “flowing.” I have 9 of the original 11 channels remaining, of which only any six are needed for the monochrome printing. The quality of the prints with the B&W software far exceeds what the machine could produce in it’s original configuration. For my Full Color work I now have an HP Z3200 and It’s absolutely fabulous. As far as I’m concerned, Epson Seiko is DIRT for swindling people with their faulty products.

      • Hello Sky. My 7900 Proofing Edition is firing 10 of 11 channels. Green is 100% clogged. What inks for B&W did you decide on? I see Pixography as a good option in VT.

  11. I have an odd ball question. My printer, after the inkhead replacement, seems to be working fine. In the weeks that I don’t print, I usually print a nozzle check, and clean if I need. Most of my work is delivered digitally, so I need to be mindful to make prints if I’m not actively printing for a project.

    Yesterday I was printing for a show using Moab Entrada Rag paper. I needed to switch blacks. My nozzle check, which was perfect the day before, showed a lot of wholes. One of the cleanings “failed” according to the printer, but I was able to get a good nozzle check. The printer’s settings were reset to factory settings, so it does the automatic cleaning. I was able to print for a show. This morning, it did the automatic cleaning thing, as it does, I made one print, and then I got an error message saying that “clogged nozzles were detected, cleaning recommended”. I ran a nozzle check, and it’s perfect.

    If the printer is telling me that I have clogged nozzles but my nozzle check looks fine, am I missing something? Could the rag paper be an issue? I want to make sure that I don’t go through the same ordeal as before if I can help it.

    • Sky Ray said:

      Dear Jane, I had a similar problem printing on Canvas. I discovered that rag [cloth based} papers are often “buffered with calcium chloride to minimize paper dust- potentially devastating to print heads. Epson x900 printer engineers are way behind the curve on programed settings for these printers regarding papers, and proper maintenance. Their “new & Improved” generation of the same line now has per-programmable maintenance cycles to prevent electronic head failure (which first appears as “clogs”) from happening. Too bad for us suckers that they rushed out the x900 series without this. Plan on having several maintenance tanks and sets of ink carts if you allow the machine to do “recommended cleanings” After 2 head failures (7900) here’s what i learned: • Be mindful of the humidity level: dry conditions and even high altitudes (like Colorado, etc.) are bad news. I keep a humidor (a good sized “tupperware” container with holes peppered in the cover and a sponge sitting in water) inside the machine. • Print that nozzle check every day. Epson never said one word about how these machines were designed for continuous use. An idle machine is a problem waiting to happen. • Check & clean (or replace if needed) the wiper blade once a month. Saint Eric gives clear instructions here on this site. • A company called “American Ink Systems” has a cleaning/ lubricating solution: “CLP 007”
      and a method of application which is a maintenance procedure they developed for their own machines to preserve and promote print head health. This is worth a look if you have to leave the machine idle for more than a few days (going on vacation, etc.) So… I ended up converting my printer to a dedicated six channel black & white machine. All’s good if the “maintenance” of keeping ink flowing is kept up! For full color I now have an HPZ3200 and I’m loving it. Good luck!

  12. Aco said:

    Hi ,I am watch your video about printhead replacement and now I am in trouble because plotter won t to turn on.When I press power buttonbthere is just one click behind and nothing happening.What it could be?

    • …won’t turn on. This sounds familiar. I have a used 4900 that I hoped to convert to black and white using perhaps seven colors. Right now it is printing none, though the head seams fairly clear. What is interesting is that if I swap the head with another one that came with the printer, the unit will not turn on at all. I’ve tried to enter the head codes, but of course, you cannot send them with the printer off. How is this supposed to work?

    • Eric said:

      I have not tried that fluid. it’s an expensive proposition; testing, cleanings, purging ink, refilling ink, etc. Be sure you do your math BEFORE jumping into any creative ideas chasing clogs. The expenses come gently at first, kind of like a leaking dam. Then before you know it your whole town is underwater

      • Karen Kaufman said:

        I hear you loud and clear!! FYI, the fluid is $35, empty cartridge is $28.50 (plus shipping). You fill cartridge with fluid & run a power cleaning.

        If this doesn’t work, I’m going to study your info on changing the print head myself, plus wipers and caps.

        Your info is beyond wonderful Eric, it empowers me… knowing I can depend on myself to take care of this vs. call service. I’m in Hawaii, the guy has to fly from Oahu, so we pay for travel and time, plus! I’m resting easy knowing I can change the head if I have to.

        Thank you, so very much!!

      • Dan said:

        I know it’s a long shot but- there’s no way I can put my 9880’s printhead in my 9900?
        the 9880 was dropped but the printhead was fine..

  13. Karen Kaufman said:

    By any chance can anyone tell by looking at the nozzle checks if it’s a clog or the head? My lt lt black (9900) has lines top and bottom, missing in the middle.

    • Eric said:

      That’s the million dollar question Karen; what is a clog and what is a dead nozzle/channel/head. In my experience the best way to tell is if the “clog” does not improve. Ever. In fact sometimes with cleanings you might notice that somehow it even gets slightly worse.. That is a dead head.

      • Karen Kaufman said:

        Huge thanks again.
        After many cleanings (power, pairs, normal), it has neither improved nor gotten worse. I’ll let you know if the cleaning fluid works. 🙂

  14. Well, I’m back to square one. After cleaning the head and selector assembly 10-color purge pages were printing fairly well. Still, I only had three colors printing in a nozzle check. Advise from another forum stated that the apparent revived colors may just be combinations getting printed from the three working colors – apparently a purge page is not a reliable test for this. A reliable test is to print the calibration page out of QTR, which I did. This test showed only the yellow, light cyan and light magenta channels to be present. These are the ones that work in the nozzle test and they are the original ones that worked before I started trying to clean up the machine.

    Now I don’t have any idea of where the problem is. The head seems to be clean and capable of passing ink on all colors, though I know that does not mean that it is functional. Since I am not getting any functionality on the other seven colors, I’m inclined to think that there is something other than the head that is at fault. What are my next steps to figure this out?

  15. I have a donated 4900 that I am hoping to use for black and white printing. The ink set I am planning to use requires seven channels (colors). Presently my 4900 is only printing three channels. I have charged twice with Cone Piezoflush in the cartridges and run numerous cleanings but the situation is not improving.

    I would assume there must be lots of old 4900/7900 heads lying around that have one or more (but not more than five) dead channels. How can I get my hands on one of these?

    • Sky Ray said:

      My suggestion would be to look on ebay for a machine that someone gave up on, make sure it has what you want for “live channels” then swap out the head from that. Don’t settle for a machine where the listing states: “cant test – sold as is.” It’s unheard of to find only a print head itself that is “used.” I would guess that a non working printer could be had for very cheap- the shipping is what will cost you. Depending on where you are located, you may be able to go and pick it up! I recently saw a 7900 with a staring bid of $2.25 -zero bids… Good luck, and remember if you do get it going- keep it awake and primed by running test prints at least every other day. < too bad for so many of us that my last sentence wasn't included in the x900 user manual !!!!!!

      • I pulled the head out today and found that it was in much better shape than expected. The selector assembly turned out to have quite a lot of ink in it despite having piezoflush in the carts and having done several ink charges. I flushed out the selector with piezoflush and reassembled. I now have six colors that print pretty well (all pink, of course) on a 10-color purge page. The other four colors are printing a lighter shade of piezoflush pink, but are at least printing. What I don’t understand is that a nozzle check shows only three colors printing; Y, LM, LC – and these are very clean. Y and LM are two of the colors that print a nice dark pink. The LC is one of the weaker colors on the purge page. None of the other colors prints anything at all in the nozzle check despite the fact that M, OR and GR print nice and dark on the purge pages. With piezoflush in the carts, all of the colors should print an even pink. I don’t understand what is making some channels darker than others. If it was a nozzle issue I would suspect that I would be seeing banding, not just a lighter shade, but there isn’t any. Ideas?

        BTW, taking the head and selector assembly out of a 4900 is very simple. The whole job entails taking out about a dozen little screws and that is pretty much the whole job. It was far easier than I anticipated.

  16. Anna Fritzel said:

    If the class action suit ever happens, I would take part. The 4900 is the worst printer ever made. I manage a plethora of printers, all Epson, they are all mostly finicky but the 4900 is the worst printer ever. It has not worked from day one. Not only does it have clogs that cannot be fixed…it won’t take sheet fed paper. Have to have a roll on it all of the time so no art papers can be used. As you said, even when it was under warranty Epson support did not support. It was always something we had done to the printer or just operator error. I have a clog right now that we have been working on for weeks and are giving in to the SS clean but after reading your article I am nervous. However, it is that or a new head so it might as well be that and a new head!! Thank you for your wonder article and help.

    • Eric said:

      I know a service tech out here who has dozens of clogged 4900s in his shop, just lying there waiting for someone to solve the clog clearing problem. it will never be solved if it’s not a clog. FYI, the only luck people ever seem to have clearing cranky clogs on X900 heads is on the 4900s. Replacing them doesn’t make sense because the heads cost more than the machine.

      • Anna Fritzel said:

        How do you enter service mode on a 4900? I have tried down, right menus and pause and startup and it does not work!!!!!!!

  17. Sky Ray said:

    Thanks for you support & thoughtfulness on this Eric. Would you kindly share what brand you favor? I’m studying up on the Canon iPF6400 to replace my 7900. I’m also considering salvaging the “lemon” by converting it into a B&W only printer.
    The conversion requires at least 6 remaining “good” channels. P.S. some “fertilizer on the way… (but no B S)

    • Eric said:

      I helped a guy in Ohio fix his 9900 once. We became friends. Once we even met for dinner when he was in the area. A couple of years later we spoke and I told him I was about to order an X900 head for a broken 9900 someone had given me. He paused, then suggested something remarkable – buy an HP instead. I thought he was crazy. I even said he was crazy. Then he told me he regretted fixing his 9900, and that he would switch once it died again. I thought about it a lot that night, and the next day. Then I began reading about the Z3200PS 44″. After a couple of weeks I took that $1,800 and bought a used HP Z3200PS instead. The machine had been in storage for over a year. Of course the heads were clogged when I brought it home. I replaced each one of them, for $65 a piece. My mother could have done it. Literally. I ordered new ink directly from HP. I think it was 9:00pm. The next morning all the ink arrived at my door, the shipping was free. I didn’t understand how that was even possible. I installed the new ink carts and started printing. A few very strange things happened from that point forward: I am convinced the Z3200PS doesn’t use ink. The levels never go down. In two years of using the machine I have never had one clog. This thing makes its own profiles – I can print on toilet paper if I want. I do not know if this machine even has a maintenance tank. I have no idea how to take it apart. It prints beautiful colors, it even has a clear ink that it shoots over white areas so prints don’t have flat spots. It starts itself up a couple of times per day, to keep healthy. And it keeps healthy. Imagine that.

      I used to stock ink carts in the refrigerator for the Epsons. I had every color. I feared checking ink levels on the X900s ( I have owned four) because they went down even when I didn’t print somehow. I swore there was a leak somewhere, or a gremlin that siphoned ink from it at midnight. I can’t stock ink for this HP because it goes out of date before I need to put it in the machine. Zero exaggeration here. Why stock it if it comes next day for free anyway? I simply love my Z3200PS. It works exactly how I need it to, which is how it should be.

      Looking back now I do not regret all the work that I put into those Epsons. Creating this site, and the videos, and helping people online via email which I still do daily, it’s all been a positive experience. But if I hadn’t done all this, if I had simply printed, and struggled, and lost so much money chasing clogs with ink and more ink and the never ending hopes that this time the Epson clog will be clear – if I let it all end there, in defeat, it would have remained a very bad experience for me.

      I will never buy an Epson again. They know these machines have problems, they never stepped up to help users, they never even acknowledge these machines have a tendency to clog. Call customer service yourself, talk to anyone you want to, mention any or all of the online suffering people go through daily, and write about daily – they will tell you they are unaware of any of it. Not even the infamous Luminous Landscape thread, which has over 550,000 views by now, they’ll tell you they’ve never heard of such a thing.

      It’s inexcusable. The nozzles, the piezoelectrics, the design of that entire X900 head – it’s just not appropriate for the ink they run through it. Not for a printer sold under the pretence that the X900s were sold – “clogs are a thing of the past”. Obviously clogs were not a thing of the past. In fact the X900 redefines clogs on a whole new level, every single day. And I, likely more than anyone on the internet, can prove it. It’s all in my inbox. Every email from every user from every country nearly every single day of every year – and they all sound the same. “thank for your site and all of your work. I have a strange problem you’ve probably never seen – my _ _ _ _ channel has about 30 percent missing. Here is a nozzle pattern to show you. I have done several cleanings, spent so much money on ink, and these clogs are only getting worse. What should I do?” I work real hard to stay positive, and I do try to help each person through their predicament. But I never say what I would really like to say, which is “Throw your Epson off a cliff, push it in front of a train, drop a wrecking ball on top of it, light it on fire, or smash it with a sledge hammer. And if you buy another Epson to replace it I will personally come and shower your house with toilet paper.”

      Oh thank you that felt good,

      Eric Gulbransen

      • Eric Baden said:

        I can only reiterate…thank for your site and all of your work!!!

      • Eric said:

        Eric Baden, you just made me laugh so hard it hurt. Thank you for that

      • Sky Ray said:

        Hahaha! Thanks for that! I forgot to say that along with sage wisdom, your sense of humor throughout is wonderful too. Thanks for the tip on the HP. I had a contract assignment at HASBRO s few years back and they had HP machines that turned out FAB results ! For both graphics and photos. I guess it hadn’t occurred to me yet to look into their machines too.
        … Will keep y’all posted as I progress with the B&W 7900 conversion and a new color printer.

      • Amen Eric. At the Epson Booth during the PhotoPlus show in New York City last October, I kept cornering every Epson tech person I could to extract a confession… I would not accept that they were unaware of the heartache their Pro series causes. I have been teaching photography and graphic design at the college level for 39 years. I was an original early adopter with the very first Epson pro series. I have had my share of pain and misery with their products. Your revelation above is the first step towards healing. Everyone on this blog repeat after me, “Epson never again”, Epson never again”. I will begin re-educating my students about HP and Canon alternatives…

  18. WHy hasnt been there a class action lawsuit? My heads are clogged again and Im about to just throw this printer away.. Dont want to spend money on a new head nor waste the gallons of ink keeping them clean

    • Eric said:

      This has been brought up many times before by many different users who feel the same as you. I dont think anyone has done more than moan about it though. The machines were definitely misrepresented in advertising. Clogs were obviously not a “thing of the past”. My inbox can attest to that. I changed brands and never looked back

    • Jane Huntington said:

      If there was, I would join. Epson was pretty arrogant when I talked to them when my inkhead clogged, basically saying that if was was using this professionally, this would have never had happened. Never mind that this is my 4th or 5th Epson printer, and I’m on my 2nd or 3rd scanner.

      The canon machine I purchased couldn’t come close to the quality of the Epson-not by a mile. I returned it promptly after their tech support told me that it was a graphics printer not made for printing photography-never mind that it was labeled as a photo printer on the box and sold as a package deal with their d-slrs. When I had an hp, I had great results–when it worked. Often it did not.

      As a consumer, I am tired of all this. At the moment, I’m happy my printer is working.

  19. Sky Ray said:

    There are two distinct things I have learned re: this problem: 1. Cleaning fluids are worth thy try, as a last ditch effort.
    2. Clogs are clogs and electronic failure of microscopic nozzles are distinctly separate circumstances. I believe Dr. Eric & his genius buddy also seems to have also deduced that some clogs lead to the “burn out” of segments along the rows of nozzles. > Head replacement time. What a crime it is that the heads are so damn expensive. Personally, even $600-$800 I would consider “reasonable.” I’m still on the Fence about replacing my print head for the third time. The support system and maintenance for keeping the head “healthy” was never, and still is not acknowledged or provided in the way of support by Epson.

    Their new generation of replacement machine offerings to this troubled, “lemon group” offers a “programmable automatic maintenance cycle for print head health…” This addresses the notion (in a lock you barn door, now that your horse was stolen manner) that the x900 “virtually eliminates clog” printers were designed to keep in use very regularly.
    They still say not one word about the need to keep the capping station/flushing box cleaned and “solution-ally” lubricated, nor the $15. “Achillies Heel” wiper blade maintenance/replacement.

    Had they mentioned these points in their user manual – three missing sentences would have saved measurable heartache & expense.

  20. Patrick Cashmore said:

    Eric you mentioned inStep 5 the fellow who recharged his 4900 via service mode, Where might i find that mode on the 4900

    • Eric said:

      Like Ray said, there are two distinct reasons your nozzles stop firing. I believe they are related to one another, but they are individual problems. One is a clog, two is failed piezoelectrics. A clog you can recover from. Failed piezoelectrics you cannot. When you print, ink is forced through your nozzles. The piezoelectrics are fired, the ink flowing through them cools them. When the ink clogs a nozzle (or a chamber) the machine still fires that nozzle/still sends electrical pulses to those chamber walls. That causes overheating, which causes failures. You might think the best thing to do is simply print something every day, so you don’t get clogs. That’s a fine idea but remember you need to fire every nozzle in every channel. Otherwise you’re back to square one. If I still ran an X900 I would spray the capping station with distilled water and a few drops of a humectant, every night before I put the machine to bed. Hurts nothing, saves everything (at least in theory).

      Remember too that some cleaning procedures actually fire the nozzles (dangerous if you have clogs), while others do not (safer if you have clogs, they simply suck ink from each chamber)

  21. Patrick Cashmore said:

    Eric I will try this last solution and let you know.
    Patrick Cashmore
    Palo Alto Ca

  22. Sky Ray said:

    Really good info from Randy here- Thank you. The key is running the printer on a schedule, at intervals that keep it “flowing” There is a new generation of Epson printers which seems to be upgraded x900 series. No, the ink carts and other peripherals are not compatible. The engineers seem to have acknowledged the head clog/failure problem by including a “wake up and run cycle” which can be programmed to execute the program idea that Randy has ingeniously created. They call it “Scheduled maintenance, for print head health”
    I would not recommend buying any printer from Epson without also purchasing the longest available “blanket warranty protection plan” available. For the rest of us, I’m thankful for the community of [frustrated] users that support each other.
    BYW, I’m still sitting here with my second failed print head on my 7900 trying to decide what to do next…

  23. Randy Stephenson said:

    Below is a short program I wrote to exercise my printer using a PC running Windows 7. I called the program Paint and have the Task Scheduler setup to run paint once every eight hours. You can set this up under Computer Management > System Tools >Task Scheduler > Task Scheduler Library by selecting create task under the actions located on the right hand side to reflect when you want it to run.
    If you have more than one printer, you will need to set up this in the document you are printing
    THE PROGRAM INFORMATION
    The second line is where the adobe reader is located. This is the program that I use to print the document (dailyrun.pdf).
    The two timeout commands allow for system timing issues to not be a concern.
    The fourth line is a PDF item that I obtained from the internet (I called it dailyrun.pdf) of what I wanted to print. In this case, it is the ink colors my printer has. When I have a head problem with one ink color, I change this file to one that will print that ink color and if needed, replace the ink cartridge with a cleaner and run it, and then I go back to the ink once the problem is solved.
    It should be noted that you can damage a print head if you force a solution through it when it is clogged. It is for this reason I print three times every day. I can put the paper I printed on back in the printer after rotating it and run it four times total by where I put the printed item. I could make it smaller and get eight, but run the risk of paper jam. I use regular paper and still am vigilant on printing print head tests
    before running a project.
    The last line closes the program.

    THE PROGRAM
    @echo off
    cd /d C:\Program Files (x86)\Adobe\Acrobat Reader DC\Reader
    timeout /t 5
    acrord32.exe /n /t c:\users\alane\desktop\dailyrun.pdf
    timeout /t 5
    exit

    Now all that said, after about two year my green and orange have clogged. In my opinion, the chart I was using (from marruttusa.com) was not exercising the green and orange carts to produce the print. I ended up changing to green HEX a4feaf and orange HEX ff6031 by using the Version 1.0 – AdobeRGB 1998 Color Chart in January 2016. I came up with these numbers by printing the chart when the green portion of the head would not work, then used photoshop to sample the color in the cell of the chart from the web that did not have any ink (where there should be green). I can say that when the green and/or orange head is not printing, the chart is gray where the green and magenta where the orange should be.

    Next is the shelf life of ink. I wounder if this is from the heavies dropping? I noticed you are to shake the cart before you install it. I now plan on removing and agitating the carts once a month. This interval may need to be changed, I’ll look at the bottom of the cart prior to agitating.

  24. Sky Ray said:

    I’m convinced that clogs in a single channel; or separate channels that are not pairs, occurring suddenly and then worsening, are likely an electronic head failure, and not simply a “clog.” Epson’s ads for the xx900 printers (plus others) stated that the heads have a special coating on them “virtually eliminating clogs.”

    I’m happy for all you users that were able to clear the clogs and go on your merry way – how much trouble and expense was it?

    My theory: The micro print head electronics just below the glass-like head surface, are flawed in the manufacturing process. This amazing and critical component is not made in Japan as it should be. They are farmed out to China.

    I am not intending to disparage the Chinese as a people, in general, but there is a big huge difference in what to expect in consistent, ultra stringent precision, and long life quality. It’s explicitly because they are very, very different countries in their societal values, and government. If Steinway piano manufacturing was outsourced to China, the factory and workers would be capable of turning out a similar product. It would certainly cost Steinway much less. Would it still be a world renown Steinway, as we expect?

    Q: Why is it that a head replacement costs as much as a new machine? The actual labor only cost me about $200, but the total cost was $2,175.00.

    I’m surprised that some sharp law firm hasn’t taken up a class action lawsuit against Epson-Seiko, but truthfully, that sort of stuff doesn’t fly so easily in Japan as it does in the USA.

    I’m not throwing more good money after bad again- it’s too much like a roll of the dice with only a 90 day warranty!

    There’s a company that converts these unfortunate machines into a superior black & white printer if the printer still has at least any 6 good remaining channels.

    For my pursuit in color printing I’m now seriously looking at the Canon iPF 6450. To my sensibilities it doesn’t matter then where it’s manufactured because the print head is user serviceable and relatively inexpensive.

    • Larry Fitton said:

      Sky Ray and others –
      Three years ago I paid $1,700 for my 4900 (previously had a 4000 which lasted about three years, then went to the land fill – print head issues!). With my current machine, both the VLM and LC channels pair abruptly stopped working. They had worked just fine a few days prior but no amount of power cleanings made any difference. I am leaning toward your theory about the print head electronics being the culprit. While I think as you do that a printhead replacement price (currently $1,395) is a huge punishable abuse, I also have to think about the absolutely astounding complexity of these printers and the gorgeous prints they produce and the incredible engineering that went into their design and manufacture. Just mind-boggling. Well, at the current new price of around $2K, I have to believe that Epson is practically giving these away. And, unfortunately for us, the consumers, how they make the real money is on the back end – the expendables like ink and paper and replacement parts. I’m not letting them off the hook, especially since this is my second printer to fail with printhead problems. Those same engineers need to be solving this. I tend to think it is an engineering/technical problem and not a manufacturing quality control issue. Epson has too many unhappy customers around the world.

      Larry

      • David Coral said:

        Hello, Larry. I have the same problem. My EPSON STYLUS PRO 4900 was normally working one week ago, but suddenly VLM sttoped working in a 50%. I ran a power cleaning but the consequence was worse: VLM and LC stopped working at all.
        I would like to know if you could resolve your problem and how.
        Thank you.

  25. I have the 7900 epson and took my head out and cleaned it. I can not get the printer to print at all. Do you have any ideas?

    • Jane Huntington said:

      There is an excellent tutorial video on this site on how to change your own printhead, and you can start there. I don’t know about cleaning the head it’s self–I wound up buying a new one (which was really expensive!!) and installing it myself. There’s a lot of good info on this site if you want to go that route. Get the service manual, and make sure you’ve installed it properly. There are a couple out there, and I used both of them to help me a long.

      FYI–According to Epson, these are professional machines that are made to be printed from everyday, meaning that if they sit around not being used, in storage, etc, there’s a good chance that your head will eventually get clogged. They won’t concede to a design flaw, and when pressed regarding this issue, I’ve been told that perhaps I shouldn’t have bought a machine that I don’t have the time to take care of properly, i.e. printing everyday in a lab environment.

      If I’m not using it, I make sure I do a test print once or twice a week, as I tend to be the type of person that generally prints big projects every so often, but doesn’t print everyday as a rule. Knowing this, I would hesitate buying a second hand printer unless it came with a warranty from a respectable outfit.

      • Sky Ray said:

        It’s true, these machines were designed to be used regularly, but in Epson’s advertising, and far worse- in the owners manual (after you buy one) you will not find even a hint of that suggestion. I owned professional Epson printers that lasted years and performed well despite using them only occasionally.

        I’m facing a second go around replacing the print head in my 7900 -even with running test prints, humidors, and other capping station maintenance every 3rd day during slow printing periods. Default settings when you start up a new printer have the machine programmed to do unreasonable numbers of cleanings. My machine was doing these “auto cleanings” between each print! I figured that at least one third of my first 350 ml (expensive) ink cart set, and multiple maintenance tanks was pissed away on this before I shut off the auto setting, for a more reasonable regime.

        problems began with a drop out in the middle of a channel. Cleanings made it worse. When it’s a single color drop out, you’re likely in trouble. It’s actually not just a simple clog that can be cleaned away. The microscopic electronics & mechanics fatally burn up when small clogs occur. The main reason being: lack of use with ink continuously flowing. Why else would they have built in an ultrasonic type “last ditch” power cleaning cycle?

        It wouldn’t be so egregious if a replacement head was like $400.00 – NO, it costs nearly the amount of a new machine to replace. The independent tech place that services my area told me that even jobbers that run x900’s non stop have to do regular print head replacements. The difference between a commercial printer and a small studio (of an artist & photographer) is that their machines produce enough to pay for the parts & labor.

        Whether it’s a “design flaw,” or an intentional “design to fail” or even perhaps outsourcing of this critical manufacture to who knows where, it is a monumental disgrace. SHAME ON EPSON SEIKO JAPAN.

    • MJ said:

      After a head cleaning you have to perform the initial ink charge sequence form the Epson software or do a few power cleanings.

    • Sean Hayes said:

      When you say the “printer wont print at all”, what do you mean? Is it not starting up correctly? When you send a print, does anything happen?

    • I have an Epson 9900 and recently my nozzle checks show giant chunks of color missing in the middle section of the Orange and Matt Black. I have used cleaning carts from Ink2Image and have done the initial fill and let it soak for a couple days. Run cleaning cycles with the fluid. Cleaned the wiper, capping station etc and have done the Windex trick. I replaced a capping station for my Epson 4900 when the cyan just wasn’t printing. It was easy to do and completely solved the problem. Do people here suspect the issue to be with the print head or capping station for the Epson 9900?

      • Eric said:

        Print head is the undisputed champion of reasons for “clogs”

      • Sky Ray said:

        Mitch, You mention all the things you did to the 9900, but didn’t exactly say if that corrected the problem.

      • Mitch said:

        None of the things I tried solved the problem. I found a print head for $2k, but I found an Epsom service man who can replace the head, capping assembly etc.. For $2k!

      • Jane Huntington said:

        I think I paid 1624 for my head , directly through Epson. Somewhere in these posts is a contact number. I replaced the head my self. Eric’s video is excellent , and he has a link for a service manual and other essentials.

        I agree with what others on this site have written. A few years back there was an out of court settlement against Epson for their photo series of machines. However, as someone who has tried to use a Canon printers as a replacement ( I bought and returned one, my graduate school established a lab with them), I can attest to the vastly lower quality. In fact, when I called canon about the substandard results, I was told that their photo printer was actually a graphics printer, and I would get bet better results using something else. Insert unhappy face here.

    • Sky Ray said:

      When you took your head out, then replaced it, did you run the software set up? You cannot R&R the print head without
      re-programing the printer- telling the “brain” that the head was replaced. In Service mode there’s a menu item (head exchange) and protocol to follow using software in order to continue.

      • Where do you buy a new head? how much is it?
        Im about to throw my 9900 away.,. ugh

  26. Sky Ray said:

    Dear fellow printers with Epson anxiety, First of all praise to Eric and his Genius pal -they have balls as big as church bells for taking on this issue as they have! I’ve followed several forums, and read volumes about people reporting the same problems. I’m convinced it’s a design flaw that Epson will never own up to. 40 or so years ago, I had heard that once upon a time, the Japanese would kill themselves rather than live in shame. Well even if this was true, it would be meaningless at Epson/Seiko because they deny that any statistical print head problems exist. If the failure is not acknowledged, then there is nothing to be ashamed of. I bought my machine new in the box, but I was not the original buyer, and the warranty only covers the original purchaser- period. I had a head failure on my 7900 after running only 251 prints. This stunned me into a coma because my other Epson machines performed as promised for years on end. Well, green dropped out, burned out, whatever. I tried all the suggested fixes before dropping the 2 grand to replace the head. In the mire I literally found a “solution” that has protected my [new] print head from getting clogged again. American Ink Systems has a “solution” and a “maintenance” regime that truly works. It is specially formulated and although obviously it has ammonia in it, absolutely replace Windex or any other concoction you’re using with their reasonably priced ink jet cleaning fluid. Every three or four days I do the recommended steps- it takes 5 minutes. It’s basically uncapping the head and placing drops of the “solution” on the capping station pads where the head parks. They give instructions (in maintenance mode) on how to perform the procedure. This has kept my printer trouble free, especially since I don’t print every day. Best wishes.

  27. martin stephenson said:

    i have a 7890 only done about 100 prints and the llk is constantly blocked any ideas would be great.

  28. I have a 9900 with clogged cyan head.. tried windex trick, power cleaning.. nothing.. it was in storage for a 1year.. only having issues with cyan.. suggestions?

    • Sean Hayes said:

      Have you tried a purge pattern of cyan in combo with color pairs cleanings? Also, a power cleaning probably couldn’t hurt.

    • Adrian said:

      Try 8 parts of windex (blue) + 2 parts isopropyl alcohol. Park the head on 2 fold tissue (soft), leave the print head 30 min, the try a head cleaning and nozzle check. Repeat the procedure for 2-3- time, you’ll see every time improvements.

      • Adrian said:

        The isopropyl alcohol must be on 99% concentration or 70 %

      • Jim Armstrong said:

        I’m afraid that after experiencing multiple clogs that could not be cleared, and much angst, I finally tossed in the towel and purchased the Canon IPF 6400. I loved the quality of prints produced by the Epson, but I had had enough with the clogs and couldn’t bring myself to invest in another Epson. In my humble opinion, the Canon produces prints of equal quality and I’m now living a happy and clog free life!

      • Eric said:

        AAAA MENNN, Jim

  29. ACBusse said:

    I’m an owner of a 9900 with an unclearable clog on the green, and now light black, channels. I bought it second hand with high hopes of clearing them but am now thinking I may have to start replacing parts. I bought refillable cartridges and am still flushing out the system. But what I’ve noticed is that even though there is no longer any ink printing when I do the windex/paper towel overnight on the inkhead, I’m still seeing fresh ink coming off on the towel.

    How can that be? Has anyone else noticed ink coming off the head when the cartridges are filled with cleaning fluid?

    • Eric said:

      I have noticed this myself. It’s like there’s ghost ink in there. I think this is because these heads are like mazes inside. There are many many nooks and cranny’s where ink can hide from the flow. I think when you soak the head with windex, or whatever, the paper towel creates a gentle “suction” which is different than when the machine forces the ink out of the head as it does during a print. That’s my theory

      • ACBusse said:

        Yes, that’s it exactly, ink that’s not going with the flow.

      • Sean Hayes said:

        Painful situation. But who doesn’t like a little gentle “suction”?
        (Sorry, I just couldn’t help myself)

    • Jane Huntington said:

      AC–
      So sorry to hear that you’re going through this. Are you missing specific nozzles or whole colors? When I did the windex trick, it would actually seem worse, even though there was a lot of ink on the paper towels (that is, if I re-wet them during the process. If I didn’t, they would dry out from the dry heat in my apt). I would then need to do some cleaning cycles afterwards to get it back to where I started-which was a pattern with the same nozzles missing in the light black.

      • ACBusse said:

        Yes, that is identical to what seems to be happening here. After cleaning it just takes me back to the same pattern of blocked nozzles. The next step I think is to replace the damper assembly.

    • Jane Huntington said:

      AC-In my situation, replacing the pump cap assembly didn’t fix the problem, although at first it seemed like the cheaper solution. BTW–the first tech I spoke to, Jon at Fotocare, told me me flat out that it sounded like the print head after some purge prints were unsuccessful. This was seconded by the 2nd Epson rep, and they both turned out to be correct.

      Be very careful when replacing it–in my case, the problem seemed to be much, much worse afterwards, mostly because the assembly I got was in itself arrived slightly damaged-not visible, and it sat in the assembly correctly, but it’s alignment was off just enough to not work. The issue turned out not to be the pump cap assembly.

      On another note–different people at Epson tech support line have different skills sets. Some will only set up a tech support call, but others have more direct experience with the machine. If you don’t get someone who can shed some more light on your situation, call back later when you might talk to someone else.

      • ACBusse said:

        Yes, I’m starting to see that the printhead is indeed the next step. Thanks for your input Jane. I’ll call around for another quote.

    • I have a 9900 with a Cyan clogged head, Tried windex trick, tried cleaning power cleaning etc.. nothing worked.. suggestions?

      • Rick said:

        I am having exact same problem….please someone help us:)

  30. Hi!

    does anyone know where I can get a copy of servprog.exe?

    I just installed my new printhead on my 7900…only had about 5 heart attacks while doing it, but everything fits back together okay. Just need the software for the final step.

    Thanks!

  31. I just got an insane quote to fix my 7900. I have a stupid clog in my light black that just keeps getting worse.I’ve done the windex thing, and then added the alcohol, which started to pull a lot of ink out, but after doing it twice the clog doesn’t budge, and only seems to get more so. I need to get more ink to try an ss cleaning, as nothing else has worked, but is there something else that I could try first?

    The printer is 2 years old. Not only are the parts off the hook, but so are the travel charges–We’re talking worse case scenario about $2,400 plus. It could be $702 if they replace the pump assembly, but, if they have to replace the ink head, that’s another 1623, list. Then there’s tax…Anyway, does anyone know of a reliable vender that services Brooklyn NY? I suspect that NY real estate prices have driven the authorized epson dealers out of the area, and Epson’s website doesn’t offer a lot of options in terms of vendors. Or, is it possible to do these things myself? I have no idea where to get parts, although I’m happy to try.

    I use this printer all the time, and would love to have it up and running if possible. Thanks for all your help in this matter!!

    • Hi Jane

      I used “pcpartscanada.com” to get a pump cap assembly for my 9900 – cost $270 CDN including replacement wiper blade. You’ll have to find out the part numbers (Eric? Anyone have them on hand?). The time to install – about an hour, but it was my first time. Watch Eric’s video on replacing your own print head, to build enough confidence to pull your machine apart. It’s not hard, really. Just remember, when it’s done, don’t forget to remove the little plastic cap on the pump cap assembly that covers your suction cups where the head parks. (unpark the print head, and you’ll see it behind the raised wiper. Also, google a copy of the service manual, so you’re not going in blind – essential.

    • Sean Hayes said:

      Please, don;t do an SS cleaning. If your head’s not dead, this will likely kill it. It did so in my case.

      I have had alot of success with doing a combination of color pairs cleanings and printing purge files. If the test print shows that different heads nozzles are missing, I suggest a power cleaning to prime the ink system. In fact, I’d try this either way, as there is no wasted ink associated with the power cleaning.

      If it comes to replacing parts, don’t pay for a service tech to do it. Watch the vid’s Eric made. It’d really not too dificult at all to take the printing assembly apart on these machines.

      Good Luck!!

    • Thanks Alan and Sean for your comments!

      Unfortunately, the nozzle checks aren’t budging after printing purge files, various kinds of cleanings (the only one I haven’t tried is the SS cleaning), and the windex trick. So, the next line of attack is replacing the pump head and wiper blade, which I was able to get through Compass Mircro Inc via their web site. 231 for the pump, 13 for the wiper blade. Restocking charges is 10% if replacing just the wiper blade does the trick. (right off the bat that saves me $500 on the service call). Epson is pretty convinced that it’s my ink head, which, is anywhere from $1624 to $2000 for just the part. Hopefully, the pump cap assembly will fix it–but I’ll attempt an ss cleaning only after the head has been declared officially dead–hell, if my next step is to replace it, at that point, it can’t hurt. If there are any other steps in-between, let me know.

      • You can get the print head for about $400 and replace it yourself. Start looking for that #1 phillips, long-shank screwdriver.

      • Sorry – just checked – it’s the 6″ long-shank #1 philips head screwdriver. This site may point you in the right direction to find one.

      • Sean Hayes said:

        Sounds like it may be the head. And yes, if it is, blast the hell out of it with SS cleanings, because chances are it’s not clogged, but the piezo elements are fried.

        $400 on a print head? Where can you find it that cheaply??

        I found a screwdriver at an autoparts store locally. Good place to check.

      • Sean Hayes said:

        I got our head from Epson directly here:

        Found it from Epson. Call 800-234-1445. Speak to Elaine. Super easy, nice to deal with.

        Don’t recal the exact price, but it wasn’t cheap

      • Thanks Sean and Alan!

        I would jump for joy if the printhead were only $400! Is that for a reconditioned head?

        I’ll call Elaine once I rule out if the pump assembly replacement works. I’ll keep you posted as to how this all winds up playing out. And if anyone knows of a place where I can get a replacement part under $1,600, give me a holler.

      • In Canada, check PCpartscanada.com I’ve seen the heads for about $450 CDN in the past.

      • Allan and Sean-
        Thanks for your help! I just called Elaine over at Epson and ordered a new (gulp) printhead for $1623 plus tax and shipping. It was the cheapest new printhead I could find, some sites had them for $2,000, but I didn’t spend days and days combing the inter webs to find one. 90 day warranty. So it looks like I’m all in…BTW, PCparts Canada got back to me very quickly, but unfortunately, they do not ship the the states. And I have a favorite service manual called the pro79_fg, although using that one in conjunction with the 700_ESP77_79_97_99_SERIES_I (all found on the web) made for a thorough understanding of the pump and cap assembly-which gave me the confidence to try replacing the print head itself.

        I’ll let you know how it goes.

      • Hi Jane

        Sorry you couldn’t get a cheaper price – $1500 CDN would include the $900 service call (yes – $900!) for a tech to come here for the day and install the print head in my Epson 11880… or 9900. This, unfortunately, is how Epson tries to keep their corporate machine running, by price gouging for parts (and ink!). Makes me wonder how Cone Inks can make a practical duplicate K3 and HDR inkset and sell them for less than half the OEM inks, AND they make small batches!

      • Sean Hayes said:

        That’s about what we paid for it. But you gotta figure, doing this by yourself, buying straight from Epson, your saving over $1000 compared to having a service guy do it. And the replacement is a snap! Let us know how it works out

      • Epson 7900 update:
        Switching out the print head on the 7900 finally worked! Now I have perfect nozzle checks, and more importantly, perfect prints. I printed for a last minute show right after I replaced the head, and the prints were gorgeous.

        The only thing I have to add to the video is that it’s a good idea to copy the serial number off the print head before installing it, although it was in a position where I could take pix (use a flash!) of it afterwards and was able to get one good image with the complete serial number to enter into the service pro program. Service pro is a pc program, but you can run it on a mac by installing a trail version of windows via bootcamp.

        I now get a “communication error” message in my print driver when ever I print, however, it doesn’t prevent me from printing. I don’t think I’m harming the printer, but if anyone has any other information, please let me know.

        Moving on, I’m trying to set up an automated way of printing a small purge fill every couple of days while I’m away, which happens frequently. Mac’s automator program might be able to do this, but I would have to use iPhoto, and the controls are little wonky. I’m going to try working with Keyboard Maestro to see if that works-so far, it requires more programing that I have the brain for at the moment.

        Epson also advises to keep the printer away from direct air, such as ac or a fan, or dry heat, like what comes out of radiators, to keep the heads moist and working properly. Unfortunately, with living in NY, it’s kind of a fantasy scenario. They also recommended a humidifier. Epson’s tech thought a plastic drop cloth was a wonderful idea-and Eric’s water bucket idea couldn’t hurt.

        BTW- I printed all day long on Thursday, and when I did a test print on Monday, half of my ink heads were already clogged. One standard cleaning cleared everything. Setting up a maintenance protocol going forward will be a priority.

      • Sean Hayes said:

        VICTORY!!! Glad to read this.

        Humidity seems to be key, along with keeping the ink flowing. I’d love to figure out a way to print purge files automatically on a PC, but the following approach has been working very well for me for the last 6 plus months:

        My approach to printing & maintenance, after the frustration of a fried head and reading alot, including every word on this website is:

        1- spread out my print jobs so I print one print a day at least.
        2- start the print session with a nozzle check, do a color pairs or full cleaning if needed.
        3- if the cleaning doesn’t fix the problem, I print an ink purge pattern. This has so far cleaned every clog that a cleaning failed to take care of. If different nozzles are missing after cleanings, or the ink purge doesn’t take care of it, I do a power cleaning to charge the ink system, this has also helped every time (my theory, if different nozzles are missing after cleanings, they are dropping out due to air in the system, not clogged).
        4- Friday afternoon, before closing shop, I spray a bit of distilled water on the capping station (I also have a room humidifier, keeping the room at a minimum humidity of %35).
        5- pop out and clean the wiper blade every 2 weeks.
        6- NEVER DO AN SS CLEANING!!!!!

        So far, almost three months now, I am using much less ink, and have only had to toss one print that had a mid-print clog happen.

      • Eric said:

        There IS a way to set your X900 machine up to do automated purges, in order to help keep the heads clear of clogs. Ken Doo knows the ins and outs of this, as he does it for his own machine. He’s already agreed to let me film him. I just need to get down to Carmel for a day so we can do it. I think this would be a great addition to MYX900.com. For once something about avoiding problems rather than just solving them.

        Stay tuned, I’ll get off my arss about it

    • Allen said:

      Do you still have this issue? What symptoms manifest as a clog? How is your nozzle check?

      • Jane Huntington said:

        Allen-After replacing the printhead, I no longer have the issue! Very expensive fix. It manifested in the same nozzles missing no matter how many cleanings, printing purge files, windex, wetting the dampers, etc. Anyway, it’s working now. Very relived. Now all I have to do is figure out a way to do automatic prints while I’m away so the same issue doesn’t happen again.

  32. Bill F. said:

    Here’s another solution for you to try. I’ve tried everything (I thought) with my dead VLM color on my 4900 (all of the above suggestions except the SS cleaning. Soaked in Windex “original” on paper towels (3 thick, which has worked in the past). Did this 4 different occasions overnight. But after reading all the comments, two got some bells ringing. One by the site owner who said that none of the cleanings except the “SS” actually run ink through the head . . . the second by Jan Foran who said he made up a print of just the color he was trying to clean (sadly, this didn’t work for him). But I just tried it, so to force a lot of VLM actually through the head. With a couple tries at this print and after 3 weeks of trying everything else, AND after Epson declared my print head dead, my printer is working and back making great prints. The nozzle check comes out perfect. BTW, the print image I made has several sections of various shades of VLM so I would be close to getting just the right solid color and forcing the VLM cart to “blow” hard. Now, tomorrow, I get to cancel my order for the new P800 I just placed !!! Thanks, a donation is due AND I hope this helps someone else. Another thought is that possibly and maybe probably many of the things I’ve been trying, ending with this last effort, added to the final solution.

  33. Peter said:

    I have an Epson 7890 that has been sitting for at least 2 years. (I know, terrible neglect. I wasn’t happy about it either)However, I tried the paper towel and windex the other day. It did not work at all. 3 days later, I stumbled upon this post. I just did the SS cleaner and now I have a perfect nozzle check. I think I’ve used about 1/2 of my black ink doing various cleanings and such. But it is fixed now and I am elated.

  34. Jim Armstrong said:

    I see that Alan B has had good success using ammonia/water soaked paper towels placed behind the print head. I have also seen several videos that demonstrate the same method using Windex. Can anyone else comment on their experience with using this method? Can it potentially damage the head? Thanks!

    • Sean Hayes said:

      The verdict from all the sources I’ve read up on say it’ll do no harm. I tried this, and ended up having to do a replacement on the head, which was really quite easy. I’d say you’ve got nothing to lose with the Windex soaked paper towel trick. Hope it works for you!

  35. Sean Hayes said:

    I tried this last night, after watching your video. Thank you for the help you’re putting out there!

    Sorry to say, it didn’t work. I seem to have a faulty print head on my hands. But after doing this, I’m fully confident in ordering a new print head, and replacing it myself.

    Anyone have leads on where to get one? I have one source pinned down, but more options is always nice.

    • Sean Hayes said:

      Found it from Epson. Call 800-234-1445. Speak to Elaine. Super easy, nice to deal with.

    • Sean– I have been getting advise from Jon Cone at Inkjet Mall in VT — The link he sent me is was intended to show photos of what I was looking for–the damper –I actually ordered a new damper for my 4900. We will install it this weekend. I don’t know what they have but it is worth a look. They are located in China and I had no problem receiving the item I ordered.

      I am trying to find pics specifically of the 4900 print head and ink dampers and find this:
      http://www.sdott-parts.com/epson-pro-4900-4910-damper-assy-1580221-1541331.html

  36. Jim Armstrong said:

    Thank you for clarifying – can you offer any tips for unclogging a stubborn 4900?

    • Ole Roynestad said:

      I have same issues with 4900 – we do not have SS cleaning option, trying everything short of windex/ammonia – may be time to buy a Canon or wait for rumored new Epson printers

  37. Jim Armstrong said:

    Why is it that none of the “maintenance” or “Service Mode” options that you describe are not are available on my 4900. I followed your instructions and the options displayed are much different.

    Thanks, Jim

    • GoGo said:

      You are correct, 4900s are different. Heads are different, menu is different, and for some mysterious reason 4900s can sometimes come back from bad clogs. I do not have a 4900 service manual or I would pass it along to you. Sorry.

      • Jim Armstrong said:

        Thank you for clarifying – can you offer any advice for unclogging a stubborn 4900?

  38. Hey Eric, great having this resource up. I was recently told by a 3rd party technician that my print head, “clogged nozzle” issue is that a seal on my Capping/pumping station assembly is looking rotten. The printers is 2 years old, prints only black ink. Does this sound kosher to you? Also, if so, do you have any helpful hints on a DYI replacement of the assembly, the quotation I was given for them to come out for an hour or two to do the replacement is ridiculously expensive.

    As as a side note, he did remove the print head, showed it to me, flushed it and all nozzles were spraying perfect fans of cleaner, so it’s not an actual clogged head. Any info would be greatly appreciated!!

    Thanks Eric

    Mike

    • Alan B. said:

      Hi Mike

      I recently did a replacement of my PCA (pump cap assembly) in about an hour, after getting an error code: 1439 (pump cap assembly needs replacement). Taking some cues from Eric’s great video on how to replace your print head — just to get the case apart, etc. The masking tape trick is priceless, btw. Then the service manual and field guide show what to do next. It’a actually pretty easy, at the PCA is a bulking chunk of equipment that screws into place. You have to unplug a handful of wires, and the waste ink tubes. My machine was running again in under an hour. I got the part from pcpartscanada.com, though there’s probably a company in the US who does the same. The part number is 1616684, and get a wiper blade replacement as well ($230 for the PCA, $17 for the wiper). Under $300 CDN after taxes and shipping.

    • GoGo said:

      First of all Mike, I hope that tech stepped in dog poo on his way home from your place. Its a very bad idea to force ink/liquid/cleaner through an X900 printhead. Take a look at this page “printhead revealed” and you may understand why. Those internals are wickedly delicate. Many a head has been damaged that way. Now on to your next move. If you have a reasonable comfort level with tinkering you can definitely change your own pump and cap assembly. Email me and I’ll hook you up on directions.

      • GoGo said:

        Excellent advice Alan!

      • Tom B said:

        Hi Eric, does your directions for replacement of the PCA apply to the 11880 as well? I have run through a lot of $$$ trying to clean my machine, including the ink charge options (wow that used up a lot of ink). Against all advice, I had my printer sitting for months without use and now it has an incurable clog. I was advised to first try to replace the pump cap before opting for the more expensive print head replacement. Have you come across any success stories with replacing the PCA? I read elsewhere on your site that its mostly just something technicians like to recommend and that the clog always is in the nozzles so not useful.

        Thank you for putting this site together.

  39. Alan B. said:

    Hey Eric
    Any final thoughts on this post? How did this end up?

    I used your head replacement video to help get me started replacing my pump cap assembly… not difficult at all, just had to tell you, the blue tape trick was priceless.

    I HAVE HAD GOOD SUCCESS with clearing clogged nozzles in my 9900 since replacing the PCA, using ammonia/water soaked paper towels behind a released print head (pull the plug from the printer when starting up, and the print head moves away from the parked location, then you can freely move it), parked overnight (8 hours), and do some cleanings and print tests to see how it’s done. Repeat as necessary.

    • John MacDonald said:

      Hi Eric,

      I’m trying to find out if you had success on the last attempt (number 6), i.e. “an ink charge series using cleaning carts filled with Epson’s own cleaning fluid.” Did this work? Thanks.

  40. IsellEpson said:

    omg, where have you been my whole life? I sell these freakin printers in NYC and can now offer extra help to clients on this TOP SECRET world. Will consider a donation to you with my first wiper blade replacement. Your a cool dude.

  41. I have an Epson 7890 which is experiencing print problems. A nozzle check shows no problems but when i print there is a noticeable banding on MK or PK. The banding is more noticeable on the MK than it is on the PK. I have tried all the cleaning options several times to no avail. I havent tried the SS clean as i wasnt aware of it but am reluctant to try this if it may fry the print head. I am in the UK so cannot easily obtain Windex so havent tried this as yet. I was wondering if my problem is a clogged print head or something else. Any ideas?

    Thanks in advance.

  42. you guys look to be pondering your problem while being in Bodie. if you leave a couple of machines there to rust in the brush and ruins, it will be a welcome addition to the park.

  43. Eric Baden said:

    I very much appreciate the information provided on this site. While I have experienced intermittent clogs on my two-year old 4900, standard or powerful cleanings have eventually cleared them all. Several weeks ago two adjacent segments went missing in the orange nozzle check display. I have tried standard and powerful paired cleanings, humidifying, and windex. The clog indicated by the missing segments persists. Would you recommend an SS cleaning in this case? Thanks.

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