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 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

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

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

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!


  1. K. said:

    Hi… Glad to come across your site. I am looking for help with an Epson 7890. Issue started with bad nozzle checks, but prints were still good for a few more days. Now bad nozzle checks..Cyan, Magenta and Yellow are the worse. I have done power cleans, normal cleans, and cleaned in pairs. After letting it rest overnight this morning I tried to do a cleaning and black in splashed from the back. After researching today I see the part that the ink is coming from is the pressure pump. So far I see air in the lines of the black. Any tips or help?

    • Eric said:

      Sounds like you’ve blown a gasket in the dampers somewhere. That’s most likely where the air came from. Pretty rare so you have my permission to feel extra special today. Part of the head changing video that you can assess on this site does involve removing the damper unit. You can buy one for relatively cheap from compassmicro. I think its a couple of hundred bucks, or, about as much as you just spent in ink during those cleanings. Sorry about that by the way, I still have Epson ink wasting nightmares myself. I’ve been told the video is easy to follow, plus I give you field and service manuals with the rental which lasts a month. If you decide to rent the video email me after and I’ll send you the manuals too. Good luck K

  2. I changed the capping station and my 3 years clogged 4900 was printing like a charm… after some cleaning cycles.
    But meantime (6 months) i have some missing nozzles in PK again…
    The Pro4900 (i had 2) is really a scrap machine.

  3. woodyandersonearthlinknet said:

    How should I go about restarting a Epson 9900 that has not been used for 3 years. Have all new ink cartridges and 2 new maintenance cartridges. Did a nozzles check and nothing shows. Also noticed that there is air in some of the plastic lines near the head. Also got an error 4000 code

    • Eric said:

      That’s one of the first things I’d suggest – looking for air in your lines. Sounds like there is, so step 1 is getting that out. The cheapest way to experiment with that is to turn the machine on in service mode, then do a series of pairs cleanings all on the same channel. Watch those lines and see if you’re making a difference. I don’t find an error code 4000 in the 7900/9900 service manual, but I see it in the 4900 manual. It’s related to clogging on that machine. Wont stop you from doing cleanings. You could do an initial fill to purge the air from your lines but holy shit there goes all your new ink. I’d go the miser route and try the pairs cleanings. These machines can become rabbit holes that sucks you dry of hope and money, so think economics while you experiment. IE: you’ll have to get air out of the lines for a new head installation anyway, so you’re not being wasteful by fixing that first. But chasing clogs, which are not actually clogs, can get expensive. Ping me back once you start seeing ink show up in your nozzle patterns. Firing complete blanks is probably not related to clogs. More a lack of ink, which could be related to the air in your lines.

      • Eric
        I’ve done pair cleaning 3-4 times and the air in the ink lines do not seem to move. And still nothing shows when I do a nozzle check. Have done CL1,2,and 3. Is there a limit to the number of times I can do a pair cleaning? I by mistake tried printing something and It looked like the cyan was printing. Thanks Woody

      • Eric said:

        Ballz. i was really hoping you could make an impact doing the pairs cleanings. You can’t print without ink right? So that’s the first hurdle we have to get you over. Go to this page and read about Power Cleanings. If you haven’t yet, try this;

      • Eric

        Did a bunch of cleaning double line cycles CL1 – CL4 and I got the yellow and matt black up. Did a bunch more and did not change. Still had air in the lines. 1 inch or 2 inches in some places. Did (2) Inlt fill charges for new ink and then double line CL4 cycles thru all the different groups and lost the matt black which before was almost OK just a few missing. None of the others colors show at all when doing a when doing a nozzle check, just the yellow and its OK with nothing missing. Did have in beginning some Light Cyan show up a little but now its gone alone with the Matt Black. What is the next step?


      • woodyandersonearthlinknet said:


        Just checked and there is still air in the lines. It looks like they have not moved


      • Eric said:

        Woody, email me directly and I’ll send you some files to help.

  4. I had to leave my 9900 unused for 3 years. Trying to restart it, What would be the best way to get it running? Ran a nozzle check and nothing was printed. Have had Windex on the print head for a few days,

  5. Does the Epson Print Utility nozzle check ever give false results that look like a clogged channel? The C channel on my 9900 has all but disappeared in the nozzle check. However, I can print an 8×10 inch solid block of Cyan color with perfect uniformity—no banding. It also correctly prints a 450-patch color calibration chart that perfectly matches those I printed months ago with a “clean” printhead. Images that I’ve printed look perfect, but the ink nozzle check still shows no cyan and only about half the the magenta lines.

    • FRANK G GWIRTZ said:

      Forgot one detail. Using the Epson utility for the nozzle check, but printing with ImagePrint RIP software.

      • Tom said:

        Im in exactly the same predicament right now and equally puzzled. Nozzle check says Cyan ink is clogged yet I can print sheets of cyan color with no banding. According to the nozzle check the clog is getting worse every day. Im also using Imageprint but the result is the same when I use the epson driver. Im on my second 11880. The first one also got a permanent clog in cyan channel after near the same time span, yet with that printer I did see banding.

    • Lou Vest said:

      Same problem here. Prints a purge page in cyan perfectly, but nozzle check shows almost blank. Test prints chosen because they have cyan color in them print the cyan well, but the blues are desaturated – just black and white. Strange.

  6. Nicolas Papadopoulos said:

    Please send me these instructions on my email
    Can I just replace the nozzles?
    Epson 7890
    Thank you
    I try several times cleanning the nozzles and now i cannot see any ink on the paper

    • Eric said:

      No you cannot just replace nozzles unfortunately. Epsons don’t work like some other machines where nozzles are individual replaceable units. Epson has one big head that houses all nozzles in one unit. Sorry

  7. Emperio said:

    I have question. Will a printhead from Epson 4900 work with Epson 7900 or Epson 9900?
    Thank you

    • RayRay said:

      The print head is interchangeable only between the 7900 and the 9900.

  8. Eric, how are you?

    I still haven’t given up on my 4900 and after I installed carbon ink it is way better.
    As a matter of fact, a second one made its way to my studio as a gift, since they keep dying everywhere and I keep interested in them.
    Recently I was reading about them again and again, but I found a new thread: here this guys writes this: “The next day, I noticed the printer had not gone to sleep because I left the front panel in a sub menu.”

    I have being doing this for the last week, it works, every nozzle check is better than before, never worse, so far.

    • Eric said:

      Holy crap that’s great!

      …and by the way, are you sure your second 4900 ended up in your studio as a gift? Could have been a prank.

      Fascinating share. Thanks brother,


      • It has a bunch of ink inside and after a week of improvements, it still had the magenta channel clogged. Everything else was going ok with the other channels.
        After leaving overnight with cleaning fluid on the parking pad, this morning I tried a cleaning (not powerful) of the magenta channel, magenta had no change, but MK and LK lost most nozzles. When you think you know something…

        Definitely a prank.

  9. PG said:

    how do you get into the service mode?

    • PG said:

      did the ink charge (3 times) but my OR/ GR would not change, completely bank… C worked…

      Anyways, last resort, getting a hammer!! done with this crap..

      • Eric said:

        “getting a hammer!!”, says the printer to the carpenter… 🙂

  10. Line, Norway said:

    I’m crying a river now, because of the stupid printer (4900). One of the colours were clogged, and after lots of nozzle cleaning, manual and auto, I tried the paper towel-thing. Unfortunately the paper ripped, and now 6/10 is clogged. What can I do?

    • Eric said:

      That’s the thing with paper towel technique – better to use no-lint towels which are typically stronger. 6/10 being “clogged” might not actually be the case. Could be the paper towel trick sucked ink from the heads and now you’re firing air instead of ink. Sorry to say this but it’s gonna take more ink to fix (hopefully) the problem. Keep an eye on ink though, you could end up paying for a new machine with just the ink costs of troubleshooting a supposed “clog”. Maybe try those blue paper towels at the Depot next time. For now try a cleaning method that sucks ink from the head. Do NOT use an aggressive head-firing cleaning because without ink in there you will surely fry it.

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