The problem with these printers is OEM Epson ink is so think, it adds fuel to the problem. Epson pigmented inks (DuraBrite/Ultra) tend to accelerate the problem! The ink being thinner on dye base models helps a lot since it is less prone to clog issues (Claria/Claria HD).
To make matters worse, the head is difficult to remove without sustaining printer damage. Unless you know how, DO NOT remove the printhead unless you have to!
While it’s more or less impossible to remove the head, the problem can be solved with printhead cleaner, vinyl tubing and a syringe. This does get messy, so wear gloves if ink stains on skin bother you. There’s 2 ways to free it for cleaning:
- Initiate a ink change (wastes ink)
- Try and avoid if possible
- Find the release latch that holds the printhead in and move the head.
- Move it back once you’re done and power cycle the printer - it throws it off at startup, but will come back to sanity. Getting close enough is fine.
When it comes to cleaner you have two choices:
- Premade cleaner (Search Epson printhead cleaner on eBay)
- Follow the provided instructions with the kit
DO NOT use homebrew cleaners unless you know how to make it in a way that doesn’t ruin the anti clog coating or puts the head at risk of permanent failure resulting in a fatal error - even if you don’t mind the risk.
If you must, the formula I'd recommend for this is 1 part alcohol (91-99%) to 2 parts water (1:3 is safer, but is less effective). This should dilute the alcohol to a safe level while retaining the ability to clear the clog. You will need high concentration alcohol since you lose ~20-30% of it’s strength. Hot water alone doesn't work on Epson printers because of the water resistance of their inks.
Either way, these are the general instructions most premade kits use in terms of getting the head in a cleaning state - beyond this, follow the kit instructions:
- Put 4-5 napkins in the print track. If you do not do this, the ink will go into your waste ink pads and trigger early waste ink pad failure. You don’t want this to happen.
- Loosen the printhead. On printers with a white tab next to the service station, release the tab in the unlocked position.
- If the tab isn’t visible, look around for it, find a service manual or trigger the ink swap mode.
- CAUTION: YOU HAVE A WETNESS SENSOR PRINTER, PREMATURE REMOVAL IS KNOWN TO KILL THE CARTS.
- Put the ink cartridges aside. You do not need to put them in a bag, but it is recommended if you can do so.
- Find some plastic tubing that fits over the Epson nozzles. You want tubing that fits snugly, but also isn't loose. Measure it or buy a few possible matches.
- Slowly inject solution into the printhead. Work all of the nozzles and then clean the stubborn ones again.
- Homebrew only: After cleaning the printhead, inject distilled water to purge the head. If you do not do this the printhead might get damaged due to degraded rubber parts ruined by sitting alcohol.
- Follow the kit instructions for premade solution.
- Use a microfiber cloth to dry the printhead nozzles if needed. The ink cartridges should not be inserted when solution is present.
- Verify the results with a nozzle check.
- To prevent it from happening again, the best way is a weekly nozzle check (every 3 days in humid climates).
While your Epson is one of the few models where the printhead is actually designed to be removed a lot more easily, I would still advise against it UNLESS injections do not help. This process is difficult and also easy for a beginner DIYer to get wrong and cause $$$ damage that totals out the printer due to user error.
If you can do it, the procedure typically involves removing the ink chip reader plate, 2-4 screws and disconnecting two flat flex cables. After removing the head, soak it solution - ideally just enough to not get cleaner into the electronics. If it does happen, further disassembly and an air compressor is required.
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