Guide to Resolving Printer Cartridge Problems
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Guide to Resolving Printer Cartridge Problems

Jump to Inkjet Printer and Ink Cartridge tips >>
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Laser Printers / Toner Cartridges

PROBLEM POTENTIAL SOLUTION
Installation Error Message

After installing the genuine or compatible cartridge, you receive an error message similar to:
  • On Xerox printers, C.R.U.M error
  • Cartridge not recognized
  • Low toner message
  • Supply memory error
  • Reinstall cartridge message
Every cartridge contains a chip that is read by the printer when it is installed. The chip informs the printer the type of cartridge it is, how many pages have been printed from the cartridge so far and various other diagnostic information. Many times, the chip is not successfully read by the printer causing installation error messages. A cold restart of the printer generally clears up these issues. To perform a cold restart:
  1. While the printer is on, remove the toner cartridge from the printer.
  2. Power off the printer and completely disconnect the printer from all power sources. You can do this by unplugging the printer from the wall or unplugging the power cord from the back/side of the printer.
  3. While the printer is off, re-install the toner cartridge. Apply firm pressure to ensure the cartridge is completed seated in the printer.
  4. Wait 10 minutes from the time you unplugged the printer from all power sources. This will ensure the printer memory is completely cleared of any errors.
  5. Plug the printer back into the wall or back/side of the printer and turn the printer on.
Horizontal or Vertical Streaks/Bars

Light Prints or Fading
If you see a predictable and repeatable pattern to the streaking or bars, it is most likely the drum or roller that applies the toner to the drum. Generally, the diameter of the drum is larger than the roller. To determine if the problem is caused by the drum or roller on the cartridge, the repeated streaking/bars will be at a consistent distance relative to the diameter of the defective part. Hence, larger spacing will point to the drum and smaller spacing will indicate the roller. Some toner cartridges have the drum built in and hence will need to be replaced no matter what. If possible, put the old cartridge that was almost empty back in and see if the problem still exists. If the problem still exists, the drum is the issue.

Occasionally, particles of paper or toner will build up causing the seals of the toner cartridge to malfunction. Cleaning the cartridge can resolve the issue.
  1. Clean the cartridge and the inside of the printer where the toner cartridge is inserted. This will help ensure the cartridge will sit firmly in the printer and the seals are tight.
  2. If the drum is separate from the toner cartridge, check the supply status which will tell you how much longer the drum may last. Drums do not always last as long as stated and may need to be replaced sooner.
Page Yield

You are not getting the stated number of pages from the cartridge or you feel the toner is running out faster than expected.
Many factors can affect the actual page yield achieved from a toner cartridge. The following are the most common:

Use of colors and page coverage
Stated page yields are based on an average 5% page coverage. If you print at an average of 10%, you are going to get half the number of stated pages from the cartridge. In addition, when color printing is enabled, many of the colors are being used even when you don't think they are. For example, to achieve a darker blue, black toner is utilized or to create a lighter grey, yellow is being mixed with the black.

Print quality selected for each print job
Choosing a draft mode will use significantly less toner and can extend the life of a cartridge, whereas a Best quality mode will use more.

Duplex mode selected
When printing on both sides of a page, this is considered 2 pages, not 1.

Sometimes it can be as simple as the printer not recognizing that you changed the cartridge and hence thinking the cartridge is empty. See the "Installation Error Message" section above and follow the cold restart procedures.

Page yield can be accurately calculated by printing a Supplies Usage (also know as statistics page, printer information, device information, supplies status etc.) printout. The supplies usage page will show the expected page yield based on the average page coverage you have been printing. Consult your printer user manual for instructions.
Blank Page Printed

After installing a new cartridge, every page you print is blank. You may also hear a clicking noise and receive an error message requesting the sealing tape to be removed.
Most toner cartridges ship with a sealing tape. The sealing tape keeps the toner from spilling out of the cartridge during transit where the cartridge is exposed to significant amounts of tossing and turning. The clicking sound you hear may be an indication the sealing tape is not removed or dirty gears.
  1. Remove the cartridge from the printer and double-check that the sealing tape has been removed.
  2. Using a toothbrush or other gentle brush, clean the gears in the printer that interface with the toner cartridge as well as the gears on the cartridge. Afterwards, use a can of compressed air to blow out any residual toner in the printer and on the cartridge.
Loose Toner on Printouts

All laser printers have a fuser that utilizes heat to make the toner stick to the paper. If the fuser is not heating properly, the toner may fail to stick to the paper. Printers will automatically adjust the fuser temperature based on the paper stock.
  1. To adjust the fuser temperature, change the paper type in your printer device settings. Make sure the correct paper type is selected.
  2. Occasionally, the power source is causing the fuser to heat improperly. If the printer is plugged into a surge protector, unplug it from the surge protector and plug it directly into the wall.
  3. A thorough cleaning of the printer using compressed air may resolve the problem.
  4. Consult your printer user guide for instructions on determining the life remaining on your fuser. Replace the fuser if necessary.
Shaded Background on Printouts

When a shaded background exists, there are 3 things that could be causing this:
  1. The toner cartridge is not seated properly or the interfaces between the drum and toner cartridge are dirty. Clean the toner cartridge and drum using a non-abrasive lint free cloth.
  2. Paper stock is old or poor quality. Change the paper you are using.
  3. The density setting for the printer is set improperly based on the paper stock being used. Change the print density through the printer controls or within the printer device settings on the computer.




Jump to Laser Printer and Toner Cartridge tips >>
Return a product >>

Inkjet Printers / Ink Cartridges

PROBLEM POTENTIAL SOLUTION
Page Yield

You are not getting the stated number of pages from the cartridge or you feel the ink is running out faster than expected.
Many factors can affect the actual page yield achieved from an ink cartridge. The following are the most common:

Use of colors and page coverage
Stated page yields are based on an average 5% page coverage. If you print at an average of 10%, you are going to get half the number of stated pages from the cartridge. In addition, when color printing is enabled, many of the colors are being used even when you don't think they are. For example, to achieve a darker blue, black ink is utilized or to create a lighter grey, yellow is being mixed with the black.

How often you print and how long you have not printed
If you don't use your inkjet printer very often, the printer will know and "prime" the cartridge to ensure the health of the cartridge and ink handling system, which wastes some ink. If you print frequently, the printer will not go through these priming sequences as often.

Print quality selected for each print job
Choosing a draft mode will use significantly less ink (approximately 50% less) and can extend the life of a cartridge, whereas a Best quality mode will use about 5% more ink than a normal mode.

Paper type selected for each print job
The weight of a paper and how well it absorbs ink has a dramatic impact on the page yield. Lighter weight paper generally does not absorb ink as well as thicker/heavier paper.

Duplex mode selected
When printing on both sides of a page, this is considered 2 pages, not 1.

Page Yield can be accurately determined by printing a Supplies Usage (also know as statistics page, printer information, device information, supplies status etc.) printout. The supplies usage page will show the expected page yield based on the average page coverage you have been printing. Consult your printer user manual for instructions.
Installation Error Message

After installing the genuine or compatible cartridge, you receive an error message similar to:
  • "not compatible"
  • "not recognized"
  • "low ink"
  • "empty cartridge"
Every cartridge contains a chip that is read by the printer when it is installed. The chip informs the printer the type of cartridge it is, how many pages have been printed from the cartridge so far and various other diagnostic information. Many times, the chip is not successfully read by the printer causing installation error messages. These issues can usually be resolved by cleaning the contact points and performing a cold restart of the printer:
  1. Clean the contact points between the printer and cartridge with a moist, lint free, cloth.
  2. Completely disconnect the printer from all power sources. You can do this by unplugging the printer from the wall or unplugging the power cord from the back/side of the printer.
  3. Remove and re-install the cartridge into the printer. Make sure the cartridge is seated in the printer properly and you will usually hear a click.
  4. Plug the printer back into the wall or back/side of the printer and turn the printer on.
Blank Page Printed

After installing a new cartridge, every page you print is blank.
If your ink cartridge is not printing, this is usually caused by the ink cartridge not communicating with the printer properly due to a poor connection or the ink cartridge has a clogged hole. Follow the procedures below to clear the hole and cold restart the printer to clear any printer memory issues.
  1. Remove the cartridge from the printer
  2. Completely disconnect the printer from all power sources. You can do this by unplugging the printer from the wall or unplugging the power cord from the back/side of the printer
  3. Take a moist, lint free, cloth and press the bottom of the cartridge against the cloth for about 1 minute. The moisture will help clear out a clogged hole.
  4. Re-install the cartridge into the printer.
  5. Plug the printer back into the wall or back/side of the printer and turn the printer on.
  6. You may need to disconnect and reconnect the computer interface cable (i.e. parallel, USB or HDMI cable).
Print Quality Problems

Print quality issues could be:
  • Colors are not accurate
  • Text is not clear
  • Fading
Virtually all inkjet printers have a cleaning and alignment function. This will help ensure colors are printed accurately. The cleaning function will generally clear any clogged holes in the print head, however additional manual steps may need to be taken with a moist cloth.
  1. Follow the instructions in your user manual to perform the cleaning and alignment/calibration process.
  2. Take a moist, lint free, cloth and press the bottom of the cartridge against the cloth for about 1 minute. The moisture will help clear out a clogged hole.
  3. If your print still has fading, you may be running out of ink.
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