My Epson Stylus All-In-One printer, uses four ink cartridges one each for cyan, magenta, yellow & one for black ink. The black ink recently started to fade & now does not print at all. Whilst the three colours are printing perfectly.

The level of ink shown for the black ink cartridge does not show an empty ink cartridge. I installed a brand new black ink cartridge, and the printer is still failing to print black text etc. I have tried head cleaning to no avail.

I do indeed use compatible inks rather than originals (to supposedly help save money). Someone told me that the print head is blocked due to using these compatible inks, because the ink tends to be of a lower quality.

My printer is out of warranty, so there is no point using Epson Technical Support, and apparently even if it was in warranty, Epson would not help, because I have not used their branded ink cartridges.

Is their indeed a correlation between print heads becoming blocked (I am assuming that is what has happened) and the use of compatible cartridges rather than branded originals. How easy is it to unblock or flush the black ink cartridge system, either by myself or for example if I took it to my local PC store


Having worked at an Epson and HP warranty shop for over 10 years, I can say many "compatible" cartridges cause significant issues. Blocked print heads is one. I have not worked for that shop for several years and have no interest in ink sales :-)

Epson cartridges normally have a very fine screen at the bottom of the cartridge above where it goes into the print head. This screen keeps dried ink particles from entering the print head. As the ink level goes down, ink dries on the sides of the cartridge and then movement allows it to drop into the tank. Many compatible cartridges do not have this screen. We cut many open to check this.

If the printer has not been turned off properly, it will also cause clogged print heads. It is important to turn off with the power button and allow the printer to properly cap the printhead/cartridge. Turning off with a power bar will assure issues like plugged heads/nozzles.

A good technician may be able to clean the printhead with a solution from Epson( or others) but it takes some time and patience. Given the cost of printers today, most will skip this due to cost.

There are some "kits" offered that have the cleaning solution and a syringe. One is here I also see some videos on the process online. The Epson fluid was red but I belive that was for easy visibility when cleaning. I would certainly check your local repair shops and see if they will give an estimate for a proper cleaning.

Also note there are absorbant pads under the print head rest position that can become saturated and must be replaced or you will have ink smeared across the paper.

As a side note, we tried two different compatible inks in an Epson printer and then printed the same image on the same high quality paper. The difference in quaility was clear to anyone who looked at the image. Epson ink was much better.

  • Thanks for giving me insight into that, that is interesting. I was thinking if a technician charged maybe < £10 it maybe worth it. I guess you are saying: any saving made from compatible inks is not worth it in the long run & it is only a matter of time before the other coloured inks follow suit. I'm guessing this applies to all brands and not just Epson. – Simon Jan 25 '13 at 14:13
  • @Simon Experience with Epson and HP in Canada and we did not find any worked well. Only you can determine value. Added info to my reply as well – Dave M Jan 25 '13 at 14:24
  • I don't know how much Epson inks are in Canada here in the UK, they are approx £45...thats almost as expensive as the printer. Someone also told me that some Manufacturers incorporate the print head into the actual cartridge, i'm not sure what difference this would make ? – Simon Jan 25 '13 at 14:31
  • @Simon The cartridges with a built-in print head let you replace the whole thing in one go - prevents permanent parts of the printer from getting damaged. – Bob Jan 25 '13 at 15:16
  • @Bob Which printer brands have these type of cartridges ? But then then again which compatible inks have the print head built in for the particular brand of printer ? – Simon Jan 25 '13 at 17:04

I had a similar problem with an Epson Workforce WF-2630. I used the head cleaning program built into the printer about ten times in a row, alternating with the printer test. Eventually I noticed black lines begin to appear again and then after one clean it suddenly went back to normal. Glad I persevered as I don't want to buy another printer yet!

NB - I have been using non-standard ink cartridges.


I had met the same problem. The print only printing the color texts but without the black one. It is not only caused by the clogged of the printhead! I do the following test to inspection the reason of the cause:

  1. The symptom: printer working well and printing with colors ink perfect but without black text. No matter how I change new ink into original cartridge or any way I clean the printhead, I still get no black text printed.
  2. I bought a new printer (with the same model as old one). It works well.
  3. I changed the mainboard with the old one, so the new printer with the old mainboard. So it is absolutely new printhead, 100% no clogged. Then start the print. The result is that the printer working well and the colors printing well but no black text. The same problem with the old printer. That means the mainboard problem.
  4. I changed back with the new mainboard to the new machine. Everything is good.
  5. So the test verifies that Epson has the original design, the software on the mainboard will stop (or damaged) the machine after some period of use or some period of use compatible ink cartridge.
  • 1
    Interesting. I have two different Epson printers that use the same ink, bought at a similar time, had both for 2 years and use them once a month. Now BOTH have stopped printing black, and although I have just started using non-genuine ink, I was still using GENUINE BLACK. – Orwellophile Nov 6 '14 at 3:05

I purchased an Epson head cleaning kit from Printhead Hospital in the UK consisting of a syringe, tubing, head cleaning solution, blotting paper & disposable gloves along with an instructions pamphlet.

These were used inconjunction with this video tutorial:


The whole procedure took approximately 30 mins to conduct and the printhead has been flushed. The black ink is flowing perfectly & printer functionality has been restored. I spent £12.50 and am very happy with the result. I would recommend any one who suffers from blocked printheads to purchase similar kits in the future.

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