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Russell H.
Russell H., Printer and Office Tech
Category: Printers
Satisfied Customers: 10308
Experience:  11+ yrs experience, inkjets & lasers, from huge to portable
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My Canon Pixma 990 is printing with a strong pink bias.

Customer Question

Hi! My Canon Pixma 990 is printing with a strong pink bias. Thoughts?
JA: Has your Canon done this before? And can you guesstimate how old it is?
Customer: I don't think it has done this before. My guess is that it is 8 years old.
JA: What troubleshooting have you tried?
Customer: I have done a deep cleaning on the cartridges. I have cleaned the roller. I have re-aligned the heads.
JA: The printer expert can solve this for you. Anything else you want him to know before I connect you two?
Customer: If he can solve this, that will be plenty. Thanks.
Submitted: 8 months ago.
Category: Printers
Expert:  Sudipto replied 8 months ago.

Thanks for posting your question on, a global paid independent support site.My Name is ***** ***** I will be assisting you today.Do you face this problem with every type of documents or some particular ones ?

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
We are trying to print a couple of drawings or photos that have colored balloons or soap bubbles. The result is a lot of pink balloons and bubbles.
Expert:  Sudipto replied 8 months ago.

Can you try to print some normal text documents and let me know.

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
A normal Word document in black and white prints fine.
Expert:  Sudipto replied 8 months ago.

Can you tell me the name of the program, which you use to print those drawings ?

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
Both are in "Silhouette".
Expert:  Sudipto replied 8 months ago.

Sorry, I am not familiar with this program and as I think the problem is with the program, I will open the question for others, so that they can help you with this question. You will be notified by email, when someone reply you back.

Expert:  Russell H. replied 8 months ago.

Hi, thank you for contacting My name is Russell. I will do my best to provide the right answer to your question.

I suspect that your printer is actually printing pink rather than that there is a problem with the program. I may be wrong, but there is a test you can do.

Please print out the Nozzle Check page. This is a standard test sheet, that can be done from the Maintenance functions of your printer's software on your computer, or can be done from the printer itself. I will shortly post exact instructions on how to do this procedure from the printer itself.

Expert:  Russell H. replied 8 months ago.

On your printer, from the home screen, select

SETTINGS (with tools icon)

and press OK

then select


and press OK

then select

Nozzle Check Pattern

and press OK.

Select YES, and press OK.

The page will print.

This is how it ought to look, if your printer itself is doing things right:

How does it come out? let me know, and I will advise you further.

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
Before I do that, let me mention that we have run the same documents through a different printer (a Canon PIXMA 920) with no problem. The list includes two color documents from the Silhouette program and a Word document that has color highlighting.The color highlighting in the Word document is in light blue. It prints fine on the 920, but the problem printer, the 990 prints only some of the blue and some of it has a smeared appearance.If you still think it makes sense to run the diagnostic, I'll do it, but I wanted to give you this information first.
Expert:  Russell H. replied 8 months ago.

Please do. I think that is good information toward a solution, but the Nozzle Check page is a very standard test, that should yield standard results.

(It will print a series of colored bars, starting with deep blue, shading to pink, then to yellow, then to shades of gray. IF the printer is working properly.)

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
I printed the nozzle check page. The vertical bars all printed. Some of the horizontal rectangles appear very faint.
Expert:  Russell H. replied 8 months ago.

OK. That confirms, the printer's inking system is where the problem is.

Now the next question is, which of the colors

- blue / light blue

- pink / magenta / light purple

- yellow or yellowish

- black / shades of gray

were faintest, please?

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
This is difficult to describe. I'll ignore the top line which is labeled PGBK.There are 11 lines below that. In order:C -- no horizontal rectangle visible
C -- same
C -- same
M -- somewhat faint pink/magenta rectangle
M -- fainter
M -- even fainter
Y -- horizontal rectangle is barely visible -- you really have to stare at it to see it
BK -- light tannish grey
GY -- light grey
GY -- lighter grey
GY -- faint greyover to you
Expert:  Russell H. replied 8 months ago.

Very good. Cyan (C, or light blue) is obviously worst affected.

Check your ink levels, and think back as to when you last replaced cartridges, esp. the Cyan color. (Let me know, please.)

Then also, if ink levels are not low, you can do several Head Cleaning cycles (from the same Maintenance menu where the Nozzle Check is listed), and esp. if possible, head cleaning cycles for just the color Cyan, if that choice is possible. Separate each Head Cleaning (Cyan if possible, all colors if not) from each other with about an hour or two of quiescence, during which the printer will be unused for anything but left turned On. This allows waste ink to soak into the printhead and clear up any clogging that may be there.

If ink levels esp. in Cyan color are low, or almost empty, then of course the cure is to replace the Cyan cartridge.

Let me know what you find out, please. Thanks.

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
We replaced GY a couple of days ago. We replaced M perhaps a month ago. The others have not been replaced recently as far as my wife, the main user of that printer, can recall.Would you recommend "deep cleaning" which is an option on this model?Incidentally, I don't see an option to clean anything but all of the nozzles. Let me know re: deep cleaning, please, and we'll devote the rest of the printer's day to nozzle cleaning.
Expert:  Russell H. replied 8 months ago.

No need for Deep Cleaning please.

(Did you check the ink levels? but it sounds as if CY was replaced recently, so that's not likely to be the problem's source.)


Let me know what happens, eventually. Thanks.

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
I have run "clean nozzle" five times over the last couple of days without using the printer otherwise. This morning, I tried to print a photo -- blue sky above, deep blue lake in the foreground -- everything has a pink cast. Any other suggestions?Thanks in advance.
Expert:  Russell H. replied 8 months ago.

No, I confess that if you have followed the procedure I recommended, there is some other problem.

Try printing the Nozzle Check again, please. See how it now looks with regard to the color bars on it, and whether they are faint or not.

And, please tell me what program you printed the photo from, this morning.


Customer: replied 8 months ago.
Nozzle check looks identical to the one I reported on previously (Saturday).The photo I mentioned that came out pink was printed from the Silhouette program (something of a specialty item, so you may not be familiar with it). However, as a check, we printed a Word document that had blue and green highlights in places. The last time we tried this document, the highlighting was smeared. This time, it didn't print any color at all, only the black and white text.
Expert:  Russell H. replied 8 months ago.

I'm sorry to hear that. Your printer's inking system has a severe problem.

(By any chance, was the printer turned Off and not used for a considerable period of time before this problem happened, about 10 days or longer?)

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
The printer was not used for at least the nine days starting 8/6 and ending 8/14. We are pretty sure that it was not turned off during that time. It sat idle but was on. I think we had noticed the problem prior to 8/6, but had not done anything about it, figuring we would deal with it on our return.
Expert:  Russell H. replied 8 months ago.

Leaving the printer On for a while, even when idle, should result in the printer occasionally laving its printhead with a little waste ink. It's leaving it Off that inhibits that and encourages clogging of ink in the ink system.

Have you been using non-Canon-OEM-original ink supplies? such as 'Canon compatible' cartridges, or refills, or remanufactured cartridges?

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
We have been using non-OEM cartridges in some of the printer's slots.
Expert:  Russell H. replied 8 months ago.

That could be what brought this on. Not that I would point the finger at that specifically. But it is actually possible. Ink formulations can vary and ink formulation is designed by the manufacturer to fit the design of the particular printer. (If it wasn't that way, manufacturers could just produce a 'generic black ink' cartridge that would fit *all* their printers. And be quite happy to sell those.)

It's still good as a text printer, but the problem obviously is not in the computer (thus no software fault need be addressed), since the self-generated Nozzle Check shows the defects in the ink system of the printer.

How old is the printer? I don't think I've been told yet.

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
We bought in in March 2010, so it's more than 6 years old.
Expert:  Russell H. replied 8 months ago.

It has had a good lifetime. But the inking system apparently has a severe problem, as far as color printing is concerned. To either replace it, or have it serviced (a dubious matter, if it is 6 years old, since it may break again in another way not too long after being fixed) is the sensible choice at this point, given that you probably will not be content to simply use its black-and-white capability only.

As for disposing of it - since it has black ink capability still, it would do as a donation printer for anyone who only needs to print in text.

If this answers your question, please rate my answer. A five-star rating would be appreciated!

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