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Nathan, Engineer
Category: Printers
Satisfied Customers: 19557
Experience:  Computer networking/repair. 12+ years experience.
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My HP 3520 deskjet stopped printing black. I have tried a

Customer Question

My HP 3520 deskjet stopped printing black. I have tried a new black cartridge and it still fails to print black. In lieu of black, it prints light grey. I set the printer to best and darkened the grey but can't get to black. I've ran all the test and head cleaning, nothing helps.
JA: Can you guesstimate how old your Deskjet is? And just to clarify, what's the exact model?
Customer: My HP deskjet 3520 is approximately 2 years old. I do not print a lot, maybe one set of cartridges every 6 months.
JA: What kind of computer are you printing from (Mac or PC)? What Operating System (OS) are you running?
Customer: I am using a Dell PC laptop with Windows 8.1
JA: How long has this been an issue? What happened right before this popped up?
Customer: I was printing some documents and noticed blank lines running horizontally across the printed page. I printed another document and the blank lines increased in frequently. I check my ink supply and the black was about a third full. I changed the black cartridge, replacing with a new HP 534 black, and the problem got worse. I thought maybe the new cartridge might be bad; therefore, I replaced it again and ran a test page. The printer stopped printing black and only printed a light grey. I ran the head cleaner program a few times but this action did not help. I change the font on the documents to dark blue and the printer worked fine. I changed it to green and then red, the printer functioned correctly. I switched the font back to grey, increase the print quality to best and now it prints in a slightly darker grey but hard to read...not black.
JA: Anything else you want the printer expert to know before I connect you?
Customer: Nope...just need it working today.
Submitted: 2 months ago.
Category: Printers
Expert:  Nathan replied 2 months ago.

Hello, I’m Nathan, and I’ll be assisting you today.

Sorry to hear that you’re having trouble with this but I’ll do my best to help you out.

These symptoms point to either a clogged/contaminated print head, or a faulty print head (or the logic board that controls it).

You can try going into the setup/maintenance menu on the machine and running the “clean print head” function repeatedly, up to 5 times total, testing after each.

If it still doesn’t print anything, you’ll need to do a manual cleaning as a next step.

I have to caution you up front though that the manual cleaning process is messy and time consuming. It also has a low chance of success, if you see no improvement at all from the automated cleaning. It is most likely a hardware failure (bad head) which the cleaning can’t fix, as printheads are a wear item and do fail with time/use.

Realistically, it’s probably time for a new printer. As this is a 2012 model printer, it is well past its 3 year service life, so this type of failure is not surprising.

For these printers, infrequent use is actually worse for them than heavy use, as they cannot sit idle for any length of time, if they go more than a week without printing the nozzles dry out, clog up, and overheat, leading to permanent damage.

While it can be fixed, it is not worthwhile to do so. You would have to, at a minimum, replace the printhead, which costs about $85; if the logic board is bad you’re looking at $200-250. For $80-100 you can replace the entire machine with a brand new model, with current technology and a fresh warranty, which makes more sense than buying the new part for an older printer.

That said, it doesn’t hurt to try, if you wish. Let me know how the built in cleaning function works, and I’ll guide you through the manual steps next, or I can recommend replacement options if you prefer.

Best regards, ***** ***** for the news,


Expert:  Nathan replied 1 month ago.

Do you need more help with this?

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