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Nathan, Engineer
Category: Printers
Satisfied Customers: 25861
Experience:  Computer networking/repair. 12+ years experience.
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My hp printer 3050 has a color printer cartridge error message.

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My hp printer 3050 has a color printer cartridge error message. We ran out of ink 3 months ago but continued to use black ink. Now that a color cartage is installed it keeps showing error. I am using a hp color 61 ink cartridge. Can you give me some suggestions? The printer is three years old.

p0llinate :

Hello, and welcome. My name is XXXXX XXXXX I’ll be assisting you today.


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p0llinate :

Hi there, sorry to hear you're having trouble with the printer,

p0llinate :

can you tell me the exact error message you are receiving?

p0llinate :

These symptoms point to either a clogged/contaminated print head, or a faulty print head. This likely happened from not replacing the color cartridge, causing the little bit of color ink left in the system to dry out, clogging up the printhead.

p0llinate :

The first step should be to try resetting the printer, in case it just isn't recognizing the new cartridge. Unplug power to the printer, wait 15 minutes, then press and hold the power/on button for 60 seconds, keep holding it while plugging back in, and for another 60 seconds after.

p0llinate :

If that doesn't help, then we'll need to try cleaning the printhead.

p0llinate :

You can try going into the setup/maintenance menu on the machine and running the “clean print head” function, if it doesn’t work try it a second time. If it still doesn’t print anything, you’ll need to do a manual cleaning.

p0llinate :

To try manually cleaning the print heads:

Open up the printer, and look for the "carriage" that goes back and forth (on metal rails) over the paper while printing.


You'll remove the cartridges, then clean on the bottom of them (focus on the ink port/hole) as well as inside the carriage using qtips and rubbing alcohol.


If you can, remove the carriage/print head (there will be a small lever at the side/rear of it that lifts up to release) and clean the bottom this way as well. Not all models will allow for this, if you can't remove it fold up a piece of paper towel in quarters the long way, saturate the middle with alcohol, slide it under the print head, and pick up on the ends while moving up and down to clean it (think of drying your back with a towel).


When cleaning the port on the print head that the ink flows into from the cartridge, also try using a qtip to "pump" the liquid down into the port and force it through, which will help to dissolve any clogs.

After all of this swab again with a few dry qtips or give a blast of compressed air to dry everything well, then put it all back together. You can now try to print, or run the automated print head cleaning function in the setup menu. You may have to run a few pages through before everything starts flowing properly again.


If none of this helps, then you've got a faulty print head(s) which would need to be replaced.

p0llinate :

If it comes to that point, you'd actually be better off buying a new printer, as the parts alone to fix this would be about the same as a new printer would cost, which would come with updated features, a fresh warranty, etc. If needed, I'll be happy to recommend some replacement options for you.

Nathan and other Printers Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

ok I am waiting 15 minutes then will complete the reset. I wont forget to rate on this page.

Thanks Ken, will watch for your update. Please try the cleaning steps too, if the reset doesn't work, and we can go from there.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

nothing seems to work. I did the 15 minutes reset, cleaned thoroughly the printer heads. Don't know how to use the unit clean from the maintenance program, owner manual not helpful on that either.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

the exact message says Tri color cartridge problem. cleaned it thoroughly did the 15 minute reset. There does not seem to be any release lever for the printer head it self.So if the head is damaged well it is only a 48 dollar printer and I feel spending much more time on it is silly.

Thanks for the update Ken, sorry to hear it didn't help. If the manual cleaning didn't do any good, then the automated function wouldn't either. At this point, I would agree that it's just time for a new printer, anything more involved wouldn't be a wise investment of your time or money.

Best regards,