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Nathan, Engineer
Category: Printers
Satisfied Customers: 25911
Experience:  Computer networking/repair. 12+ years experience.
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I have heavy smearing and blurred typing when printing in

Customer Question

i have heavy smearing and blurred typing when printing in black ink only. this only happens on some lines not all. i've done numerous head cleaning for black but it hasn't helped at all
JA: What's the make/model number of your printer? How old is it?
Customer: wf3620
JA: What kind of computer are you printing from (Mac or PC)? What Operating System (OS) are you running?
Customer: PC - Windows 10. I've had this printer for about 2 year but doesn't get heavy use
JA: How long has this been an issue? What happened right before this popped up?
Customer: it popped up in the last 6 months i believe. the only thing that i can think of is i changed the ink cartridges
JA: Anything else you want the printer expert to know before I connect you?
Customer: that the ink cartridges are epson and designed for this model
Submitted: 2 months ago.
Category: Printers
Expert:  Nathan replied 2 months ago.

Hi, I'm Nathan.
Sorry to hear that you're having trouble, but I'll do my best to help you. Please give me a few moments to review your details here.

How many leanings have you actually done?

Are there any smears on the back of the page?

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
I've done 3 cleanings this time. I've done several cleanings over time trying to address this but end up changing my color to dark blue so I can print.
There is no smearing on the back page.
Expert:  Nathan replied 2 months ago.

Thank you for trying,

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

It is normal to see the black nozzles fail first as they get the most use. You had noted that it doesn't get heavy use, so it is worth mentioning that infrequent use on these printers is actually worse than heavy use. Inkjets like this require consistent, at least weekly, usage otherwise they start to dry out and clog up, leading to printhead overheating and damage over time.

You can try, again, 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. I would also recommend opening the printer and wiping the underside of the printhead with a paper towel moistened with a bit of distilled water or rubbing alcohol, until it comes away clean.

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 2013 model printer, it is well into if not past its 3 year service life, so this type of failure is not surprising. 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 $150; 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 2 months ago.

Hello, it appears your question is still open.

Do you need more help with this?
If so, just reply back on this page. If I’ve answered your question, please let me know you are satisfied, to conclude our session – this is the only way I am credited for my work as an independent technician.

Please note: You have already paid your fee to the site; I'd like to help you and provide value for that fee, but I do need to communicate with you here to do so, if more help is needed.


Customer: replied 2 months ago.
Hi Nathan. I've been away and have now tried your suggestions.
I ran maintenance to clean the print head clean 5x's. This didn't help at all and only used up most of my black ink. I've also tried cleaning the underside of the print head. This did help a little bit, not much.
I think I'm going to try to clean the underside some more because it didn't really come clean. I used a moistened paper towel with water; i didn't have any rubbing alcohol.
I'll get back to you unless you have some other suggestions.
Expert:  Nathan replied 2 months ago.

Alcohol is the best thing to use if you can as it actually acts as a solvent where water just spreads it around. You can pick up a bottle of rubbing alcohol at any pharmacy for $2, it is worth it for the improved performance.

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
Ok. I'll do that.
Expert:  Nathan replied 2 months ago.

You're welcome, and good luck!

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
Turns out i had rubbing alcohol. I've gone through 3 paper towels. Thought the 3rd one would have less ink but now there's quite a bit, almost as much as the first. Typically, how many times would you have to do this for it to come clean?
Expert:  Nathan replied 2 months ago.

It can take a dozen wipes even, because any bad clogs on the bottom are being dissolved, so it may get worse before it gets better