Inkjet printer cleaning
You know what’s even less fun than sanding drywall? Cleaning a clogged inkjet printer… Photo by Brad Moon.

I’m in the middle of an extended project to move my office from the basement (where I’ve been working like a troll for the past seven years) to sunnier and roomier digs on the upper floor of our house. As part of that, I’ve been evaluating and where necessary, replacing existing office equipment. And the one thing that’s currently driving me crazy is printers. Man, I hate these things…

What first precipitated the donning of my “angry old man hat” was the color laser printer that’s my primary printer. It’s fine so far as these things go, but it’s time to replace the toner and the printer is also old enough that it needs new drums. That amounts to $400 or so (at least around these parts and using OEM replacements) and I’m not really prepared to fork out that much to keep a massive and outdated printer in operation for another year or two.

So, I turned to the backup printer, which is an inkjet. That’s fine, I don’t really print much these days and when I do it’s usually images (for the kids’ school projects) so it does a better job anyway. And it takes up a heck of a lot less room. Except, I hadn’t used the inkjet for nearly a year and when I powered it up, it was demanding new cartridges. Guess I forgot it was running on empty. Fine, I spent $80 on Amazon for a set of replacement cartridges –which was annoying in its own way since I could buy a new printer (with starter cartridges) for not much more.

Once installed, the inkjet printer proceeded to spew out blank pages. Over the past year, the nozzles had apparently clogged and sealed. Fine, I spent several days soaking the print head in solvent, alternating several hours of this with printing test pages. I finally got to the point where most of the colors would print most of the time, but then the new cartridges were empty. So I don’t know if it’s fixed, or if partial coverage will be as good as it gets. Black still worked (I sprung for the high capacity cartridge), and I thought I could cruise on that while I pondered the situation, but then the kids started showing up with projects that needed to be printed. In color.

So the inkjet cleaning project was time consuming, messy (although it’s a colorful tie-dye sort of mess), expensive and more or less inconclusive, and now I have to decide whether to pull the trigger and order more cartridges (which may or may not work) or cut my losses and just buy a new printer. Which would be less expensive and a lot less time consuming, but would leave me feeling guilty that I’m dumping not one, but two printers at the recycling depot. And peeved that I sunk the first $80 into cartridges for a printer I then ditched.

This rant doesn’t really serve any real purpose, I suppose, other than giving me a way to vent that’s cheaper than throwing a printer through the window. And maybe to rail against an industry business model so messed up that I know people who simply buy several inkjet printers every year on Black Friday, use them until the starter cartridges run out, then toss the works in the garbage –because it’s less expensive than buying ink refills…

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