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The Story: Our HP Printer Stopped Printing Black Ink

First, the good news. Any day now, we should receive a free shipping label from HP to send our useless printer to one of their recycling centers.

That’s the full and complete extent of the good news.

This is the story of an otherwise functional HP PhotoSmart 6525 All-In-One Inkjet Printer that stopped printing black ink and, as a consequence, faces the fate of dismantling and (hopefully) reuse.

 

Before Our HP Printer Stopped Printing Black Ink

 

Fun Facts about Our HP PhotoSmart 6525

  • We bought it at Costco a few years ago.
  • It required A LOT of new ink cartridges.
  • We exclusively used “genuine HP ink,” until …
  • I tried to save 15% by buying Office Max / Office Depot ink.
  • The printer stopped printing black ink.

 

Years of Expensive Use

Yes, this printer worked fine for two or three years. It sucked down a fat lot of “high yield” ink, but it worked well enough.

Proof of insurance for the car’s glovebox. Text and images for the science fair project. Our PhotoSmart 6525 dutifully (if expensively) handled all the basic chores we assigned it.

On the regular, we’d buy and drop in another set of Genuine Factory-Sealed HP Brand Cartridges.

Until …

 

Office Max/Office Depot Ink

With a little more focus on the household budget, I decided to give some less expensive, house brand ink a try.

Office Max/Office Depot (yes, they’re the same company) takes spent HP ink cartridges and fills them up with their own ink. And they sell it side by side against “genuine HP” cartridges at about a 15% markdown.

I tried it. Big mistake.

Minor issue: the printer immediately let us know that danger was imminent; impure, tainted, off-brand cartridges were detected. “They have to scare us to protect sales against less expensive competitors,” I told myself.

Significant issue: The first 10 pages we printed looked awful, so we took them back to exchange them for Genuine Factory-Sealed HP Brand Ink Cartridges.

After a little back and forth, the office store employees agreed to give us store credit for their house brand cartridges.

Now I’m paraphrasing here, but the shift manager at Office Max/Office Depot told us (approximately):

I hate that we sell this ink. I caution people against buying it.

I only wish she’d been on duty when we made the initial decision.

 

When Our HP Printer Stopped Printing Black Ink

We paid the $17 difference between the “genuine” and non-sanctioned cartridges, took the new ink home, and installed the cartridges.

Printed text and images still looked bad. A little Google search produced these step-by-step instructions from HP.

The Print Quality Diagnostic (below) sheets made clear what the problem was.

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When we tried to print plain text documents (black text only), the sheets shot out empty; this Diagnostic sheet made clear why.

Notice that the cyan, magenta, and yellow all look fine – printing all 3 shades without any striping or streaking.

The black? Empty.

HP 6525, HP All-In-One, no black ink, print quality diagnostic, stopped printing black, not printing black

NOTE: The letters and boxes have a slight 3D look to them – made of the mix of colors, rather than properly printed with black ink. Again, printing in black only produces empty sheets.

 

Not Printing Black Ink: “Apparently This Is A Thing”

The heads aren’t clogged. All recommended steps had been taken. No black ink.

Though I have no evidence for it, I suspect HP set up a kill switch on the black cartridge upon reception of any ink cartridges except “genuine HP ink” cartridges.

Either that – or it’s a major firmware failure.

Either way, HP knows about it. I found several posts in their customer/product message boards. And it’s well documented in the Amazon reviews for this product.

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Not only does this HP printer have one of the lowest set of customer reviews I’ve ever seen on any product (yes, that’s 1.4 stars total and 78% 1 star reviews), the black ink issue seems second only to how badly it sucks through ink.

Here are a handful of quotes from the Amazon reviews:

  • “My black ink just stopped working all together.”
  • “On my 2nd nearly new official HP Black ink cartridge the printer stopped printing in Black.”
  • “Two years and the printer will not print black ink. Apparently this is a thing.”
  • “Now I can’t get the black ink to print, seems it is a common problem as there many complaints on the HP site.”
  • “I experienced the same issue that a lot of people had when replacing the black ink cartridge and it would no longer print black.”
  • “I’ve only used mine about 9-10 times when it just stopped printing black.”
  • “Much like a lot of the reviews the black ink was the problem.”
  • “You may discover that it’s somehow impossible to print black only.”
  • “Streaks on the pages, jamming problems, disconnect problems … but, worst of all, after a year, it stopped printing black ink no matter how many times I cleaned, re-aligned and bought and replaced with brand new black ink cartridges.”
  • “Just this week I put an OEM cartridge into the printer and then Black color was missing when I printed the quality diagnostic.”
  • “This is the second HP printer I’ve owned that has stopped printing in black.”
  • “Prints good at first, after warranty expires they quit printing black.”
  • “As has been said before, the black ink just stopped printing.”
  • “First time to change cartridges and it won’t print black.”
  • “Less than a year old. Will not print from the black cartridge.”
  • “We have had our 6525 for 26 months, the black just quit printing, tried everything recommended, still won’t work.”

 

What To Do with a Printer That Doesn’t Print in Black

After exhausting the first four fixes on the five step list, HP recommends getting the PhotoSmart serviced.

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But …

out of warranty, warranty, HP warranty, printer warranty, out of service

 

Though they threatened a fee for the phone call, I called anyway.

After 10 minutes on hold (not bad on a Saturday morning), I was connected to Christopher, a very kind and helpful gentleman in the Philippines (I asked, he shared).

He was very well aware of the black ink problem; I felt certain right away that he’d spoken with many customers about it. A script can only take you so far – and he was well past that.

I followed all the steps through which he walked me, including wiping off the copper contacts on the cartridges and in the printer. We concluded by printing yet another no-black Printer Quality Diagnostic Sheet.

Christopher suggested that it was a “hardware issue” that couldn’t be resolved because this model doesn’t have a removable printhead.

Of course, it’s not a hardware issue. It’s a software or firmware issue. Something inside the printer told it to stop printing from the black cartridge.

I asked about a hard, internal reset that might make our HP PhotoSmart 6525 All-In-One printer forget I’d ever committed the sin of placing a non-genuinine ink cartridge against its copper contacts. You know, Men In Black neuralyzer style.

No such luck.

So, I can’t use it. Nor should I donate it. I hate to trash it. And, fortunately, Christopher had a great answer to my concluding question.

 

HP Printer Recycling – And an Insistent Sales Pitch

I asked if they could salvage anything from it or reuse some or all of the printer. Christopher sent me a link to send it to an HP recycling center.

Though I couldn’t find the HP PhotoSmart 6525 on their drop-down list of specific models, I still requested a free shipping label to send our perfectly-fine-except-that-it-stopped-printing-black-ink printer back to them. I just picked a different model.

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Knowing I was without a properly functioning printer, Christopher also made a hard pitch on “upgrading” to a new or refurbished HP product. Several mentions. Polite, but very persistent.

Of course, I’d ordered a new one from a different manufacturer days earlier, so his efforts produced no fruit.

 

Takeaways from the Black Ink Problem

> Personal opinion & speculation: HP seems to have created the “give away the razor, profit from the blades” dynamic with this printer and its inks. Sell the printer cheap at Costco, Sam’s Club, and elsewhere. Make it suck down tons of ink. Punish people for non-sanctioned ink. Design in a fixed printhead, so the printer is immediately useless.

> Instant uselessness like this is incredibly wasteful.

> Recycling helps retrieve value from an otherwise useless printer like ours. A cradle-to-cradle approach in manufacturing is even better.

> Both HP and Office Max/Office Depot are knowingly putting their should-be-valued team members in bad situations. Three team members at the Office store endured unpleasant exchanges with me because of bad products, as did the kind gentleman overseas for HP. And they’re obviously not alone. Those 1-star Amazon reviews date back to March 2013. Employees are at the front end of the service profit chain.

> Look at Amazon reviews before buying anything. Even at Costco.

> I aspire never to purchase another HP product.

 

[UPDATE: March 2017]

Thanks to Michael, who commented below, for offering this potential fix:

I had this exact same problem and just fixed it by reconfiguring to the default settings. I went to Applications on my Mac, clicked on Hewlett-Packard, then clicked on Setup Assistant, accepted the user agreement and kept clicking continue until the setup was done. IT PRINTS IN BLACK AGAIN!

And another recommendation made in the comments is this video.

My HP printer is LONG GONE, so I can’t test it myself. You, however, might give it a try for yourself!

 

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38 Comments

  1. Quick question… were you running the HP 6525 from a pc or a mac?

  2. Hey, Michelle! We had it connected to an iMac.

  3. Found your post as I am fighting with my 6525 that gave up printing black a few weeks ago. Printer worked like a charm for 3+ years. I only put HP ink it and yet, without warning, it has rolled over, legs up, never to print again. I tried many of the online fixes to no avail and will be printer shopping now. Just not sure where to look after this experience. FYI, ran ours from a PC.

  4. I have had this same issue many times: my HP Photosmart C309a all of a sudden stops printing black ink. I have always used HP ink cartridges. I have tried running the ‘clean print head’ option, I have taken the cartridge carrier out and cleaned it, I have turned the printer off and then restarted it, I have disconnected the printer from the computer and reconnected (not sure why-just hoping something resets), I put in new ink cartridges even though there is plenty of ink in the old cartridge. None of these things will start the black ink flowing again. However, just as mysteriously, the printer will eventually (weeks later), start printing black ink again. It’s a major inconvenience. At this point it’s an old printer and I should just get a new one, but I hate to throw out (even recycle) a piece of equipment that usually works well. I logged on to see if anyone had posted any new solution (didn’t see any); now I’m just venting my frustration! Thanks

  5. Sorry to hear! Thanks for sharing your experience here, Beth. It’ll likely help and inform another reader trying to understand his or her own experience.

  6. Thanks for venting, Laurie! Insanely frustrating for you because of its willingness to occasionally show up and work for you. I agree re: recycling – hard to do when it still promises value and delivers value now and then.

  7. I’m having the same problems. I have a HP Photosmart eStation, it has fax, scan, copy, and print. Was working just fine. I use mine every day multiple times a day then all of a sudden stopped printing black. So I did everything you did, but my printer head comes out. So right now I just cleaned the printer head and waiting for it to dry to see if that will help. In the meantime I went to 9 different stores to get a new one since I have to have a printer for daily use. I wanted one that used the same ink since I just got done buying a bunch of ink. Anyway I finally found only one, but the box was taped shut, like it was brought back. I never buy products like that because I always get screwed but I drove an hour from home and 9 stores later I said screw it and try it. So the next day I go through the work to try to hook it up and guess what the new printer I just bought was broken and on top of it not the same printer that was on the box. Two different product numbers and model numbers. Now I’m super mad because I have to drive and hour to return a printer that was suppose to be new. I go to tell the manager about what was going on, that they should look up and see who returned it before me since obviously they put they broken printer in the box and kept new one and returned it, so basically got a new printer for free. But the manager cuts me off and doesn’t want to listen to me about the issue. He was rude and I don’t get it! I wanted to make sure they didn’t put it back out to be sold so another person would get stuck like me dealing with a printer that is totally different than the one on the box. So I praying that when printer head dries that my original printer magically starts printing black again because I don’t know what else to do. Had to vent about all the problems I was having with the same problems you had.

  8. Me too HP is not a good product Do not buy a printer by them.

  9. me too! Fine for 3 years then no black. have tried all the remedies I’ve seen online but no luck. Will be buying a laserjet printer now, but definitely not from HP!

  10. No wonder the stock is through the floor. If you want to know where the lostest cost of labor is, no Harvard MBA needed, just go to Best Buy and see where HP is building printers and/or cartridges.

    Such a same, there were once a great company — seems the Samsung of the printer and PC business these days!

  11. We’ve enjoyed our new Brother laser printer since this incident.

  12. Live and learn. Won’t do it again. We’ve gone with Brother since then and been pleased.

  13. Good luck, Niki. The “magically starts printing black ink again” part is the part I would let go. Based on those Amazon reviews and the comments collecting here, I think we’re all out of magic.

  14. I’ve not been tracking their stock price, but when I think “HP,” no particular brand images come to mind … and that’s definitely a problem.

  15. This has been quite amusing.. I have been reading this post while having an online chat with a HP CS member due to my Photosmart B110a.. because my HP printer “has stopped printing black”.. The CS member was very polite and has sent my issue up the ranks. I have only used HP cartridges and went through the cleaning out the entire printer process and it still not working.. then leaving it for three weeks. Then is miraculously worked for two days and then of course stopped again just as suddenly!! Hmmm not holding my breath!

  16. Mine’s just stopped printing black…. unless I try the troubleshooter then it prints a test page fine!!??? Only ever used HP cartridges & they’re new, been used a couple of times before it stopped printing?

  17. Sorted mine – new HP cartridges stopped printing black, but the test page came out fine..??!
    So, I deleted & reinstalled the printer on my laptop, it then forced a troubleshooter to check & reinstall printer drivers, et voila! It works now 😬

  18. I have an HP 7520 all in one printer that also stopped printing black ink. The 3 colors and the photo black continued to work. The printer is about 2 years old, was only used occasionally at home and printed very good quality until it simply stopped printing black. I took the printer head out and cleaned it with water. It was extremely gummed up with black ink. Then reinstalled the cartridges (I have always used HP cartridges, for all the good it has done me). I ran the clean printhead and align cartridges several times to no avail. Still no black ink printing. After the alignment a message displays that says the alignment has failed due to “cartridges are set to default quality”. Still have not found out what that means or what to do about it. I agree that the HP’s suck up a ton of ink. I will try another brand such as Brother and maybe make it a laser printer. So tired of HP printers and computers. I had an HP computer that had constant issues. I have had a Mac for 2 years and have had almost no issues. What a relief. Good luck to all who are having this issue.

  19. Black ink stopped working on my HP Photosmart 6525. Not a surprise after reading comments on several sites. This printer has been the most expensive printer I have ever owned. Time to research other options before buying. However it won’t be an HP. This is the last time (I have owned many) I will purchase a HP product. Ink doesn’t last and the cost makes this printer the most expensive printer I have ever owned. Bye bye HP.

  20. Thank you everyone. I spent 2 days trying everything to get the black ink to print. Nothing! Hp Photoshop Premium C309 nothing premium about it. Thank you all for sharing will not buy another HP product.

  21. 365 E. Ave De Los Arboles
    Box 227

  22. Thanks Ethan et al for all of the comments, although unfortunately we’ve all taken a ride up the HP Creek without a paddle. Been tinkering with the printer all day with no success. FYI, Consumer Reports March 2017 edition just rated home printers. I think they’d be interested in the litany of comments regarding HP’s black ink issue and failure to properly address and compensate consumers.

  23. Richard Parry

    March 4, 2017 at 1:42 pm

    Why does black cease more than other colors?
    Why does it work in the morning and suddenly stop in the afternoon, without any hardware changes (my case). Is this a programmed problem to drive sales? A uniform design flaw? I desire to get out for the printer business by driving loyal customers to their competitors?
    A sixty dollar replacement OEM print head, which may or may not work, or a recycle label and a new printer from anyone but HP. Guess what my choice is?

  24. Everyone needs to write to the Better Business Bureau so this is stopped, i’m now fighting the same fight and still need to do taxes, so buying a new printer was not at the top of my list, but it is now. Thank you all for saving me much wasted time!

  25. Hi back again.. managed to get through to a really nice customer service person at HP and after explaining it must have been a faulty ink cartridge he kindly organised for another to be sent out to me.. A few days later a rather large box arrived with a small black ink cartridge and success it now works again. Will not be pre purchasing any ink cartridge until they die, one at a time!!

    Good luck all!!

  26. Michael Scribner-O'Pray

    March 14, 2017 at 8:33 am

    Thank you, Ethan, for your excellent work with this post. You have validated our own experience with our HP Photosmart 6525 from Cosco. Going forward, we will do our homework as consumers and avoid HP.

  27. Michael Scribner-O'Pray

    March 14, 2017 at 9:06 am

    Wait!

    I had this exact same problem and just fixed it by reconfiguring to the default settings. I went to Applications on my Mac, clicked on Hewlett-Packard, then clicked on Setup Assistant, accepted the user agreement and kept clicking continue until the setup was done. IT PRINTS IN BLACK AGAIN!

    I can’t help but wonder if those sneaky folks at HP slipped-in this ‘fix’ to avoid lawsuits since so many of us have been asking questions…

  28. Same problem no black ink, but I don’t have Hewlett-Packard in my applications.

  29. Had the same problem with my hp6525 not printing black. The following web site explains how to fix this problem. Did exactly what he explains and now the printer prints like new.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K76eANwoY64

  30. Hi,

    Thanks so much for this information. My HP Photosmart 6510 just began doing this same thing after a friend sent me her new ink cartridges because her Photosmart was no longer working. Ever since, I have not been able to print anything in black and white. HP forums were useless. It was evident that they had no fix or did not want to share it. I will try setting it to default and see what happens. When it did work it sucked up ink like crazy and I hardly used it much. I will also never buy another HP product. Thanks for publishing this.
    P.S. Can I ask what you ended up buying for a new printer?

  31. Thanks so much for giving this a look, Jan. We bought a laser jet from Brother. We’ve not yet replaced any toner.

  32. I thought I’d chime in on this thread for other HP victims…I have a 6525 as well, and had the same exact problem you described in detail. I googled all the fixes and hacks I could find to no avail. I put WAY too many hours into it, if for no other reason, I was determined to not get scammed by HP’s dirty ways. Well, after many attempts and no success, I went the nuclear option. (because i had EVEN MORE TIME to spend on this) I basically deconstructed the printer, down to it’s core and put it all back together. AND IT WORKS LIKE NEW. I’m convinced its a programming scam built in to the printer so I went deep into the computer boards within and unplugged all the connecting wires I could, then reconnected them to try to turn everything back to factory settings from the ground up. So if you have the time and the will, this method worked for me. Good luck!

  33. Hooray uninstalled and reinstalled it and unbelievably started printing in black after refusing to even with brand new HP cartridge.

    thank you Sam

  34. I’m having the same issue with the black ink not printing on HP deskjet 2130. I have hardly used this and it’s about 8 months old. The last time I used it to print, the black ink wasn’t clear.. today it’s not printing. Tried the diagnostic tools
    all were successful even though black was missing! Went online for help. HP suggested that I hadn’t installed the software correctly.. Did that and tried to print, black ink isn’t printing still. The level of ink is at least at 90% and I was wondering if the problem was because it’s still the initial cartridge. Thankfully I read these comments to know not to change the cartridge. I read a comment somewhere to wash the cartridge. Tempted.

  35. I was starting to think it was windows because this happened to me on two different printers at the same time so my sister gave me her old one to use for the time being which works perfectly… until I hooked it up to my computer. … no black. I honestly think some kind of killswitch for the black was enabled and I can’t make it stop no matter how many times I restore factory defaults. But a lot of you have macs so now I’m just dumbfounded again and incredibly aggregated.

  36. Thursday, October 12, 2017

    NOTE – This is just a story. I have no expert advise or recommendations to offer. Any attempt to replicate this scenario or apply these techniques is strictly at your own risk.

    During the past six years, my HP C309a printer stopped printing black on several occasions. Fortunately, the HP “reset” procedure (3#) worked to restore black ink printing each time.
    This time however I was not so fortunate . . .

    Fix Attempt 1 – I tried all three resets (3#, 6#, 9#) in ascending order. None of the resets did any good. Color printing was fine, but no black ink.

    Fix Attempt 2 – Even though it was more than half full, I replaced the black ink cartridge with a new one. The result was the same; with the printer properties set to “Print in grayscale” and “Black Ink Only,” nothing but blank pages.

    Fix Attempt 3 – I scoured the internet looking for possible solutions. From what I read (and watched) print head cleaning seemed to be the likely “next step.”

    a.) I started by soaking the print head(s) in room temperature water for about an hour and then gently wiping them with a soft cloth as prescribed by HP. After reinstalling the print head carriage and print cartridges, still no black ink.

    b.) I tried the same thing again, but instead of water, I soaked the print heads in 70% Isopropyl Rubbing Alcohol. After reinstalling the print head carriage and print cartridges, still no black ink.

    c.) With frustration (anger) setting in, I started using more “aggressive” cleaning attempts. I soaked the print heads in hot water and ran hot tap water, full force, into the screens on the top of the assembly until the water ran out clear. Still no black ink.

    d.) I placed the print heads in a small container and poured boiling water over them, allowing them to soak until the water cooled to room temperature. Still no black ink.

    e.) I repeated the boiling water soak, but I was giving up and no longer cared if I damaged the print heads. This time I shot a bit of compressed air through the black ink screen in the hope that I might be able to “push” any residual fluid out through the nozzles. Still no black ink.

    I went back to the internet looking for more solutions. One of the videos I watched was a spoof by a gentleman who explained how he was going to show us how to disassemble his HP printer so it could be properly cleaned and serviced (good luck trying to find an HP repair manual). A few minutes into the video, he “disassembled” his HP printer by driving over it with a Dodge pickup truck. He then proceeded to turn the wheel left and right to further crush (disassemble) his HP printer. I found the video to be very informative and immensely satisfying. My thanks to him for providing such a valuable insight on the true value of HP printers and HP’s online support.

    At this point I’d given up and had decided to purchase a new Brother all-in-one printer.

    In order to move the HP printer out to the garage and prepare it for recycling, I picked up my C309a and noticed a small puddle of dried black ink on the table top. That seemed more than a bit odd, so I checked the bottom of the printer and, to my surprise, discovered that ink had been leaking out of the device for some time. My table top is now ruined (Thanks HP!), but that’s a story for another time.

    During my earlier internet searches, I’d read about modifications that people have made to their inkjet printers to recover the “lost ink” printers routinely squirt out each time the print heads are parked (I don’t fully understand that process). It seems that some printers use “pads” to absorb the ink and the pads can become saturated over time. I reasoned that this might be the source of the black ink leaking from under the printer.

    I opened the lid again, waited for the print head carriage to park, and peered inside with a bright flashlight. When I examined the area where the print heads are normally parked (Looking in from the front – on the right), I was shocked to see a large mass of heavy, black, sticky goo covering every part and component in that area. There was so much goo that I was unable to discern one part from another. It was as though the “Blob” had invested itself in my printer and taken up permanent residence.

    I reasoned that this might be the cause of my blocked print head. Every time the black print head went into the “parked” position, it was being jammed into a mass of sticky black goo. No wonder those tiny jets were always plugged no matter how many times I cleaned the print head.

    I went back to the internet hoping to find a document that would guide me through the disassembly process. I thought there was a reasonable chance that I could “fix” the printer if I could just take it apart and perform a thorough top-to-bottom cleaning. Unfortunately, I had no luck finding any information regarding disassembly or repairs. I did find an HP document that provides some very general guidelines for recycling, but that’s all. Apparently, HP has determined that the average user of their devices is too stupid to perform simple cleaning and maintenance, so they refuse to provide any detailed information about their printers.

    Now this is where the rest of my story is going to get a little crazy, so please bear with me. Keep in mind that my disgust with HP had reached a high level and that I’d already decided to purchase a new Brother printer to replace my expensive HP paperweight.

    Just as an aside . . . (I have no affiliation with Brother) Brother printers use an ink technology that dramatically reduces the cost of printing. They estimate the cost of ink for a typical page of black text to be about one cent, and the cost of a typical page with color images to be about a nickel. I’m convinced that the good folks at HP are laughing hysterically every time I go into a store and drop down seventy-five dollars for a three-pack of black ink cartridges, knowing all the time that a significant portion of that “black gold” is being blown into the bottom of my printer. If Brother’s ink economy claims are accurate, instead of continuing to buy overpriced HP ink cartridges, I’ll recover the cost of a new Brother printer in less than a year by using Brother ink.

    Twenty-five years ago, I wouldn’t buy anything but HP peripherals. I’m partial to Dell computers, but I’ve owned a number of HP computers too. No more.

    It’s my general opinion (for the HP lawyers out there, this is not a “statement of fact.”) that HP, as a corporation, is just a soulless machine producing, at best, mediocre products and grossly over priced ink cartridges made in China. It’s my general impression that HP could not care less about it’s customer base so long as we just keep putting money down on the table. I am done with HP and I’m looking forward to a new relationship with Brother.

    Back to my story . . . lacking any information about disassembly and feeling that a Dodge pickup truck might ultimately be the best solution, I opted to try a “slightly” less destructive approach:

    Fix Attempt 4 – Knowing that inkjet printer ink (the heavy, black, sticky goo I mentioned earlier) is water soluble, I decided to placed the HP C309a printer in a plastic tub and introduce some “universal solvent” to the inner workings of the machine. I unplugged the printer (an important step) and removed all of the “user serviceable” components (feed tray, photo tray, two-sided printing accessory (on the back), the little black “sponge” in the print head parking position, etc.).

    I put tape over the printer cartridge openings to prevent them from drying out and placed the print head in a dish of water for the same reason. I then carried the printer out to the patio and placed it in a plastic tub positioned on a glass topped patio table. I wasn’t sure if the ink would stain so I tried to keep it off any porous surfaces.

    I positioned the left side of the printer so the bottom would be on the lip of the tub and rested the right side on a small, wooden 2″ x 4″ block inside the tub (check for balance). I reasoned that the thirty degree angle of the base of the printer would keep most of the water in the compartment filled with gooey ink and reduce the amount of water coming in contact with the circuit boards and wiring (water and electricity are, in most cases, a bad mix).

    By elevating the machine on the block, fluids could flow freely out of the enclosure and into the tub. The ink leak I’d observed earlier had already demonstrated the reasonableness of this assumption. I’m sorry I can’t provide pictures of this arrangement. I fully expected this process to lead to the complete ruin of the machine so I didn’t bother to photo document my antics.

    I started with a 700 ml spray bottle of hot water and a toothbrush. Spraying hot water into the section produced a stream of black fluid pouring out of the machine. The toothbrush helped a little, but it was too big to get very far into the works so I gave up on it fairly quickly. I emptied the spray bottle and black fluid just kept pouring out.

    After two more bottles of hot water there was no improvement, just more black fluid. As my frustration continued to increase (I was still thinking about that Dodge pickup truck.), I removed the spray head and filled the bottle with more hot water. Foregoing the gentle spray technique, I left the spray head off and squeezed the bottle forcing the entire volume of hot water into the compartment. Dark black fluid continued to flow out.

    Becoming increasingly frustrated and cursing HP (a neighbor had already agreed to let me borrow his Dodge pickup truck.), I realized that a “bigger hammer” was required. I was fortunate to have a brand-new, 1 gallon garden sprayer available. I filled it with hot water, pumped it until the pressure relief valve hissed, set the nozzle to “stream,” and went at that HP printer like a volunteer firefighter on a five-alarm call. I had to stop periodically to empty the tub, but I pumped at least six gallons of hot water into that machine before the water draining out turned “mostly clear.”

    When I finally used a flashlight to examine the interior of the machine, I was amazed by how different it looked. Instead of a gooey black mass, there were individual components of various colors. How much expensive HP ink had been blown into that compartment!?!

    I wiped everything off to remove most of the ink residue while it was still wet and to partially dry the machine. I left the printer on an angle to allow it to continue draining (dripping) while I rinsed out the tub. When everything was finally cleaned up, I took the tub and the printer back into the house.

    I set everything on the floor and placed a few paper towels in the bottom of the tub. I positioned the printer exactly as it had been during the “cleaning procedure” so it could continue to drain overnight. I opened the top of the printer to expose its inner workings and positioned a fan in front of the machine to blow air into it. Not knowing what to expect, I left the machine to dry out overnight and to let nature run its course (Oxidation and corruption?).

    The next morning, I found that a small amount of slightly blackened fluid had continued to drain out during the night. Examining the interior of the machine with a flashlight, it appeared that the interior was dry (Although I suspect the bottom of the machine was probably still somewhat “damp.”).

    I placed the printer back on the already ruined table and then reinstalled the print heads in the carriage, reinstalled all five print cartridges, placed that little sponge back into the print head parking location, and reinstalled all of the accessories I’d removed earlier (I also placed more paper towels under the printer to absorb any additional ink/fluid that might leak out.).

    With a fire extinguisher at the ready (I’m the adventurous sort), I plugged the machine in and waited for it to go through a full reset (9#).

    Much to my surprise, when the print head alignment process was complete, all of the colors were both correct and precise, and best of all, the black print head produced sharp, clear characters.

    That was this morning. Hours later now, the printer is still working well. I don’t honestly know if the printer is “fixed,” but it is working. I suspect that, after all the abuse, it’ll fail in a relatively short period of time. My only hope is that it will continue to work long enough for me to use up all of the expensive HP ink cartridges I already own while I transition to my new Brother multifunction printer.

    Best of luck to all who continue to suffer their HP devices.

  37. The black ink thing. Unbelievable!!! This happened to my hp 3522 all in one. I looked on the hp website and did everything they said to do. Cleaned the printheads multiple times, no luck. The last thing on the “print black” page says, buy a new printer. Is this for real?? Is hp the VW of the print industry? Is it programmed to only last 3 years and then stop?
    I did call hp and talked to a nice lady that “tried everything”. She didn’t know too much about the black ink page on the hp website and suggested that it was a hardware issue and I should buy another printer, that she recommended.
    Could it be a scam??

  38. Well I have two HP printers (4500 and 8500). One quit printing black and the other yellow. New ink cartridges installed, cleaned printheads, diagnostics say printheads are healthy, etc. etc. Did everything anyone said to fix. After reading all these comments, I am convinced that through their updates, they must somehow get into the inner workings of the devices and shut down what they want so you are forced to go purchase yet another. I still have the 8600 that hasn’t quit working, but my prediction is that my time may be limited. I will not purchase another HP product. Comforting to know I’m not alone and to quit trying to fix these devices.

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