Issues with blockage none ink only, green ink

I have used an Epson Stylus Pro 9900 printer now for nearly 3 years, exclusively with ConeColor inks with no ink clogging issues. I has been impeccable.

I had turned off the automatic head cleaning feature as it was cleaning the head maybe even a half dozen times a day and Dana suggested I turn it off as the sensors were likely malfunctioning.

I have been doing a nozzle check periodically, especially before important print jobs, and seldom seen a clog and have run a head cleaning whenever there was one, which solved the problem.

I did a nozzle check yesterday and thought I might have seen something in the green ink sample. I got out a magnifying glass and sure enough there were a few small gaps. I did a head cleaning and it actually got worse. I tried putting a bit of ConeColor cleaning solution on the capping station slits as recommended in various places including Epson and it got worse. I tried two power cleanings of the orange/green pair and it didn’t change much, might have ended up with one or two additional gaps. Still had to look at it with a magnifying glass.

I then did a sample print of a banner I needed to print and it looked good (there is little green in it) and so I printed the 25 foot banner. The printing quality looked great. I thought maybe just printing with it would clear up the head.

Instead, now there are much bigger gaps in the green nozzle check area. I no longer need a magnifying glass to see them.

It is under warrantee and I called Epson and they set up a case for it and said someone would call.

I have seen forum posts on the luminous landscape forum that suggested booting the printer in service mode and doing a pair cleaning there. I also see warnings about doing too much cleaning. I have done maybe 5-6 cleaning attempts so far.

When I print a green square there are significant streaks across the output.

I would love some ideas/guidance on how I can address this myself. I have also heard stories about Epson service people who didn’t know what they were doing and caused big problems.

I’ve thought of various things like filling green and orange ink cartridges (I have some empty cartridges) with head cleaner and doing a power cleaning. I have no idea if this would be wise or effective.

I don’t want to do too much without some knowledgeable guidance. Friends who have 9900s have had no problems with them, some using them over 5 years, and so they have no advice.

I know you know of a number of cases where people with this printer have had head issues. I guess now I am one of them.



I’m still interested in feedback and ideas about this issue and am also blown away because, since the printer is still under warranty, I called Epson and they said they were going to send a service person to replace the head. I said just because there is a small issue with one color and they said, “Yeah.” Go figure.


I think that you got incredible mileage from your 9900. Many believe that ConeColor is easier on the head than the Ultrachrome. But, I bet a dollar to a donut - that possibly changing out your wiper blade may clear up the green. But, do NOT hesitate for a moment to get a new print head with your warranty.

So the wiper blade… not sold as a part as I recall. Yet the new ones are prone to wear down the middle and often leave behind residue on the print head that you can not get the jets to emit through. Can you print through it? Can you isolate a green print out - and does the banding disappear quickly? In other words - are the missing nozzles a result of doing a head cleaning (residue)?

Jon – Thanks for your reply. Slow getting back because Epson did schedule a replacement and I wanted to see the result.

The guy came out, was very nice and answered all kinds of questions for me, though he was clear that all he really knew how to do was to swap out the parts Epson sent him.

He says he sees these printers run in all kinds of challenging situations, including frame shops with 2" of sawdust on the floor and shops with extremes of temperature. He says people make all kinds of modifications on their printers, which he has no issue with. He doesn’t care what inks people use, but he is beholden to act on what Epson tells him.

The only real issue he has been able to isolate related to ink blockages is leaving the printer without using it for long periods. He said that he has seen heads last a lifetime or go out after two weeks and has no idea why.

He replaced the head and the whole mechanism that cleans, wipes senses and services the head in various ways.

It took one or two cleanings and then everything was clear.

Since then, it printed fine for a day.

Then, all of a sudden it went into auto cleaning mode, cleaned the heads twice and left me a message that it had detected some clogged nozzles and recommended a head cleaning. After confirming the blockage with a nozzle test print, I ran a few cleanings and after a power cleaning for the ink pair at issue, got a clear print out.

Now I am having blockages in various ink colors, some requiring a power cleaning to clear up. I have no idea how to check the wiper blade. The blockages do show up in the output when I paint a square of the color with blocked nozzles.

I periodically get a message saying “Automatic head cleaning falied. Retyr? yes? no?” Do you know anything about this??

I just noticed that there are expiration dates on your inks. I am getting past the date on some of your inks. Is this an issue? Also the cartridges say to use up the ink in the cartridge in 6 months and I have simply been adding ink to the cartridges, before they are completely empty. Is there any issue with this?

Jon Zax, a local photographer and workshop provider in digital printing, who has kind of been a mentor and who has a 9900 he says has been trouble free for 6 years, told me that he and some others he knows have been having some head troubles lately (he didn’t say exactly what) and said he thought it was related to dry humidity. I asked the Epson service man about this and he looked up the spec that said they operate fine between 20% and 80%. I bought a humidity meter and it indicates that the humidity here stays between 32% & 40%.

I can call Epson again. They have to fix this, but they only come out if a power cleaning doesn’t clear the nozzles.

In addition, I need some hand holding regarding a challenge I am likely to get from them because I am not using Epson inks. They said they would service it one time as I didn’t seem to be aware that third party inks nullified the warranty but if there were continued inking issues they would not repair them. I offered to send them a copy of the law that says they can’t do this and they just brushed it off. If they claim the warranty is no good because of the inks, what should I do, simply challenge them? How far might I have to go in dealing with them? An extended battle would screw me up.


PS – Epson inks do have some dye mixed in. Is there any chance that this helps prevent blockages. You say that there are indications that your inks may even be less prone to blockages. Do you know why?

I know you do not want to hear what you should have done of course.
Were it my printer, I would not have started up the new print head without using fresh ink.
It wasn’t Epson responsibility to tell you this - or they may not have known your inks were past the expiration date, or because you are on 3rd party they did not want to go out of the way to ask whether you had fresh Epson inks or not. Were you running Epson inks and they had expired, he would have charged you to install fresh inks. So that is a bit of challenge now.

I would suggest that you install fresh inks in all of the positions that are expired - then run the Initial Ink Charge to flush the printer with fresh ink. See what happens to the green head and let us know!

Dye is easier on a print head as long as you are printing often - but there is not enough dye in Epson ink to compare its use to that of dye ink. Epson inks are causing the overwhelming majority of 9900 print head blockages, so OEM is not the answer. PiezoFlush can help. If you have a set of PiezoFlush carts there - you could flush out the stale inks and let sit for 24 hours and then recharge with fresh inks.

Jon –

Wow! I had not known about this expiration date issue. I only just noticed that there were expiration dates on the inks.

At this point, all the heads are firing, though I have had to go through one or more cleanings a day.

I am finishing off a set of your inks with an Expiration date of 4/2014 on them.

I have a full 700ml set of your inks that expire in 1/2016.

Should I throw out all the expired inks? That is a fortune in inks down the drain!

Of course the green and orange are the oldest as they are used infrequently.

What do you mean by all the positions that are expired? I guess they are all expired as they all have some expired ink in them.

Can I empty the cartridges or do I have to get new cartridges (another $325 bill)?

The cost off tossed ink and cartridges could end up being what breaks the bank for us. We’re using this printer for our own projects and not making any money on it. This is why I had bought up ahead on ink when we could afford it.

I also have a 700ml set of dye inks that I bought from you. No telling what the date on those is. I probably should not have bought them but they were much less expensive and I though I might use them for some of our community projects. It turns out it wastes so much ink to switch that it is not practical to do that very often. I guess now If most of our ink is ruined that is not an issue.

Talk about being blind-sided. Did I miss warnings from you about expired ink. Other things expire and it doesn’t really mean much. It would be nice to have a clear warning on your site about ink expiration.

Should I do the piezoflush flush? I do have an extra set of empty carts. Then do I have to buy $325 worth of carts to put in fresh ink? And I won’t have any carts for using the dye ink, though maybe it is expired and I can’t even use that.

Help! What should I do! This is frightening.


So, I’d appreciate guidance on the following comments and questions.

Inks should not be in the cartridges more than 6 months even if the inks in the cartridges are not expired? After 6 months it should be taken out of the cartridges, discarded and replaced with fresh ink? Or should I keep buying new cartridges? (The cartridges alone would make a nearly $700 annual bill if they need to be replaced every 6 months.)

And, expired ink should never be used? It should be discarded on the expiration date? Is there any slop time here past the expiration date? How many years out is the exiration date when you sell your inks?

I guess it means more debt, always more debt. We are both over 70 and thought we were now going to get time to work on art and community activities, sliding by on very limited SS money. Going to cry as I pour this ink down the drain.

Feeling dismal…


Inks in cartridges warning for 6 months is from Epson. Epson says that their ink should not be allowed to stay in a printer beyond six months of first inserting. That does not come from us or pertain to any of our inks. While our chemistry is quite similar due to encapsulation - it is not the exact same.

Piezography inks are known for going well past five years if kept tight and shaken. But we still give them two year shelf life. Piezography ink is exceedingly expensive to make and the chemistry is quite complex compared to our other inks. But, color pigment inks do not have the same shelf life as our carbon inks. So the shelf life is something we recommend. What can happen when you exceed any inks shelf life?

That depends a lot on storage and tightness of the storage containers as well as how much air is in the container. There are different things that happen to ink chemically over time and the variables are often dependent upon storage and air. The best case is that you can continue to use it. The odds are that the inks will need more frequent shaking to stay in suspension. The worst case is that the droplets will have trouble being sheared (to form distinct drops of ink) and the print head will produce banding. Or sediment will form in the dampers. If you see banding - stop the use of the ink. IF you see spray on the edges of your prints or in high contrasty areas that you can detect darker dots in lighter fields of color - see if you can live with that. But I do NOT want to encourage you to use old inks. I believe that the price to pay will be dampers needing early replacement. Epson recommends annual replacement of dampers but who does it until they need replacing other than Cone Editions Press who changes dampers every six months as a preventative maintenance routine? We try to lead by example!

So - it is better to purchase inks in smaller bottles. Two 350mls better than one 700ml. Hhake your printer carts every 2-3 weeks. Do not leave the printer unattended for more than 3 weeks. And you should be ok. But, Orange and Yellow will age the quickest followed by Magenta. Those are the difficult and heavy pigments. Cyans and light blacks should last long long time. So don’t get depressed. And if you see banding - know that you may shorten damper life - and its just not worth it - until you find how easy they are to change out the second time!

But again - not encouraging you to use outdated inks. Just saying…

Jon – Thanks for the info on longevity.

Various heads are still showing clogging and then clearing up when I clean them, sometimes requiring a power cleaning.

Should I flush this printer with Piezoflush. I have a 4 gallon container of it and a set of empty cartridges.

I have some inks that do not expire until 1/2016, so I could flush it with piezoflush and then use the new inks discarding the inks that expire on 4/2014. The old inks have been in tightly closed bottles in a room temperature environment, but the bottles do have some air in them as they are 700ml bottles.

I have, maybe 350ml of each expired color left and it will break my hear to throw it away, but is clearly better than losing the printer.

If I do this, I understand I have to go into service mode and do a complete flush of some sort.

If I do do this, can I empty the cartridges I am using and fill them with new ink?

Please advise.


Jon – One last question (read the one above, too).

Is there anything else that could be causing this besides expired inks? Do you think it is the expired inks?

I’m totally willing to flush piezoflush through the system, but would like some sense from you if this is the best thing to do at this point.

Also whether I should dispose of the expired inks and switch to the unexpired ones. Is there a good way to store these so they will stay as fresh as possible.


Jon – One last question (read the one above, too).

Is there anything else that could be causing this besides expired inks? Do you think it is the expired inks?

I’m totally willing to flush piezoflush through the system, but would like some sense from you if this is the best thing to do at this point.

Also whether I should dispose of the expired inks and switch to the unexpired ones. Is there a good way to store these so they will stay as fresh as possible.


PS – I also asked some questions above about how I should do the flush if I do it.

The epson guy did not replace the dampers. Should I get on Epson about this? What should I say?

He said they didn’t need replacing. Epson did send him some new ones that he did not use.


Not replacing the dampers when replacing a print head is very unusual and counter to the prescribed service issue.

I have never heard of a professional Epson repair person change out a print head without changing out the dampers first.

That would be like doing an oil change but leaving the old filter in. Except in your case they replaced the engine with a new one and put the old oil filter back on it.

Problem may be that you have old oil in it, also.

You should remedy that and have them back because of the dampers. But you should put in fresh inks and run the initial ink charge to flush the rest of any old ink sediment or settled pigment into the dampers - so when they are replaced you do not foul them inadvertently. This is a chance to have your printer freshened - so do not be running out of date inks in it!

If you feel challenged by the field rep, just read to him from Epson own service field guide which he did not follow:

Pro 7900 and 9900 Field Repair Guide: Missing Nozzle Diagnosis

Your printer is in need of its annual damper change still - yours are three years old at this point.

Read the whole section above and make sure he changes out the wiper blades too!

Jon – I called Epson about the fact that they did not replace the dampers and they are going to send someone out to “diagnose” the issue. The field guide does say they should be replaced when one or more heads are starved of ink, which is not exactly the symptom here, though it was one color that was causing trouble before the replacement; now it is random colors.

In fact the symptom now (after head replacement) sounds more like something they call “reverse flow” where air gets trapped in the nozzle after a “strong” cleaning cycle. They suggest printing “a sample print (Stress Test is recommended)”.

When I do a flush with clean ink to get the old ink out of the system before they replace the dampers (if they do), should I use the initial fill charging or just a standard cleaning cycle?




There are very long ink lines in your printer that are attached to the cartridges that then flow into the ink dampers which are attached to your print head. It would take 70 cleanings to flush out the old ink - which would certainly burn out the print head. A head cleaning moves a tiny bit of ink. You have about 25ml ink trapped in these ink lines and the damper - and the only SAFE way to do this is the Initial Ink Charge.



Jon – Thanks. Also, the Epson guy told me if I wanted the dampers changed he’d change them.

Unless I hear different from you, I am going to put new ink in some cartridges, do an initial fill and then look forward to the new dampers solving any non-ink issues.


Let’s hope so!
I lost a little confidence in your Epson tech not doing a basic operation.

Jon – I started a new topic as the last one seems to have dropped some posts and I wanted to make sure you got this.

I spoke with Wells yesterday about doing what you suggested, i.e. replacing the old ink ink with fresh ink.

After replacing the ink, one cartridge wouldn’t reset, so I replaced the chip from a set of fresh empty cartridges I was saving to do a piezoflush if needed. It reset correctly.

Now am having trouble as the printer erratically sees the entire left bank of cartridges as missing.

Here’s how that developed:

After refilling the cartridges yesterday, it failed to see the left bank of cartridges. I thought this might have to do with the cartridges being a bit damp after refilling (I had wiped them completely dry, but worried they might have contained some dampness from the re-filling). I left them out overnight and this morning they seemed to be bone dry. I put them in the printer and, “Hooray!” it fired and read all the cartridges, Then I shut it down and re-started in Service Mode to do an initial refill (per your plan) and it no longer recognized the entire left bank of cartridges.

I checked the chips and they all reset to green.

Going back to a regular (not Service Mode) startup, it still does not see the cartridges.

I am expecting an Epson guy soon to replace the dampers and I don’t want to be dealing with a “third party” inking issue when he comes.



Well, I filled the new set of carts I had saved for a flush with fresh, nonexpired ink.

I inserted the carts in the printer and it didn’t read many of the carts on both banks. I removed all carts, checked the chips and reinserted them. Several reinsertions got the printer reading them. I then did an initial fill.

When it was through doing the intital fill, it said the yellow cart was missing. I took it out, checked the chip, and reinserted it. Now it is not reading the entire left bank of carts. Removing and replacing does not change the situation.

All this after the printer recognized all cartridges and did an initial fill.

Incidentally, after the refill I described above, I made sure the carts and chips were clean and dry, both wiping and blowing them off with compressed air. I really don’t think there was anything on those carts that would have caused issues.

I do have an Epson guy coming out to replace the dampers. I hope he won’t balk at dealing with this cart issue given that they are not Epson carts.

God only knows how much ink this has cost me.



I merged your two threads because it’s really one tech support / maintenance / old ink / epson tech forgot the dampers issue.

A lot of information of importance to others here - including not using old outdated ink (which you realize is a fortune to waste). But…

Dana will help you with this just shortly… Sorry that you are having one problem after another