Prints are Light as a Ghost

…perfect for Halloween…but not for too much longer hopefully!, ugh. Hi Dana! I’m an experienced Epson Pro 9800 user for 8 years now. I’ve made the switch to Cone color but not having any luck at all YET. Basically, Prints are coming out extremely light and just in the cyan range from what I can tell. I’m not getting any error messages other than the initial “unrecognizable cartridge” message upon first inserting which seems to disappear when I push pause or menu. All my refillable cartridges have been primed via the 10cc needle, etc., and all are refillabvle now except for 2 colors which are standard Epson and 1/2 full. I’ve executed 2 power cleans thus far and a nozzle print check which shows basically nothing. Oh, and I’m using LexJet “Print 'N Stick Fabric” on a 42" roll - which is new for me but looks and feels amazing. That’ all she wrote. Glad to have found you here. ~ Ben

Hi Ben~

If your nozzle checks show all eight channels aren’t printing, then it makes perfect sense that your prints are bad!

When were all channels fully/correctly printing? Did you print a nozzle check with Epson carts prior to installing the refillable carts?
What positions are printing on your nozzle check? Are the other positions printing any nozzles, or are they totally blank?
Have you been using this same 9800 printer for the past eight years? If so, when was it last serviced with new parts such as dampers, wiper blade, capping station, pump, flushing box, and/or print head?
Have you manually cleaned the printer’s capping station, wiper blade, flushing box and/or bottom of the print head?

I recommend you use regular typing to print nozzle checks until you get all channels printing- don’t waste your nice material for printing nozzle checks.

Please let me know so I can try to help.
Best regards~ Dana :slight_smile:

Hi Dana, On further inspection I’ve discovered that the only channels that ARE printing are the 2 remaining Epson cartridges which I haven’t yet replaced with Cone refillable ones. Curious huh? Sems that all the Cone replacement colors are the ones NOT printing. Only Cyan & Light Black are printing - and those are the original Epson Cartridges. To anser your question: Yes I had been printing successfully right up until the Cone color cartridges were installed. Help!!!

One more point I forgot to mention; those little “O” rings fell out and somewhere into the ink slot when I removed them to check if i had primed the cartridges correctly. Are those absolutely necessary? If so I’ll need to order more because the original ones I used have all fallen off. Could that be my issue here?

Hi Benjamin~

Sorry for not responding sooner, I was out sick on Friday.

Based on the information you provided, I have a few comments and questions to get to the bottom of this.
If all channels were correctly/fully printing with Epson carts prior to installing the six refillable carts, but now all six channels you installed refillable carts aren’t printing- then I suspect something wasn’t done properly or there’s not a good connection with the printer. For proper ink flow, the 7800/9800 refillable cartridges must have the following things: 1. Ink level in main cartridge body up to 1/2" from the top (and more then 1/2" from bottom), 2. Fill hole tightly plugged closed, 3. Exit channel primed with ink using the syringe and priming tip, 4. Good connection with the printer- for both pressurization and ink flow. The o-rings are not always needed on all carts, and you will know if they’re needed if your printer’s pressurization pump keeps turning on while the printer sits idle. In my experience, there is occasionally a slight pressurization leak, causing the printer pump to turn on every few minutes, and that can cause the ink flow of that individual channel to not be full/consistent. If there is a major pressure loss (such as if a fill hole was left open, a large gap between the printer and cartridge, a hole in the cartridge body, etc…), the printer would display an error and not allow you to do anything. I have never experienced a small pressure leak that didn’t cause an error to effect more than one channel, so suspect this is not the cause of your issue.

Please check the refill carts to make sure the fill hole plugs are secure, exit channels are filled with ink, and carts are installed all the way into the printer. Lower the cartridge locking levers, then the printer should check the chips and pressurize the carts. After pressurization, the printer should sit quiet. If the pressurization pump comes back on, or the printer displays an error, then let me know and we will figure out what’s going on. If the printer correctly accepts and pressurizes all the carts, and quietly sits idle, then things are working well, and we’ll move forward to resolve this for you.

Let me know so we can move forward and get you back to happily printing.
Best regards~ Dana :slight_smile:

Hi Dana,

Well, no luck. I’ve reviewed everything on your checklist. But now, to make things even more frustrating, I re-checked to make sure each cartridge was inserted properly and now I get a “replace cartridge” message for the magenta, which is a half-filled cone cartridge, never used. Not sure why that’s happening. At least before the printer was in "ready"mode. Now I can’t even get that. Do you know of anyone who could come out locally here in Santa Barbara CA and what they would charge to trouble shoot it? I don’t have the time nor patience to keep troubleshooting this and am willing to pay as long as it’s not some crazy amount.

Thanks for trying thus far. Hope you’re feeling better. ~ Benjamin

Hi Benjamin~

I’m sorry to hear of your continued frustration.

Does the printer message say “Ink cartridge empty- replace cartridge”, “Ink cartridge error- replace cartridge”, or “NO ink cartridge- install cartridge”? The messages are very similar, but mean different things, so please tell me the exact message displayed on your printer’s LCD screen. Do you still have an Epson magenta cartridge? If so, please insert it to see how your printer responds- if it reads it properly, then you can transfer the chip from that cartridge to your refillable magenta cartridge, and reset the chip to read full again. I have included instructions below for transferring an Epson chip to a refill cartridge (which is possible with the 4800, 4880, 7800/9800 and 7880/9880 carts- but some other model chips are designed to not work once removed from the Epson cart, so it’s not possible to use Epson chips with all cartridge/printer models- such as the 4000, 7600/9600, 7890/9890, 4900, 7900/9900 and some desktop models).

Attach Epson chips to refill cartridges:

Before handling any chips (or really any electrical device for that matter), you should ground yourself and mindful of the clothing you wear, and if you’re working on carpet, etc… as static shock can destroy a chip.

Looking at the chip on the Epson cartridge, you will notice there are two small plastic points that hold the chip in place. Make a note as to which way the chip fits onto the cartridge so you can attach it to the refill cartridge in the same direction. Using a straight razor blade at an angle carefully cut the top of these two points off (be careful not to scratch the gold contacts), which will release the chip so you can carefully pry it off the cartridge using the edge of the blade. You can also use a sharp knife or something similar to pry the chip off the refill cartridge. You will notice the same two points on the refill cartridge where the chip goes (pry the chip off the refill cartridge before attaching the Epson chip in it’s place)- gently line up the Epson chip with these points and attach it to the refill cartridge by using single thickness (not foam or thick) double sided tape. Making sure your hands are clean and dry, press the chip to make sure it is tightly seated and flat/flush on the cartridge. Now, using the chip resetter- reset the chip and insert the cartridge into your printer. NOTE: Installing a cartridge without a chip, or with a crooked chip attached can damage the printer’s chip sensor- so always make sure cartridges have chips secured flat before installing cartridges

Once we get your printer to correctly read all the carts, we can move forward to figure out the strange flow issue you’re experiencing with the refillable carts.
I can’t think of anyone in your area that is using the same model carts that might be able to come help you, and know in person help is always the best, but I am here to help and can work thru issues/questions by working with photos and clear information.

Please let me know so we can move forward to resole this.
Best regards~ Dana :slight_smile:

Hi Dana,

It says “Ink cartridge error- replace cartridge”, I no longer have the light magenta cartridge unfortunately. I guess I need to get some chips and a resetter then? (or) just buy a light magenta epson cartridge tomorrow.

Thanks again ~ Benjamin

We recommend everyone have a set of spare chips on hand, because they can wear out and go bad over time, or get shorted out from static/electric shock. The refill cartridges are very robust, and will likely last the life of your printer, but chips occasionally need to be replaced. Replacing a chip is very quick and easy, provided you have a new chip on hand, but can result in downtime waiting for a new chip to arrive in the mail if you’re not prepared.
Due to your order date, I would be happy to mail you a replacement LM chip, but recommend you purchase a full set to have on hand in case you need them in the future. You can find replacement chips for the 7800/9800 printer here:, and chip replacement instructions here:
Please let me know if you want to order the full set, and I will include a free LM chip, or if you just want the LM chip and not get the others.

Keep me posted and let me know what I can do to help.
Best regards~ Dana :slight_smile:

Thanks Dana… I think I might get an Epson LM cartridge today just so I can proceed with troubleshooting the other issue. I’m assuming that both the refillables and Epson’s can work side by side? At some point I will invest in a set of the chips but not until I see some progress with actually seeing the whole thing work with the replacement approach ~ as you might expect I’m feeling a bit unconvinced at this point, but hopeful none the less. I should have the Epson LM cart within a couple hours. Then we can get back to the printing issue.

~ thanks again for working with me to resolve this.


Yes, you can use Epson and refillable carts in your printer at the same time.

I am here to help, and please know we have been selling (and using in our own studio) this model refillable cartridges for several years, and have hundreds of customers happily using them with ConeColor and Piezography inks, so we have a lot of experience and knowledge with these carts, which has given us confidence in their quality and function. We stand behind and support our products 100%, and are always here to help our customers in need.

Please keep me posted and let me know if you have questions, so can help you work past this and experience what so many others are.
All the best~ Dana :slight_smile:

Hi Dana,

Well, I broke down and got epson cartridges and still no image being printed - completely blank with no error messages on the led panel. So I’m now concerned it’s something serious. An Epson repair tech service wants to charge me $175. for someone to come over and then another $150. per hour to trouble shoot it. They say of it needs parts it could be thousands of dollars additional! ouch. Any ideas?



Hi Dana,

Well, I broke down and bought Epson cartridges in my frustration. So it looks like it may be something serious. I called the Epson tech support team and it will cost hundres of bucks for them to come on out to check the machine. The perhaps around or upwards of 1-2 grand to replace parts. Ouch!!! Any ideas?

Thanks again for your help.


Hi Ben~

Based on the information you have provided, and without being there to check out your printer myself, I can’t know what is causing all of your ink channels to suddenly not print, but I can give you a little guidance to help troubleshoot (and hopefully resolve) your problem.

I just re-read our communication above, and have a question- you originally wrote that you had the C and LK Epson carts installed, and all others were the refill carts. At that time only the two Epson carts were printing. I asked you to check a few things with the refill carts, then you had a LM chip issue, which I offered to send you a replacement chip for, but you decided to get an Epson cartridge instead of waiting for a new chip to arrive. The next thing you reported is you installed a set of Epson carts and still have a “completely blank” nozzle check, are you saying that now all 8 channels, including the C and LK are not printing at all?

The things that could cause all channels to suddenly stop printing are:

  1. Cartridges (though it would be impossible for all your refill carts to be defective, and are having the same results with Epson carts).
  2. Air in the ink lines- if the refill carts weren’t primed correctly prior to installing into your printer, then air could be drawn into the ink lines, which would interrupt ink flow when it reaches the dampers and print head. If this were the case, you would have had to install all the refill carts without priming first, and done cleaning cycles or made several prints for the air to travel to the dampers and interrupt the ink flow. You would not see the effects of air immediately after installing the refill carts, as it takes time to reach the dampers. If air is causing your problem, you could check the internal ink lines to see if they are filled with ink, or have air inside- and if you see air, do a few power clean cycles or an initial fill cycle to purge the ink and fill the lines with ink again, which should resume ink flow to all channels.
  3. The dampers are a few years old, clogged with particle build up and need to be replaced; though it would be unheard of for all 8 dampers to totally clog at the same time, as the M + Y channels are usually the first to start showing signs of restricted flow first, then get progressively worse, followed by the other channels. I have never heard of 1. a damper suddenly/completely clogging when the channel was printing fine right before, or 2. all 8 dampers suddenly clogging at the same time. Dampers should be replaced every 1-3 years to keep the print head clean and maintain good ink flow, we have replacement dampers, and again- you can replace them by following the repair manual.
  4. The pump has gone and needs to be replaced. In these printers, there is a pump under the capping station (sold as one unit, called the “pump cap assembly”), and an air pressure pump behind the left bay. I have replaced both of these parts myself with our 9800, found them both pretty quick/easy by following the repair manual, and ordered parts from If there is no air pressure, there is no ink flow- this would certainly effect all channels at once.
  5. The print head is suddenly/completely clogged in all channels (HIGHLY unlikely since you said it was working well just recently).
  6. Electrical malfunction- of the print head cable, main board, etc… This would cause the printer to act like it’s printing, and could even have good ink flow thru the print head during cleaning cycles, but absolutely no nozzles from any channels fire when printing a nozzle check or image.

Please note, I am not a certified Epson tech, but I have worked with/on many Epson printers ranging from small desktop to large Pro models over the past +/- 10 years, and have maintained/serviced all our production studio printers for about 6 years, so have learned a great deal about how they work, and how to troubleshoot problems. I am able to provide advice from my experience, based on information a customer provides, but can not guarantee anything, and can only provide advice based on my experience/knowledge. There is still a lot about printers that I don’t know, because I haven’t been formally trained, but am constantly working on and investigating our various printer models to learn more about how they work and how to repair them yourself (we haven’t had to call a tech in several years, and have saved $thousands servicing our own printers over the years).
I feel like many repairs can be done by the user, depending on the user’s technical skill and comfort levels, provided they carefully follow the repair manual, allow plenty of time (don’t rush), and pay close attention to what their doing. Most repairs can be done with a few basic tools, and repairing your own printer will both save you a ton of $ and give you huge satisfaction and pride after successful fixing your machine :slight_smile:

Things to consider before deciding to work on your printer or calling an Epson tech are: how much time you have to work on the printer, and how quickly you need it fixed, depending on the problem- what are the possible causes, how much $ you’re willing to spend, and if you have the ability to read and follow instructions. After reviewing the repair procedure to see what’s involved, checking the costs of parts, and deciding how much time you have to work with, you will determine if it’s best to call a tech or if you want to try it yourself (this is especially more appealing if the printer is older/out of warranty, and you’re looking at $1,000+ to have a repair tech come in). Also, depending on the severity of the problem, possible causes, and costs involved, some people decide it’s more economical to purchase a new printer with a warranty instead of spending $ on an old model, which is likely to have more issues to come. My perspective is it’s usually worth trying to fix it yourself, before calling and spending a bunch of $ on a repair tech, or buying a whole new printer.

Please keep me posted, I am curious about your strange problem, and would love to 1. hear of your success, and 2. know the solution to your unusual issue.

I hope this helps, all the best~ Dana :slight_smile:

Hi Dana, I had a tech come over to have a look am my 9800. It still has not been printing. He applied some print head cleaner to a paper towel and placed it under the carriage and told me to leave it over night. I ended up trying a nozzle test about 6 hours later (not listening to his suggestion:) - in any case I actually can now see a couple colors testing on the paper! So I think this is good news. Is there a video about cleaning the 9800 specifically with the Piezo flush? Since each printer is different is there an instruction pamphlet that comes with the cleaning kit specifically for the 9800?

Does each individual head need its own cleaning cartridge or can just one ink position do the job?

I guess a combination of long periods of no use caused the issue.

Please let me know your thoughts about this cleaning protocol for y printer.

Thanks - benjamin

Hi Benjamin~

Thanks for the update. Based on your explanation of what happened, it didn’t sound possible that all your print head channels completely clogged at the same time… but if you are having better results after cleaning the bottom of the print head, then it’s worth trying our manual cleaning procedures to see if you can get all the channels printing well again. Our printer cleaning and maintenance info can be found here:

If you want to flush out the lines, dampers and head channels using our PiezoFlush solution, I recommend doing all channels at once by installing a full set of refill carts filled with PiezoFlush, then doing an Initial Fill cycle.

Yes, lack of use can be one of the worst things for a printer, and can certainly cause drying/clogging in the print head, as well as build up of particles in the dampers, and other problems. When were your dampers last replaced? If it was over three years ago, I recommend replacing them now.

I hope this helps, please keep me posted and let me know if you have questions or there’s anything further I can help you with.
Best regards~ Dana :slight_smile:

Hi Dana,

Thanks for your most recent replies. After a few weeks of not dealing with the issues I have I purchased the piezo flush kit as I figured this would be good to have on hand regardless of what I discover may be happening with the printer. After about 4 power cleans with a full set of the Piezo flush kit, the nozzle tests got fainter and fainter. So I think it’s time to replace some of the parts (i.e.dampers and…?) which have never been replaced during the printers 8 year life span! (ouch - I’m now realizing).

So, could you send me a quick response listing the nec. replacement parts (dampers and whatever else) for doing the things I have neglected all these years? As you suggested, I will attempt to do the maintenance work myself as I don’t have the money to pay a tech to do it at the moment. I will buy whatever you suggest in order to move past this frustrating, yet hopefully learning-rich experience still in front of me.

I still have hope that I can resolve this on my own. I have a feeling the issue is about NON-suction after all as I noticed today that the ink lines on the print head all seem to still have the 8 colors in them (and NOT the pink flush) - even after the flush power cleanings - which apparently did not go through the lines. I’m guessing here.

Thanks Again Dana!

Regards… ~ Benjamin

Hi Benjamin~

Sorry for not responding quicker, I have been very busy working with clients in our studio, and wrapping up things I’ve been working on before we close for holiday vacation.

I’m not a certified repair tech, but have many years of experience with a range of Epson printer models. Based on the age of your printer, and the fact it’s never had parts replaced, you have some maintenance to catch up on. Information regarding manual cleaning procedures, and info about pro model printer replacement parts in included in our maintenance page I directed you to previously:
The set of 8 dampers, wiper blade, right flushing box and cap pump assembly should be replaced about every three years. Make sure to get the repair manual specific to your printer, thoroughly read/follow the instructions, and get yourself a magnetized screw driver to have the easiest time and best results working on your printer.

I hope this helps, and you’re able to get your printer back in good working condition.
All the best~ Dana :slight_smile: