Knowing when it is time to replace your printer cartridge is important when you are in the middle of a time sensitive print job. To avoid a surprise trip to the office supply store, take these steps to ensure you have enough ink in your cartridge to complete your project. Even better, always keep a replacement set of printer cartridges on hand, just in case!
- Check the printer cartridge levels on your printer’s display.
Depending on what printer you own, you can check your printer cartridge ink levels on your printer’s LCD display or on your computer. Consult your printer manual to determine the appropriate steps for your printer. Most ink cartridge level displays can be found under the “maintenance” section of your printer menu.
- Run a print diagnostic test.
The print diagnostic test is a printed report that breaks down the health of each ink cartridge. The test prints a color sample of each cartridge and with that, you can tell which cartridge is performing poorly.
- Run a printhead cleaning, then try printing again.
If you haven’t printed in a while, your printer cartridges may just need to be primed. A printhead cleaning will usually do the trick. Check your printer manual for specific instructions on how to run the cleaning function on your machine. The cleaning process will take a couple of minutes. Once it is completed, print the diagnostic test again. If the test pattern is crisp, you are ready to print! If the quality is still poor, let the printer sit for about 10 minutes before running a second cleaning, this allows the ink to soak on the printhead.
- Try another cartridge.
If the printhead cleaning did not work, it is likely time to replace your printer cartridge. Printer cartridges only have about a 2 year shelf life in their sealed package, and a far shorter lifespan if they are sitting idle in your printer. To get the most out of your printer cartridges, make sure you print regularly. We recommend printing at least once every couple of weeks to keep your cartridges in top condition.