Head Cleaning? What?

I’ve tried to go wireless with all of my computing needs. You know what I mean – keyboard, mouse, printer.


Is there really such a thing? I know they claim it to be true, they might even work the first time you get the thing connected, but after that…good luck!

My first one was HP. It worked for a few days. Then the ‘offline’ message kept coming up. I went through the tutorials, the troubleshooting lessons, etc. Nothing worked. In desperation I called in the big guns – a ‘geek’.

Yes, even though the thing was under warranty, I made the assumption I had done something wrong. Apparently not. $$$ later – still no wireless printing. He – the ‘geek’ – made the executive decision to connect via cable and so it remained until I had a paper feeding issue about two years later.

I searched for the best wireless printer in my price point and Epson was highly recommended. So I sprang for a new one and it arrived all sparkly new and shiny with a different ink cartridge for every variety of color. I hooked it up – not difficult – and it worked marvelously. I even added my laptop and could send items to be printed from the first floor to the printer on the second floor. Yay!!

That was about a month ago.

Today, it went offline. No reason. Two hours of trying to troubleshoot and still no printing could be accomplished. The black ink looked a bit low. I had bought replacement cartridges – Epson as well. Yes, I sprang for the name brand as a large caution notice keeps popping up explaining other brands might not work as well or – horror – harm the printer.

Even though it appeared I might have a small percentage of ink left, I thought maybe that was the problem. I sacrificed the remainder in the old cartridge and connected my brand new one. Then, of course, there’s the alignments to be printed off. The black ink wasn’t showing up well, so I kept printing one after the other, trying all of their helpful tips. (Yes it would copy and print from the commands on the printer itself, just not from the computer.)

I finally cut the power to the whole system, rebooted, and got the printer back online. But then the pages I tried to print had suddenly developed skips and breaks. Why?

Troubleshooter said my head needed cleaning. Really? My mother used to say she’d clean my mouth out with soap if I said a dirty word. And yes, I’ve said a few of those during this process. Is that the same thing?

In this case it would appear they were referring to some sort of process within the printer. Great. More things to do, more copies to make. They are getting better, but not quite right yet. More aligning, more copies.

Nozzle check?

That’s recommended too. Of course it needs copies printed to be sure it is working properly. Once everything appears to be getting clearer and cleaner, I have to print some documents and see if troubles still exist. They recommend cleaning up to four times. Of course, each time needs more printing.

I’ve finally gotten it right. The printer is back online and is spitting out readable copy, and I’m only down half the brand new ink cartridge from all the darned printing and checking – not to mention a ream of paper. No wonder they want me to buy their brand of ink. I’ll likely use half a cartridge every time I reload. Guess I’d better buy the XL for extra long life.

Is it a conspiracy? Must we waste half a cartridge every time we try to replace one? Have you found a wireless printer which actually works – all the time? Or are you as frustrated with technology as I sometimes am?

Renee Johnson is the author of Acquisition, and The Haunting of William Gray.  She is currently working on a Young Adult novel, while editing a suspense novel which has international flair–an homage to her love of travel and foreign food.  She lives on a farm in North Carolina with her husband, Tony Johnson, and one very spoiled German shepherd named Gretel.   

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  1. Oh boy I empathize. Hubbs works out of the house. Hubbs is not techy, and he’s convinced that the wireless printers are pre-programmed to drive him nuts. He’s on his 4th — and they all work for about the same amount of time ….. a month or so – AUGH!

    My old wired Dell just hums along 🙂


    1. I’m with your husband, MJ. I believe they are preprogrammed to make us crazy. Yikes! Hang on to yours if it works well. That’s my plan with my blackberry phone. I’m keeping it til it croaks!

  2. Wireless is just weird and I don’t like it except with my kindle and only because I really don’t have a choice with that. I need the comfort of being able to trace the connecting lines to all the equipment not just crossing my fingers, hoping the wind is blowing in the right direction and that the wireless connection can maintain a steady signal.

      1. There are the kind of questions that rank up there with a) how did I get so many wire coat hangers b) why do my socks never come out of the wash in pairs and c) why must I always order pasta when wearing white. These are mysteries that will never be answered as will those regarding Wireless.

        1. Ahh…I claim to love a good mystery. And you have voiced a truth. If I wear white, it’s positively intent on attracting a stain. Perhaps that’s a ‘Spray and Wash’ conspiracy. lol.

  3. I have an Epson wireless printer and have never had any issues with it. Do you reboot your computer when it won’t print? I have a PC, and when updates or antivirus software runs it seems to disconnect the printer. A reboot usually solves it.

  4. Thank you so much, Renee: I now feel even worse than I have for the last week.

    The number of hours I have spent trying to tease my Canon (!) printer out of its current sulk I will relive on my deathbed. Being able to throw money at something is usually the solution. Unfortunately, I don’t have any [money] to spare this minute. Not least because that printer caused me to miss two deadlines. And my son whom I meekly asked whether I could borrow one of his memory sticks so I could print it all out at our local library was kind enough to do so, yet he’d make the teacher from hell. I am none the wiser. In his immortal words: “This minute I don’t have time to take you through the process in baby steps.”. Great. I bent over when he took HIS first steps. Never mind.

    As to ‘head cleaning’, Renee: I have yet to find the head.


  5. Knocking on wood here. For the longest time I had my Canon wired to the desktop computer and could use the wireless printer from my laptop in other rooms only when the desktop was turned on, so actually it was the desktop that was running it. Last time the tech guy was here to troubleshoot my router, he uplugged that wire and started up a menu on the printer itself, then left me to finish up. This is one of those situations where I try everything and don’t remember what worked, but at present (that’s the knock on wood part) I’m printing from the laptop for days without ever turning on the desktop. Sometimes I get that not online stuff, but so far stumble through. But I sure love that wireless printing.

  6. Renee – How I feel your pain. I loved my old HP. Of course if you ask Tom, I never this had an ‘old’ HP. They always had a 1 year warranty on them and exactly 2 days before the warranty ran out, the printer would die and refuse to come back to life. Thus, I received a new high-speed printer that worked perfectly for almost a full year. I was happy and worked that way for 10 years. I guess HP finally figured out the problem because they no longer make that particular printer.
    Tom has a corporate account with Dell and he ordered me a high-speed, high-capacity wireless printer. I’m happy with it, except: 1) it’s laser but I have to print on bold to make it really look like laser but it does print fast, 2) the printer likes only one kind of paper and whenever I try another brand it’s one jam after another. The thing is also huge. I have a wireless printer for my laptop that I’ve used since 1999 (yes – it’s ancient and the cartridges are a fortune but the thing has traveled thousands and thousands of miles – in luggage no less – and it still works)! I don’t use it much but if we travel, I still take it with me, just in case.

    1. My HP started jamming. It would chew giant wads of paper into the feeder. I think it eventually ruined the feeder and the automatic feed stopped first and then the whole thing had issues. Yikes.

  7. Oh Renee, how I feel you pain. I recently invested in a wireless printer and wish I had never bothered. I have gone back to using it the old-fashioned way – with the usb cable attached. Mine is an HP and keeps going ‘offline’ too. It is a pain in the neck. So sorry for all your problems. I do really think it is a conspiracy, yes, to make us keep buying ink, paper and new equipment. Sorry to say but I’m just as frustrated as you are ;-(

  8. Renee, I am married to my very own tech genius, and I know how lucky I am! We do have wireless printing, and it’s fabulous. I wish you luck on your journey! And just for the record, I think your own head is plenty clean. 🙂

    1. Oh…Daisy…if only you knew! First, let me say you are a very wise woman to have married a tech genius. It’s all up to me here at my house. But if I ever need any advice on farming – my husband’s the right guy! I envy your fabulous printing. I seem to always have a problem with mine.

  9. It is a conspiracy, I tell you. Although, knock on wood, the one I am currently using works wirelessly for my MAC, my laptop PC and He-Who’s PC. I say, “knock on wood” because that is just as useful as any technical advice I have received for printers over the years. Let’s face it. They have us by the ‘you know what’s” when it comes to printers, ink and paper. It’s a conspiracy.

    1. Conspiracy wins the day. Besides a few, we all seem to be on this bandwagon. I used so much paper and ink trying to solve the problem, and then, suddenly, for no apparent reason, it’s working again. I guess it is a hungry beast and needed feeding.

  10. I don’t have anything positive to say about the printer companies. It seems they know how to make the device where the consumer is forced to spend a huge chunk of money often. They’ll never make me believe that ink has to be so frickin’ expensive.
    I’ve never tried to go wireless. I doubt I’d be able to successfully set it up. I tote my printer to a table and plug it in. and then unplug it and put it away. It’s a bit annoying, but it works when I need it.
    Yes, it’s a conspiracy. Yes you have to waste a half cartridge of ink so you have to buy more so they can make more money. grrrrr……

      1. They sell the printers at practically a throw-away price and make their money off the ink. I guess you can do refills (even maybe Costco?), but I’m not sure of the quality or the quantity of the refills. And (sob) I like to print in color. More money. If you’re doing drafts or something where the quality isn’t critical, you can print in Draft and black ink only.

  11. Frustrated right along with you. I keep having to uninstall and the install the darn thing. It just drives me to distraction and now my scanner is not working again….ugggghhhh But I can print! So I guess that is a plus. Good luck on your computer woes…

    1. My scanner was coming and going on the old printer. And interestingly enough, it would still work on my new one if I operated it from the printer instead of the computer. The connection just broke somehow. It makes me nuts….

  12. Oh I can feel my blood pressure rising in sympathy! I got my first “wireless” HP printer last year, to replace the Epson which went through cartridges like a Suburban goes through fuel. I had all sorts of problems getting it to work wirelessly, Had to play the ping pong help game: the cable company said, no it’s the router; the router company said, no it’s HP; HP said, no it’s the router or the cable company. Sigh. I talked to a retired HP Engineer friend about it and he warned me that he’d just spoken to one of his still working friends who had given up on getting his own HP printer to print wirelessly! I did finally get someone, I think it was the router guy, who took pity on me and he hung in there with me till we got it working. Turns out he’d been through the same exact procedure at his own home a month or two earlier.

    The printer works most of the time. But I continue to suffer from bogus “offline” issues that make me fit to explode. I’ve gotten into the habit of being prepared to reboot computer & printer at the same time and that usually solves the problem, but it’s a pain in the neck. And I’ve never been able to scan documents directly to the computer. I have to scan to an SD card inserted into the printer, then move the SD card to the computer.

    It IS a conspiracy.

      1. It’s become almost routine. Unfortunately, I can’t assign a pattern to it. Sometimes days will go by and everything will work like a well-oiled clock. Then for no apparent reason, I get the ol’ “computer is offline” message. I growl, close all my programs and start over. It’s crazy.

          1. It sometimes does Lee. Perhaps that is the problem. I thought the connection would be automatically reestablished when it ‘wakes’. Perhaps it’s just having a nightmare and causing one for me. lol.

  13. I’m right there with you, Renee. I wish I had never replaced my HP Laser printer for a wireless. It was great for a couple of months and then all of a sudden it went offline. I unstalled and reinstalled the software so many times, to no avail. Thankfully it came with a chord, so now when I want to print, I plug it in. I had a wireless mouse with my old desktop, that thing went through batteries like you wouldn’t believe.

    1. My wireless mouse and keyboard both work fantastically and…knock wood…haven’t given me any trouble. As for batteries, I just buy the big economy packs and hide them from my family. Otherwise, we could have problems.

  14. I have an Epson that’s a few years old. Works wirelessly and rarely have any trouble. So rare, I can’t recall last time it didn’t work. What I dislike about printers is so darn expensive replacing the ink can be. Sheesh. Now, that’s a problem!

  15. I can so relate. We have a wireless printer too. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Hopefully , we will find the right printer that works really well soon. Have a great day and all the best to you & your family.

  16. I hate printers. My last two jobs, my desk was right next to the printer. so everyone assumed that I was a printer expert because I witnessed the printer going haywire all day long. Now, I don’t own a printer. I need to and luckily I have someone who can print for me, but just thinking of getting one–I fear all those old memories will pop back up.

    Glad you got it sorted. Yes, I do think it’s a conspiracy.

  17. Is it a conspiracy? Maybe not, but the printer manufacturers don’t make much money out of their printers, they make it through the sale of ink. No wonder they try to get you to use as much as possible. I am almost surprised they let you have half of the cartridge left… As for wireless printers, so far I haven’t really trusted any, so I stick to cables.

  18. I just bought a new wireless HP 3 in 1 but the old HP worked well for almost 10 years.
    Hoping this works well too 🙂

  19. Personally I prefer my mouse, keyboard and printer to be wired. Have tried installing printer wirelessly and found it just didn’t seem to work that well … unreliable.

    Currently have an XP405 printer, but find Jet-Tec compatible cartridges work fine for colour, I don’t run head cleaner that often. I print out page of text, and if it looks okay, I am satisfied. I should say I am fussy, about my print quality.

    1. Wired may be the way to go. When wireless works though, it is a wonderful thing, especially when using lap tops in various locations throughout the house. If you are fussy about quality, maybe I should check out the xp405.

      1. I love epson and the xp405 is great, and I have no complaints especially when it costs under £40 for a mfd printer.

  20. Thank you. I sympathize and empathize with you. And I’m so glad to know it isn’t just me.
    I bought a toner printer thinking it would be more efficient for printing my novel pages. It overheats with more than 10 pages, creating faded lines down the center of the paper. Therefore, I print one chapter at a time, and let it rest for 5-10 minutes in between. I run out of toner nearly as fast as I did those tiny little cartridges.
    The toner printer will work only when plugged in. The wireless printer with my husband’s desktop worked fine until we got the toner one. So, yes, there is a conspiracy.

    1. Oh, bummer. That sounds like a hassle. Of course, there’s so many things we can do during such a wait, so maybe we should just see it as an opportunity to blog or answer emails.

      And another vote for conspiracy. It is winning the poll.

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