How to Troubleshoot Printhead Problems: A Complete Guide

By | April 13, 2023

As a frequent user of printers, you may encounter printhead problems along the way. The good news is that most of these issues can be easily fixed with basic troubleshooting techniques, without having to call in a technician. In this complete guide, we’ll discuss how to troubleshoot printhead problems step by step to keep your printer up and running smoothly.

Step 1: Verify Printhead Alignment

When your printer is unable to print correctly or prints with smudging, your printhead may not be aligned properly. To verify alignment, open your printer’s settings and locate the alignment tools. Most printers have a built-in feature that will print a test page with a series of lines, patterns, and colors. If the lines on the test page appear distorted or off-kilter, your printhead needs to be aligned properly.

Step 2: Clean the Printhead

If you notice any discoloration, faded text, or streaks on your printouts, then the printhead may be dirty. To clean the printhead, you must first remove the ink cartridges then remove the printhead. You can find instructions on how to remove the printhead in your printer’s manual. Once removed, use a lint-free cloth to wipe gently the printhead. Avoid using paper towels, as this could leave residue on the printhead.

Step 3: Run the Printhead Cleaner

If the printhead isn’t severely clogged, you can use your printer’s built-in printhead cleaning function to try and unclog it. The procedure is different depending on the printer, so check your printer’s manual for specific instructions. During the cleaning process, the printer will squirt ink through the print head to clear out any clogs. This process may take a while, but it should resolve the issue.

Step 4: Replace the Printhead

In some instances, your printhead may have severe clogging issues or even damage. If none of the above troubleshooting steps have worked, you might need to replace the printhead. You can purchase a new printhead from your printer’s manufacturer, but it’s important to ensure that it’s compatible with your printer model.

Step 5: Contact Support

If none of the above steps fix the issue, it might be time to call in technical support. Explain the issue as accurately as possible and consult with a technician to see if they can help diagnose the problem. In case the company offers a warranty on the device, you may want to consider sending the printer back to the manufacturer for free servicing.


Printhead problems are common in today’s printers, but luckily, most of them can be easily resolved. Troubleshooting your printer’s innards can sometimes be a frustrating and time-consuming process, but following these steps should fix the majority of issues. With proper maintenance and care, you can increase the longevity of your printer’s printhead and prevent it from encountering issues in the future.