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2013-07-26T08:15:05+00:00

Why does my inkjet printer print with horizontal lines?

Why does my inkjet printer print with horizontal lines?

Horizontal lines across prints are most commonly experienced with inkjet printers and are usually down to a partially blocked printhead. Inkjet printers from many different manufacturers are prone to this including machines by Brother, Canon, Epson, Dell, Hewlett Packard (HP), Kodak, Lexmark and many more. Such an issue can easily be resolved with a bit of basic maintenance.

How can I tell if my printhead is partially blocked?

If a slight blockage is present you will notice breaks in your prints as the printhead moves from left to right dispensing ink. These lines will be in a regular pattern and usually run consistantly down the length of the page as demonstrated below.Striped

Looking at this image it may not be evident that the gaps in this text form a regular patten. It is particularly difficult to identify a partially blocked printhead when only printing black and white text as only a single colour ink is being used and gaps also appear naturally. To demonstrate what I mean clearly I have marked in red on the same image where the lines are occurring.Striped (with Red)Conversely, printing colour images or photos presents an entirely different issue as it is not always evident which colour is at fault. This is because your printer combines two or more inks when creating almost any colour, making determining or even describing the fault a challenge. Take a look at the image below for example.

Grass Stripes

You would be forgiven for describing this effect as pink/magenta lines across your photo. However what you are actually looking at with these lines is an absence of cyan and yellow on the print. To determine the affected colours with certainty I would recommend doing a test print or nozzle check (depending upon how your manufacturer refers to it) from your printer. if you are unsure how to do this please consult your printer manual or just print our very own Colour Inkjet Printer Test Page.

If however you are experiencing something similar to either of these two issues it is safe to say that one or more colours is partially blocked within your printhead.

How do I clear this blockage?

Thankfully the majority of printers available have cleaning facilities built into them which are ideal for clearing such blockages or dried patches from printheads. Depending upon the manufacturer of your printer the cleaning facility will carry a different name, for example Epson refer to it as “Clean Print Head”, Brother call it “Head Cleaning” and Canon simply “Cleaning/Deep Cleaning Cycle”. Whatever your printer calls it I recommend running the cycle 1-3 times. This cycle forces additional ink into the printhead and will hopefully flush out any dried ink causing print quality issues.

The final step will differ depending upon whether the printhead is part of the cartridge is part of your cartridge or your printer. If you are not sure for your particular printer please use the image below as a guide.

Printheads

Cartridges with a Printhead Included

The printhead being attached to the cartridge actually works in our favour here as it can easily be removed from the printer. I now recommend taking the relevant cartridge from your printer and running through the physical cleaning procedure mentioned in the second part of the article you can find linked here.

If the blockage remains after the physical clean then it is unlikely you will be able to remove it and I can only recommend replacing the cartridge all together.

Cartridges without a Printhead

Sadly the only option that remains is persisting with more cleans, but I recommend leaving a few minutes between cleans to avoid damaging the printhead your of printer. I would however like to warn you that cleaning cycles use a fair amount of ink so don’t be surprised if you notice ink level estimates begin to decrease on all colours.

For the sake of completeness you could always try replacing the cartridge but, print quality problems of this nature are unlikely to be caused by any kind of cartridge defect.

Some of these printers have replacement printerheads available as consumables, most printers however will require the intervention of an engineer to resolve a blocked or dried printhead. Hopefully your printer is in warranty and you can get the printhead exchanged free of charge. Otherwise if you want to carry on using the printer expect to pay £60+ to have the printhead replaced.

I hope you have found this article useful. If however there are any points that need clarification or you have further questions please let me know in the comments below.


About the author

I have been involved in the printer industry since I was 18 and have been an employee of Refresh Cartridges since early 2009. I am a dedicated family man, gamer, music fan and friend to all. I write the majority of the content here on Igloo and am responsible for its upkeep.

Refresh Cartridges

26 comments

  1. Atta

    Thanks Matthew! You left nothing to say about this sort of problem in printers. You helped me to come over with the printer dot printing issue with a bunch of useful info. Thanks again.

  2. GASTON OLIVER FORDE

    I HAVE PURCHASE A CANON PIXMA MG2520 PRINTER AT WAL-MART SINCE JULY 3 2014.AND WHEN I PRINT OUT SOME CARTOON PICTURES FROM WORD PAD THE I SAVED A LOT THERES HORIZONTAL LINES ON IT.ITS DRIVING ME CRAZY MAN.CRAZY.THERE'S NOTHING WRONG WITH THE PRINTER OR THE INK CARTRIDGE.IT'S BRAND NEW WHEN I PURCHASE IT SINCE JULY 3 2014.STUPID DARN HORIZONTAL LINES.MAN I CAN'T GET RID OF IT.ON THE COMPUTER I'VE PRESS THE CLEANING INK CARTRIDGE AND PRINTING THE TEST PAGE JUST TO MAKE SURE THERES NO HORIZONTAL LINES.BUT NOW THERE IS HORIZONTAL LINES THAT I PRINT OUT A TEST PAGE.OH MY GOD.I CAN'T STAND THOSE HORIZONTAL LINES MAN.AND I'M TIRED TAKING MY PRINTER TO WAL-MART TO GET A DIFFERENT PRINTER.IF I GET A DIFFERENT PRINTER IT WILL HAPPEN THE SAME FATE.THESE PEOPLE FROM MILTON'S COMPUTER TELL ME TO GET A CANON PRINTER WITH A GLOSS PHOTO PAPER.SO I DID.BUT WHEN I PRINT OUT THE PICTUIRES ON THE GLOSS PHOTO PAPER THERES HORIZONTAL LINES ON IT.NOW THAT MAKES ME SO MAD.REALLY REALLY MAD.WHAT SHOULD I DO?PLEASE HELP ME.

  3. GASTON OLIVER FORDE

    HOW TO MAKE MY CANON PIXMA MG2520 PRINTER WORKING WITHOUT PRINTING ANY OF THOSE HORIZONTAL LINES ON MY CARTOON PICTURE THAT I SAVED FROM WORD PAD?NOTHING WRONG WITH THE PRINTER OR THE CARTRIDGE.I PURCHASE SINCE JULY 3 2014.I SAVED A LOT OF CARTOON PICTURES FROM WORD PAD.BUT WHEN I PRINT IT OUT THESE DARN HORIZONTAL LINES ARE ON MY PICTURES.I'VE ALREADY CLEAN THE INK CARTRIDGE AND PRINT OUT THE CLEAN TEST PAGE JUST TO MAKE SURE THERE ARE NO HORIZONTAL LINES.BUT IT DIDN'T HELP.ITS STILL THERE ON MY PAPER MAN.I'M TIRED TAKING MY PRINTER TO WAL-MART AND PURCHASE ANOTHER PRINTER THAT PRINT OUT HORIZONTAL LINES.MAN THIS IS PISSING ME OFF.PLEASE HELP ME.WHAT SHOULD I DO?

  4. Ken Parker

    I also confronted with this similar issue but when I cleaned the toner of the cartridge it worked like a charm.

  5. Sarah

    You left nothing to say about this sort of problem in printers

  6. Jack Shaw

    I've got two Epson PX730WD printers and they both show horizontal lines 1" apart. no amount of cleaning will get ride of them. What can I do?

    1. rozepotpourri

      Im beginning to think that its Epson products. Nothing is getting rid of mine either. Going to try the 6 cleanings. I'll keep you posted.

    2. David

      If you've tried all the "maintenance" options and are close to throwing the printer away, try this:
      Open the lid and pull the mains lead out of the printer when the print head is in the middle and is easily accessible.
      Get a piece of kitchen roll and put some solvent (I've just used turpentine substitute on my printer) onto it.
      Put the soaked kitchen roll under where the business end of the print head passes and manually push the print head over it, but be gentle so that the piece of kitchen roll does not tear.
      If the print head wont pass over, pull it back and squash the paper down and try again. Don't force it.
      Push the print head over several times, turning the piece of kitchen roll over each time so that a cleaner bit is facing upwards.
      This can be a messy job so consider using vinyl gloves to handle the inky piece of kitchen roll.
      Remove the piece of kitchen roll, plug the printer in and "print" five of six blank pages onto unwanted printing paper to soak up any remaining solvent. If you get a "paper jam" message, it's probably because of the solvent so mop up as much as you can.
      Once the solvent is mopped up and dried, the printer should, hopefully work better than before.

      I buy old, second hand printers for a few pounds and I get the cheapest ink I can find. More often than not, I can get the printers working and producing decent results after the above procedure.

  7. Dianne

    I have bought a new genuine Kodak printhead for my Kodak printer and the black is still stripy. I am at my wits end with this problem and do not know what to do

  8. A very happy reader

    6 cleaning cycles and our printer was fixed – thank you very much.

  9. Maureen

    I have a HP 2600n printer. I am getting streaks of red through the documents I am printing. I thought it was due to the red print cartridge running low in ink but I am still getting the streaks after I replaced the ink cartridge. Do you know what is wrong.

  10. david

    cleaning procedure mentioned in the second part of the article you can find linked here.

    where is it?

  11. bradly

    i have an epson stylus sx115 and it prints lines through the pictures but text is fine and ive tried all the cleaning procedures am i missing anything ?

  12. Dougie

    Thanks Matthew. I have a strange issue – when I print images on A4 I get one horizontal line about 1.5" from the end of the page running all the way along the sheet. It's one 1 or 1.5mm thick line. If I'm printing black it is just a white line, if in colour it seems to vary; but it's only ever one line, always in the same place on the sheet. I'd have thought, if it was a nozzle blockage that it would effect the whole page, so what could it be? I'm thinking some kind of print setting, but don't know what it could be. Any ideas?

    1. T.Cameron

      I seem to have the same problem with my Canon S900 . It started producing a horizontal line where you describe when using A4 photo paper. A light flashed telling me I needed my waste ink tank emptied…not something I could do so it was sent off to the authorised agent. This inc. postage was £100. When it came back it printed satisfactorily BUT 5 prints later the same fault has occurred. It seems to be OK on 6 x 4 paper.
      Any ideas

  13. Eddie Collins

    i get horizontal lines across A4 photos when printing full page but it is ok on 10×15 or 5×7, I have gone through the maintenance procedure four times and cleaned the nearly new cartridges with cotton bud to no avail. When I scan a photo it prints of nice and clear !!

  14. Dai Workman

    I have an Epson printer that prints horizontal blank bars every 20mm. But only when I copy a document. It prints perfectly directly from the PC. Have you any sugestions Matthew? I have run head cleaning and nozzles check numerous times and have also installed new cartridges.

  15. Yvonne

    I have a question: my Epson WF-3530 leaves 2 horizontal lines, but not with ink. It’s as if something is scraping along, very lightly, but hard enough to leave it’s mark when viewed at an angle. I doubt print head cleaning will solve this. Any suggestions? ( sorry if I’m in the wrong area for questions, as it says ‘leave a reply’.) Yvonne

  16. Gill Lowther

    Dear Matthew, I have been successfully colour printing a calendar on double-sided matte paper using the 'quality inkjet' setting. But in 2 of the tables in Word the printer produces a black line (2 different thicknesses and places in 2 different months). But the line does not appear in the print preview (or the original) if it is set at 'plain paper'. The rest of the months, however, print without a line in the quality inkjet setting, which is the one I always use. I have tried all the other settings, and it is the same. I am completely at a loss as to how to get rid of the lines. Could you possibly advise me? Many thanks Gill.

  17. Christina Jorgensen

    My printer has been printing lines in the background through my pictures…. it looks like lines on a notebook paper but black lines. It only happened with pictures… how can I fix this?

  18. Sue

    Extremely helpful – thank you!

  19. dino

    Good day,

    i need help regarding my printer ( hp desk-jet 2515), it only prints horizontal lines, even when i print a picture,the picture is printed but horizontal lines are also printed above it,, i don’t know why, when i print letters, the letter is printed but above it is a long bold horizontal lines, and if you print letters in size 8,,there’s nothing printed but horizontal lines.its very annoying,,is my cartridge broken or there a problem with my printer?. please help me.

  20. Hillary hansen

    Thank you for the information. I am so frustrated by this constant striping I get on my printouts- AND I JUST PUT IN BRAND NEW INK. So then I proceed to waste my ink by cleaning the printer head!! Ugh

  21. Andrew Jones

    Hi I’m getting faint horizontal black lines printed for a few millimetres at each end of the printed page in or close to the border area. These lines do not appear elsewhere. No amount of cleaning will cure this. This occurs with read feed using a medium weight photo paper. The printer is a Canon MG5520.

    Any suggestions what I can do?

  22. Magan

    From the time I purchased my Epson Stylus C88 it has printed black evenly spaced horizontal lines through my documents. I have done multiple cleanings, alignments, new cartridges, reinstalled the driver, tried different settings, reset the printer, etc. When I called Epson they said it probably had to do with the fact that I used generic cartridges. Does anyone know how I can stop this. Maybe a way to turn off the monitoring ink. I have seen videos but I do not have the option under maintenance to disable. Maybe someone has made a driver to override the Epson driver? I need to print my resume. Thanks for any help in advance.

  23. Rupert

    Hi Magan. I am having exactly the same problem with a D88 I bought second hand. I have printed with D88’s before and never come across this problem until now. Have tried realigning cleaning etc, all to no avail. I hope someone can help us to solve this as the D88 is an excellent printer normally.

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