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Author Topic: Epson 4900 clogging and might need printhead replaced! Less than 2 years old!  (Read 10696 times)
rotipom
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« on: April 04, 2013, 11:52:17 AM »
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Dear folks,

I just got some really distressing news. My Epson 4900 has a clogged VLM/LC channel and after various time attempts at cleaning/power cleaning and letting it sit overnight, it's not coming back to life. I called Epson and they told me I need to get a tech out for service. I have NO extended warranty Sad

They are telling me it's $275 just to have a look at it for an hour onsite and then there's $1700 worth of replacement parts that might need to go in, $1300 of which is the print head. I just cannot understand how I would need to spend almost how much I paid for the printer less than 2 years after I bought it. A PRO printer. My 2400 I bought USED on craigslist is still purring and giving me NO trouble.

I am about to break down and have a cry. Of course all this is in the middle of a project dateline and I can't do anything without it.

Any suggestions about what I can do?

Thank you so much in advance...
Amy
« Last Edit: April 04, 2013, 11:53:57 AM by rotipom » Logged
jrsforums
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« Reply #1 on: April 04, 2013, 01:00:55 PM »
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Dear folks,

I just got some really distressing news. My Epson 4900 has a clogged VLM/LC channel and after various time attempts at cleaning/power cleaning and letting it sit overnight, it's not coming back to life. I called Epson and they told me I need to get a tech out for service. I have NO extended warranty Sad

They are telling me it's $275 just to have a look at it for an hour onsite and then there's $1700 worth of replacement parts that might need to go in, $1300 of which is the print head. I just cannot understand how I would need to spend almost how much I paid for the printer less than 2 years after I bought it. A PRO printer. My 2400 I bought USED on craigslist is still purring and giving me NO trouble.

I am about to break down and have a cry. Of course all this is in the middle of a project dateline and I can't do anything without it.

Any suggestions about what I can do?

Thank you so much in advance...
Amy

Amy...

By the time you add labor to install the head, it will be over $2,000...and no guarantee that it works.

First, depending on how close you are to two years and assuming you bought with a credit card that supplies extended warranty, you should initiate a claim. 

Cleaning, even power, on the 4900 does not seem to suck enough ink to clean a bad clog.  I, personally, have found that using the "initial charge" function in the service program will clear it....but it does use up a lot of ink.  Where the cleaning can be done in pairs, the initial charge can only be done for the entire left or right bank of carts....and it pumps 25-30 times the amount of ink....which actually is good for the clogged nozzles, bad for the clean ones which just "waste" ink.

Service manual can be found here:
http://www.2manuals.com/product_info.php?products_id=1250

Service program:
http://www.2manuals.com/product_info.php?manufacturers_id=10&products_id=1365

No guaranties, but worth trying before throwing out and replacing.  I had written mine off, so was willing to try anything....to get completed, I did have to get a few carts and waste cart as some were/got too low and the waste got full.
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JeffW
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« Reply #2 on: April 04, 2013, 07:26:29 PM »
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I am sorry to say it but welcome to the club. I to had a clog that would not budge for quite some time. My resolve was to use windex under the head on a paper towel. I did this about three or four times. Unfortunately, it did create a situation where it pulled a lot of ink out of the head and I think created a situation where there was either air or the line had cavitated above the head. At this point I had nearly half of each head missing. What I did was to do a normal head cleaning everyday for about a month and every day I would gain back two or three dots. After several weeks of this I finally got back to running.

To do it again, I would use the windex under the head, but not leave it as long for each time.

Also, the times where a clog occurred were when the humidity dropped below 40% in the room. So now I keep a humidifier in the room as well as a gauge. When it drops below 40 I have to fire up the humidifier. I know, a big pain the ..... 

I am an amateur photographer and don't run a lot of prints. The threads on here suggest to run lots of prints. Myself, I try not to go more than two days without at least printing a test.

My 4900 does remind me of "The Little Shop of Horrors"

I hope this helps, best of luck to you.
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #3 on: April 04, 2013, 10:20:02 PM »
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I would not spend the kind of money they are talking about on a two year old printer unless they guarantee their repair work for at least a year, which they likely will NOT. If push comes to shove buy a new printer and an extended service warranty.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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Wayne Fox
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« Reply #4 on: April 05, 2013, 12:46:01 AM »
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If you perform a power clean, followed by printing a page that contains a fair amount of color so every nozzle is needed to make the print, followed by a nozzle check, are the missing nozzles identical? While identical missing nozzles does not mean it is a head problem, a head problem will pretty much always show that symptom.

Normally when the head breaks down it is the LK/LLK nozzles that are the first to go (about 50% of the ink on every page is from those two colors so those nozzles get driven far more than any others in the machine), so the fact it is another color is somewhat encouraging. Before windex, the normal course of action for me is distilled water.  Note that anything moist will suck ink through any nozzles that aren't clogged, and if your issue is air in the line and not clogged nozzles (most missing nozzles are not from clogs but from air) soaking will do nothing.  I don't ever soak the head for more than 5 to 10 minutes ...I don't think longer really helps.  I will do a head clean after soaking, then print a page with a lot of color so hopefully every nozzle gets used ( I think I posted a cleaning page I use on another thread a month or so ago), then a nozzle check.  Often the head is worse after this process so it may take a couple of more cleans.

If the water doesn't get it, then windex may be OK, but I think windex can also kill a head.  I would use it carefully and make sure there is no power to the printer.

Regarding the post about using init fill, I've never tried this but I have heard of it helping others.  The basic idea is it is forcing so much ink through the printer the ink itself can help dissolve clogs and supposedly it uses more pressure than a cleaning.



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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #5 on: April 05, 2013, 06:47:07 AM »
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Hi Wayne, your advice about printing between cleanings is correct and something I have been advising forum members for years ever since an Epson technical support person advised me to adopt this practice. It is also possible that the OP's issue is trapped air, which can happen as a result of one power clean after another without printing in between. But this should be recoverable. If after testing the clean-print-clean-print routine several times, the head is still not producing a completely satisfactory nozzle check, it may well be advisable to replace the printer - I hope for the OP's sake this will not be necessary.
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Jeffery Salter
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« Reply #6 on: April 05, 2013, 08:06:30 AM »
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Hi Amy,

I recently had the same problem with my 2 year old Epson 4900.  I wasn't able to turn on my printer for 2 months.  When I booted it up all the inks were clogged.  I did several power flushing and such from the panel.   I had the same response from Epson...

This is what worked.  I went to inkjetmall and purchased empty cartidges to go with a PiezoFlush Cleaning Kits.  The site has several videos on it on how to fill empty cartridges with the cleaning fluid.  I ran my Epson printer with the flush and now it's printing beautifully.

Inkjetmall is run by Jon Cone.  He is an expert on ink and printing.  If you are nervous about this give them a phone call.  They were very helpful.

Good luck and make some great prints.

regards,
Jeffery
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John Caldwell
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« Reply #7 on: April 05, 2013, 08:48:19 AM »
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Following with interest, my 4900 reminds me who's in charge each time I leave the printer unused for more than say, one hour. Just kidding, but 1-2 days is pretty close to the truth. So when the last minute came to decide on the $500 two-year warranty extension I went for it, and plan the same on our 9900 - although $1200 is the cost for that warranty extension.

I learned something here from jsrforums about the initial charge concept. I hadn't thought of Jon Cone's flush system either. Good ideas and probably better than throwing the printer away. As others have said, the $2000 repair makes no sense, as I see it.

I'll tell you, our HP Z3200 NEVER clogged, and now that we are running both 4900 & 9900 machines I have mixed feelings about switching brands. Then there is the Canon option...

John Caldwell
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deanwork
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« Reply #8 on: April 05, 2013, 03:25:31 PM »
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Before you throw the printer away you should definitely try putting the Cone Flush Fluid in one of their refillable ink cars for that printer. This stuff fixed a printer for me that nothing else would fix.

Then do  one or two power cleanings which takes the flush fluid through the system and into the lines and head. Let that sit there for about 12-24 hours. They try to print a test pattern with all the colors in it. Do that several times. Then try the nozzle check. This may solve your problem. If it doesn't the head my indeed need replacing which is more than what the printer is worth unfortunately. This printer has a much worse track record for these kinds of terminal head failures than the 3880 unit.

john
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #9 on: April 05, 2013, 04:05:50 PM »
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...........This printer has a much worse track record for these kinds of terminal head failures than the 3880 unit.

john

"Track record" - who knows - we don't have access to Epson's global maintenance data base. But my experience tells me the 3800 could sit for a year unused and still work properly; not so with a 4900. The heads can't be compared, however - different animals and along with that, different issues.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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Tom Montgomery
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« Reply #10 on: April 05, 2013, 07:27:59 PM »
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FWIW, my 4900 used to need power cleans every few weeks, until I put a humidifier into the room to maintain relative humidity at 50%. Since then I have not had a single head clog, and it has been more than 12 months, sometimes going as long as a week between printing sessions.
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #11 on: April 05, 2013, 07:38:43 PM »
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FWIW, my 4900 used to need power cleans every few weeks, until I put a humidifier into the room to maintain relative humidity at 50%. Since then I have not had a single head clog, and it has been more than 12 months, sometimes going as long as a week between printing sessions.


Tom, this is a critical point, as the two major causal factors of head clogs with this printer are inadequate use and inadequate humidity. My room is typically plus/minus 40% (i.e. still within Epson specs) and I find I need to print at least every three days to avoid clogs.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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John Caldwell
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« Reply #12 on: April 05, 2013, 07:44:10 PM »
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FWIW, my 4900 used to need power cleans every few weeks, until I put a humidifier into the room to maintain relative humidity at 50%. Since then I have not had a single head clog, and it has been more than 12 months, sometimes going as long as a week between printing sessions.


Tom, In what proximity to the printer do you place the humidifier? By humidifier, I guess you're speaking about an active, rather than passive, unit.

If this issue of relative humidity is the potent point that it's discussed to be, what don't the printers have built-in humidifiers local to the head assembly? It would make much more engineering sense, in my mind, to put the moisture where it's needed rather than in the entire room around a printer. No? It is the head and, in specific, the piezo nozzles than require the moisture - correct?

Thanks, Tom.

John-
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #13 on: April 05, 2013, 07:49:29 PM »
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Tom, In what proximity to the printer do you place the humidifier? By humidifier, I guess you're speaking about an active, rather than passive, unit.

If this issue of relative humidity is the potent point that it's discussed to be, what don't the printers have built-in humidifiers local to the head assembly? It would make much more engineering sense, in my mind, to put the moisture where it's needed rather than in the entire room around a printer. No? It is the head and, in specific, the piezo nozzles than require the moisture - correct?

Thanks, Tom.

John-


Captivating idea, but perhaps there are operationally significant design factors and implications?
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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orchidblooms
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« Reply #14 on: April 05, 2013, 09:19:10 PM »
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AMY....

My 4900 was just down for the count literally...

Flashing 4000 codes and 'print tubes near end of life warnings'...

Fact is it sat for 7 weeks unused and simply would not print - or clean

****************************************************

works perfectly 30 hours later...

here is what i did...

uses very coarse not linty sams club commercial type paper towells...( the type that go into chrome wall dispensers)  and ammonia... (non-sudsey)

fire up the 4900 and when the head starts to move - pull the power cord from the unit...

then open the top -

lay the paper towel - 2 layers  is what i used - soaked, in ammonia on the bottom of the tray area - then pull the head over the paper towell - gently lifting the head if needed...

close lid - let sit for 8 hours minn

clean the mess up after moving head back - i passed head over dry paper to get blobs of ink off...

then do test print pattern...

i had to do this 3 times over 30 hours

1x general clean

1x left 2 nozzles
1x r 2 nozzels

no power clean...

back to 100%

used my eschenbach led magnifier to inspect each test head print until i was clear, that the heads were indeed clear...

you could also use plain old windex, ammonia based - not the new flavors of windex... original...

best of luck

Smiley

Phil
« Last Edit: April 05, 2013, 09:26:40 PM by orchidblooms » Logged
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« Reply #15 on: April 05, 2013, 11:29:54 PM »
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Exactly, one clogs and the other doesn't. One has a good design and the other doesn't. And we don't need Epson's data base to figure that out.




"Track record" - who knows - we don't have access to Epson's global maintenance data base. But my experience tells me the 3800 could sit for a year unused and still work properly; not so with a 4900. The heads can't be compared, however - different animals and along with that, different issues.
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #16 on: April 06, 2013, 06:00:34 AM »
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Exactly, one clogs and the other doesn't. One has a good design and the other doesn't. And we don't need Epson's data base to figure that out.





John, yes to an extent, but two considerations. (1) There is anecdotal evidence and scientific evidence. And (2) there can be different design purposes with different trade-offs. Epson has not been exactly forthcoming on the latter point, but bit by bit, even from them informally, evidence has developed that this is a significant factor.

A moment on factor (1), the anecdotal evidence so far is quite clear that the 3800/3880 design is very much less clog-prone than the 4900 design. But what really matters is the overall user experience on a large number of units, and only Epson has that information. It makes a difference to one's perception of reliability if the fatal clog rate, for sake of argument, were 2% or 20% - we don't know. As a consumer, I'd buy at 2% but not at 20%, because the risk differs hugely.

Turning to consideration (2), having produced such a successful design in the 3800/3880, why several years later produce a machine that arguably performs less well in this respect? They aren't dumb so there had to be a reason. As far as I can put it together, the reason is that the printhead is designed with twice as many nozzles per sq.in., (yet more dot placement accuracy), the lines are much longer because of the machine design to accommodate a roll holder and larger ink tanks - in other words - the 4900 is a higher-end production machine, and from what I've heard, incorporated these design features with the intent and presumption of the machine being used at high frequency. Any design has a set of a assumptions and trade-offs, and I think we now know what they are comparing the 4900 and 3800/3880.

The upshot is that people who will print infrequently, don't need a roll-holder, live in drier climates without humidifiers and don't need the latest and greatest colour gamut Epson offers should buy a 3880. People with the opposite conditions should buy a 4900. Assuming what I'm saying here is correct, I think it would have been in Epson's longer-term interest to have made all this very clear to the market from the get-go.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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« Reply #17 on: April 06, 2013, 08:16:14 AM »
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If you're going to make a comparison based on those larger design parameters and decisions then you should really be comparing the 4900 to the 4880. And anecdotally from searching these forums and my and others experiences with the 4880, it seems the x900/xx90 have far more problems than their predecessors. The printer I use for larger pieces observes  this also. That of his collection of 7880, 9880, 11880, and 9900 the 9900 consistently gives the most trouble/hassle.

Which seems to be contrary to Epson marketing claims that clogging is virtually eliminated on the x900's.
« Last Edit: April 06, 2013, 08:20:03 AM by nairb » Logged
Mark D Segal
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« Reply #18 on: April 06, 2013, 09:09:12 AM »
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If you're going to make a comparison based on those larger design parameters and decisions then you should really be comparing the 4900 to the 4880.

You can compare different things for different purposes. The discussion above your post was meant to discuss an observation of two 17 inch models of recent vintage, one of which appears to have much less clog issues than the other, so then the question becomes - why, and what design decisions were made for what purposes in each case. If you want to compare a 4900 to 4880, that's fine in its own right, but doesn't invalidate the other.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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« Reply #19 on: April 06, 2013, 07:19:30 PM »
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Tom, In what proximity to the printer do you place the humidifier? By humidifier, I guess you're speaking about an active, rather than passive, unit.


John - the printer lives in the same room as my computers, which is 11'x13' (3.5x4 meters), so it is easy to keep the whole room at the proper humidity with a smallish, quiet humidifier. In fact, the humidifier sits about 6 feet from the printer. Yes, it is an active unit, but I made the selection for least fan noise.

Living in southern Quebec I find that I only need to run it in the winter. Lately, low humidity during the summer hasn't been a problem!
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