The Digital Photo Guy

Servicing an Ink Jet Printer

by on May.30, 2010, under Monday Morning Tips, Photo Editing

When It Rains, Everything Goes to *&#! in a Handbasket

A month ago, I shot myself in the foot while making changes to my network. In the process, I nearly lost 100,000 photos I keep on-line. I had just recovered from that when my primary printer went into cardiac arrest.

This is an undocumented feature in Epson printers associated with head cleaning cycles. Each cycle pumps waste ink onto an absorbent pad in the bottom of the printer. After a number of cleanings, the printer stops working until the pad is replaced and the error message is reset. The solution is a 2-step process.

First, you need to do something about more waste ink. The saturated pad can be left there but you can’t keep adding more waste ink or you’ll eventually have mess on your desk, hands, carpet and anything else within reach of the ink overflow. The attached photo is the answer.

This is an Epson R1800, my favorite 13×19 printer when coupled with MIS pigment ink and Calumet Photo Brilliant Supreme Lustre paper. Other Epson printers will have similar setups. You can buy an exploded parts diagram at the site below. I bought silicon air hose and T-connectors at the local pet store. I only bought the T-connectors because they didn’t have straight connectors. The waste tube was disconnected at the small white keeper seen in the photo. Using the T-connectors, I spliced in an 18″ section of the new tubing. Then, because I didn’t have anything to plug the 3rd connector on the T, I used a short (1″) section of tube to connect the 2 T-connectors. It doesn’t do anything except keep the waste ink in the plumbing. BE SURE to have enough tbing to place the waste bottle well below the printer. If it’s too high, the back pressure may damage the pump in the printer. I also cut a small channel at the bottom of the right side cover for the tubes. The bottles are just old bulk ink bottles from MIS but you can use anything like a small Tupperware container. Be sure to punch a small vent in the cover of the bottle or the air pressure may cause problems. In case ink leaks from the vent hole, I placed the bottles in a small plastic container.

To remove the side cover, I needed to remove the back cover. That was just 5 easily accessed screws. The side cover is a bit tricky and you’ll probably break a plastic tab or two but that’s no big deal.

Next, you need a small program called Epson XX Printer Adjustment Program (replace XX with your model) from an obscure Ukranian site called run by Evgen Semenov in the city of Severodonetsk. For US$9.99, it’s a deal. While Evgen can be trusted, I would use a credit card through PayPal in case his neighbor is not so trustworthy. This program allows you to reset the error message inside the Epson printer. Hint- DO NOT muck with the other settings The site is not exactly a paragon of “user friendliness” so use the Quick Find (search) box in the upper left. This is also where you can buy an exploded parts diagram of your printer if it’s not an R1800.

After installing the adjustment program, DO NOT muck with any of the other adjustments unless you happen to be an Epson printer technician. This program can completely kill your printer if you do the wrong thing. You are essentially using a jackhammer to dice onions, do the wrong thing and your kitchen is history.

That’s all. After everything is buttoned up, run a cleaning cycle to ensure there are no leaks. The amount of ink in the bottle will blow your mind. That’s one of the major reasons I decided to use a 3rd party CIS (continuous ink system). I bought an empty system from and filled it with MIS inks.

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2 Comments for this entry

  • Dick

    Hi Lee,
    I use the Epson R800, little brother to yours. What product did you use from Anything that saves on ink costs without giving up quality I’m all for.

    • Lee

      I used this empty CIS from I noticed it’s gone up in price. I believe it was about $90 when I bought it a few years ago.

      For the R800, you just need to open the small maintenance panel on the back left and pull out the white plastic tube. It only has one tube instead of 2 like the R1800.

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