Remove and Unclog Epson Printhead

It’s not uncommon for a printer’s printhead to get clogged occasionally. Today I’ll be going over how to remove and subsequently unclog the printhead for an Epson WP 4540 model printhead. I also have a video accompaniment to this explanation, which you can view on my YouTube channel by clicking this link. The printer used in the demonstration belonged to a real estate company and had been sitting in storage for a few years before I filmed this video.

After running the printer’s built-in printhead cleaning function a few times, I found that the magenta and black printheads were still clogged. These clogs persisted after we wet the printhead with a cleaning agent. That led me to the conclusion that the printhead needed to be removed and put through a deep cleaning process. Only professionals should attempt this method. Do not try this at home, as you may permanently damage the printhead.

When you open the cartridge door to access it, the printer will raise a white lock to block the cartridge from moving and hold it in place. To get around this, you need to disconnect the printer from its power source before it can raise the white lock. Ensure the cartridge assembly can move freely after you open the door.

If you’re good at doing detailed work with very restricted space, then you can follow these steps to remove the printhead without taking apart the entire printer.

Step one: take off the cartridge cover.

Step two: remove the screws holding the electronic ribbon and ink supply line, then lift them off.

Step three: after removing them, take out the four screws holding the printhead in place.

Step four: remove the printhead from the body of the printer.

For those who aren’t as skilled at working in small spaces, removing the printhead will be a lot more complicated. To begin, you will need a large Phillips head screwdriver to open the case and a smaller Phillips head screwdriver for the printhead. A magnetizer/demagnetizer would also come in handy, but it's not necessary.

Remove the Cover

Find a hole with a little white knob on the corner and use your finger to press the knob in. You should then be able to pop up the top cover. Next, locate and remove the three screws on the front. Towards the right, you should also be able to see two wires. One will be a black ground wire, and the other will be a red-and-black wire for the door trigger. I recommend taking a picture of them so you’ll have a reference for their correct locations when you need to put them back later. There will also be an electronic ribbon to disconnect.

Now move to the back of the printer and remove the top screws and the top and bottom screws from the back wire plate. Take a picture of the wire bundles so you’ll have a reference for the sequence when you need it later. You may also want to make a checklist. From top to bottom, pull out four white/gray wires, three gray wires, three black wires, and two red and black wire bundles. Then unscrew and disconnect the black ground wire.

Now, the Front

Return to the front of the printer and disconnect the red and black door trigger wire. The top unit is now completely disconnected, and you should be able to separate that from the rest of the printer. On the back of the printer, remove the four screws holding the box cover in place. Remove the two screws on the front cartridge box and another screw on the top right.

Remove the cartridge door, and you should see two more screws holding the box cover in place. Remove those two screws as well, then remove the box cover. Using the smaller Phillips head screwdriver, remove the two screws from the top of the printhead. Disconnect the electronic ribbons. After removing four more screws, you should be able to take the printhead out.

In the demonstration, I gave the printhead a hot water shower after removing it from the printer. The cyan and yellow ink came out okay, but the magenta and black were still clogged. I broke a needle to make a DIY unclogging tool for flushing out the printhead, then gave it a hot steam bath. At this point, I noted that the black color had completely unclogged. The magenta also began to unclog at this point, but it still needed some work.

Clean the Printhead

Next, put the printhead in a bowl, and pour in about ¼ of an inch of cleaning solution. You only need enough to cover the bottom of the bowl completely. Don't submerge any of the printhead’s electronic components in the cleaning solution. Doing so can cause them to short out, permanently damaging the printhead beyond use.

An ultrasonic cleaner can further loosen debris or dried ink particles clogging the printhead. Make sure the ultrasonic cleaner you use comes with a plastic basket, as you should never have the printhead on the steel bottom of it while cleaning.

After one last steam bath, the clogs should be gone altogether. Reverse the disassembly process to put everything back together, and then you should be able to go back to printing as much as you want. 

Sep 7th 2022

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