"I have an Epson Stylus 800 printer which is only used infrequently. I seem to have a problem with some of the jets clogging up after a while producing a banding effect and/or a blurring of text.
The built in cleaning cycle does not clear the problem. Running the head over a pad soaked in Isopropyl Alcohol clears the problem, but after a week or so things start getting bad again.
The user manual does not mention the need to change any cleaning pads. How does the cleaning cycle work and are there any checks or adjustments which might improve things?"
(From: Paul Grohe (firstname.lastname@example.org).)
Inkjet printers do not like 'infrequent' use. They need to be 'exercised' every once and a while. Use 'em or loose 'em!
I'm not familiar with the Epson products, but on the HP DeskJets, there is a little rubber "seat" that the cartridge sits on when it is 'parked'. If it is gummed-up or damaged, it can cause the cartridge to slowly dry out.
The HP's have a little oval-shaped rubber 'do-hikey' that seals the area around the ink jets. It generally gets gummed up with dry ink, and does not seal completely anymore.
Check and see if there is something similar that covers the print head when it is not in use.
The "banding" can also occur as the cartridge starts getting towards the end of it's life. Also try cleaning the contact areas with a soft cloth. Poor contacts can cause similar problems.
If large ink droplets are forming on the head during printing, this is a sign of poor contacts or a physically damaged head.
However, most of the time it is caused by "clots" in the areas supplying the jets, or in the jets themselves. Sometimes soaking the jets in a tray of alcohol or water for a while can dissolve these "clots", but the success rate is not that great. Better to fix the root of the problem.
BTW: Avoid turning the cartridge upside-down. Always hold it so gravity pulls the ink down to the jets and keeps them primed. Turning it upside-down can allow air to be drawn back into the jets.
Then again, it may be time for a new cartridge!