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Old printers can go bad in a number of ways, including print heads, cartridges, and more. Here are a few troubleshooting steps to go through.

When I try to print something, it comes out blank only in the middle. Yea, my hprinter is very old and I've changed the ink but there's still no solution. Until I get a new one, what's wrong with my printer?

In this excerpt from Answercast #26, I look at an old printer that is leaving a blank area in the middle of the page; this could be caused by a number of different things.

Printer not printing well

Well, like you said, it's kinda old. There could be a bunch of different things that are wrong with it. You also haven't indicated whether it's a laser printer or an inkjet printer, which can actually make a difference depending on which of those it is.

The kind of scenario that you're describing, where things are blank in the middle of a page, are typically (to me at least) the signs of an aging laser jet printer. It's where I've seen it the most often.


What you have done so far: changing ink, changing the cartridges, changing the laser jet cartridge, those are all good things to do.

The other thing I would suggest you do:

  • Most printers have a mechanism for cleaning the print head, or for cleaning the drums;

  • Find and run that.

I would suggest you look up the documentation for your printer. See if you can get that process to happen. It usually requires running a small application on your PC: an application that typically came with the printer. Since your printer's rather old, you may have to go find it on the printer manufacturer's website.

Mechanical cleaning

That application will initiate a cleaning cycle on the printer, which will cause it to do a few things internally: to clean print head; and to clean the internal mechanism of the printer.

Outside of that, I don't really have a good solution for you.

  • That typically takes care of it like nine times out of ten.

  • That, and changing the inkjet cartridges or the laser jet drum.

Other than that (since you look like you are in the process of getting a new printer), that would be my recommended solution. Printers these days are so incredibly inexpensive that you could spend a lot more time and energy on solving this particular problem than it's really worth.

Article C5456 - June 13, 2012 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

Ken B
June 13, 2012 2:54 PM

I guess it also depends on the poster's definition of "the middle of the page". My guess is that he means there's a blank vertical stripe on the resulting page. (As opposed to, say, a blank horizontal stripe, or a section somewhere in the actual "middle" of the page, completely surrounded by good printing.) Again, the next question is what type of printer. For a laser printer, perhaps there's something stuck to the center of the printer drum, preventing toner from sticking to it.

I can't imagine that it would be an ink cartridge problem, since it prints just fine elsewhere on the page. I have seen things get jammed between the print head and the paper, however.

June 15, 2012 1:07 PM

I've noticed that when my ink cartridge is running very low, pages will print fine at the top, become fainter toward the middle, with nothing at center page, gradually fading back in after the middle, and print fine at the bottom. MY issue is resolved simply by replacing the cartridge. But it IS interesting that the phenomenon even occurs. It certainly does not make any sense.

June 15, 2012 7:02 PM

Troubleshooting section of the manual can help. One thing I found there that can help with Lasers (min's a Brother) is cleaning a window in the top of the bay where the cartridge/drum go. This is where the laser beam gets to the drum. If it is obscured by toner (or anything) it causes a vertical band on the printout.

Ron Macpherson
June 17, 2012 4:25 AM

Like all computer hardware, Printers have evolved exponentially. The writer says he has an old printer so perhaps now is the time to invest in a NEW one with many money saving improvements.

For example my Epson 500 which cost me about $75 has a feature in which the printhead is covered when not in use. This prevents the ink from drying out. As well it has simple copying feature which allows you to copy any document in seconds. A quick link allows you to use black ink only for plain text as well as black ink plus photo and of course various colour ink choices.

Cartridges are very cheap now from companys in Canada or the U.S. I pay $5 per cartridge and the upgrade to a new printer has saved me money from trying to fix my old one. I suggest you do the same.

Alan Jones
June 20, 2012 1:15 AM

When printing a document containing graphs, my Cannon MP 540 has suddenly decided not to print the contents of the graph - making the document totally useless. Any ideas please?

June 20, 2012 7:33 AM

A good troubleshooting step would be to use a PDF printer and print the document to a pdf file. If it prints properly to the pdf, then you can at least eliminate the possibility that something has changed or gone wrong with your word processing software, and focus on the printer, printer settings and/or driver.

A good pdf printing software is CutePDF. Leo has an article on that here:

CutePDF Writer - Create PDFs from any application that can print.

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