Mend-it Monday: Ink or Bin


Our (T)rusty HP Printer

About 15 years ago, Chez Snail traded in its old HP printer for a new HP printer. The old printer no longer fed paper through, but after two years of “encouraging” it (sanding the rollers, tightening things up etc.) this wasn’t surprising. I would love to have had it repaired, or repaired it myself, but at that time, I couldn’t. So, reluctantly, we traded it in (there was a deal at Staples at the time) and bought our HP C6180.

And, as you want with your printer, it basically just worked for the next 15 years, very boring, very reliable. We fed it with scrap paper, nice new paper and photopaper. We kept it watered with genuine HP ink, because we’re nice like that.

Now it appears HP have made our printer obsolete. I mean, they haven’t supported it as such for about a decade, but now they seemed to have stopped making the ink cartridges for it. This isn’t a trial since there are a plethora of “compatible” cartridges out in the world, but being forced into the situation is quite galling.

We bought the 100% compatible cartridges and put one in. This is where it all becomes messy, but not in an ink-all-over-your-arm way. The printer decided it was having none of it and came up with a failure error, a long nasty-looking error number (in hexadecimal to scare you more – fortunately, I can still think in hex when the need arises, so I wasn’t put off) and then refused to print.

Well, the simple solution was to put the old cartridge back in and muddle through: old cartridge replaced, printer turned-off-and-on again et voilΓ ! Same error message. What had been a printer 30 seconds before was now, apparently, a rather large doorstop, and not even a nice coloured one at that.

Now, I am a chilled person at heart and maybe, just maybe, I would have given up at that point, made up some new swear words, and ordered a new printer online – they are insanely cheap these days. But, these are these days – days where we have eaten our way through the planet’s resources whilst systematically removing the right or the skill to repair and thus stopping the need to use up more precious materials.

Online I went, and after several encounters with clickbait sites (claiming to know how to fix your problem but at a price including your bank details), I found a solution (although this sequence of actions was the solution to a slightly different problem, in fact). A really easy solution:

  1. Switch the printer on
  2. Hold down left arrow and help buttons
  3. Press OK
  4. Use the right arrow to move through to the Hardware Failure status menu
  5. Click OK
  6. Click OK (this clears the hardware failure error)
  7. Click Cancel until you have exited all these hidden menus
  8. Restart the printer

Now we have a printer that still works and we should be able to get cartridges at least for a bit longer. Nice of HP to mention that this is a fix to it not liking non-HP cartridges, right? Nowhere does HP seem to refer to this menu, nowhere that I can find, including the original documentation that came with the printer. It’s almost like they don’t want you to sort it out, isn’t it?

A Mend-it Monday that required no physical tools, just bloody-mindedness and the internet. As there were no pictures, here’s one of Daisy being cute:



Categories: computers, repair, Sustainable Stuff | Tags: | 21 Comments

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21 thoughts on “Mend-it Monday: Ink or Bin

  1. Man, I was going to tell you that the code was on the internet, but you got to it fast!!! I ran into something similar with Epson (printer running for 17 years now). I find the internet and Youtube indispensable for funky repairs (put a new gearshift on my old Volvo last year and got the matching part when the dealership wanted to charge $300 and put in a part that didn’t match). Good for you. Keep that thing running for another 10 years…Daisy is adorable.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, I refuse to be dictated to by an overzealous piece of firmware!! BTW, that’s quite a thing to do, change the gearshift on a car, and one that isn’t supposed to work either! πŸ™‚


  2. Does that procedure work for ANY HP printer, do you suppose? Only I’ve been slavishly buying the genuine cartridges instead of the recycled ones because I don’t speak hexadecimal and am easily intimidated by aggressive hardware and long error messages…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I think we had the very same one and I applied the same (or vary similar) sequence of black magic keys in order to overcome some stubbon error.
    Sadly, after some time another problem occurred and my (less patient) partner decided he wanted a new printer. I felt so bad to buy a new printer. I think the non-original cartridges result in some issue in time (we had some, including the messy ink scenario).
    I hope the law is passed for the “right to repair”.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sometimes the cartridge ink can block up heads or tubes (depends on the type of printer) but normally it is just the firmware in the printer that is the problem. This was never a thing until this century I think. Black magic is still very much required in 21st century IT! πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

      Liked by 1 person

      • I wonder whether some of the compatible cartridges are of a lower quality and cause issues . Anyway, sadly I don’t have the printer anymore .
        Thanks for fighting your way to extend the life of yours πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Even if we don’t have the right to repair, we are going to do it!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. claire93

    big applause for stubbornly getting on with this repair job! I agree that nowadays things seem to be made to break down, forcing us to buy new, since it often works out more expensive to find the spare part to repair than to replace the entire appliance.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Going Batty in Wales

    I had a similar problem with an old printer when I used compatibles and was told by my (usually reliable and repair minded) computer fixer man that it was ruined. Now I am wondering – but too late as it has gone to the tip and been replaced. But it did bug me that a fairly new machine was useless. I shall ask you next time!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, it may have been irreparable, it just depends. Most of the time, a firmware issue (so a deliberate flag set to stop it working) can be cleared, but compatible ink has, in the past, had clogging/quality issues associated with it. These days, the cartridges are all pretty standard and I suspect are probably made in the same place. πŸ˜‚

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Claire Roulin

    I had the same for my last printer…an error message warning me about the risk of overflowing ink pad, therefore refusing to print. Thanks to the magic sequence found on the internet, I made it work 2 extra years! Nothing could be done for the automatic feeding though, and I print a lot for work, so I did purchase a new one in the end

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sadly, even the best printer can’t stop mechanically wearing out – it would be nice if manufacturers provided new rollers and parts that do wear out so they could be replaced! Well done on getting an extra two years out of the printer though, good work! 😁


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