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When to Run an Inkjet Nozzle Check / How to Understand a Nozzle Check

Learn how to run a nozzle check on your inkjet printer and then how to understand it.

The nozzle check is an often-forgotten maintenance tool that has surprising utility and power. Its primary function is to give you visual evidence that the print head nozzle is working properly.


Run a nozzle check:

  • When You have not printed in awhile. Better to find a blocked nozzle during then check than when printing.
  • Sudden color shift
  • Sudden change in print quality
  • White lines in the printed area


Not familiar with your printer's nozzle check feature? Click to get help with nozzle check controls


When you look closely at the pattern, any missing sections represent nozzles that are not working. If you have numerous blank areas, a head cleaning is in order.

Below is an example. Your nozzle check pattern may look different.

Inkjet nozzle check
Top Tip - You can continue to print if you only see one to two segments missing in a color. In some cases, especially with older printers, you may never get a segment to work again and this is OK. If you do not see a change in color accuracy or lines in the print, you do not have to clean again and again trying to fix the blocked nozzles. You can drive yourself mad trying to correct something that a) makes no difference and b) may never work again!
Top Tip - Look carefully at yellow. It is hard to see missing segments when printed on white paper. Use a bright light and be diligent when inspecting the yellow nozzle check.


Epson and Canon printers have readily accessible nozzle check systems. The check can be used to prevent head clogs that are the bain of the inkjet printer user. This is especially true if you:

  • do not print often
  • have an Epson printer
  • have a pigment ink printer

Running a nozzle check keeps the heads "charged" and much less likely to clog. We recommend running a nozzle check at least once every seven days. If you live in a dry environment, do it twice a week. Set a calendar reminder on your phone so you will not forget.

New Canon printers like the PRO-1000, PRO-2000, and PRO-1 have an automated cleaning function to prevent clogs. As a rule you will not see problems with these models if you turn your printer on every couple of weeks.

Older Canon machines like the Pro9500 a nozzle check every couple of weeks at minimum, more often in dry locations.

Having a fully functional printer when you need it is important so you keep focused on the task - printing, preserving, and sharing your memories and work with others.

Last updated: January 03, 2024