Printer Tips: How to tell when your printer ink is low

Running out of printer ink can be a frustrating feeling, especially when you are rushing to get a document or assignment printed. There’s nothing worse than firing up the printer as you’re dashing out of the house and that sinking feeling when the low ink warning flashes. Not only is ink expensive to replace, but running the printer with an empty ink cartridge can end up damaging your printer. Leaving your printer ink to run dry can lead to clogged printer heads if the ink residue dries up. In thermal printers, the ink acts as a coolant and running out of ink could cause heat damage. Luckily, there are ways to determine if your ink is running low before it causes any damage to the printer.


printer ink

Printer ink warnings

Warnings given by the printer and computer are the most obvious signs your printer ink is running low. Almost all printers are programmed to give a notification when the ink reaches a certain level in the cartridge. Printers with a display screen will flash a low ink warning on the screen when you turn on the printer or attempt to print. Other printers may have a flashing light alerting you to low ink stocks.  In some cases, you may have to consult your printer’s manual to decipher the meaning of flashing lights. Printers with specific software can send an alert via the computer. This usually comes in the form of a pop-up notification when you press print, informing you that your ink levels are low.

Ink streaks

Another tell-tale sign your printer ink is running dry is in the actual print. The printer heads can become unevenly coated when the cartridge is low on ink. Leading to horizontal streaks appearing on your printed documents and images. These streaks can affect the quality of your print, often causing documents to become unreadable. Sometimes a good shake can help settle the ink for a while longer, but stocking up on new ink is wise.

Faded colours

The quality of your print colours is another sign your cartridges may be running low. Black ink may become faint or turn to grey. Colour cartridges low on ink may not print at all, or colours will appear different. They may lose their brightness or become another colour entirely, such as green printing bluer. Printing in draft mode can also cause prints to appear faded. Check your settings if the quality is faded when the cartridges are full.

Disabled functions

Are the functions of your multipurpose printer not working? This could be a sign your printer ink is running low. All-in-one printers can perform functions other than printing, such as scanning and faxing. Unfortunately, when your cartridge runs low on ink, this can cause some of these printers to go into error mode, disabling the extra functions.

printer ink

Save your printer ink

Cartridges are not the cheapest computer accessory to stock up on. Read our cartridge care tips for more information on making your ink last longer. Printer warnings for low ink don’t indicate a completely dry cartridge. Often there is still some ink left. You should get a couple more prints out of your cartridge after the low ink notification. If you start experiencing more than one sign of low ink, it’s time to restock.

Low printer ink doesn’t have to be a cause for despair. Come to The Inky Shop for affordable, quality cartridges. We offer a professional refilling service, providing high-quality ink refills at affordable prices. Stock up on fresh ink – locate your nearest store here.

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