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HP Photosmart, Deskjet 5520 Printers - Fixing Poor Print Quality

This document is for HP Photosmart 5520, 5521, 5522, 5524, 5525, and Deskjet Ink Advantage 5525 e-All-in-One printers.
The quality of a printed document or photo is not as expected. The procedures in this document should help with streaked or faded printouts, color or black ink not printing, documents with blurred or fuzzy text, ink streaks or smears, and other print quality problems.
 note:
Windows operating systems only: If you are experiencing garbled, jumbled or illogical text, incomplete printouts, or missing text or graphics, go to Continuous Pages of Strange or Garbled Characters Print in Windows.
Figure : Example of garbled, jumbled or illogical text, or an incomplete print job
Image: Garbled, illogical text, and incomplete printout
HP recommends that you use genuine HP ink cartridges. HP cannot guarantee the quality or reliability of non-HP ink cartridges or refilled HP ink cartridges. If you do not use genuine HP ink cartridges, the steps in this document might not resolve print quality issues.
Visit HP SureSupply to check ink cartridge compatibility or purchase replacement ink cartridges.
  1. Go to the HP SureSupply website.
  2. Scroll to the bottom of the page, and then make sure the country/region location is correct.
  3. Follow the on-screen instructions to order new ink cartridges or check ink cartridge compatibility with your printer.
Genuine HP ink cartridges can also be purchased from other retailers.
If using genuine HP ink cartridges did not resolve the issue, continue to the next step.
Your HP printer has an automatic servicing routine that can solve many print quality issues. There is nothing you need to do. The print quality should improve a few hours after you experience the issue.
If you cannot wait for the automatic servicing routine to complete, continue with the following troubleshooting steps.
Step 3: Check the paper
Make sure the paper you are using is appropriate for the print job. If the paper is not appropriate, reload the printer with an appropriate paper type.
 note:
To learn the types of paper your printer supports, see the specifications for your printer.
  • Load the paper print side down in the input tray. Many papers have printing and nonprinting sides, like photo paper and other special media. Usually, the smoother side is the "print side," and sometimes the non-print side has a logo of the paper manufacturer on it.
  • Do not use wrinkled or curled paper. Load only clean, wrinkle-free paper into the product.
    Figure : Do not use wrinkled paper
    Image: Do not use wrinkled paper
  • Use the correct paper type for your project.
    • For everyday text documents, plain paper with ColorLok technology works well. Paper with ColorLok technology is industry-standard paper that works well with HP ink.
      Figure : Plain paper with ColorLok technology is recommended for text printing
    • For documents with dense printing, such as high contrast graphics or photographs, use HP Advanced Photo Paper for the best results.
    • Some media may not absorb ink as well as others. If your prints smear easily, make sure you are using a recommended paper.
  • Store photo paper in its original packaging inside a resealable plastic bag. Store the paper on a flat surface in a cool, dry place. Load 10-20 sheets of photo paper only when you are ready to print, and then put the unused paper back in the packaging.
  • Try using a different paper. This will determine if the problem is related to the paper.
 note:
The incorrect type of paper usually causes vertical streaks in printouts. If the problem occurs on a copy, dirty scanner glass is usually the cause of the issue. Do not replace ink cartridges to fix vertical streaks.
Examples of horizontal streaks and vertical streaks in the printout
Figure : Horizontal streaks in printout
Image: Horizontal streaks
Figure : Vertical streaks in printout
Image: Vertical streaks
Continue with the following troubleshooting steps if your printout contains horizontal streaks or other print quality issues besides vertical streaks.
Do not replace cartridges for vertical streaks in a printout. Instead, check the paper as described earlier in this document.
If changing the paper did not resolve the issue, continue to the next step.
Step 4: Check the print settings
Check the print settings to make sure they are appropriate for your print job.
If changing the print settings did not resolve the issue, continue to the next step.
Step 5: Check ink levels
Use the printer control panel to check the estimated ink levels on your printer.
 note:
Ink level warnings and indicators provide estimates for planning purposes only. When an indicator shows low-ink levels, consider having a replacement ink cartridge available to avoid possible printing delays. You do not need to replace ink cartridges until print quality becomes unacceptable.
From the home screen of the printer control panel, touch the Ink icon (). The current ink levels display.
Figure : Example of estimated ink levels
Image: Estimated ink levels displaying on the control panel.
  • If none of the cartridges are low on ink, you do not need to replace them yet. Skip to the step to print a Print Quality Diagnostic report.
  • If any of the cartridges are low on ink, continue to the next step to replace them.
Step 6: Replace any low or empty ink cartridges
Replace any low or empty ink cartridges, and then try to print again.
The following video demonstrates how to replace a cartridge.
If you have trouble viewing the video or to view the video in a different size, click here to play the video on YouTube.
  1. If the product is off, press the Power button () to turn on the product. Wait until the product is idle and silent before continuing.
  2. Open the cartridge access door. The carriage moves to the access area.
    Figure : Open the cartridge access door
    Image: Open the cartridge access door
  3. Press the tab on the front of the cartridge inward to release it, and then pull up on the cartridge to remove it from the slot.
    Figure : Remove the cartridge from the slot
    Image: Remove the cartridge from the slot
  4. Remove the plastic wrap from a new cartridge by pulling the orange tab.
    Figure : Remove the plastic wrap from a new cartridge
    Image: Remove the plastic wrap from a new cartridge
     caution:
    Make sure that you remove the orange pull-tab and plastic wrap completely before you twist the orange cap in the next step. Otherwise, ink might leak from the cartridge. When you remove the plastic wrap, the paper label on the top of the cartridge tears slightly, which is necessary to vent the cartridge.
  5. Remove the orange cap from the cartridge. Twist the cap counter-clockwise until it snaps off.
    Figure : Remove the orange cap from the cartridge
    Image: Remove the orange cap from the cartridge
  6. With the nozzle and the contacts facing down, push the cartridge into its slot. Press down on the cartridge until it is firmly seated. Make sure that the color icon on the cartridge label matches the color icon on the slot.
    Figure : Insert the cartridge
    Image: Insert the cartridge
  7. Repeat these steps to insert the other cartridges.
  8. Close the cartridge access door.
    Figure : Close the cartridge access door
    Image: Close the cartridge access door
Try to print. If the print quality is unacceptable, continue to the next step.
  1. Load plain, white paper in the tray.
  2. From the control panel home screen, touch the Settings icon .
  3. Touch Tools, and then touch Print Quality Report.
    The printer prints the Print Quality Diagnostic report.
    Figure : Example of a Print Quality Diagnostic report with no defects
    Image: Example of a Print Quality Diagnostic report with no defects.
Step 8: Examine the Print Quality Diagnostic report for defects
If the printer and the ink cartridges are working correctly, all the color bars should be complete, unstreaked, and uniform in color across the width of the page. The black text on the page should not have ink streaks.
Examples of defects on a Print Quality Diagnostic report
Defect
Example
Irregular streaks
Image of irregular streaks.
Faded color bars
Image of faded color bars.
Missing color
Image of a color missing.
Color bars with regular white streaks
Image of regular white streaks in the color bars.
Jagged alignment patterns
Image of jagged alignment patterns.
  • If you do not see defects on the Print Quality Diagnostic Report, the print mechanism and ink cartridges work correctly. Return to the step to check the print settings.
  • If you see one or more of these defects on the print quality diagnostic report, continue to the next step.
Step 9: Make sure the ink cartridges are properly vented and correctly seated
If the vent on the top of the ink cartridge is clogged or obstructed, the ink cartridge might not work properly. If you found defects on the Print Quality Diagnostic report, check that the ink cartridges are properly vented and correctly seated.
  1. Press the Power button to turn on the printer, if it is not already turned on. Wait until the printer is idle and silent before continuing.
  2. Open the cartridge access door. The carriage moves to the access area.
    Figure : Open the cartridge access door
    Image: Open the cartridge access door
  3. Press the tab on the front of the cartridge inward to release it, and then pull up on the cartridge to remove it from the slot.
    Figure : Remove the cartridge from the slot
    Image: Remove the cartridge from the slot
  4. Examine the vent area on each cartridge, above the HP logo on the top of the cartridge.
    Figure : Vent area on the top of the cartridge
    Image: Vent area on the top of the cartridge
  5. If the cartridge still has the orange pull-tab attached, pull to remove it.
    Figure : Orange pull tab
    Image: Orange pull tab.
  6. If the vent is clogged, use a straight pin to gently remove excess adhesive from the vent.
      Figure : Clean the clogged vent with a pin
      Image: Clean the clogged vent with a pin.
    1. Clogged vent
    2. With a straight pin, gently remove excess adhesive from the vent
    3. Unclogged vent
  7. With the nozzle and contacts facing down, slide the cartridge into its slot. Press down on the cartridge until it clicks into place.
     note:
    Make sure that each cartridge is installed in the correct slot. Match the shape of the icon and the color of the cartridge with the slot that has the same shaped icon and color.
    Figure : Reinsert the cartridge
    Image: Reinsert the cartridge
  8. Repeat these steps to inspect the vents on each of the cartridges.
  9. Make sure that each cartridge is firmly in place in its slot. Run your finger along the top of the cartridges to feel for any that are protruding, and if any are, press down firmly until each cartridge snaps into place.
  10. Close the cartridge access door.
    Figure : Close the cartridge access door
    Image: Close the cartridge access door
  11. Try the print job again.
If inspecting the vents on the ink cartridges did not resolve the issue, continue to the next step.
Step 10: Clean the printhead
If you found defects on the Print Quality Diagnostic report, run an automated tool to clean the printhead.
  1. Make sure that plain white U.S. letter or A4 size paper is loaded in the tray.
  2. From the control panel home screen, touch the Settings icon (), and then touch Tools.
  3. Touch the Down Arrow (), and then touch Clean Printhead. The product cleans the printheads, and then prints a test page.
  4. Review the print quality on the test page.
    Figure : Example of the printhead cleaning test page
    Image: Example of the printhead cleaning test page.
    • If the print quality on the test page is satisfactory, return to the current print job.
    • If the print quality on the test page is unsatisfactory, perform a secondary cleaning of the printhead.
      If the printhead is badly clogged, it might require another cleaning cycle. If so, wait 30 minutes after the last cleaning stage to start the first stage of the cleaning process over again.
  • If these steps resolved the issue, there is no need to continue troubleshooting. The following precautions might prevent the issue in the future.
    • Avoid leaving unprotected ink cartridges out of the printer for an extended period of time.
    • Always use the Power button to turn off the printer. This protects the ink cartridges from exposure to air.
  • If the issue persists, continue to the next step.
Step 11: Align the Printer
If there were defects on the Print Quality Diagnostic report, align the printhead.
Follow these steps to align the printer using the control panel.
  1. From the home screen, touch the Setup icon (), and then touch Tools.
  2. Touch the Down Arrow (), and then touch Align Printer. The alignment page prints.
  3. Lift the lid on the printer, and then place the alignment page print side down in the right front corner of the scanner glass.
    Figure : Place the alignment page on the scanner glass
    Image: Place the alignment page on the scanner glass.
  4. Close the lid, and then press OK on the control panel. The printer will align automatically. Press OK to continue.
If aligning the printhead did not resolve the issue, continue to the next step.
Step 12: Service the Printer
If you have followed all the steps in this document and your printer is producing printouts with print quality issues, service the printer.
 note:
Keep a print sample that shows the problem. If the ink cartridges, printhead, or printer is replaced under warranty, the support agent will request the print sample. If the printer is returned to HP, the print sample must be returned with the printer. Place the sample in the output tray when you package your printer for shipping.

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