I vacuumed a part of my printer.
September 4, 2011 1:29 PM   Subscribe

I may have accidentally vacuumed up part of my printer... I was cleaning up around my computer with the vacuum cleaner and I started to vacuum around the printer. My cat likes to sit on top of it so lots of hair tends to get inside. Anyways I stuck the nozzle inside and it sucked up the foam pad that the printer head gets cleaned on. So here's the two part question: 1. Is it possible to get a replacement foam pad? If not, is it worth cutting up the vacuum bag and retrieving it? 2. How can keep my cat from hanging out on my printer? My printer is a Canon Pixma 9000 pro mk II.
posted by fzx101 to Computers & Internet (12 answers total)
I'd say retrieve it first and figure out if you needed to later on. Disposable bag? If so cut open the bag. Otherwise can you shake the contents out onto a dustbin lid or some such?
posted by epo at 1:38 PM on September 4, 2011

For the future how about making a printer cozy? Won't keep the cat off, but it'll keep the cat hair out.
posted by Caravantea at 1:41 PM on September 4, 2011 [2 favorites]

In inkjet printers, the foam pad isn't what actually seats against the cartridge head(s) to prevent drying out; that's a rubber gasket. The foam pad is there to collect and absorb waste ink from cleaning cycles and from the overspray collection system, if your printer supports borderless printing.

I'm a copier/printer guy. Individual parts such as this pad are generally not available for consumer-grade printers such as yours. In the shop, we just use a few layers of cotton cleaning pads cut to size. They key is absorbency, this cotton pad is there to wick up all the waste ink. (Heard a story from another tech that needed to rebuild one of these in a pinch on a larger printer, and wound up using a cut-up maxi-pad; worked great.)

The real thing to be careful of is that the pad lays down fully in the space it is supposed to; if you just cram it in there and it eventually pops up to where it can get caught in the works, that's when Bad Things can happen.

Tip for future reference: You have an inkjet printer, so using your home vacuum is fine. Don't ever use a regular vacuum cleaner on a laser printer or a copier, there is a very real risk of fire. The service vacuums that copier/printer techs use are designed with a very fine filter, and the vacuum motor is behind (after) the filter. So air is drawn through the hose, through the filter, and so only clean air is ever in contact with the fan/motor. Most residential vacuums work in reverse, the air is drawn through the hose, through the fan/motor, and forced out through the bag, where the dirt gets trapped. The toner gets airborne, and as most AC motors can produce small sparks in normal operation, it's enough to ignite the toner on its way through.
posted by xedrik at 2:14 PM on September 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

I have a set of... Some sort of three-sided cube things I found at TJ Max. They nest inside each other like Russian dolls, and the largest kinda looks like a short coffee-table.

I have my printer sitting on the largest of the three, with the smallest on top of it (leaving not quite enough room for a cat on top of the printer). I have the middle one underneath it as a telescoping "put stuff here" spot. Really amazingly convenient, and somewhat attractive (for a home office... I don't think I'd put it in the living room or library).

As for the printer... I agree with epo. Get the ink sponge back, and figure out whether or not your need it later.
posted by pla at 3:13 PM on September 4, 2011

Most residential vacuums work in reverse, the air is drawn through the hose, through the fan/motor, and forced out through the bag, where the dirt gets trapped.

Um.... no.

Any vacuum cleaner that actually worked this way would last about a day before the motor got fatally clogged with cat hair.

There may well be cleaners whose final HEPA filters are downstream of their turbine and motor, and it may well be the case that toner powder is fine enough to make it through the dustbag in such a cleaner and form a flammable or explosive dust/air mix near the motor brushes. But you cannot buy a vacuum cleaner whose motor is upstream of its primary dirt container.
posted by flabdablet at 6:31 PM on September 4, 2011

My friend uses these big double sided tape looking things to keep her cat off of stuff. They are sold at pet stores to discourage clawing.
posted by dottiechang at 7:18 PM on September 4, 2011

Um.... no.

Um, yes. Take apart just about any Hoover or Eureka and this is exactly what you'll find. I have. That's how I know it's this way. ;)
posted by xedrik at 9:25 PM on September 4, 2011

I've never seen a vacuum with the fan in front of the bag. You can take out the hose on a bag vacuum and see the bag through the hole.

(Consider what would've happened to the fan when that foam pad hit it, let alone a penny or something.)
posted by mendel at 8:28 AM on September 5, 2011

This is the typical canister vacuum layout.
posted by mendel at 8:31 AM on September 5, 2011

I didn't say it was a good design. Just that it's there. Unless they work by magic or wormholes, vacuums like this or this or this all work in the same way. There is a single entry into the bag, and dirty air is blown through that bag to filter it. If you've ever used a vacuum with just the hose and sucked up a rock or a penny and heard that horrible noise, that's a telltale that the fan is before the bag.

You may not have seen a vacuum with this poor design, but that doesn't mean they're not out there. I've seen vacuums catch fire from people trying to vacuum toner. I've seen broken and mangled fan blades from sucking up bad stuff. I've seen motors so full of cat hair that it's a wonder they work at all. I'm not making this stuff up, ok?

So can we get back to talking about fixing OP's printer, please?
posted by xedrik at 12:12 PM on September 5, 2011

I stand corrected, and thank you, xedrik, for making my world just that little bit worse.

But please at least let me continue to cling to the idea that nobody out there in the world would ever attempt to clean a laser printer with a hoseless upright-only rug-beating vac.
posted by flabdablet at 5:17 PM on September 5, 2011

Cleaning the printer itself, no, haven't seen that. Trying to clean a toner spill on the office carpet? Yes, unfortunately. :(
posted by xedrik at 10:39 AM on September 6, 2011

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