Can this printer be saved
January 10, 2014 1:25 PM   Subscribe

I killed my Canon Pixma printer/copier by spilling tea on it. I'm trying to repair it but so far no success. Do I need to just buy another freaking printer? Details inside, and thanks in advance for reading this question.

Okay, so forgive my ignorance in describing the problem. After I turn the printer on, it goes through the usual beeps and boops and seems fine until the uh, thing that scans, the light thing, gets stuck on the left hand side of the printer. Then I get a 5100 message. I've pleased myself by figuring out how to unscrew a zillion screws so I could clean inside where the light thing goes back and forth, but still zero joy.

I totally realize this is my whole damn fault for sleeping with tea next to the printer. Moreover this issue is so annoying a thousand blessings upon anyone who wants to tackle it. The DTMF threads are much more interesting
posted by angrycat to Computers & Internet (5 answers total)
sorry, it's a 5011 message
posted by angrycat at 1:30 PM on January 10, 2014

From a search on the subject:

Solution 3:
Carefully clean the encoder strip.
It's located behind the carriage that runs all the way from right to left

Might be worth paying special attention to that.
posted by davejay at 1:32 PM on January 10, 2014

Modern printers, even nice office-type ones that have long support periods and free onsite repairs, are made like some kind of ultra-garbage by some cartoon villain like that pig in captain planet who wants to cover the world in trash. They last until ONE thing goes wrong and then at best never work the same again, but generally are just toast.

If i was really going to try and fix this, i'd disassemble the entire scanning assembly on the top and attack everything in sight with the highest % rubbing alcohol i could find, Q-tips, and a nice shop rag. Don't worry about just dousing everything in rubbing alcohol. It'll evaporate.

I have, actually, solved this moves-all-the-way-over-and-jams issue with an HP printer+scanner combo. Most of the time though, when something dies on a printer that isn't a "giant copy machine sized thing that sits on the floor" or some $5000+ xerox, even when the tech comes and works on it now it wont feed sticker paper or envelopes half the time forever or just dies a week later.

If you've already cleaned the sensors/encoder strip davejay described/general internal area there on the scanning mechanism the way i described... well then it's probably boned. Mine was $9.99 on sale though, so fear not, they're literally disposable now.
posted by emptythought at 1:58 PM on January 10, 2014

Tea is pretty acidic, unfortunately. Chances are good that it has done damage to some electronic part within the printer and that it is therefore ruined. In theory it might be repairable if you could replace whatever part was damaged, but in practice it's probably hard to figure out what that part is and consumer-grade printers aren't built to be repaired.

The good news is, consumer-grade printers are also not all that expensive. You can probably find a good deal on an equivalent model on Amazon or TigerDirect or the like. Try to buy something that uses the same kind of ink cartridges as your current printer, if your existing ink cartridges are nearly full – that's where the real expense comes in.

If it's not damaged though, it might just be that it hasn't been cleaned thoroughly enough. Rubbing alcohol (denatured alcohol from the hardware store is good, since it's 95% alcohol) is a good cleaner for electronics; it dissolves some things that water can't, doesn't damage most things, and evaporates without leaving a residue. You can also use naptha (lighter fluid) but it will leave an oily residue behind.

Clean everything off really well, paying attention to moving parts. Use Q-tips and bits of toilet paper on toothpicks to get into the really hard-to-reach spaces. Squirt some air in there, and maybe even just a tiny bit of WD-40 on some of the mechanical bits if you're sure you can avoid having it drip on anything else. (WD-40 is mostly kerosene and is safe for electronics, but you don't want to get it where you don't want it.) Then take out the ink cartridges and leave the printer somewhere warm, like in a window that gets full sun or next to a radiator, for a couple of days – ideally with a fan blowing on it gently, to help it get totally completely dry.

If that doesn't fix it, it's probably borked and it's time for a new printer.
posted by Scientist at 1:58 PM on January 10, 2014

Aw, thanks guys -- looks like it's time for a new printer. And more adult habits w/r/t beverages and electronics. Thanks again.
posted by angrycat at 4:30 PM on January 10, 2014

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