How to Fix the HP Officejet Pro Printheads

By Mindi Orth

Dirty printheads can reduce the quality of the documents you print.
i Brand X Pictures/Stockbyte/Getty Images

A problem with the printheads on your HP Officejet Pro may result in low-quality printouts. To resolve the problem, first remove and then reinsert the printheads to ensure proper installation. If the problem persists, running the device’s print-quality diagnostic utility can help to determine the precise reason for your printing woes. Access the diagnostic utility by pressing the “Setup” button on your printer, selecting “Report,” and then clicking “Print Quality.”


Test patterns with crooked and disconnected lines often indicate that the printheads are out of alignment. Running the automatic printer alignment utility typically resolves the problem. To start the utility, press the “Setup” button on your printer’s control panel, scroll to the “Tools” menu, and then select the “Align Printer” option. You may need to respond to an onscreen prompt to start the utility, and then do so again once the diagnostic page prints.


If the Print Quality report contains faded or missing color test patterns, or patterns containing white lines, your printer may have dirty printheads. There are two ways to clean the printheads. To clean them automatically, select the “Clean Printhead” option from the "Tools" menu using your device's control panel. If the quality of the resulting test page remains poor, run the utility to clean the printheads again. To clean the printheads manually, open the top cover of your Officejet Pro and wait for the cartridge assembly to slide into position. Lift the latch, and then pull the cartridge(s) from the assembly. Using a soft microfiber cloth, gently wipe the copper contacts on the cartridge. Take care to avoid touching the nozzles -- doing so may result in permanent damage. In addition, use the cloth to wipe the contacts located inside the cartridge assembly before reinstalling the cartridge(s).


A test pattern with white gaps or dark lines may indicate a problem with printhead calibration. To recalibrate the device, press "Setup," select "Tools," and then select the “Calibrate Linefeed” option. Review the resulting printout, and then run the utility a second time if the problem persists. Note that not all Officejet Pro models offer this diagnostic tool.


If running the print-quality tools fails to resolve the problem, you may need to replace the ink cartridges to restore proper printing functionality. HP recommends using genuine HP ink cartridges rather than their generic counterparts. Replacing a generic cartridge with its HP equivalent may be enough to improve the print quality of your Officejet Pro. HP also warns that the device warranty doesn’t cover damages resulting from the use of a non-HP cartridge.


If the quality of your printed documents remains poor after replacing the cartridges and running the utilities, the problem may lie with the printer hardware. Contact HP or a service technician for additional support and possible replacement part information. The device warranty may cover all costs associated with the repair. If your Officejet Pro warranty is no longer valid, you may need to weigh the costs associated with the repair versus the cost of a new device.