How to Tell If Your Printer Cartridge Is Damaged

08-08-2014 by

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Faulty or damaged printer cartridges can have a detrimental effect on your print quality or printer. Luckily, recognising a damaged cartridge is easy. We’ve put together some guidelines for checking your printer cartridges for faults.

Poor print quality

This is usually the first sign that something has gone wrong with your printer cartridge. Missing colours, streaky prints, smudges and ink blotches are all signs that your printer ink or toner cartridge may be damaged. Some printers will actually warn you if a cartridge is damaged and will refuse to print. This includes HP ink cartridges, Samsung toner cartridges and Canon ink cartridges.

These problems could also point to an issue with the printer itself, like a misaligned or damaged printhead, a damaged drum unit or a dirty corona wire. Before replacing the cartridge, check your printer manual for guidelines on how to clean or align your printhead or, if you have a laser printer, how to replace your drum unit or clean your corona wire.

Inspect the cartridge

If you’ve checked that the issue is not with the printhead, drum unit or corona wire and you’re still having problems with your prints, the fault is most likely with the printer cartridge. To diagnose the issue, start with a simple inspection of the cartridge.

Take the cartridge out of the printer and take a close look at it. For ink cartridges, check that there is still ink inside the cartridge by either having a look or weighing the cartridge. If the cartridge has a built in printhead, make sure it is not damaged or dirty.

For toner cartridges, check that the rollers are in good working order. If the toner cartridge has a built in imaging drum, check to make sure there are no scratches on the drum as this will cause streaks in your print.

Check the plastic casing for any cracks. You can also inspect all the springs or clips on the cartridge itself. If any of these are damaged, it could lead to printing problems. If your cartridge has a chip, check to make sure the chip is not missing, damaged or dirty.

If there is any damage to the cartridge or the chip is missing, you should contact your supplier to get your cartridge replaced.

Check the packaging

If the cartridge is new, make sure you’re removed all the packaging or tape. For ink cartridges, make sure you remove the yellow tape on the front or top of the ink cartridge and that you’ve removed it from the protective clip.

For toner cartridges, make sure that you have removed the protective covering from the front of the cartridge and that you have pulled out the tape that separates the toner from the roller or imaging drum.

Check for errors

Most printers will let you know if something is wrong. Check any dialogue boxes or the printer’s LCD screen for error messages. These will give you a better idea of what is wrong with your printer cartridge and the problem you are experiencing.

You should also check the cartridge model number to make sure that you have the right cartridge for your printer. Mistakes can happen and you could have accidentally bought or been sent the wrong cartridge.

If you’ve got any more questions on how to check for damage on your cartridge, or you experience any other problems, feel free to contact us.

Nic Venter

About the author

Nic Venter+

 is the founder and director of He started the business in 2009 with the idea to sell ink and toner cartridges online and to provide you with a quality product, value for money and convenience. He regularly blogs on about printing and technology. Part of his philosophy is having fun and making sure that he and his team think everything ink, so you don't have to.

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