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Here's 3 things you can do to get around this...depending if your printer is new and still under warranty or not (do NOT void your warranty!).
I have used all 3, but the third one was a lifesaver (AND money-saver!). About once a year I have to reset the printer using #2, but other than that....#3 is the greatest!!!
1. Try resetting it by, unplugging the power cord then while holding down the POWER STOP and MAINTENANCE buttons simultaneously while replugging the power cord caused a reset to zero on the counter. You will still have to replace the pads or redirect the waste ink tube to a receptacle on the outside of the printer, hope this helps?
2. If you go to inkjetprinterhelp.us there you will find the ssc service utility. Once you open the page click on the service utility and then choose the english version unless you can spk russian.If you then scroll to the bottom of the page and install the prog. Once you have installed the prog you will get the ssc utility logo in your bottom tray. Right click the icon and then select reset protection counter from the protection counter drop down. Once you have done this restart your computer and this should reset the system.
3. INSTALL AN EXTERNAL WASTE TANK and forget all about those gunky ink pads forever!
On the left rear of these printers is a small trapdoor held by a single screw.
Remove it, look inside (down and to your left) and you'll see the waste ink tube.
The tube is free at one end, and with a suitably curved piece of wire you can hook it and wangle the end out through the opening (you may dislodge a small piece of plastic in the process -- just put it back where it was, it's only a vibration damper.) I found the tube to be rather short....so I added an extension since I do not have room directly behind my printer for a container. I used the tubing you use with oxygen tanks or fish tank bubblers. They also make a little plastic connector so you can join the two together.
At this point, you're almost there.
All you need now is a suitable container for the waste ink, and I drilled a small hole in the trapdoor cover so you can put it back on without pinching the tube (or you could just leave it off.)
The container is a small square one with a snap-on lid, approx. 60mm square and holding about 150ml -- they're sold in sets of three for a few cents and are for making ice-blocks etc. in your freezer. Any small container will work.
Make a hole in the lid (slightly larger than the tube to let air escape) insert the tube and forget about the internal pads forever.
I've had mine in place for almost 2 yrs now and it works like a charm. If you need photos, let me know and I have a couple I can send you.
I modified a little what Worldvet had done. I opened the door as if to change the ink cartridges. I first used a pair of needle nosed pliers and carefully took out the sponge type pad which is along bottom of the printhead travel lane. One will see the two center plactic guides within this lane. The sponge is very delicate, so be very gentle in removing it. It has ink residue in it so use gloves if necessary and upon removal place the sponge on a paper towel folded in triplicate so the ink does not bleed through the towel. Remember to what position it was before removal, so there is no problem when you try to replace the sponge after cleaning.
The second sponge I removed as follows: With the power on, I pressed the ink cartridge removal light (red) (far left) once. This moved the print head to the "far left", before the position to change cartridges. With the power still on and the printhead to the far left, I was able to very gently (with the same needlenose Pliers) remove the sponge under where the printhead was parked. It too is very delicate and be careful not to rip it. It too, one will find, has two plastic slots on the botton which the sponge will have to be returned into. I then turned the printer off, which caused the printer head to return to the parked position.
I took both sponges, and with Alcohol (Pharmacy type), I placed the sponges in a disposable plastic bowl and filled it with the alcohol. I gently used the needle nosed pliers (Closed) as a device to gently press on the sponges which were submerged into the alcohol. I continued to alternate up and down the sponge pads, causing the alcohol to dilute and clean the pads. When the alcohol became saturated with the ink from the pads, I took the pads out of the alcohol bowl and placed the pads on a triple folded paper towel so the remaining ink would not bleed through anything.
I then took the bowl of alcohol/ink and while I flushed the toilet and the water was going down, I emptied the alcohol down the middle of the water spout as the toilet water was completing its flush. This keeps any ink from touching any porcelion.
I then refilled the plastic bowl again with fresh alcohol and resubmersed the pads, just incase there was any ink still left in them. Upon pressing on the pads and the alcohol remained clear (indicating all the ink was removed) I again used another set of paper towels, trippled, and placed the pads onto the paper towels, and squezzed them dry. I disposed of the alcohol the same as before.
I then, first replaced the large pad onto the printhead travel lane, back into the same position, being careful that the holes and slots fits back into its proper position and the edges are tucked under the proper hooks (little plastic hooks attached to the side of the travel lane).
Upon reinstallation I pressed gently on the pad to make sure it was secure.
Replacing the second pad, I again turned on the printer and pressed the ink replacement light (red), same as before, causing the printhead to travel to the far left as before. I then very carefully replaced the second pad into the slot from which it came from.
After I made sure the second pad was secure in its proper position, I pressed the ink replacement light twice, causing the printhead to return back to the parking position. I had already reset the counter, so that was not neccessary. I returned to the computer and printed a test page to make sure the printer was working properly, at which time it was, so I therefore returned to what I was doing and the Service Warning was cleared. My fingers got a little ink; but what the heck, soap will take care of that! Good for another 20,000 pages. Hope this helps, not as bad a it sounds.
Turn off the power and look inside the machine to the right hand side. Just in front to f the print head you will see a white plastic dowel (see photo). Use something technical - like a finger, pen or screwdriver - to push this dowel in. You can then move the print head by hand to the middle of the carriage.
Once moved, turn the printer on and watch it travel back to the home position. If after returning home the dowel pops back out and does not retract itself, you will need to strip the machine out and rebuild the ASF section. Sounds hard but its just a few plastic parts to take apart and reassemble whilst looking to see if anything is broken.
Get a service manual; for the machine if you need to strip it out.
Replacing the pads is costly, messy and requires the printer to be taken completely apart. If you have little or no experience of stripping down printers it is best left to a proffessional. Contact Epson to find your nearest service centre, but remember to get a quote as it may be more economical to replace the printer. Sometimes the counter can "jump" to the end of life number, this especially happens where 3rd party or refilled inks have been used. If you believe this to be the case and there is no sign of ink leakage and the pads look fairly clean then you can just reset the counter using special software called the SSC utility. See these sites:
More information about this issue and the "official" Epson resetter is available from the Epson web site, please read this link:
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The simplest way to do this is to grab a copy of the A10_IPR utility that Epson distribute to their customers...
The utility is available to North American customers if you register no this site page
The utility is also know to be available in the wild if you search for "waste ink ipr".
Just remember to scan any download using a virus and malware scanner before you attempt to use it as some utilities contain trojans or similar nasties.
Hope that helps.