How to Fix the Dreaded "Waste Tank Filled" Error Message for Your Canon Printer

By braniac

One of the scariest messages a printer owner can receive from his/her printer is the "Waste Ink Tank Full" message! Your printer stops working and you are left wondering, "What do I do now?". If you call your printer maker's help line, and you are out of warranty, they will tell you that you have two choices; you can go out and get a new printer, or take it a service center and for a $100+ get it fixed. Most owners take option #1, and another perfectly good printer winds up in the dump!Let's immediately understand a key fact, there is NO ink tank in your printer! All printers send all waste ink to the blotters at the very bottom of your printer. Not all your ink is used up on your prints and photos - much of it is over-spray or the excess used in printhead priming before, and cleaning and wiping after, a print job is finished. Yes, there's a lot of ink down there!Can a printer owner fix this problem at home? Well, the answer comes in two parts, the first is easy, and is answered by the procedures below - the waste ink counter can be easily re-set, and your printer will once again begin printing. The second part of the answer is that unless you take your printer apart and clean it out, you will eventually - sooner or later - face a scenario where the waste ink in your printer will begin to ooze out of the bottom of your printer (I will answer this second issue with a companion article to this one - link under Resources below).I am most familiar with Canon printers, and will use one of Canon's most popular recent printers, the Pixma iP4000 as an example of the waste tank reset process. This same process should work with all of Canon's Pixma printers, and may even work with other Canon printers as well. To be absolutely sure, you can check with one of the websites listed below in step 9, for more specific information.Does Canon want you to know this information? Of course not! Will it extend the life of your old faithful printer? Yes it will. And this is especially good if your old printer is one of those that uses generic, compatible ink cartridges, which are much less expensive than today's "chipped" ink cartridges. So, keep that baby alive, and feel good about it.

Things You'll Need

  • To re-set your printer's waste ink counter, you won't need any tools. However, it will be a good idea to print out (or write out if your printer has stopped printing) steps 1-6 so you can read them.

Step 1

With the printer power turned off, while pressing the Resume/Cancel button, press and hold the Power button. (DO NOT release the buttons. The LED lights in green to indicate that a function is selectable.)

Step 2

While holding the Power button, release the Resume/Cancel button. (DO NOT release the Power button.)

Step 3

While holding the Power button, press the Resume/Cancel button 2 times, and then release both the Power and Resume/Cancel buttons. (Each time the Resume/Cancel button is pressed, the LED lights alternately in orange and green, starting with orange.)

Step 4

When the LED lights in green, press the Resume/Cancel button 4 times - Waste ink counter resetting. (Each time the Resume/Cancel button is pressed, the LED lights alternately in orange and green, starting with orange.)

Step 5

After the function (menu) is selected, press the Power button. The LED lights in green, and the selected function is performed. (When the operation completes, the printer returns to the menu selection mode automatically.)

Step 6

If the printer is now off, the process is finished, otherwise press the Power button one more time to set the function and to shut down the printer.

Tips & Warnings

  • There is only one way to know if the Waste Tank re-setting has actually occurred - follow steps 1 through 3 above, and when you get to step four, press the Resume/Control button only one time (make sure you have paper in the printer's Auto Sheet Feeder). A Service Test print will occur, which will contain six pieces of information about your printer, starting with the model name/number at the left end of the line of information. Item # 5 should read, D=0% if the re-setting has been successful. You can run a Service Test print any time you wish in the life of the printer to see how much ink has accumulated in the waste tank - anything under 7% is OK, when the number reaches 7%, your printer will display the "Waste Tank Full" error message, and the printer will stop functioning until it is re-set (Don't ask me why 7% - only Canon knows).
  • If the re-setting is not successful, redo the above process. Canon most often has made the Waste Tank re-setting process generic for all its models in a given series, ie., all Pixma models will use the above process. And this same process may work for other Canon series printers as well. For some strange reason, in some cases, the printhead must be removed from its carriage and the cover door left open during the process for it to work.
  • If your Canon printer is not a Pixma, try one of these websites to get the process code for your particular printer. Enter your printer name and model, and "waste tank reset code" (without quotes) in the website's search string to find the process for your printer.
  • If your printer is not a Canon, use Resource #1 below to find your printer's waste ink reset code.