Waste Ink Basics

Error: Service Required?

The error “Service Required” is usually indicated when the waste pads in the printer have reached a perceived saturation point.

While the actual message may vary slightly depending on your Epson inkjet printer model, effectively you’re being told to get the printers nappy changed.

Variations on this error message include:

  • Parts inside your printer have reached the end of their service life
  • Waste ink pad saturated, see your epson dealer

Counter Reset: How long does it last?

We get asked this a lot and the answer is really very simple if you consider that a proper reset tool (official Epson IPR tools do not apply*) will reset your Epson inkjet printers waste ink counter back to zero, the same value your printer had when it was first switched on.

By resetting the waste ink counter you effectively revert your printer to it’s “as new” state, so it should last as long as it did before it first hit the waste ink “service required” error. Hopefully a bit longer if you’ve read some of our other tips on reducing waste ink generation.

To give an example, if you purchased your printer in December 2012 and hit the “service required” error in March 2014, then you can expect to get around 15 months of use from your printer until you will probably need to reset the waste counter again.


*IPR (Ink Pad Reset) tools released by Epson America, do not reset the waste ink counter to zero. Instead they revert the counter backwards by a limited percentage. These utilities are not intended to allow replacement of waste pads or self-service of your printer. They are simply designed to allow use of any excess waste pad capacity that may still exist in the printers pads.

What is a Maintenance Box?

Some inkjet printers have a consumable product called a “Maintenance Box” which is a waste pad holder combined with a chip.

These units track waste ink using the chip so when the chip has reached it’s “full” point you have to replace the unit completely.

Note: Unlike other printers the chip is the controlling mechanism to determine when waste ink is full. Software resets do not work with these units. Replacement of the whole maintenance box, or hardware reset of the chip are the only ways to “Reset” the printers waste ink level.

What are waste pads?

Waste ink pads are basically a form of nappy (diaper) for inkjet printers.

Every time your printer has a new ink cartridge, runs a maintenance routine or you run the printhead cleaning function, the printer dumps ink into these pads.

Naturally the capacity of these pads is limited so the printer protects you by flashing up the “Service Required” error and blocks further printing operations, etc.