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It sounds like your printer setup has changed to generating black by MIXING the color inks... if you run out of the cyan and yellow it will do red in spite of how many changes you make of the black cartridge.
Investigate the setup for the printer to make sure it is set for black from the black cartridge.
To customer of HP deskjet 990cki: I purchased the HP photosmart Plus B209 ~ January 2010. 3 months into, I have learned that when the color ink that you don't use evaporates, the black ink will not work at all, no matter what you adjust or clean.To make it work you have to purchase more color ink...on & on & on..$$$$. Neither HP nor Best Buy will refund my investment. Spoken with HP customer service reps. in the Philippines & Canada both being outside of the US. NO customer satisfaction. No refunds. I suggest Boycotting both corps.
Unfortunately it's highly likely that your black printhead is clogged due to the conditions you are using the printer in (ie: warm, dry, air-conditioned?).
I get this a lot in hot offices and school classrooms.
The only solution I've found that works long term is to use a dyebase black ink instead of the pigment ink that HP provide but this obviously means you would have to source a 3rd party ink supplier with ink of this type.
In the mean time a shorter term solution is to purchase a new black/yellow printhead and follow the process for changing the printhead for this new one.
In this case what i would request u to do is....... Take out both the catridges from the Printer......... Take 2 Paper Towels one should be wet with Luke warm water and the other one should be dry........... Take the Colour catridge first turn it upside down and u will see a small copper plate on the catridge from where the ink comes out....... Place the wet paper towel using ur thumb on the Copper plate and press it a lit bit for 10 Seconds...... Now remove it and see whether u see any ink on the paper towel.......... U should see some ink on it now place the dry paper towel on the ink catridge in the same way........ Now do the same procedure again.......... Do the same procedure twice on the Black Catridge................. Now take the dry paper towel and turn the direction of the cartridge so that u can see a Copper plate on it with small boxes just clean that copper plate with the Dry Paper Towel.......... Know insert both the catridges inside the Printer.. Good Luck
Most likely the print head has failed and the black is not printing which is causing the printer to have issues. Talk to HP as I guess printheads have warranty or simply change the yellow/black printhead. Or if all of these fail give the machine to HP to get you a new one as this is not right. I hope this helps.
I only use refill HP inks. When the cartridge prints gray instead of sharp black it means the ink well is clogged. Yes, that can happen on a new cartridge. Sometimes it happens when they put too much ink in the cartridge, or even heat can make it not work. Also streaking black lines is the problem of the ink not coming out properly. Easiest thing to do is go to a refill station like Cartridge World and have them test it or clean it out. You can also make sure the printer, not the cartridge is clean. Ink builds up an pools. Get some Q-Tips and clean up all that spilled ink. Sometimes in the software it says you can clean the print head, do that too.