Fixing Vertical Lines on a Scanner

My Epson Perfection 1640SU scanner recently started behaving slightly less than perfectly… I had a pronounced light vertical line appearing down the length of each scanned image.

Really annoying.

Here’s how I diagnosed and fixed it…

Firstly I just tried power cycling the thing, hoping it maybe was some kind of glitch cured by the standard fix.  No joy.

A quick Google brought up no immediate suggestions, but the overall consensus was that vertical lines like this are either caused by bad pixels on the CCD or a fault in the calibration.

Faulty pixels seemed unlikely to me – the line down the pages that were being scanned was a couple of millimetres wide, and detail was visible within it, but everything was just a lot lighter.

I figured it was therefore calibration that was the issue.  From the little I’d read from Googling the issue, it appears that the scanner does some kind of “white balance” before each scan.  Maybe there was dirt on wherever the scanner CCD was calibrating?

Getting into my scanner was easy – disconnect the mains (of course), three screws on the back, two at the front and the top pops off reasonably easily.  Looking underneath the top, I could see that the glass extended a little under the case, at the top, where the CCD normally sits when it’s not scanning.  There was a piece of white plastic or card under the glass (not visible from the outside) where presumably the CCD did its white balance calibration before each scan.

And lo, and behold, there was a little blob of dirt, which looked exactly lined up with the vertical line on the output.  Quite how it got there was anybody’s guess, as it was sandwiched between the white plastic and the glass.  And the glass is glued into place.  Maybe it was always there and just recently shifted.  My theory was that scanner was calibrating itself, and the CCD’s exposure was bumped up on that section because the dirt was making it think that that section was underexposing.

So as the glass was glued in place, I figured my best bet was simply to stick a white strip of paper along the top of the glass where the CCD comes to rest, obscuring that pesky piece of dirt. Worth a try, I thought.

Problem solved.  Reassembled the scanner, no vertical lines at all any more.

Comments 21

  1. Nick wrote:

    Thanks a lot, I had a vertical line problem scanning photo negatives @4800dpi. After scanning a plain white background the scanner apparently recalibrated and vertical lines are gone. I am using an Epson Perfection V330 Photo. AFAIK it recalibrates automatically. Thanks again for the hint, I already thought my brand new scanner was foobared :)

    Posted 30 Nov 2010 at 18:38
  2. Tony wrote:

    Many thanks! for your guide. I had to buy a new scanner due to the slow speed of my old one. Unfortunately cash was tight, as always! Anyway after purchasing a secondhand canoscan 4200f off a guy on amazon I thought great I’ve got myself a great scanner at over half the price.
    Unfortunately, after cleaning the ‘like new’ scanner I notice brighter horizontal bands were evident down my scans! After panicing!!! and alot of fiddling about I have fixed the problem, thanks to your advice, others were useless. As you say the scanner calibrates on a white strip, mines hidden just before the glass window. Unfortunately moving the glass and sorting the strip only made it worse! however like yourself I placed a strip of white card across and now it works fine.

    Many thanks for your help, it means more than you know :) Tony

    Posted 26 May 2011 at 15:46
  3. Roger wrote:

    Many thanks for this helpful tip. I am using an old Epson Perfection 1650 Photo to scan some of my slide collection (not really sufficient resolution but I’m reluctant to buy another scanner when this one works so well). After successfully scanning a number of slides, on a recent session I started to get the light vertical line you describe. I noticed that on the slide holder there was a cut out at the inner end where I assume the scanner was calibrated against the backlight in the lid as you describe. I checked the glass for dust and I found a slight speck of dirt in that area. After cleaning the glass, everything seems to return to normal. A small problem, but one which caused me to think I needed to replace the scanner!

    Posted 21 Sep 2011 at 20:09
  4. Matthias wrote:

    Same here, Epson V330 Photo. Developed a number of vertical bands on film negatives, cleaning the calibration area and also the light diffusor of the TPU made them go away.

    Posted 29 Dec 2011 at 19:26
  5. Paul wrote:

    Thanks for the advice. Blue streak on scans from my Epson V330 were sorted by simply switching scanner my scanner off and on. Glad I hadn’t tried to strip the machine!

    Posted 21 Jan 2012 at 00:38
  6. mrmorodo wrote:

    Hi Martyn,

    Thanks for this VERY useful info! I opened up my Epson v200 as i had 3 vertical lines appearing in scans. On very close inspection the glass was dirty above the calibration strip; i cleaned the strip very carefully then reassembled. It now scans beautifully again.

    Thanks very much for posting this article, much appreciated.

    Best Regards,
    Gareth(mrmorodo)

    Posted 30 Jan 2012 at 15:15
  7. Lemostro wrote:

    A lot of thanx!!! i have a old pro scanner who had the glass broken and i fixed it with another new. I put some glue on the white stripe and I thought the scanner were broken because it showed the vertical lines. Now, I replaced the white stripe and it works like new!

    Posted 05 Mar 2012 at 22:29
  8. Trullez wrote:

    The callibration story seems to ben totally correct. By sheer luck did I have a white paper under the glas of my V330 Epson while the frame for film was also in place. I wanted to test the lamp in the cover. So the scanner went beserk, had to pull the power plug and brought it back online, with the white paper. It obviously callibrated when starting up and oh wonder, I lost that pesky darkgrey stripe in de middle of my pictures.
    Thanks for explaining this to me, I almost thought my curses were working on the scanner.

    Posted 06 May 2012 at 17:18
  9. Kenneth Dodds wrote:

    I occasionally have linear vertical banding that is perfectly straight when scanning 6 x6 negatives on my Epson V500; the streaks continue throughout the scanned negatives. During “Preview” scan with Vuescan, it could be seen beginning before the sensor got to the negative area. It occurred with either Epson’s scanning program or Vuescan, and cleaning the glass surfaces made no difference. Reinstalling driver made no difference. Negatives were without visual evidence of scratches or other defects. I scan strips of 4 negatives, so that means 2 are not in the scanning area of the negative holder; the unscanned negatives should be towards the front of the scanner, as there is a small cutout at the back of the negative holder that I guess is used for sensor calibration. Turns out when I inadverdently left that area covered with negative–when I had the strip sticking out of the holder the wrong way– the vertical bands would appear. Reorienting the film fixed the problem for me. Such a simple cause, but so much frustration.

    Posted 12 May 2012 at 19:03
  10. Ashley wrote:

    Thanks for sharing the info! I have a big amazing new HP MFP and I cleaned the glass over the calibration strip and BOOM, little annoying lines are gone!

    Posted 31 May 2012 at 21:31
  11. Mohamed Azher wrote:

    Many thanks for sharing. i was looking all over the web for a solution. My Samsung scx -3206w was working find until weird white line starting appearing on the scans. After reading your solution, i used a pen light and looked at the edges where i felt the CCD was calibrating, and right there i found a blob of dust. i cleaned it with a fine cloth and everything is back to normal! the scans now are as perfect as it was before the problem appeared!

    Posted 24 Jul 2012 at 06:21
  12. John Foust wrote:

    My Epson 1640US had the same issue. I disassembled it. The glass is fastened to the case with double-sided tape. With gentle pressure, it separates from the case top and slides out. You can then clean the white-strip calibration area as well as the glass.

    There’s a thin edge of double-sided tape where the lip of the case top meets the glass. It’s apparent that over time, pressure separates it from the glass, allowing any bit of dust to land in the calibration area, and dust also reduces the overall effectiveness of that bit of tape.

    Instead of full disassembly, next time I think I’ll just press on that area of the glass, and blast it with canned air to dislodge any dust.

    Posted 02 Aug 2012 at 01:38
  13. Jane wrote:

    Thanks!!!!!!!!!!!

    Posted 16 Aug 2012 at 02:43
  14. Tosnic wrote:

    Thx. I have another scanner (canoscan3200F) which showed me a bunch of vertical lines after wet cleaning.
    Canon had told me that the read unit was defective :-/ they dont know their own stuff.

    Posted 21 Oct 2012 at 19:53
  15. DebzC wrote:

    Thank you so much. My Epson Perfection 3590 developed a white streak. After reading your tip, I suspected a small piece of paper had slipped beneath the front margin/frame because I was scanning old flimsy documents. I took a postcard and slipped the corner under the frame. Out popped the offending article! No stripping, no cleaning. Brilliant!

    Posted 20 Feb 2013 at 22:37
  16. Suzi wrote:

    Thank you for this information, after reading through all the tips I cleaned the whole scanning bed including under the lid with glass cleaner & no more stripe…got to love the internet & people who want to help others!

    Posted 30 Aug 2013 at 05:23
  17. James wrote:

    Thanks for the help! There was a long band made up of elliptical rings in a series, running vertically down my film scans. Tried a host of things, until I finally took your advice, removed the lid, and cleaned the hidden white strip underneath the glass. Though I never could see any dirt or anything else on it, my cleaning it seems to have done the trick. You’ve saved me a lot of grief and potentially the cost of a new scanner.

    Posted 22 Nov 2013 at 04:14
  18. Fred wrote:

    Huge thanks for this tip.
    I have a Perfection 3590 which I had given up on because of two pixel line discolouration.
    New calibration strip, ‘new’ scanner and no expense. How good is that. Very grateful.

    Posted 09 Jan 2014 at 14:19
  19. Paul A. wrote:

    A VERY PRECIOUS tip! I have an old UMAX Scanner (SCSI) bought in 2000 and it had that annoying vertical lines and some vertical irregular shades. Well, when I realise that the problem was due to some dirt and condensation in the calibration strip I got hands to work. Result: a perfect scanner, just like it was when I bought it!

    This gave me another idea. What if I put a strip other than bright white? e.g. yellowish or so. Wouldn’t be a way of correcting the gamma color of the scanning? I didn’t try it yet, but in spite of some software do gamma correction easily, this should be an interesting experiment. (for compensate gamma color on cheap scanners…)

    Anyway, many thanks for the tip!

    Posted 22 Mar 2014 at 18:58
  20. Bob wrote:

    I simply lifted my scanner lid and tapped it all over to loosen any muck. Then I cleaned to two glass surfaces (flatbed glass plate and overhead lamp diffuser) …. and magic! It worked! Many thanks for the super advice.

    Posted 27 Mar 2014 at 13:10
  21. Philip Tobias wrote:

    Thank you for the very useful tip, which helped me fix the vertical lines problem on my own Epson 1640 scanner. As another commenter suggested, I also pried loose the glass from the double-sided tape and cleaned underneath.

    By the way, a service manual for the 1640 is available online by searching. It provides some illustrations of the disassembly procedure.

    Posted 13 Jun 2014 at 00:50

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