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.

71 Replies to “Fixing Vertical Lines on a Scanner”

  1. Victory! I managed to gently clean the internal mirrors with lens cloths (wipe with one damp, then with one dry). My scanner’s now working like new. Phew! Thanks for the advice, and apologies for my stress-postings.

  2. Hi there!

    I’m having a similar problem which is really annoying:(
    I have an Epson V37 Perfection ( an am an Illustrator, so I frequently need to scan in artwork.

    Is there a method to fix this annoying problem for this scanner? I can’t seem to find any screws at the back of the scanner to open it up, only by the hinges.
    If anyone has a fix for this, please do let me know!

  3. I’m having the same problem. I opened up the top and yep – piece of dust between the glass and calibration strip right in the place I’m getting a light strip when I scan.

    I tried putting a piece of paper over the CCD, but I heard a knocking and crunching. Opened up the scanner and the paper was crumpled. How did you apply the paper?

  4. Hey Leslie, I just used a thin piece of paper and some double-backed sticky tape. If your scan head is too close maybe something like Tippex might be an alternative?

  5. Following up on this. I ended up ordering a new Upper Housing Assembly (the part that holds the glass). It cost me less than $50.00 and did the trick.

    I thought about using some double-backed tape, but you know, it’s really hard to find paper that is the same white as the calibration strip. Since I use my scans professionally to create graphics to sell, I decided it was important enough to order the new part.

    This solved my problem. You saved me almost $900! I was all set to buy a new scanner when I decided to do some research first and found your post. Big thanks!

  6. Yep, same problem here with Epson Perfection 1650. I tried the paper strip fix posted earlier. It changed the particular green vertical stripe but added vertical stripes throughout. I surmised that maybe the white paper I used wasn’t calibrating properly and replaced the paper strip with a “photo” grade paper strip and it seems to work perfect. The photo paper is very white and probably more consistent throughout. I was able to attach the paper strip with tape just on the ends.
    There was definitely small flecks of old photos that had migrated onto the calibration strip. One in particular, I measured to the troublesome green stripe, was very small but larger than any other debris on the calibration strip.
    Thanks for the post.

  7. Thank you very much! I got 2 or 3 fine coloured vertical lines on an olde Epson Perfection 1250 that I was going to put to the trash. Moreover, scans had slightly yellowing areas that also had a vertical tracking, although they looked more like ‘organic’ yellowing that did not occur over the whole length.

    Your tip not only helped me get rid of the lines, but it also inspired the solution for the yellowing areas: With this flatbed scanner, the long white lamp is accessible when the top cover is removed. Looking at it the lamp, I thought I should try wiping it clean, which I did with a paper tissue and a little bit of window cleaning fluid. After the wiping there was significant amounts of brown goo in the tissue – I’m guessing it’s residues from vaporised substances coming from the material, lubricants, or just the air which had accumulated on the lamp’s surface and also got cooked from the lamp’s heat. I think the residues tainted the colour, so the scan sensor picked up wrong yellowish white in those areas. Anyway, the yellowing has now disappeared.

    To fix the vertical lines I first tried using white-coloured electrical tape. While the coloured lines disappeared, there were now many, many faint lines in very light grey shades, more like darker and lighter vertical bars. The same happened when I replaced the white tape with a strip of matte uncoated photo paper. Replacing the matte paper with a strip of glossier photo paper helped a bit, but there are still very faint vertical stripes to see in the scans. I’m going to try highly glossy (plastic) photo paper next when I get hold of some. But if there is a better material especially recommendable for this, it would be nice to hear about it.

    Thanks again.

  8. Thanks. Similar issue, the glass had moved and it was getting an incorrect calibration

  9. I’ll start by saying THANK YOU to both Martyn and all those in the comments section. You all helped me tremendously!

    I have a Epson 11000XL that I got used on eBay. It came with a broken USB port that I replaced. After I tested it, it had these streaks going down the middle of the image.

    I took off the top part that has the glass, and found the calibration strip. It was housed in this plastic shroud that had a single screw. After taking out the screw, I slowly pried the shroud off (it was held with double sided tape) and revealed the calibration strip. And wouldn’t you know, it had a bunch of dirt and dust on it that got wedged into it over years of abuse. A microfiber cloth dipped in water took care of the grime.

    Put it back together and fired it up. Streaks are gone. What a relief! Thanks again, everyone!!

  10. Hey Martyn
    I have read every comment trying to pin down my problem. Here is my observation, it is really not a solution because everything is now fine. So the following might be a comfort for others.
    I have a Canoscan 9000F Mk2, using it for regular scans and film scans of all sorts. I started to se a band like a few millimeters wide either grey or greenish on ordinary scans. The position of this band did variate with the resolution 300 dpi or 400 dpi. I tried very low dpi like 75 and 150 and it was not there.
    Then finally I tried to hook up to my new Macbook Pro. I used a converter to my USB cable, as it has the new USB-C port. I recalibrated and it just worked fine. Back to my late 2011 Macbook Air 11 which I had been using as desk station, and the problem reappeared. I presume we are talking about a slightly faulty connection or slightly faulty USB port. Then finally testing the other USB port on the left side on the MBA 11, no problem. This confirms a faulty port on the right side. The USB cable is the same over the last 4 years. I am so happy again.

  11. I have an Epson WF 7610 that would scan a line straight down the middle of the document. I looked at the manual for troubleshooting tips, and of course nothing for my problem. Looked at a few sites, saw this post, and could not open the scanner BUT I cleaned the glass surfaces (panel where original is placed and the rectangular panel that perhaps houses the calibrator) and removed some dirt specs. It worked! No more lines.

  12. Epson WorkForce Pro WF-4734, vertical line in the middle of the document. After reading the posts on here, I cleaned the glass surface and white underside of scanner lid with Windex and a soft cloth. I only sprayed Windex on the glass and used the residue on the cloth from that to clean everything else. Still had a line down the middle using document feeder but not with placing it on the glass directly. I then lifted the lid of the document feeder and wiped it with the cloth and lifted the scanner lid and wiped all around the document feeder end. It now scans through the document feeder with no line.

  13. My symptoms were squiggly lines through the scanned image, it turned out that I was using the wrong power adapter, 12 volts instead of 13.5. A mix up with the leads.

  14. THANK YOU! I’ve been dealing with a discoloration line for a couple years now, just rescanning and having to touch up images painstakingly to fix it. I’ve got a Mustek 2400 A3.

  15. THANK YOU!! I purchased my Epson Perfection 1650 new back in 2002, do not use it often and was marveling that it still worked. Aside from purchasing a Fujitsu ScanSnap ix500 for large document scanning I’ve had zero need to upgrade this one.

    The only issue I’ve had is the scanner glass developing a haze on the inside which is easy enough to disassemble and clean. Searching the forums this is a common issue on this model. It never looks perfect but the light haze that’s always there never shows up on scans. Today we cleaned it and had a big stripe going down the side. Based on this and the comments I opened it back up and took a look, above where the scanning area begins there’s a white strip running the width of the scanner and the glue is separating underneath a bit. The glass is still very secure but the strip is not pure white for the width anymore.

    For now I took a piece of laser printer paper, cut it down and taped it there. Definitely got the lines running down the scan that’s visible when it does it’s overview scan .. BUT… the photo that I was scanning hid it and was more than usable for what we needed.

    The comments enlightened me to two options to fix it. Replace laser printer paper with photo paper .. Or locate a replacement upper housing assembly. If these are truly still $50 then that’s what I’m going to do. My hope is a new assembly might have the haze problem contained

  16. Was getting the “line” after a scan on my Epson 1200 Photo but found after a good external glass cleaning, especially on the calibration end, it went away! Sometimes the fix is simpler than you imagine.

  17. My Epson 1640SU had vertical stripes. After read about dirty calibration strip and sure enough there were three pieces of dirt. I used a piece of photo paper and run it under the glass from the top outside of the scanner across the calibration stripe and it cleared the dirt out. Now working OK. Thanks

  18. MANY thanks Martyn, this has saved me getting a new scanner.

    Re: Secondhand Epson Precision 1250 scanner.
    I had repeatable wide vertical light bands down my scans. The scanner top and glass come off by removing two small screws and easing the top past about 6 little tabs that hold it around the edge. The calibration strip was badly stained – tea stains from a previous owner? The strip is sealed between the top and the glass with double sided sticky tape. To avoid work, I didn’t dismantle further. I used a strip of glossy printer photo paper and double sided sticky tape and stuck it to the bottom of the glass to cover the original strip. The new strip doesn’t catch on the sensor as it scans. It all works well again.

    Explanatory notes: When I initially tried to use the scanner I had the banding, but I thought it was a driver issue. I started using Vuescan with no problems. I suspect that I started using Vuescan with a default calibration and I didn’t run the scanner calibration. I had just performed a calibration scan before the problems re-emerged – perhaps it was the first calibration I’d done.

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