I too had this sort of problem a while ago . I spent ages messing with it , changing cartridges etc but printer refused to acknowledge the black ink . Did several head cleans , manually dropped peroxide over the jet to soak and gently wiped off to see if helped but nothing worked.
A friend advised it was probably the jets blocked through lack of regular use , and that repair would be getting on as costly as a new printer.
If yours is a newish one (mine wasnt) it might be worth it for you to get it fixed , but if you find its borderline cost effective and if you're going to continue to only use a printer infrequently , you might want to think about buying a laser printer. I dont need to use colour, so I bought a black and white one ---thanks to the helpful suggestions from others on here (thanks guys)that laser may be a good idea for my style of usage. Have to say Ive been delighted , and no longer worry about large gaps between uses. Good luck.