Have you ever grabbed your laptop, found a cozy spot on the couch, gotten ready to catch up on your favorite shows or get some work done, only to discover that your laptop won't turn on or charge? Annoying doesn't even begin to describe it!
A laptop that won't charge when plugged in can completely derail your plans and leave you scrambling to troubleshoot the issue. But don't panic yet! In most cases, a laptop that won't charge likely has a simple, fixable cause. By methodically working through a few basic troubleshooting steps, you can often get your laptop up and charging again.
In this blog post, I'll walk you through the top reasons a laptop won't charge along with the steps you can take to diagnose and address each potential issue. With a little time and effort, you can get to the bottom of why your laptop is not charging and have it back in working order.
1. Check the Charging Cable Connection
The most obvious place to start troubleshooting a laptop that won't charge is examining the physical charging cable connection. Is the charging cable plugged securely into both the AC adapter brick and the laptop itself?
Give the cable a gentle wiggle in both ports to make sure there is no looseness or disconnect. If there is any looseness at all, unplug the cable completely from both ends and reconnect it. Press it firmly into the ports to get a snug fit.
Inspect the charging cable up and down its length for any obvious damage like frayed wires or broken connectors. Cables can fray from repeated bending right at the connector site, so pay special attention to those areas. If you see any damage to the physical cable, you may need a replacement.
While inspecting the cable, also look for any kinks, breaks, or flattened areas that may indicate an internal break in the wiring. If the cable has any suspicious lumps or damage, go ahead and replace it. Charging cables are inexpensive and easy to find.
2. Inspect the Charging Ports
If the cable connection seems solid, the next place to investigate is the charging ports themselves. Examine the port on both the laptop side and AC adapter side for any issues.
Look for built up dust, dirt, or debris in the ports that may be obstructing the connection. Over time, lint and other gunk can collect in there surprisingly easily. Carefully use a toothpick or other small, non-conductive tool to gently clean out the charging port holes. Avoid using anything metal or sharp that could damage the port.
Check if any of the metal pins inside the port are damaged or bent. If the pins no longer make solid contact with the charging cable, it can interrupt the power transfer.
Also inspect for any looseness, wobbling, or damage to the ports themselves, especially on the laptop side. The charging port is a small component soldered to the motherboard, and it can become loose over time with repeated plugging and unplugging. If the port feels loose or wobbly, it may need to be repaired or replaced.
3. Verify the Charger Wattage
Laptop chargers are designed to deliver a certain wattage of power, usually indicated somewhere on the charger brick. The wattage needs to match the power demands of your particular laptop model.
If you are using a charger with a lower power rating than the laptop requires, it will not be able to provide enough power to charge the battery. This is a common cause of charging issues if using the wrong charger.
Double check that your AC adapter charger has sufficient wattage for your specific laptop. The required wattage should be printed somewhere on the laptop itself, often on the bottom. If not, you can usually find the specs listed in the laptop's manual or by searching online.
If the charger you are using is underpowered, you'll need to purchase the proper OEM charger for the make and model of your machine. Third party chargers seem like an affordable alternative, but often don't work well or safely. Invest in the real deal.
4. Let an Overheated Laptop Cool Down
Believe it or not, overheating is another common culprit behind a laptop that won't charge. The battery charging systems in laptops are designed to shut off charging if the internal components get too hot. This prevents damage to the battery or other parts from excessive temperatures.
If your laptop feels abnormally hot, or if you've been using it for an extended period without rest on a pillow or other soft surface that can block airflow, overheating may be the issue.
Try shutting down the laptop and allowing it to sit for 30 minutes to an hour to cool back down to normal operating temperatures. Be sure it is resting on a hard, flat surface like a table or desk to allow maximum air circulation.
Once thoroughly cooled, try connecting the charger again to see if charging functions have been restored. Avoid using the laptop right away to let the system stabilize.
Also inspect the laptop cooling vents and fans for any dust buildup that could be impeding airflow. Use a can of compressed air to gently clean out the vents. Consider proactive steps like using a laptop cooling pad going forward as well.
5. Update All Drivers
Outdated, corrupt driver files can also interfere with proper charging operations in Windows laptops. Issues with drivers that manage USB connections, battery settings, and power management functions are often to blame.
Go into Windows Device Manager and carefully inspect all listed drivers. If any have exclamation points or other warning signs, they likely need to be updated. This includes drivers associated with battery management.
Visit the laptop manufacturer's website and download the latest official drivers for your make and model. Uninstall the old drivers, reboot your machine, and do a fresh install of the updated driver files.
Be sure to get drivers directly from the manufacturer rather than third party sites when possible. After updating all drivers, test to see if charging functions have been restored.
6. Reduce Resource Usage
Sometimes the issue is simply that your laptop's resources are being overtaxed, preventing the battery from charging properly. Too many resource intensive programs and apps running simultaneously can place high power demands on your system.
Try closing any apps, programs, browser windows, or tabs you aren't actively using at the moment. This reduces the load on the CPU and RAM and may enable charging to initiate.
Specifically be sure to quit out of any games or creative apps that tax the graphics card and GPU. Turn off background apps and limit notifications as well to minimize system resources being used.
If your laptop feels sluggish or gets hot when trying to charge, reducing the workload can allow charging to commence. Think about upgrading to a laptop with higher specs if this is an ongoing issue for you.
7. Test With a Different Power Source
Assuming the laptop, charger, and cable check out, another simple thing to test is charging from a different power source in your home.
Try unplugging from the current outlet you are using and switch to another outlet, preferably on a different circuit. Older homes may have outdated electrical circuits that can't deliver consistent current.
You can also try charging the laptop using a different surge protector or power strip. Faulty surge protectors can interfere with steady power delivery. Never plug a sensitive electronic like a laptop directly into the wall socket.
If your laptop charges fine from some outlets in your home but not others, you know the issue lies with inconsistent power delivery rather than the laptop itself. Call an electrician to inspect and update your home's electrical system.
8. Replace the Battery or Charger
If you've tried all of the above troubleshooting tips with no change, the issue likely lies with a malfunctioning battery or charger that needs replacement. First, check your laptop warranty.
Replacement parts like batteries and chargers are often covered under the warranty up to a year or two from purchase. You can look up the terms of your warranty and start a claim if needed.
If your machine is out of warranty, you'll have to foot the bill yourself. Genuine OEM replacement batteries can run 50 to over 200 depending on the brand and model. Make sure to get the right part number.
Replacement chargers are often more affordable at around 20 to 60. Again, stick with OEM parts from the manufacturer or recommended resellers.
When installing a new battery, follow the manufacturer's instructions carefully. Do not try to pry open lithium-ion batteries, puncture them, or expose them to moisture. Dispose of old batteries properly.
A new genuine battery from the OEM is the safest replacement option. Avoid no-name knockoffs which can be fire and shock hazards. Take care to avoid getting counterfeit copies from disreputable sellers online.
9. Seek Professional Repair Help
If a new battery and charger do not resolve your laptop charging issues, there is likely an internal hardware problem that requires professional service. Don't attempt to open up the laptop case yourself.
Seek out a reputable computer repair shop in your area that services your specific laptop brand. Make sure they have certified technicians qualified to work on your model.
The repair shop can troubleshoot further and identify any internal issues with the charging system and motherboard components. This may require soldering and replacement of internal parts.
While not ideal, competent professional repair is still less costly than replacing the entire laptop. Make sure you understand the repair quote in advance.
Don't Lose Hope!
As frustrating as a dead laptop can be, don't lose hope if your machine won't charge! In most cases, the underlying cause is minor and can be fixed with basic troubleshooting or replacement of inexpensive parts.
Methodically try each solution above to isolate the issue, or seek professional help if needed. With some time and effort, you can likely get your laptop up and running again.
The key is to stay calm, avoid forcing anything, and be gentle with delicate components like charging ports. And of course, always backup your data so nothing is lost.
With the right repairs, your laptop should be back to full functionality, allowing you to work and play anywhere. Now go ahead and plug it in - I'm betting you'll see that lovely charging indicator light up again!