A laptop is no good if it isn’t charging. Rather than being the portable powerhouse of productivity it should be, the laptop is either an expensive paperweight or a substandard desktop replacement.
If your laptop is plugged in but not charging, there are a couple of ways to fix it. This article will tell you about all three solutions to help you narrow down and fix the problem. Keep in mind that basic troubleshooting generally requires several methods until you find the reason behind your laptop charging problem.
Solving a problem
Before we get into repairing your laptop, let’s take a look at some troubleshooting steps that will save you time. If a laptop does not charge, there are usually three main reasons: the charging cable is not working properly, the battery is not working, or the software is not responding properly.
While it is difficult to diagnose a software problem when your laptop is dead, we can rule out the other two options. If both the cable and battery are working fine, then the software is the culprit. However, if the charging cable or battery does not respond accordingly, the faulty hardware is the culprit.
Here are some things you can try now to determine where the problem is coming from.
1. Check the cable
We’ll start by checking your laptop cable. Ideally, you’ll have another device that’s compatible with your laptop charger or a spare charger on hand. Connect the cable to another device. Is it charging? If it does then the battery or the software is the problem. If the secondary device does not charge, it is the wall outlet or charger.
Now let’s check the outlet. This is often an overlooked troubleshooting step, but it ensures we don’t get an erroneous reading from the previous test. Your best bet is to unplug an existing device (which is working fine) and plug in your charger. This causes the socket to supply power. If your laptop still won’t charge, it’s definitely the cable.
Check the battery
Checking the battery is slightly more difficult than checking the charging cable. Especially if you can’t turn on your computer or if you don’t have a removable battery. But there are some key indicators that let you know that your battery is going bad. Look for any of the following issues:
- The battery gets hot. Especially while charging.
- The battery seems to be draining faster than when you first bought it. Sometimes this can be normal wear and tear, or you are doing more with your laptop than before.
- Takes a long time to charge to 100%.
- The battery is swollen. Inspect the seams of your laptop for bulges or separations.
If you do have a removable battery and a multimeter, you can use the multimeter to check the connection ports. However, you also need to know the voltage on the battery. This information is available on the battery or on the manufacturer’s website.
If you haven’t noticed any signs of battery failure and your charging cable passes the tests above, skip directly to Step 2. Otherwise, read the sections that match your diagnosis to fix your laptop.
1. Faulty power adapter or charging cable
Considering how expensive the average laptop is, the quality of the power adapter is usually relatively low. If your laptop is plugged in and not charging, the power cord and adapter should be your first port of call. Before rushing to buy a new charger, try a few solutions first.
Check that both ends appear firmly positioned. If your AC adapter has a status light, make sure it is lit while plugged in. If your charging cable has a transformer box, make sure it is properly connected at each end.
Look for movement where the charger touches the laptop. Connectors often wear out over time. Over time, you may experience a socket that fits loosely and wobbles. Occasional force on the power cord where it touches the laptop can bend it, resulting in damaged pins or breaks in the wires. This scenario applies not only to coaxial plugs, but also to USB and Lightning. Sometimes wiggling the cable helps to initiate charging.
If everything is safe, it may be time to replace the charger. You can usually find a well-priced charging cable on Amazon. But it’s best to get one directly from the manufacturer to make sure the battery doesn’t get damaged later.
2. Resolving an operating system power problem
Virtual Windows Driver
If you are using a Windows laptop, there is a common problem with the Microsoft ACPI-Compliant Control Method Battery driver. This issue has been around since Windows 7 and can affect the loading process. Here’s what to do.
- Type “Device Control Manager” in the Cortana/Search Windows box and open Windows Device Manager.
- Select Batteries and open the menu.
- Select Microsoft ACPI Compliant Checking Method Battery Driver.
- Right click and select Uninstall.
- Select Scan for hardware changes from the main menu of Device Manager.
- Let Windows scan and install the driver again.
Replacing the virtual driver “Microsoft ACPI-Compliant Control Method Battery” solves many problems with a laptop that is plugged in and not charging.
If the driver doesn’t fix the problem, try completely draining the laptop’s remaining power. This process forces the laptop to discharge any residual voltage. It’s like a hard reset and can sometimes bring the battery back to life.
- Remove the laptop battery and power cord.
- Press and hold the power button on the laptop for 20 – 30 seconds.
- Replace the battery and start up the laptop.
- Once powered on, plug the power cord into the laptop and see if it charges.
You may have a faulty laptop battery if this process doesn’t work. You can run a few tests to find out, which you’ll read more about later.
Resetting SMC on a MacBook
For those using a MacBook, “Reset SMC” is a useful tool that is not available on Windows. SMC is the System Management Controller, which affects battery and power management, so it’s an extra step you can take if your MacBook battery isn’t charging. Resetting SMC will reset some customizations so you will need to reconfigure them but other than that this process is harmless.
- Turn off your MacBook and connect the power adapter.
- Hold down the Shift + Control + Option keys and the Power button at the same time.
- Release all keys and you should briefly see the light on your adapter change color.
- Restart your MacBook and test again.
3. A defective laptop battery
A faulty battery is more likely on older laptops than new ones, but it is possible on any device. There are two tests you can try.
Refer to your laptop manual for the hardware testing process. On a Dell laptop, turn it off and then back on. After seeing the Dell logo, press “F12” to launch the boot list. Select ‘Diagnosis’ and then choose the ‘battery test’ function.
On a Macbook Pro, you need to run the Apple Hardware Test. Turn the laptop off and then on again. Press and hold the “D” key on the keyboard until you see Apple Hardware Test. Navigate through the language selection and then select the “default” test.
If you’re using a MacBook, you can easily see if there’s a battery problem by holding down the “control” button and clicking the “Apple logo” in the top left corner. Choose ‘System Information’. A new window will open. Click on “Power”. Check the status of your battery. The battery is listed as “normal” under the “Condition” section in the screenshot below.
Other laptops have similar testing features. Consult your manual to see how to access yours.
If you know someone with the same laptop, swap the batteries to see if it works. This solution is the only real battery test besides buying a new one.
Depending on the age of your laptop and whether it has a warranty will determine your next course of action. For example, if you have a Macbook, you’ll need to contact Apple for a repair. But some Windows-based laptops have removable batteries that can be easily replaced.
Frequently asked questions about laptop not charging
This section contains the answers to more questions you may have about repairing a laptop that won’t charge.
What can I do if my cord is not working?
Laptop users have several options to get back to work if they have a cable problem. If your laptop cord is chewed or frayed, you can try connecting and sealing the inner wires with electrical tape. Be careful as this can cause a fire if not done correctly, and do not tamper with the cord while it is plugged in.
If the power cord appears to be irreparably damaged, you can order one from the manufacturer or Amazon. In the case of Mac users, Apple will provide another OEM charger for your MacBook for a fee.
Do I always have to leave my laptop connected?
If your laptop is your main computer, it might be easier to just keep it plugged into your desk. But it’s usually not healthy for battery life. Most manufacturers do not recommend leaving the charging/power cord plugged in. Laptop users around the world agree based on their experiences.
It generally kills battery life over time. You go from 3-4 hours per charge to 0.5-2 hours. Finally, refer to your laptop’s user guide to better understand how to properly care for your battery. If you’re using a third-party charger, it’s probably a good idea to unplug your computer once charging is complete.
What should I do if my battery is swollen?
Electronics use lithium batteries which are quite volatile when punctured. A swollen battery not only causes charging problems, but can also be dangerous. When a battery is punctured, it will release a gas that is not safe to inhale and may cause a small fire. Do not squeeze the battery or use metal or sharp tools to pry it out of the laptop.
If you notice that your laptop case is splitting or the battery is bulging, it’s best to place the entire device away from flammable materials and contact the manufacturer for device-specific instructions. If you feel comfortable disposing of a swollen battery, you should return it to a facility designed to handle lithium batteries.
How long do laptop batteries last?
The average lifespan of a laptop is between two and four years. But this can vary depending on how you take care of your laptop. For example, regularly unplugging your laptop and placing it in a climate-controlled environment (not too hot, cold, or humid) will prevent the battery from aging quickly.