Archive for August, 2010

Death of a Laptop – First the Power Jack, then the AC Adapter, and finally the Battery

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

Death of a Laptop

Don’t let a damaged laptop power jack result in a damaged AC adapter or damaged battery as well.  Here are some tips to minimizing the cost of power jack repair by preventing additional damage that is common when power jacks go bad…

One of the biggest laptop headaches today is power jack failure.  It’s not unusual for customers to bring laptops to our local service center with the power jack (where the power cord plugs into the back or side of the laptop) completely mangled or even missing– knocked loose and pushed back into the chassis of the laptop.

There are many reasons why laptop power jack failure is so common including poor design that doesn’t withstand the wear and tear of daily or more frequent connection and disconnection (this is particularly true of flimsy ”barrel” type connectors).  Other common causes include  tripping over the cord or picking up the laptop not realizing it’s plugged in only to rip the cord from the jack.

To the credit of some manufacturers, it has been recognized that this is a serious problem with laptop design, and so some steps have been taken to reduce the incidence of failure.  Some Dell laptops for example, utilize a heavy-duty three-pronged connector that is less prone to damage from pulling or twisting.  Probably the most innovative design is in the Apple Macbooks where the power cord attaches magnetically rather than via friction-fit. In that case, the power cord can easily be pulled free from the unit, even in a situation where one trips over the cord, without suffering the damage usually associated with friction fit connectors.

Two important thing to know when you are suffering from power jack problems:

  1. Running down your laptop battery until it’s dead may do permanent damage to the battery.
  2. Jiggling, twisting, or pulling the wire from your AC adapter to “force” a connection to a damaged power jack may damage your power adapter.

Resist the urge to run your computer until the battery is dead.  Why?  Because running your battery all the way down and not immediately recharging it can damage the battery to the point where it will no longer take a charge, or best case, may take a charge but will have significantly reduced life meaning it may only power your laptop for a few minutes compared to a normal life of several hours. Once this happens, you have increased the cost of repair to not only replacing the damaged power jack, but now you will need to replace the battery as well if you want to go wireless at all.

Another practice that can potentially increase the cost of repair is constantly jiggling and twisting the power adapter cable to force it to connect with a loose jack.  This can damage the power adapter cable itself, leaving you stuck with the cost of a power jack repair plus buying a replacement Power Adapter!

So if you are experiencing power jack or power supply problems with your laptop where you can maybe get it to run by jiggling the wire, or where it no longer runs on AC power, don’t add to the cost of repair by ruining your battery and AC adapter too!  And if it’s too late and you’ve already run your battery all the way down, get the repair done sooner rather than later as the longer the battery remains fully discharged, the more likely it is to be permanently damaged.

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ghc-logo-341w-x-482hThis article was written by Andy Trask, Head Geek at Geek Housecalls, the New England area’s original traveling computer geeks, on the web at www.geekhousecalls.com. Geek Housecalls specializes in “anything computer” and, since 2001, has become the trusted in-home computer and technology support provider for over 15,000 families and small business computer users in eastern Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and southern New Hampshire. For help with your computers, gadgets, or network at home or at the office, click here to contact Geek Housecalls via the web, or call toll free:

1-877-4PC-GEEK             (1-877-472-4335)