Laptop Plugged in but Not Charging? Here’s How To Fix

A laptop isn’t much good if it won’t charge it. Rather than being the portable powerhouse of productivity, it should be, it is either an expensive paperweight or underpowered desktop replacement.

Laptop Plugged in but Not Charging? Here’s How To Fix

If your laptop is plugged in but not charging, here are a couple of ways to fix it.

Basic Troubleshooting

There are generally three main reasons why a laptop won’t charge:

  1. Faulty adapter or cord.
  2. Windows power issue.
  3. Faulty laptop battery.

In this article we’ll cover all three to help you narrow down and fix the problem. Just keep in mind, with basic troubleshooting we’ll try different methods until we find the reason behind your charging problems leading us to the proper solution.

Faulty Power Adapter or Cord Stops Charging

Considering how expensive the average laptop is, the quality of its mains adapter is usually quite low. If your laptop is plugged in and not charging, the power cord and adapter should be your first port of call.

Check both ends are securely positioned. One in the wall outlet and the other in your laptop power port. If your AC adapter has a status light, make sure it is on while plugged into the mains.

Look for movement where the charger meets the laptop. After a lot of use or because of poor quality control there can be slight movement. Occasionally, if you exert force onto the power cable where it meets the laptop, it can bend and create movement. Check for this. Move the charger cable around slightly where it plugs into your laptop to see if it is a bad connection.

If you know someone else with the same model laptop, borrow their charger to see if it works.

Of course, before rushing out to buy another one it’s also a good idea to try a different wall outlet too. This may seem common sense but many users overthink troubleshooting assuming the issue is with their computer rather than a wall outlet.

Windows Power Issue

If you use a Windows laptop, there is a common issue with the Microsoft ACPI-Compliant Control Method Battery driver. This has been around since Windows 7 through Windows 10 and can impact charging. The fix is fairly simple which is why I put this second.

  1. Type ‘Device Control Manager’ into the Cortana/Search Windows box and open Windows Device Manager.
  2. Select Batteries and open up the menu.
  3. Select Microsoft ACPI-Compliant Control Method Battery driver.
  4. Right click and select Uninstall.
  5. Select Scan for hardware changes in the top menu of Device Manager.
  6. Allow Windows to scan and install the driver once more.

Replacing the Microsoft ACPI-Compliant Control Method Battery solves many issues with a laptop being plugged in but not charging.

If that doesn’t work, you should try a full drain on the laptop. This removes the battery and forces the laptop to discharge any residual voltage. It is like a hard reset and can sometimes shake the battery back into life.

  1. Remove the laptop battery and power cord.
  2. Hold down the power button on the laptop for 20 – 30 seconds.
  3. Replace the battery and boot up the laptop.
  4. Once powered on, plug the power cord into the laptop and see if it charges.

If this doesn’t work, you may have a faulty laptop battery. There are a few tests you can run to find out which I’ll cover in a minute.

Reset SMC on a MacBook

Resetting SMC on a MacBook is a useful tool not available on Windows. SMC, System Management Controller, influences battery and power management so is a useful extra step you can take if your MacBook battery won’t charge. Resetting SMC will reset some customizations so you will need to configure them again but aside from that this process is harmless.

  1. Switch off your MacBook and connect the power adapter.
  2. Hold down the Shift + Control + Option keys and the Power button at the same time.
  3. Let go of all the keys and you should see the light on your adapter change color briefly.
  4. Boot your MacBook and retest.

Faulty laptop battery

A faulty battery is more likely in older laptops rather than new ones but it is possible in any device. The tests for this are limited but there are two things you can do.

Check your laptop manual for the hardware test process. On a Dell laptop, switch it off then turn it on again. As soon as you see the Dell logo, hit F12 to launch the boot list. Select Diagnostics. Within Diagnostics is a battery test feature.

On a Macbook Pro, turn the laptop off and then on again. Hold the ‘D’ key on the keyboard until you see Apple Hardware Test. Navigate past the language choice and then select the standard test.

If you’re using a MacBook you can easily see if there’s a problem with the battery by holding the ‘control’ button and clicking the Apple logo in the upper left-hand corner of your screen. From here, click ‘System Information.’ A new window will open and you can click ‘Power.’ Check to see the status of your battery. In the case of this screenshot it is listed as ‘Normal.’

Other laptops have similar test features, check your manual to see how to access yours.

You can also run your laptop without a battery although it doesn’t prove much. You can safely remove the laptop battery, plus the mains charger in and switch on the laptop. If it runs, you know the laptop itself works but the test does not tell you whether the issue is with the battery itself or the charging board in the laptop.

If you know someone with the same laptop, swap batteries to see if one works and one doesn’t. This is the only real test for the battery aside from buying a new one.

Frequently Asked Questions

What can I do if my cord isn’t working?

There are several options for laptop users to get back up and running if they’re having a cord issue. If your laptop cord is chewed or frayed you can try splicing the inner wires together and sealing it with electrical tape. Just be careful as this could be a fire hazard if not done properly and don’t mess with the cord while it’s plugged in.

If your cord is damaged beyond repair you can order one from the manufacturer or Amazon. In the case of Mac users, Apple will supply another OEM charger for your MacBook for a cost.

Should I leave my laptop plugged in all the time?

If your laptop is your main computer it may be easier to just leave it plugged in at your desk. But, is this healthy for you battery life?

There’s actually a lot of debater surrounding this very question and for good reason. Assuming you’re using the manufacturers’ charging cord with the original battery, you should be fine. Most chargers are designed to stop charging once the battery reaches full capacity. But, if it doesn’t that could lead to a shortened battery life.

Ultimately, check with your laptop’s users 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 simply unplug your computer once it’s full.

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