Laptop Plugged in but Not Charging? Here’s How To Fix
A laptop isn’t much good if it won’t charge. Rather than being the portable powerhouse of productivity that it is supposed to be, the laptop is either an expensive paperweight or underpowered desktop replacement.
If your laptop is plugged in but not charging, there are a couple of ways to fix it. In this article, you’ll read about all three solutions to help you narrow down and fix the problem. Just keep in mind that basic troubleshooting generally requires different methods until you find the reason behind your laptop charging problem.
Before we dive into fixing your laptop, let’s first review some troubleshooting steps that will save you time. Typically, when a laptop isn’t charging, there are three main reasons: The charging cable isn’t working correctly, the battery is failing, or the software isn’t responding properly.
While it’s difficult to diagnose a software issue when your laptop is dead, we can rule out the other two options. If both the cable and the battery are functioning properly, the software is the culprit. However, if the charging cable or battery doesn’t respond accordingly, the failed hardware is the culprit.
Here are some things you can try right now to determine where the problem originates.
1. Check the Cable
We’ll start by checking your laptop cable. In the best-case scenario, you have another device compatible with your laptop charger or a spare charger handy. Plug the cable into another device. Is it charging? If it is, the battery or software is the problem. If the secondary device doesn’t charge, it’s either the wall outlet or the charger.
Now, let’s check the wall outlet. This is often an overlooked troubleshooting step, but it ensures that we aren’t getting a faulty reading from the previous test. It’s best to unplug an existing device (that is working properly) and plug in your charger. This ensures that the outlet is emitting electricity. If your laptop still doesn’t charge, it’s most certainly the cable.
Check the Battery
Checking the battery is a little more difficult than checking the charging cable. Especially if you can’t power your computer on or you don’t have a removable battery. But, there are some key indicators that let you know your battery is going bad. Take note of any of the following issues:
- The battery is getting hot. Especially while charging.
- The battery seems to go dead faster than it did when you first purchased it. Sometimes this can be normal wear and tear, or you’re doing more on your laptop than you did before.
- Taking a long time to charge to 100%.
- The battery is swollen. Inspect the seams of your laptop for any bulging or separation.
If you do have a removable battery and a multimeter, you can use the multimeter to check the connection ports. However, you will also need to know the voltage rating on the battery too. This information will be available on the battery or the manufacturer’s website.
If you haven’t noticed any signs of battery failure and your charging cable passes the tests above, jump straight to step 2. Otherwise, read through the sections that correspond with your diagnosis to fix your laptop.
1. Faulty Power Adapter or Charging Cable
Considering how expensive the average laptop is, the quality of its 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 you rush out to buy a new charger, try a few fixes first.
Confirm that both ends appear securely positioned. If your AC adapter has a status light, ensure it is on while plugged into the power outlet. If your charging cable has a transformer box, ensure that it is properly plugged into each end.
Look for movement where the charger meets the laptop. Connectors often wear out over time. Over time, you may experience a socket that fits loosely and wiggles around. Occasionally, if you exert any variation of force on the power cable where it meets the laptop, it can bend, leading to damaged pins or breaks in the wires. This scenario not only applies to coaxial plugs but also to USB and Lightning. Sometimes wiggling the cable will help to initiate charging.
If everything is secure, it may be time to replace the charger. You can typically find a well-priced charging cable on Amazon. But, it’s best to get one directly from the manufacturer to ensure the battery isn’t damaged later.
2. Resolving an OS Power Issue
Windows Virtual Driver
If you use 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 impact the charging process. Here’s what to do.
- Type ‘Device Control Manager’ into the Cortana/Search Windows box and open Windows Device Manager.
- Select Batteries and open up the menu.
- Select Microsoft ACPI-Compliant Control Method Battery driver.
- Right click and select Uninstall.
- Select Scan for hardware changes in the top menu of Device Manager.
- Allow Windows to scan and install the driver once more.
Replacing the virtual driver “Microsoft ACPI-Compliant Control Method Battery” solves many issues with a laptop plugged in and not charging.
If the driver doesn’t solve the problem, try draining the laptop’s residual power fully. This process forces the laptop to discharge any residual voltage. It is like a hard reset and can sometimes shake the battery back into life.
- Remove the laptop battery and power cord.
- Hold down the power button on the laptop for 20 – 30 seconds.
- Replace the battery and boot 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 about later.
Reset SMC on a MacBook
For those using a MacBook, “Resetting SMC” is a helpful tool not available on Windows. SMC is the System Management Controller, which influences battery and power management, so it is an 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.
- Switch off your MacBook and connect the power adapter.
- Hold down the Shift + Control + Option keys and the Power button at the same time.
- Let go of all the keys, and you should briefly see the light on your adapter change color.
- Boot your MacBook and retest.
3. A Faulty Laptop Battery
A faulty battery is more likely in older laptops rather than new ones, but it is possible on any device. There are two tests you can try.
Check your laptop manual for the hardware test process. On a Dell laptop, switch it off, then turn it on again. After seeing the Dell logo, hit “F12” to launch the boot list. Select “Diagnostics,” then choose the “battery test” feature.
On a Macbook Pro, you need to run the Apple Hardware Test. 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. Choose “System Information.” A new window opens. Click on “Power.” Check to see the status of your battery. The battery is listed as “normal” under the “Condition” section in the screenshot below.
Other laptops have similar test features. Check your manual to see how to access yours.
If you know someone with the same laptop, swap 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 replaced easily.
Laptop Not Charging FAQs
This section includes the answers to more questions you may have about fixing a laptop that isn’t charging.
What can I do if my cord isn’t working?
Laptop users have several options to get back up and running if they have 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. Be careful as this could be a fire hazard if not done correctly, and don’t mess with the cord while it’s plugged in.
If the power line seems 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 just to keep it plugged in at your desk. But, it is usually not healthy for battery life. Most manufacturers do not recommend leaving the charging/power cord plugged in. Laptop users worldwide agree based on their experiences.
It generally kills the lifespan of the battery over time. You go from 3-4 hours per charge to 0.5-2 hours. Ultimately, check with your laptop’s users guide to understand better how to care for your battery correctly. If you’re using a third-party charger, it’s probably a good idea to unplug your computer once charging is complete.
What do I do if my battery is swollen?
Electronics use Lithium batteries that are quite volatile when punctured. A swollen battery not only causes charging issues, but it can be dangerous. When a battery is punctured, it will emit a gas that isn’t safe to inhale and very possibly start a small fire. Do not squeeze the battery or use metal or sharp tools to pry it out of the laptop.
If you notice your laptop case splitting or the battery bulging, it’s best to put the entire unit somewhere away from flammable material and contact the manufacturer for device-specific instructions. If you feel comfortable removing a swollen battery, you need to dispose of it at a facility designed to handle Lithium batteries.
How long do laptop batteries last?
The average lifespan of a laptop is somewhere around two to four years. But, this can vary depending on how you care for your laptop. For example, unplugging your laptop regularly and keeping it in a climate-controlled environment (not too hot, cold, or humid) will prevent the battery from aging quickly.