Why Won't My Laptop Charge When I Plug My Charger In?

By Dan Eash

Laptops are popular because they're convenient. Who wants to stay at a desk when you can take a laptop everywhere you go? The portability and rechargeability of laptops makes this possible but it takes a lot of juice to run them. Because laptops discharge in about two to three hours of use, their batteries and power components go through many charge-discharge cycles. If your laptop won't recharge, knowing what to look for will make it easier to find the problem.

Bad Laptop Battery

New batteries are rarely defective but if your laptop loses 15 to 20 percent of its ability to hold a charge within the first few months, your battery might be bad. You can also train a battery to perform poorly by not fully discharging it once a month or by ignoring manufacturer recommendations. An easy way to find out if your battery is the problem is by replacing it with one from another laptop and seeing if the replacement takes a charge. If your battery recharges, but not all the way, you probably need to recalibrate it or to update your BIOS. You can find BIOS updates on your laptop manufacturer's website, and recalibration involves changing your laptop's power settings to prevent it from going into standby or hibernation when the power gets low.

Bad Laptop Power Adapter or Charger

You can check if the adapter is working by removing your laptop battery and seeing if the laptop runs with just the adapter plugged in. If it doesn't, the adapter is probably dead. Even if your laptop runs with just the adapter, the adapter might not have enough power to charge your laptop battery at the same time. You can find out by putting your battery back in, plugging in the adapter and turning your laptop off. If the battery charges with your laptop turned off, your adapter is defective and needs to be replaced.

Bad Laptop Power Jack

The DC jack, where your power adapter plugs in, can wear out as you connect and disconnect the adapter. If that happens you will have a loose or broken connection and little or no power will reach your battery. The symptoms are hard to miss since your adapter won't fit snugly and your laptop's power and battery LEDs will flicker if you bump the power cord. You might even see sparks coming from the jack. You can confirm that the jack is bad by doing the adapter checks in Section 2 with a working power adapter from another laptop that has the same voltage as yours. If your laptop doesn't power up or charge the battery, you probably have a bad jack.

Bad Laptop Motherboard

If your battery, power adapter and power jack pass inspection, you're looking at a worst case scenario. The charging circuit in your motherboard might have overheated and stopped working. This problem has been reported on Dells and other laptops. When charging problems are caused by bad motherboards, the power from the wall socket doesn't reach the battery or computer. The only solution is to replace your motherboard and it's only worth doing if you have a new laptop that justifies the cost.