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What to Do When Your Laptop’s AC Adapter Fails

If your laptop doesn’t power up, you may need to check your AC adapter. The adapter plugs into wall current at one end and the computer at the other; in between is a sealed box that converts 100 to 240 volts of alternating current (depending on the laptop design) to about 15 to 20 volts of direct current.

If the adapter and its cords are working improperly, the computer won’t receive power and its battery won’t recharge. The good news is that you can purchase a replacement adapter from most manufacturers or from third-party sources.

Here are some possible reasons why your AC adapter may fail:

  • All things electronic have a finite life; they will eventually fail. They may receive dirty power that stresses components. They heat up and cool down each time you use them. Internal parts may corrode. With luck, your adapter won’t reach its moment of mortality before the laptop itself retires.

  • The converter in the sealed box could become fried from a power surge coming in from the AC line.

  • The cable from the converter to the laptop could come out of the laptop. (This one’s easy: Reattach the plug.)

  • The detachable plug from the wall to the converter could become dislodged at its point of connection to the converter. (You know what to do here, right? Lodge it.)

  • The detachable plug could break or the cable itself could become cut or shorted out. (Stop. Don’t attempt to use an electrical device with obvious damage, especially on the AC side of the adapter. You can purchase a replacement cable much easier than you can replace your house and everything in it if you do something foolish and burn it down.)

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