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Troubleshooting Laptop Power Failures - The AC Adapter

Symptom:

Wiggling the AC adapter cord causes the power status LED on the laptop to blink.


Diagnosis & Solution:

The problem could be that the copper wires inside the AC adapter cord became frayed or broken right where they enter the connector on the end of the AC adapter cord. The wires (a number of very thin conductors twisted into a heavier cable) are sized for the amount of power the laptop requires. As thin wires break and lose contact, all of the power must flow through the remaining conductors, leading to overheating, which can cause damage or be a safety hazard.

To make sure that this is the case, first test the output voltage from the connector on the end of the AC adapter cord using a digital multimeter set to measure DC voltage. While measuring, bend the AC adapter cord in various directions. If this causes the reading to jump betwwen zero & the nominal output voltage (written on the label on the AC adapter), then you know that you will need to replace the connector.

In order to get this fixed, you will need a new connector and basic soldering skills, or you can take it to an electronics shop for a cheap repair but get the price before agreeing. If you decide to repair it yourself, then you will have to find a replacement connector. Most of these connectors are easy to find and your local Radio Shack often has them in stock. Just bring your laptop along to make sure you get the right size. However, some laptops use a highly proprietary connector for which you can't easily find a replacement, in which case your best option is to find a failed AC adapter for your laptop model, cut the end off (with plenty of slack) and splice it onto your AC adapter's cable.

If you work on irregular surfaces (like a lap) and allow the cord to dangle, the wires may break just inside the connector due to pulling, despite the fact that the factory connector is encapsulated in molded plastic. You can carefully take apart the molded plastic with a razor knife to temporarily fix a connection, but it's smarter to replace the connector end as soon as you determine it is causing intermittent power failures.

Another possibility might be that the power receptacle in the laptop (where you plug the AC adapter cord) has failed. Sometimes the center pin of the connector breaks off, sometimes the solder joints on the main board fail, sometimes there's a break between the connector contacts and the motherboard contacts. In all these instances, you or the technician has to gain clear access to the laptop's motherboard to make the repair. In order to get this done, you might need clear disassembly instructions, as well as decent soldering skills. You could get a replacement connector usually for less than $10, but the repair charge can be several hundred dollars for some models if you take it to a local shop.

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M. Omran

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2 Answers

Inspiron 1545-my AC adapter doesn't seem to charge my battery


Check the LED Your Dell Inspiron 1525 offers five small blue LED lights on the front left corner of the laptop that display the status of various areas of your machine. The middle light shows the charge status of the battery, with a solid light indicating charging. The light changes to a blinking sequence as it nears full charge and turns off when full. Without the adapter cord plugged in, the battery LED turns orange as the charge runs down. Check the color of the light to verify charging status.
Verify Connections and Power
Start with the simplest cause and work backwards to the laptop. Use a different electric device to check for electricity from the wall outlet. Verify that the connections of adapter cord are tight and secure at the wall outlet, the brick and the laptop. Check the adapter cord's brick for a small LED that lights to indicate the presence of electricity.
Check the Battery
Battery issues can prevent proper charging, ranging from something as simple as a mis-seated battery to as serious as a completely dead battery. If the adapter seems to be functioning properly, try removing the battery and checking the small metal contacts in the laptop. Clean any corrosion or dirt from them to ensure a solid connection. Reseat the battery so that it clicks securely into place. If in doubt, try purchasing a replacement battery and see if that works.
Check the Adapter
Unless you keep your adapter cord in one place and never move it, every day use of the cord can cause the wires inside the insulating material to fray and kink. This wears them down, and can cause short circuits. The circuitry within the brick can also short out, preventing the delivery of the proper amount of voltage to the 1525. Use a voltmeter to double check that the cord is supplying the correct number of volts to the Inspiron.
Inside Problems
Internal issues can prevent a battery from charging, such as short circuits and a broken adapter port. The adapter port, the small opening you plug the end of the adapter cord into, is attached to the motherboard to carry the electricity to the various internal electronics. If this component breaks loose from the motherboard, the electricity can't go anywhere. A repair shop can fix this, as well as diagnose any other short circuits, for you.

Aug 09, 2012 | Dell Computers & Internet

1 Answer

Laptop LED Blink on Startup There are many reasons that a computer does not startup or boot into the Windows operating system. If your computer will not start or boot, you will see or hear symptom to indicate the general area of the problem. Startup Symptom: LEDs blink but does not start The blinking LED lights on newer computers, or the beep tones on older computers, will help support agent determine what hardware component is not responding properly. The exact meaning of each code varies with the model, and the user cannot change any of the blink or beep codes. DO THESE FIRST - Perform a hard reset. If a PC suddenly fails to boot properly, you should perform a hard reset as the first procedure. 1. Disconnect all peripheral devices and remove all USB devices and media cards. You want to test the computer not the accessories! 2. Disconnect the AC power adapter, remove the battery and then press and hold the power button for at least 15 seconds. 3. Reconnect the AC power adapter (but do not connect the battery), Press the Power button, Look for glowing LEDs near caps lock and num lock keys, and Listen for sounds of a disk drive and fan turning. Identify the number of blinks or beeps When there is a start-up problem and you see LED lights on the keyboard blink a few times (between 1 and 8 blinks) do the following actions. Table of Sample Blink Codes The following table illustrates the meaning of blink codes used on some notebooks. The blink or beep codes on your computer may have different meanings. Meaning of Sample Blink Codes for some EFI Notebooks: 1) Number of Blink: Continuous Glow, Blinking LED: Battery power LED, Component: Battery, Error Condition: The AC adapter is attached and the battery is charging, but does not yet have sufficient charge to power the notebook. 2) Number of Blink: 1, Blinking LED: Caps Lock/Num Lock, Component: CPU, Error Condition: CPU not functional 3) Number of Blink: 2, Blinking LED: Caps Lock/Num Lock, Component: BIOS, Error Condition: BIOS corruption failure 4) Number of Blink: 3, Blinking LED: Caps Lock/Num Lock, Component: Memory, Error Condition: Module error not functional 5) Number of Blink: 4, Blinking LED: Caps Lock/Num Lock, Component: Graphics, Error Condition: Graphics controller not functional. 6) Number of Blink: 5, Blinking LED: Caps Lock/Num Lock, Component: system board, Error Condition: General system board failure. 7) Number of Blink: 6, Blinking LED: Caps Lock/Num Lock, Component: BIOS, Error Condition: BIOS authentication failure. 8) Number of Blink: Continuous blink, Blinking LED: AC power adapter LED, Component: Power adapter, Error Condition: Insufficient power Common solutions for issues that cause blinking LEDs or beep tones When the computer can boot into the BIOS, run the memory test to identify other issues. Check for loose connections and test the memory Blink codes are often displayed after a user adds memory to the computer but does not seat the module properly. The LEDs may also blink error codes if a hardware component is loose because the computer was dropped or jarred. The problem could be that the stick of memory or one of the memory slots has a bad connection. Check for loose memory modules If a memory module is loose or is not making good contact with the memory slots, the computer does not recognize all of the memory. Reseating the memory module may resolve memory failure errors.

Mar 21, 2011 | Computers & Internet

2 Answers

My Laptop doesnt start at all . I dont know what


1. remove all ext peripherals
2. remove battery
3. check first the ac adapter if it has led on (make sure ac adapter is not connected to the laptop)
4. try any other wall socket check if ac adapter will led stay on
5. if ac adapter stayed on then connect to laptop (without the batter)
6. after connecting the ac adapter to laptop check if the ac adapter led turned off, if yes then check ac adapter laptop pin on the side if is loose or damage.
7. if ac adapter stayed on after connecting to laptop press now the power button on the laptop just once. check if the power led on laptop will turn on (check if power led stays on or it blinks amber)
8. if it blinks amber then remove all CRUs such as dvd drive, memory, hard drive and wireless cards. put them back one at a time. make sure you turn off laptop when putting removed hardware. this will check and isolate which causing the power led to blink.
9. if the power led stays on then turn it off again then wait a couple of seconds then press and hold on Fn key then press power button. wait for about 5 minutes while the power led is steady on, until you hear beeps once you hear beeps it means that LCD has problems. try then connecting laptop to an external monitor if it shows display there. press on Fn + F8 to toggle the display from LCD laptop to the ext monitor. if no display replace the motherboard. if it has display replace LCD.

Oct 15, 2009 | Dell Inspiron 6000 Notebook

1 Answer

Battery status LED blinkings amber


Try removing the power cable and battery, while these are removed press and hold the power button on the laptop for 30 seconds. this is called a hard reset, what it does is drains any residual power in the laptop. if this does not work, that means there is an issue with the motherboard. to have it sent in would cost about $398, give or take.

Jan 25, 2009 | Acer TravelMate 3260-4874 Notebook

1 Answer

Acer Aspire 5600


You still need to test the AC cord better.. Wiggling it in different areas to see if there is a break in the wires.... That is why i said watch for the Power light (when I say Power Light, not the one on the ac adapter cord... the power light on your laptop...)to see if it flickers or turns off at any point while you're testing the cord... If you have a Solid Lighted Power Light the whole time youre testing the AC cord (bending & wiggling it) then it is probably not the cord itself and i would then lean towards the DC jack...

Jun 04, 2008 | Acer Aspire 5600 Series 5630-6951 Laptop

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