7 ways to troubleshoot if your laptop battery is not charging

1 year ago 621
  • If your laptop battery isn't charging, first make sure there is no problem with your power adapter and cable.
  • On a modern laptop that charges via USB-C, make sure you're using the right USB-C port.
  • Here are seven ways to troubleshoot a laptop battery that is not charging.

Your laptop's battery runs down while you work, so it's not surprising that you'll see a low battery warning if you've been away from the office all day, running on battery power. What is surprising, though, is getting that battery warning if the laptop has been plugged in and (at least theoretically) charging all day.

But it can happen — sometimes, despite being connected to power, your laptop simply won't charge. There are a handful of reasons why that can happen, so read on for the seven most common ways to fix your laptop when the battery is not charging.

Make sure you're really plugged in

This might sound like one of those ridiculous "is your computer turned on" questions that the IT department tends to ask at the start of a troubleshooting session, but it's worth checking. Make sure you are really completing the circuit; the cable should be securely connected to your laptop and the power adapter plugged into the wall receptacle. Also make sure the laptop end of the cable is completely connected to the power adapter. And check to see if the wall outlet you're using is connected to a wall switch. Many homes let you toggle certain outlets on and off with a wall switch, so there may be no power flowing to the laptop.   

The USB-C port on a laptop.

Ensure your charging cable is securely connected to your laptop, power adapter, and wall outlet. Dave Johnson

Connect the correct USB-C port

Increasingly, modern laptops rely on USB-C as a standard high-capacity power cable instead of a proprietary power port. That's convenient, but it can lead to situations in which you accidentally plug your laptop's power adapter into the wrong USB-C power — one that isn't designed to serve as a charging port. If you plug your power adapter into the wrong USB-C port (one designed for data transfer and delivering power to other devices rather than charging the laptop battery) you won't damage your laptop, but your laptop won't charge. 

Use the right power adapter

Another common problem: Using the wrong power adapter. Many power bricks simply can't deliver enough power to charge your laptop, so just because you have access to an adapter with a USB-C cord, that doesn't mean you can charge any USB-C laptop with it. Low wattage chargers might be able to more or less keep your battery from running down while it's in use, but it'll charge very, very slowly, or not at all when the laptop is off. Find the charger that came with your laptop rather than trying one that's conveniently nearby. 

Try booting without the battery

If the problem isn't a bad connection, the wrong port or power adapter, it's possible that there is a problem with your laptop battery and it won't take a charge. Alternately, the power adapter could be failing. An easy way to check: If your laptop features a removable battery, take it out. Unplug the power adapter and then press and hold the laptop's power button for at least 15 seconds. This should reset the laptop and drain any residual charge in the power supply. Now, with the battery still removed, plug the power adapter in and see if you can start the laptop. If you can, great — the power adapter probably works fine. Reinsert the battery and see if it'll charge. Reseating the battery can fix a janky connection. And if your battery isn't removable, try resetting the laptop's power by holding the power button anyway. 

Let the laptop and adapter cool down

Still no joy? Let everything cool down. Shut off your laptop completely and let it return to room temperature, away from direct sunlight. Likewise, remove the power adapter from both the wall receptacle and the laptop and let it cool as well. After both components have returned to ambient temperature, try charging again. If either had gotten too hot, they might not be able to charge properly. 

Update your drivers

It's possible that your laptop might need a software update. You can quickly check to see if there are any driver updates that can get your computer charging again. 

If you are using a Windows laptop, click the Start button and type "device." Choose Device Manager when you see it appear in the search results. Expand the entry for Batteries and right-click Microsoft ACPI Compliant Control Method Battery. In the dropdown menu, choose Update Driver and then choose Search automatically for drivers. If there's an update available, install it and restart your laptop. Then try charging your battery again to see if that solved your problem. 

The Windows Device Manager window.

Check to see if your laptop needs to update its drivers. Dave Johnson

On a Mac, shut down your laptop with the power adapter still attached. Press and hold the power button while simultaneously pressing Shift + CTRL + Option. Let go of all the keys, and then turn the laptop back on to see if this solved the problem. 

Check the power cable for breaks 

Another aspect worth investigating is the possibility that the power cable itself has gotten damaged. Feel carefully along the entire length of the cable to make sure there are no sharp kinks, or that the cable is otherwise broken, frayed, or damaged. Check the ports and plugs to make sure everything looks to be in working order. 

Dave Johnson

Freelance Writer

Dave Johnson is a technology journalist who writes about consumer tech and how the industry is transforming the speculative world of science fiction into modern-day real life. Dave grew up in New Jersey before entering the Air Force to operate satellites, teach space operations, and do space launch planning. He then spent eight years as a content lead on the Windows team at Microsoft. As a photographer, Dave has photographed wolves in their natural environment; he's also a scuba instructor and co-host of several podcasts. Dave is the author of more than two dozen books and has contributed to many sites and publications including CNET, Forbes, PC World, How To Geek, and Insider.

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