Computer power connection malfunctioning
December 21, 2011 9:56 PM   Subscribe

Is it possible to replace the female part of the power cord connection in a laptop?

I have a Compaq Presario CQ50. A few years old, so maybe I should be replacing it anyways, but...

Recently the connection between the charger and the battery has been malfunctioning. I put the plug all the way in and it doesn't recharge (and the little light doesn't light up). I rotate the plug back and forth, take it out and put it back in... and *sometimes* it works. And *sometimes* it stays. Long enough to keep the laptop alive, for now....

(In the mean time, it seems to be working less and less...)

Is there anyway to fix this connection? Or do I have to get a whole new computer?
posted by lewedswiver to Technology (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You can fix it, provided you know how to solder. Once you get the laptop case apart, it's a pretty simple repair. The socket is loose, and you just need to re-solder its joints.

Getting the laptop apart (and back together again) is the real challenge, but with an old machine, what have you got to lose?
posted by bhayes82 at 10:28 PM on December 21, 2011

Yes, you can fix it; you'll want to search for "dc jack replacement" and the model name. There may even be a video tutorial for that computer or a similar one.

I recently contemplated doing this for my netbook, because I was having the same problem, but decided to take the least invasive step first and replace the cord. Bam! Solved without solder. It's worth a shot.
posted by cobaltnine at 10:34 PM on December 21, 2011

Response by poster: I don't know how to solder, lol. But I imagine a computer repair shop would for a relatively low fee. Cobaltnine's solution might work as well. Thanks!
posted by lewedswiver at 10:39 PM on December 21, 2011

You might want to see if you can get a mini dc jack extension. Plug that in and secure it once you get a good power signal. Then you are not stressing the motherboard connection again but plugging into the extension each time.
It may look uglier but when the computer shop has to crack the case to solder the motherboard it may become an attractive option.
posted by stuartmm at 1:44 AM on December 22, 2011

It's much more likely that the power cable itself is faulty, barring significant trauma to the laptop power jack (e.g. laptop dropped and landed on power cord, power cord kicked while plugged in)

The power cable itself is one of the most common points of failure on a laptop. I have repaired many, and as mentioned above, anyone with a decent level of soldering ability should be able to fix it.
posted by davey_darling at 5:40 AM on December 22, 2011

It is possible, but there are a couple of points to pay attention to.
- You'll need to find some instructions on how to open up the laptop. Some are easier than others. Be sure to count the screws and store them in a dish at each step so you don't lose any!
- Take a good look at the female DC jack. If the jack itself is broken, you'll have to find a replacement. They are available, but they're relatively specialised, so you have to search for them. If the female DC jack is intact, but detached from the motherboard, you can re-solder it back on.
- There are different solder alloys, and different techniques for soldering electronics. Do your homework to make sure you are doing it right.

Alternately, computer repair places do repairs like this all the time... call 'em up and ask how much time and money they want.
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 6:16 AM on December 22, 2011

I had a similar situation a few years ago. I had several power cables so I knew that wasn't the problem. I replaced the connector jack with solder, but that didn't fix the problem. My issue was probably in the power circuitry somewhere — a little beyond my repair abilities. I ended up getting a new motherboard off eBay and that laptop is still kicking at well over six years old.
posted by stopgap at 6:50 AM on December 22, 2011

Take pictures lavishly. Re-assembly is much easier if you can look at a well-lit close-up photo. I have learned this lesson more than once.
posted by theora55 at 7:06 AM on December 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

If you are concerned about cost, if you live close to a community college or electronics trade school, they may have someone who would do it for cheaper than a repair place. My school has such a program, and all repairs are performed under the watchful eye of an instructor. They charge a minimal fee, since the point is education, not profit.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 7:47 AM on December 22, 2011

FWIW - I had this problem on my Dell and I was unable to fix it even after re-soldering the joint several times. I ended up getting a laptop dock for cheap on Amazon, maybe $20. It bypasses the normal power connector and works great. Of course, you're still screwed if you need to use the laptop away for your desk for awhile. But one battery is enough to give a presentation, watch a TV episode in bed, look at a recipe in the kitchen... Saved me a lot of grief and money.
posted by scose at 9:49 AM on December 22, 2011

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