Assault on battery
November 6, 2005 7:44 PM   Subscribe

The power cord keeps falling out of my laptop. How can I fix this?

I have a Compaq Presario R3000. The thing is a big fat beast and the battery consumption on it is atrocious. Usually I keep it plugged in, but I've been having problems with the power cord lately. Somehow (through lots of plugging and unplugging I guess) the power cord has come to wiggle around a lot in the outlet in the back. Often, it slips out and the computer reverts to battery power, and if I don't keep a close eye on the power source icon on the taskbar, the computer winks out on me when I'm in the middle of typing something. With time it's gotten worse: I just spent ten minutes trying to get the power cord in just the right position and prop in up with books so that it won't immediately switch to battery as soon as I remove my hand from the cord. And no matter how good a job I do of placing it in precisely and taping it in, it still eventually worms its way back out.

This is a different issue than the one discussed here: the power cord I have is straight, not angled. I've seen similar compaints on a few message boards, but no fixes. It seems like the problem is with the "female" inlet in the back of my computer, not the power cord. The prongs inside the inlet don't seem to be holding the cord in place. What can I do about this? Has anyone else had this problem? Is it fixable? If I have to take my laptop in to get looked at, where should I go?

(Dammit, there it just went again)
posted by painquale to Computers & Internet (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I had a similar problem with a Toshiba Satellite. I took the easy way out, wrapped a tiny strip of duct tape around the end of the plug so it fit into the power pocket of the laptop a little more securely. Still had to be careful not to hit it with anything or it would pop out again, but otherwise no problem.

Good luck!
posted by Seabird at 8:01 PM on November 6, 2005

I have the same problem with my beloved fujitsu. I've decided I have to take the thing in to have a pro look at it and was planning to do so tomorrow, if I can get up in time to make it before work. If they tell me I need a new motherboard I'm going to try one of the services mentioned in your link above, thanks.
posted by CunningLinguist at 8:01 PM on November 6, 2005

Best answer: The classic way to fix a loose plug is to bend the prongs outward ever so slightly. You'll want to do this carefully, with a needle-nosed pliers, but it will probably do wonders to make the plug more secure.

I also second the duct tape idea, although that can lead to it becoming gummed up as adhesive is squeezed out.
posted by dhartung at 8:21 PM on November 6, 2005

I have the same problem, except mine is angled like the laptop in the link you posted. I thought I was the only one having this problem. I didn't solve it, but when the cord pops out, the screen dims significantly and I notice right away. Thusly, my battery never dies because I'll pop the cord right back in. Annoying, but it works for the time being.
posted by sian at 8:35 PM on November 6, 2005

Paper Mache.
posted by bigmusic at 8:39 PM on November 6, 2005

Duct tape all the way. Added benefit: you're tottally punk. Or Red Green.
posted by panoptican at 9:26 PM on November 6, 2005

I don't think duct tape will work longterm. It did for me at first, but the plug has gotten progressively more hinky and now it has to be jiggled and wiggled until it is positioned just so. It seems to be getting worse all the time and I'm afraid one day it will just stop charging altogether.
posted by CunningLinguist at 4:52 AM on November 7, 2005

I actually did the following to fix a loose ac adapter *and* keep my toddler from removing it...
I superglued a very small L-bracket to the back of the notebook (right at the edge with the ac adapter). I then used one of those very thin plastic one way zip things that is often used to secure clumps of wires together. I secured it from the hole in the L-bracket over to the fat part of the ac adapter plug, then snipped the extra. Works great. NOTE: I did this with an older notebook. I wouldn't glue anything to my new one.
posted by tom_g at 5:22 AM on November 7, 2005

Best answer: Using repeated applications of nail polish on plastic (NOT METAL) connections can do wonders for ALL plastic-to-plastic friction connections, like the one you describe.

It just takes a little dab. Let it dry, try the fit, and if it's still loose (and you 're sure you have the right spot to "grow"), apply a small dab. Lather, rinse, repeat as necessary.

The added benefit of this solution is you can easily reproduce it if the connection ever gets loose again.

The downside is that the metal connectors may be providing the connection strength, and you won't want an insulator like dried nail polish providing the connection.

In this case you'd want to go with somehow bending the connectors to a better which "sticks" but doesn't lose electrical conductivity. A last resort would be to unsolder the internal connector and replace it with a new (similar or exact replacement) connector.
posted by catkins at 9:14 AM on November 7, 2005

Avoid the gunky adhesive on duct tape. Use a paper match, or a bit of a matchbook cover.
posted by KRS at 5:32 PM on November 7, 2005

Response by poster: Update: I just got an e-mail from someone who read my question and asked if I ever managed to get the progblem resolved. This power cord issue seems to be a common problem with the Presario series. I'm posting the response I sent the e-mailer for the benefit of other people searching for information about this problem.

No, I never managed to get the Compaq fixed. My warranty had also expired and no computer repair places wanted to fix the thing without replacing the motherboard entirely (a 600 dollar solution or so), so I ended up trying some home-fixes. I opened the casing up with a friend who is a computer scientist and tried soldering the power cord outlet into place. It didn't work. (Incidentally, when I opened the computer up, I found that it was *full* of dust -- about a handful. My computer had been heating up a lot, and when I took the dust out, it ran nice and cool like it did when I first bought it. Yours might be in a similar condition.) Annoyingly, the power outlet was encased a shell that could only be removed by dismantling the whole computer -- my friend and I only tried soldering between the cracks of the casing.

I ended up giving it to a coworker's father who is a retired computer engineer... he looked at the inside and said that it might be possible to glue or solder the outlet in place, but only if the computer was taken apart almost entirely. It would be a ridiculous amount of work and he didn't want to deal with it. So I gave up, and just two days ago bought a new computer. A Toshiba, not a Compaq. Compaq is dead to me. I'm in the process of moving my data from my old hard drive to the new one.

I'm still hanging on to the computer, and am going to try dismantling and fixing it as a personal project, but I don't expect much success. If I ever get it working, I'll let you know how I did it. I hope you have more luck than I have had so far.

posted by painquale at 12:49 PM on January 9, 2006


We have two Compaq Presario R3000. Both bought about 2 years ago.

Last summer one of them developed the exact same "condition" that you described. We seem to have even more trouble because there seems to be some differentiation between power on and power off modes.

The battery will charge if you a) hold the plug in the back adn b) turn the power off. I constantly watch the little lightening bolt light on the front! The computer will not even recognize the power cord at all if it is powered on. The little power source symbol starts out as a cord and plug and within seconds it flips over to the battery logo.

I feel like this may be more than a simple loose cord issue.

I got a great deal (that's why we bought two) but if I don't hear of another realistic solution, I am considering having the whole mother board replaced and a new cord permanently attached.
posted by thomklig at 12:23 PM on February 12, 2006

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