laptop has lost AC power, how can I fix it?
May 12, 2007 1:01 PM   Subscribe

AC power is lost on my computer and I need to use it this weekend! How can I find a reputable computer technician that can fix it today or tomorrow?

I made a big mistake and bought a new power cord for my HP Pavilion ze4400 laptop on Ebay and it seems to have burned out my AC power. Until recently I had a great friend that would fix my computer for a case of beer but he's since moved to another state so I'm a little clueless on how to find a reputable computer tech. Is there a good website that can refer me to a capable repairman? Is this something that's easy to fix or did I do something terribly wrong to my computer? My battery has about 20 minutes of power left. What to do?
posted by any major dude to Computers & Internet (14 answers total)
This is probably not going to be easy to fix unless it has a power module like some macbooks (I doubt it) have you tried a different cord? I hope you didn't get one with reversed polarity.
posted by IronLizard at 1:23 PM on May 12, 2007

You might want to get a usb key and copy the documents off that you need so you can work on a different computer.

you might want to turn down your lcd screen brightness, you'll eek out a couple more minutes, turn off wifi as well.
posted by bottlebrushtree at 1:28 PM on May 12, 2007

So what happens when you plug the cord in?
posted by cmonkey at 1:29 PM on May 12, 2007

Your options depend on the damage your system sustained. We must determine whether or not a power surge reached your laptop.

It's unlikely that your computer was harmed by the faulty adapter. To confirm this, try running your computer on battery power. If it performs, all you need is to purchase a new power supply. Universal AC adapters can be had for under $150 from most electronics stores. They come with several interchangeable ends, one of which should fit your computer. Exceptions exist, so keep your receipt. If you find yourself with extra time, purchase a new adapter directly from the manufacturer. This will be one half to one third the price of a universal adapter.

If your computer won't turn on, well, you're gonna want to find a different machine to use this weekend. In notebook computers, the power connector is soldered to the motherboard. This makes repairs very difficult. Since notebook components and assembly vary so much, it's best to go to a shop certified by the manufacturer (HP, in this case). I'd contact HP with your question.
posted by nilihm at 1:33 PM on May 12, 2007

Response by poster: when I plug in the cord it does nothing. Just shows the battery drain in the system tray. I'm worried that the new cord that I bought somehow burned out the AC power converter inside the laptop. I assume I'm going to need a technician to look at it, and I don't have a clue where I can take it - there are no storefronts in my town that advertise computer repairs so I assume I'm going to have to find someone who works from home. Is Craigslist a good place or should I go with the Yellow Pages?
posted by any major dude at 1:34 PM on May 12, 2007

Response by poster: nilihim, I thought it was the power cord so I bought a new one on ebay, but it still had the same problem - for a while - if I jiggled the cord it would work but then fall back to battery power. I assumed this meant that it was something internal my old power cord was way too close to the usb slot so it always ended up wrapped around it putting stress on the connector which I assumed may have pulled it loose inside the laptop - is that possible?
posted by any major dude at 1:38 PM on May 12, 2007

Geek McRandom from Craigslist cannot be able to repair your system. You need either a new adapter or a new motherboard. A universal adapter will reveal which. Contact HP if you wind up needing a new motherboard. It's difficult to source laptop components, so they're your safest bet.
posted by nilihm at 1:42 PM on May 12, 2007

Best answer: Sorry, I didn't see your reply. That's totally right. Physical stress can tear the internal connector free. You could resolder it, but that's, uh, risky, to put it mildly. It could put a damper on your night life.

I recommend backing up critical files and shipping it back to HP. If your system doesn't boot, remove the hard drive. It can be placed it in an external enclosure for use on a different machine. Any good tech can do that for you if you're uncomfortable. Enclosures for 2.5" laptop drives sell between $20-$40.
posted by nilihm at 1:49 PM on May 12, 2007

Response by poster: nilihm - are you saying I can take out my hard drive on the HP and use it on another computer while my hp is getting repaired? Is it as easy as pulling out my hard drive and placing in this hard drive enclosure and plugging it into the usb slot of another computer and it will allow my to access all the info as if it's just an external drive? That would be a lifesaver if that's what it is. Will they be able to fix my computer without the hard drive?
posted by any major dude at 1:56 PM on May 12, 2007

nilihm will probably respond with a better answer, but just wanted to say that, yeah, an external enclosure will do that. My husband just got one from Best Buy. The old laptop hd went in there and it plugs into the usb port.
posted by selfmedicating at 2:15 PM on May 12, 2007

Yes, it's that easy. See the service manual for directions.

Refurbished machines are often issued in lieu of actual repairs, so your hard drive may be required You'll have to talk to HP about that.
posted by nilihm at 2:15 PM on May 12, 2007

Response by poster: thanks nilihm I'll go out and buy one and check with HP about the fix. One more thing, will the programs run off the external enclosure or will I just have access to the files?
posted by any major dude at 2:26 PM on May 12, 2007

That depends on the program. Software that's properly registered with the operating system probably won't start. Standalone executables, though, should run fine.

You're very welcome!
posted by nilihm at 3:18 PM on May 12, 2007

If you go the remove HDD/ship to HP route, you might be able to run a repair disk -- I've done this with XP -- this will install missing drivers etc, however getting the transplant drive to work reliably again in a new host computer will be time consuming, and more work than a new OS install.
posted by acro at 6:39 PM on May 12, 2007

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