Today’s world is so cruel and damaging and even more damaging about our laptops.No matter how much we care our lovely notebooks they just slip from our hands, beds, and tables or worse sooner if not later.
But if you think that all notebook damage can be repaired only by the manufacturer or a computer shop, think again. Many problems can be inexpensively and easily fixed with common tools, spare parts, and a little effort. Some repairs are no harder than high school art projects. That said, there are modern laptops that are very difficult to open and repair. If you can’t see any screws, you’re in for a tough time.
Using a couple of old, beat-up mainstream notebooks, we’ll show you how to fix everything from a broken case and frayed charger cord to a bad fan and scratched screen. Each restoration project has time and cost estimates, as well as what materials you’ll need to do the trick. Just follow the basic directions we’ve outlined for each repair.
Fair warning: Your system might be a little different, require special parts or need a slightly different approach. YouTube is your friend.
1: Problem: Frayed AC adapter cord
Because a notebook that travels needs to be plugged in and unplugged several times a day, the cord and connector can take a beating, leading to a frayed or otherwise damaged power cord. If this happens, it’s important to get a new cord or fix it right away, because it not only can damage the system’s battery through intermittent charging, but it can also be a fire hazard.
Cost: $5 to $15
Time: 1 to 2 hours
Materials: Silicone sealant, painter’s tape (which is less sticky than regular masking tape), protective gloves (optional)
The quick-and-dirty repair of a frayed cord is to wrap electrical or duct tape over the damage. This prevents further damage, but over time will come loose—not to mention leaving that sticky gunk all over the cable when it does.
A better way is to make a more permanent repair with silicone sealant, available at any hardware store and many supermarkets, which will insulate and protect it. It’s best to use black to match the cord’s color, but clear sealant works just as well.
To protect the surface you’re working on, lay down a wide strip of painter’s tape, sticky side down, and place the frayed area of the cord on top of it. The sealant won’t stick to the back of the painter’s tape the way it might to other barriers made out of paper or plastic, and the painter’s tape should peel right off the table when you’re done. (Note, however, that you shouldn’t be doing any kind of computer repairs on your good furniture.
2: Problem: Cracked laptop case:
When notebooks get dropped, more often than not they land on the corner, one of the weakest parts of the case. Unless you have a ruggedized notebook, there’s a good chance that after an encounter with gravity, the corner will be cracked or—as was the case with my laptop—broken through completely.
Time: 2 to 3 hours (20 minutes to set up the repair, 5 minutes to place and shape the putty, an hour or two to let it cure, 10 minutes to sand it, 30 minutes to paint it and let it dry)
Materials: Epoxy putty, sandpaper, razor blade, Sharpie marker or paint, gloves (optional)
You can use epoxy putty to fill in the broken part of the case. Epoxy putty is available online or at any hardware store for around $4 to $6 a tube, so you can even do this repair on the road. The brand of putty you choose doesn’t matter, but avoid the quick-setting variety because it might harden before you’re done.
First, make sure the damaged area is clean and free of dirt and lose pieces.
Then it’s time to prepare the putty. It comes as a cylinder with two components wrapped around each other. Just cut a section off and twist the parts together.
The key to a smooth case repair is to mix the two components together thoroughly in your hands. Because the putty hardens as the result of a chemical reaction between the two parts, it’s important that they are completely blended together. You might want to use gloves for this part because some people are sensitive to the chemicals in the putty.
Try rolling the putty into a long cylinder and then folding it over itself several times. After a few minutes, the putty becomes a uniform white or gray, and you’re ready.
3: Problem: Bad laptop fan:
A noisy or non-functional cooling fan is not only annoying but doesn’t bring enough cooling air into the case, potentially causing the notebook to overheat and damage the electronics inside. It’s not a hard repair to do, though, and if you’re lucky you may not need to replace the fan at all.
Cost: $15 to $25
Time: 1 hour
Materials: Screwdriver, compressed air, vacuum, replacement fan
Before you do anything else, find the place(s) where fresh air comes in and hot air escapes—usually one or more slotted grilles on the side or bottom of the system. There could be two or three vents, so search thoroughly. Insert the plastic straw from a can of compressed air into each vent and blow out all the dust that you can. You might want to put on a dust mask or have a vacuum cleaner running because there can be a disgusting amount of dust. Optionally, or additionally, you can try sucking things out with a canister vacuum cleaner.
If this doesn’t fix things, it’s time to dig deep and open the case. There are generally about a dozen screws on the bottom of the case that you’ll need to remove to open the case, but it varies widely depending on the notebook. For instance, some models require you to remove the keyboard to get inside. If it’s not immediately obvious, check your user’s guide or do some online research (again, YouTube is great for this stuff) to find out how your case opens.
4: Problem: Battery not charging properly:
Failed battery. If it doesn’t charge completely try reconnecting the battery first. Also, try running the laptop just from AC adapter with battery removed. If it runs fine from AC adapter, most likely it’s either bad battery or failed motherboard. Try replacing the battery first.
– Failed DC power connector. If the battery charges only after you adjust the position of AC adapter tip inside the connector, most likely this the DC jack failed.