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How to fix a broken computer/phone charger.

Here is my general routine.

Wake up, make a coffee.

Immediately start working (this usually beings with going through all the comments and emails that came in throughout the night.  It also gets me out of doing the dishes from dinner the night before that are strewn across every available work space in the kitchen even though I only made a grilled cheese sandwich. Yep.  I must get to work immediately and therefore, regrettably, do not have time for cleaning up or doing other things I would like to avoid.)

Start on whatever project I’m working on for the day.

Take photos of said project.

Go back into office to Photoshop those pictures.

Answer more emails, reply to comments.

Avoid dishes.

Call my mom. Cry that I don’t have time to do my dishes in the hopes she’ll come and do my dishes.  No. She can’t. She has a full social calendar that involves avoiding doing my dishes too.  Something about quilting and gambling.  I stopped listening after the word NO.

Then I go and work on my computer some more. Eat dinner, amassing more dishes,  then work on my computer some more.

There are 2 points to this story.  I don’t like cleaning up after cooking and I rely on my computer A LOT.

So when it exploded the other night you might say I was miffed.  If you were a Mormon.  If you’re anything other than Mormon you’d say  I went batshit crazy with a side dish of f*cked.  My computer is my life.  Literally.  It is how I make every single cent I make.  Sadly it isn’t so many cents that the thought of buying a new $2,500 computer doesn’t phase me.  It does phase me.  It phases me a LOT.

I unplugged the computer right away and shut it down in case it was overheating due to the enormous amount of porn I have stored on it.

Just jokin’.  I keep my porn on my external hard drive.

Once it cooled down I plugged the computer back in again only the have the charger do nothing.  It didn’t charge.  So I pulled it out and took a good look at my charger.  It was frayed and fried.

It wasn’t my computer that was fried. It was my charger.  Most of the chargers I own seem to separate where the actual plug is.  I don’t know if this is just with Mac products or if all chargers have this problem, but I did know I didn’t want to spend $70 or so for a new charger.

So I fixed it.

And you can too.

This is a really common problem with chargers.  The wire gets pulled, twisted and bent until it finally separates from its connection inside the plug.

You can see how this has happened on my charger below.

 

laptop-plug-1

 

To fix it (and you can’t break it any more if it isn’t working, right?) you have to remove the plug cover.  The pretty white thing.

 

laptop-plug2

 

I used a set of pliers and a box cutter to carefully cut the covering off.  I used the pliers to hold the plug in case the knife slipped.  It only takes me 2 trips to the ER to learn my lesson.

 

 

laptop-plug3

 

Once you get the first white covering off, there will be another one underneath.  Be careful removing both parts. You don’t want to damage the electrical board underneath.

 

laptop-plug4

 

Once everything is off you can see the guts of your plug.  In this case you can see where the white wire is attached still on the right of the electrical board, but the black wire on the left has frayed off.

 

laptop-plug5

 

If your wire has separated like this, just put your fingers at the bottom of your wire sheath and pull it towards the plug. This will stretch the sheathing (which holds the wires you need) up closer to the plug.

 

 

laptop-plug6

 

Now using wire cutters or whatever you have on hand, take about an inch of the sheathing off.

 

laptop-plug7

 

You’ll find the white wire that goes to the right side of your plug is covered with bare metal wires.  This is actually the second wire that goes to the left (the one that frayed off).

 

laptop-plug8

 

Unwind these bare wires and then twist them together.

 

laptop-plug9

 

If you have enough wire left on the terminal, twist it too.

 

laptop-plug10

 

Then twist the two together, making sure there aren’t any bits of wire left out in the open, touching anything else.

 

laptop-plug11

 

 

Now plug it in and see if it works.  If the charging light comes on, you’re good.

 

laptop-plug12

 

Because there are bare wires, unplug the charger from the wall first, so there isn’t any power, and then remove the plug from your computer or phone.

Twist your wires together well and neaten them.

 

laptop-plug13

 

Wrap everything in black electrical tape (or equivalent) so the wires can’t move and none are exposed.

 

laptop-plug14

 

Cut a small hole in the tape so the light can shine through letting you know that your charger is still working.

 

laptop-plug15

 

If you don’t have enough wire coming off of the terminal you’ll have to solder the wire back onto the plug.  DON’T FREAK OUT!!!  It’s easy. It’s very, very easy and you can buy a soldering iron for about $10.

 

laptop-plug17

 

Here we go.   All you need is your soldering iron and some solder.

 

laptop-plug18

 

For the record I am a terrible solderer.  BUT I can solder well enough to do this, and if you have enough intelligence to use the bathroom on your own so you can you.

After heating the gun up, touch the tip of the soldering gun to the end of your solder.
laptop-plug19
A small bead of solder will melt and attach to the soldering gun.
laptop-plug22

 

Make sure your wires are pushed onto the tiny metal spot where they were originally attached to and drop the drop of solder on top.

 

laptop-plug21

 

You can neaten it up with a few more drops.

Wait for the solder to harden and cool then plug it into your computer.

A glowing light means you’ve soldering properly and you could probably run for Mayor. Because you’re that good. (clearly all Mayors need to have soldering skills)

 

laptop-plug23

Now remove the plug the safe way I described earlier and wrap it with electrical tape. It’s ready to go and should last a long time.

This process takes anywhere between 10 minutes and 14 hours depending on how many dishes you’re trying to avoid doing.


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68 Comments | Filed Under: Workshop |

68 Responses to How to fix a broken computer/phone charger.

  1. Chris Contri says:

    How about fixing a charger that’s been fried? In the short 16 months that my daughter has been out of my womb, she’s managed to destroy 2 chargers by dumping coffee and soda on them (not simultaneously… LOL). Luckily mine only cost around $20, not the $70 you’d be looking at.

    • Karen says:

      If your baby was spilling her coffee and soda I think your real problem is that she may have been a little bit drunk. ~ karen!

  2. Meghan says:

    This is SUPER useful for me!! Wish I had thought to do it before I bought a new one a couple of years ago. But, now I know how to fix my other charger cables that are thinking of frying. I’ll whip out these new skills as soon as that happens and awe my husband and everyone else into complete submission. Then? Then I will RULE THE WORLD! or my little corner of it, whatever comes first.

    • Denise Leavens says:

      No, you can’t rule the world with these particular new found skills. Karen said you could be Mayor! The Mayor is not a ruler, mores the pity. I think Karen needs to give us RULE THE WORLD skills, don’t you?

  3. Sharon says:

    I AM a Mormon and I don’t think I have ever used the word “miffed” but I freely admit to having used some other choice words ;) ;) ;)

  4. Cynthia Jones says:

    Don’t you just love it when you can fix stuff and avoid paying someone else to do it, so all the dollars coming in can be used where you want them to be used! Like on foot peeling treatment socks.

    You did a great job. Perfect.

    Now glue some fake moss on it to cover the black tape, though it is perfectly applied black tape.

    Then maybe a twig or two or a piece of pink crystal. Something, anything to make it more aesthetically pleasing.

    I spent a lovely hour last week both undercoating and then topcoating the electrical cords for my washing machine and dryer to make them the same colour as my laundry. They were a hideously offensive grey. I am happy now! Nobody is allowed to tell me that I need a job just because I have time and brain space to do these things.

    I love how you take a photo of each stage of your work.

  5. Tasha says:

    I will admit I read all the comments to see if anyone connected your comment about soldering mayors to the current Toronto mayoral race. Disappointingly, no one did and I cannot think of a quip about it…

  6. Lin says:

    I’d use Sugru instead of tape. Makes for a more permanent fix as tape will untimately unstick and doesn’t insulate as well as Sugru. Here’s a similar apple cable fix: http://sugru.com/gallery/fix-your-apple-cable
    Nuthin worse than a computer break down!

    • Karen says:

      Yes, you can use that too! It’s just that most people don’t have Sugru lying around the house, whereas they might have electrical tape or something similar. ~ karen!

    • amyfaith says:

      Yeah, that was my first thought too! I’ve used it for this same purpose; it works well AND you can color coordinate to your hearts desire since sugru comes in lots of colors. I love the stuff and have used it for all sorts of oddball things, For example, instead of buying a new bottle every time, I refill the plastic pump soap bottle at my bathroom sink with better (and cheaper) liquid soap. However, the bottom of the bottle starts getting slimey and gross after awhile since it sits flat on the sink and doesn’t dry out. So I just roughed up 3 spots on the bottom and attached little sugru legs to elevate the bottle and now sink and bottle dry out completely and no more yuckiness.

      You should check the stuff out Karen.

      • Lisa says:

        You know what else is fun? That rubber dip stuff! I think it’s called PlastiDip or something. I went a little crazy with it. (I do not work for them…)

  7. Sia says:

    OMG! First of all, I kinda felt like you’re spying on me cuz just this week, my iPhone/iPad plug slowly fell apart. Grrr.
    2nd of all, you almost made me cry with the computer frying incident (lucky yours didn’t). I’ve had 2 computer die on me. 2!!
    One had pictures of my first child 1 to 3… That’s when I decided not to erase anything on my camera. I just buy new memory cards, cuz really, I don’t wanna erase the porn on my external hard drive…

    Off I go repairing my plug before it gets as bad as yours.

  8. Cynthia Jones says:

    PS Karen, Do you have any ideas for “How to Unblock the Laundry Tub After Some Limewash was Left in the Bucket after Limewashing the coop and Allowed to overflow and go Down the Drain”?

    Or does that come under the heading of “You Can’t Fix Stoopid”.

    If so, I can accept that. :( Still trying to find a wrench big enough to undo the pipes. Tried vinegar and CLR already.

  9. Edith says:

    OMG! What are you guys doing to your cables and chargers?!?! We have two children (5 and 2), we have had computers, mobile phones and tablets since their inventions, and this has never ever happened to any of our plugs. Never. And believe me, our kids know how to use all of the above mentioned devices …. On the other hand, if we managed to destroy our plugs, I’d get to practice my soldering skills more often.

  10. Louise says:

    Wow! I am SO IMPRESSED! You are a genius and a single woman’s best friend and resource! I was sort of thinking of finding a man just to handle all the repairs around here, but now . . . Thanks for all your tips!

  11. Tracey says:

    Again…. You make me feel like we (I) can do anything!
    I’m still in awe of the Monarch Butterfly raising tutorial. You are a genius. With all the things you do, and teach us….there’s no wonder you wouldn’t have time for dishes. But, I know that comment was for comic effect. You’re too OCD to leave dirty dishes lying around.

  12. Beckie says:

    you can prevent the plug from separating if you grasp the plug to disconnect it and not just yank the wire.

    DH is an electrician…he lectures when he sees folks yank on the wires (because they will then come to him with the puppy-dog *please fix* look)

  13. Patti H says:

    Just last week I had to solder the little copper tab the battery touches to make my mini garage door opener work. I wish I had known how to do the drop technique. Fortunately, my fix worked but it would have been (and looked) alot nicer if I would have used a couple of drops of solder instead of the puddle I ended up with.

    Thanks for the tutorial. I will be ready to solder again!

  14. Feral Turtle says:

    Hubby’s always bragging about his Mac charger over my PC charger. Until his did the same thing! Same fix as you and this is a year later!

  15. Cathy says:

    Ooohhh—I hate anything electrical. scares me to death. I’ll stick to dead gallbladders and appendixes.

  16. I chuckled at the part where you wrote about being careful removing the parts and the pic shows a mangled piece of plastic with more bits scattered about.

    Good tutorial. You may want to mention for those that don’t hold the rank of Captain Obvious that the whole thing should be unplugged from the outlet before pulling any of it apart.

  17. Ruth says:

    I thought ‘miffed’ was a European thing…. mainly because I always imagined it being said with a French accent and upturned nose for some reason… :D

    • Karen says:

      I’m glad you’re here Ruth because I forgot to ask you a question yesterday. You’re in Jamaica! How could you possible not have felt temperatures above 82??!!~ karen

      • amyfaith says:

        I wondered that too!

      • Ruth says:

        I don’t live in the concrete jungle of the city, Karen. I live in the rural area at a reasonable elevation, where we would normally enjoy cool wind coming off the rivers and 70-80 degree temps. Problem is… the rivers are pretty much dry now, and therein lieth the problem… a problem I have never encountered in my 4 decades of life. :-/

        Other than the ridiculous temperatures, there is one more thing…. Since the island’s tap water is simply spring/river water that has been harnessed and treated…. things are about to get ‘real’ around here if rainfall doesn’t show up soon. (It’s now illegal to wash vehicles and water gardens as we speak… )

        • Karen says:

          O.K I feel like a complete idiot for not knowing that parts of Jamaica were moderate temperatures! I had no idea. So it’s hotter here in Southern Ontario. This summer hasn’t been the hottest but most summers we can easily see temperatures of 100 with 90% humidity! Speaking as someone who just had to have her sewer line replaced and DIDN’T HAVE A TOILET for days, I hope you get some rain soon! ~ karen

          • Ruth says:

            You’re perfectly normal, Karen, and definitely not an idiot…. Furthermore, you already know so much more than the average bear that I would probably go into apoplectic shock if you turned out to be an expert on all things Jamaican as well.

            We can’t have that now… can we? ;-D

    • Lynne says:

      I think “miffed” is a British thing.

  18. You explain everything so clearly and you know that expression
    “a picture is worth a thousand words”…so true!!!
    as always, Karen, YOU are amazing…now go and do those dishes!!!

  19. Melissa in North Carolina says:

    You continue to amaze. Thank you!

  20. Tigersmom says:

    I use the word “miffed” on occasion, when it fits.

    I’m about as far from Mormon as it gets so that means I also use much more colorful words, too. It just depends on what the particular situation calls for.

  21. Tigersmom says:

    I almost forgot to comment on my favorite line from this post –

    “(and you can’t break it anymore if it isn’t working, right?)” Hahahahaha! Love it!

  22. Rose Petal says:

    Prevention: When my wires start to show, I paint them with ReRack by Performix. It’s a product used to put a new coating on the dish racks when they start to rust. It’s white, kind of rubbery, and blends in with the cord. You hardly see the repair. I bought it in a hardware store when my racks were rusting and I didn’t want to buy new ones. It works great and I have one cord that I covered two years ago.

  23. Jeanne Mork says:

    Let us all bow down to Karen. She who can do anything!

  24. LilyMacBloom says:

    Now? now you tell me?

    Off to put electrical tape on my NEW plug I bought yesterday.
    Buying a soldering iron now would be like throwing the baby out
    Or however that saying goes

  25. You are one brave chick. I’d light my house on fire if I did that.

    PS. I think you should use glow in the dark tape/paint :) Imagine how easy it would be to find in the dark ! Oh yeah!

  26. Nancy says:

    I did all this to that same section of charger (except the solder part). My laptop kinda hummed and shocked me. So I got scared and bought an off brand cord. It still kinda hums and shocks me? I feel like I should buy the real deal replacement. My computer geek husband thinks I’m going to burn up my laptop to save $40 bucks. Now, immediately after buying a new ipad/computer/phone or any new chargers, I wrap a ball point pen spring around that connection and pull a little up over the plug. It’s from eHow. I’m dying to try Suguru but I’m overly thrifty. Leaves me more money for Apple and Dollar Tree. And now I need to solder something.

  27. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    What is Sugru???

  28. LazySusan says:

    First, there’s WHITE electrical tape. I never knew that until I saw a tutorial on something where white electrical tape was used to lay out lines on something. Obviously, the only thing I remember about the tutorial, other than it WAS a tutorial, is that there’s white electrical tape. That was my takeaway from that. Anyway, thank you to the Captain Obvious for filling that hole, and thank you to the person who mentioned Suguru as well as the person who mentioned ReRack. I’d never heard of either, and both sound useful. I already knew about DipIt, but thanks for the reminder on that, also. And the glow in the dark tape idea was genius! Or ingenious! And the idea of the pen spring to support the cord at its weakest link was brilliant! Almost lastly, I concur with the person who asked what in heaven’s name you all are doing to your charging cords, using them to jump rope or lasso something? Good grief. Lastly, even if I don’t have a frayed charging cord, I know this method you showed is going to come in handy somewhere, so thank you for once again showing us how to do things we thought we couldn’t, but can!

  29. JeannieB says:

    Karen, your fingers must be much more nimble than mine. Well done in performing surgery on the charger! I’m going to be super vigilant and never pull mine out by the cord. And, fortunately, I don’t have a cat who loves to nip cord. I did have one lovely cat who couldn’t pass a computer mouse without nipping the cord.

  30. Maria says:

    Please note that the most important part of this is that when you are screwing around with **This** end of the plug that you know for an absolute fact that the other end is NOT not not plugged into an electric outlet of any kind. No outlets, no extension cords nothing.

    If it is plugged in and you start screwing around with the wiring on the other end, at the very least you will get shocked. It hurts a lot and you will not care that you do not have a charger cord. At the very most, you will meet your Maker and will never need a charger cord again. Husband is an electrician and I have had this drilled into my head for 35 years. Other than that, good tutorial. Good job saving money.

    PS, I was telling someone about you today. How you dug up your front yard to make a garden. They said, “you’re going to do that aren’t you?” and “Sounds like something you’d do.” What’s up with that?

    Double check even if you are sure it isn’t plugged into the wall.

  31. Karen O. says:

    YES. I have a Macbook and this has happened to me with the charger. I think it’s the rubber they use for the sheath on the wires. It’s soft and supple, which makes it feel nicer, but it bends so easily and I don’t think it protects the wires inside as well as something more rigid. The disconnect of my wires started to happen not at the plug, but at the adapter box. I just wrapped it in electrical tape. Not sure I would have had the balls to rip the casing off the entire adapter for a fix like this. Of course, the cat eventually decided that the soft, supple rubber was pretty tasty. I guess she saved me the dilemma of whether to buy a new one by chewing right through it in several places. :-/

  32. Jody says:

    Wow!. The only fixing I have done lately is recondition a treadle Singer sewing machine. No electricity involved. This allows me to do more quilting so I can too can do less dishes.

  33. Jake says:

    Wow, all you smart people fixing things, I haven’t repaired anything all week and I’m feeling very inferior and useless. Can we start a club for people like me, you know a 12 step program or something similar. I will never do dishes again because I’ll be at my meeting trying to stay useful etc., I did paint a teapot today, does that count?.

  34. Ev Wilcox says:

    Thanks Karen! Love my Mac (though $) and would love to fix stuff like this!

  35. Patty Martin says:

    Absolutely love to hear about all your fixes! I still love the fact that I sharpen all of my own scissors & recently learned how to sharpen all of my own garden tools. I do all the yard work while my husband does all the grocery shopping & cooking. I detest the kitchen! I am woman! I can do anything!!! Except the traditional wifely chores.

  36. Sissy says:

    Long time reader, first time commenter. I cannot tell you how serendipitous this post was for me! Last night, my iMac charger bit the dust, and I had just ordered the $79 replacement when I checked out your site. Your instructions and photos were so clear that I was easily able to repair the cord! Thank you for not only saving me money, but for rendering my laptop useful again. I too have a blog, and even though it’s read only by my dad and the people who like the one post that I wrote about Adrienne Barbeau’s boobies, I am a loyal blogger for that small audience and need a working computer. Can’t wait to return the charger when it arrives and spend my money on something else. Thank you!

    • Karen says:

      That’s great Sissy! I love it when people actually do the things I suggest and then let me know about it. Now I’m off to read about boobies. ~ karen!

  37. Cynthia Jones says:

    On lime-blocked laundry tubs.

    OK. I snaked both plug holes. It’s a double concrete laundry tub from the 5 0′s. Went and bought a pipe wrench (only $12) an am about to get off the couch and go pour boiling hot water into the tubs.

    So something will work.

    On a more positive note, I chucked a wobbly at the petrol station this morning because the cable that is attached to the lever that opens the petrol cap is broken. The nice guy at the servo pulled out the casing of the boot of my little car so I could get to the button inside last time. I had intended to order a new cable in, but after this morning and not being able to find the button again…….I am going to pull the whole back off my car and find the frikkin cable and get out the soldering iron from the shed.

    Jeez. The pressure to measure up! The bastards are not going to beat me.

  38. Cynthia Jones says:

    ….and Karen, I want to know exactly what you are photo shopping out of your photos. Or are you using it to just give us that mysterious misty background? Note to self, it’s a bad idea to photoshop photos of yourself. Once you see the dark circles and lines gone, it is just one step to the online forum for plastic surgery in Thailand and daydreaming of bum fat being sucked out and injected into eye sockets. Yikes! True, they do that.

  39. judy says:

    That was totally impressive! Since you obviously know everything about everything can you or fan base help me-a very old person- with my search for how to obtain a VMI??? It seems to be an app to reduce the amt. of data used by using a “hot spot for internet access. It compresses the data and therefore? uses less data. I have a galaxy 3 phone and I went to Barnes & Noble and poured through every variation of google search I could think of for tracking the &*%$# thing down but no luck. I am fiercely miffed! I did find 7 billion offers to sell me a phone, the lost city of Atlantis -seriously considering that one…………and every possible app except this one – thanks for your wonderful Blog…..you should be cloned and given to every baby born. They would be genius’s by toddlerhood!

  40. Ru says:

    Thank you! I can now go and save my two abandoned laptops that I could not find new chargers for. Lucky for me, my hubby insisted we keep all the damaged chargers we have ever had so I might just become a soldering guru. We have no kids, cats or anything that likes to chew, pull, nibble or damage our cords and yet this happens to me everytime! Thanks for an awesome tutorial Karen.

  41. june says:

    Wow, perfect timing. Mine broke after being taped a few months with black electrical tape…right at the transformer site. It is the 3 prong spot that goes over prongs. It is molded rubber? So I will see if I can ease apart and fix. Like you said, it is broke so what harm is that.

  42. Kari says:

    Thank you! This is amazing.

  43. Amy in StL says:

    I think its maybe just an Apple thing. I’ve never had a charger come apart like that. Not for my Android phone, my Samsung tablet or my Dell computer.

  44. Anita says:

    WOW! your jane of all trades expertise impresses me again. way to go :)

  45. Ellen says:

    Or you can use sugru to support it before it is completely broken! http://sugru.com/

  46. Acacia says:

    Great little “how-to”. These cords always cost a fortune if you try to replace them at the dealer.

  47. Marti says:

    Did a Mormon somewhere, sometime, somehow pee on your parade? Or you just envy OUR verbal skills?

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