Recurring Power Jack Defects in Many Laptops

    This entry is an anthology of information about this widespread problem.   Here you may find links to local repair shops, repair guides, images, comments from other blogs, and a general orientation to this issue.  It presumes a basic knowledge of simple electrical circuits.
************************************************************
    My Toshiba M35X-S149 laptop developed a defect in its power jack for the 3rd time in 16 months, this after 2 repairs/replacements of its motherboard, and after a court-ordered extended warranty expired.   Google searches on this issued indicated this is a widespread problem.
    Links to websites discussing this issue will follow in this space.
My own story:
    I “fixed” my own Toshiba M35X-S149 laptop which had a defective
power jack.   I used the guide to disassembly of this model mentioned in the comments.  I was positive the power jack was the problem, since it had happened twice before, with a new motherboard & then a resoldered power jack repair which did not last.    My attempts at desoldering weren’t of much use until M35X power jack for replacement
I sawed the old power jack into 3 pieces.   Then I was able to desolder the smaller remnants.   After the mounting holes were cleaned I soldered two new leads of flexible wire direct to the motherboard at the positive & negative holes,
Ultra_closeup_of_wires_soldered_into_place_of_defective_DC_power_jack
put a loop in the wires for strain relief, brought the wires out the back of the case
NEW LEADS LOCATION
so that they formed a “dongle”, then soldered a “chassis-mount” power jack (one that fit my AC adapter)  to the ends of the wires. 
REPLACEMENT DC POWER JACK WITH PLUG AND NEW LEADS
 
 To my surprise, the computer booted up, and is still working.    The job is very poor-looking, but works just fine.
EXTERNAL DC POWER JACK MOD
I did my repair fully aware that I might fatally damage the motherboard
in the process, but I was unwilling to pay for another “professional repair” in
a machine out of warranty.
       The hardest part of the entire process was removal of the defective power jack from the motherboard.   The only tools I had were a soldering iron and a syringe-type solder sucker (illustrated).
tnpt209
   A basic guide to desoldering may be found by clicking here.   If you haven’t done it before, secure a circuit board from some discarded electronic device and learn your basic technique on it by removing components as quickly & neatly as possible.  
It would have been much easier with a more specialized de-soldering tool attached to a vacuum.
   Once the power jack was  removed & the holes in the motherboard cleaned, soldering a new power jack is fairly easy, but the process leading up to it was not.
     The way to prevent this problem in laptops would have been to either stabilize the power jack so it can’t be dislodged by repetitive minor trauma or put a flexible connection between the power jack and the motherboard, as Lenovo has done in their 3000 series.Lenovo Power Jack assembly 
The Lenovo power jack (the yellow round socket in the image) is visible from the rear of the machine, but is not attached directly to the motherboard, but has a bundle of leads that plug into the motherboard.   By 2010 Lenovo had discontinued its 3000 series, although replacement power jacks as illustrated as still available if needed. 
    There is at least one product available to stabilize the connection between the power plug and the power jack, called JerkStopper™.
 
It’s better than nothing, but it would have been still better to buy a laptop with a less vulnerable power jack.
    The Apple (MacBook) power jack assembly seen below is similar, but the contacts are held to the power “plug” by magnetism.  The power cord can be yanked forcefully away from the laptop without any damage to the power jack.   However, the wires connected to the power jack can still be damaged if excessive direct traction is exerted on them.
Macbook power jack assembly
 See this video of the MacBook power connector in action
               
Yanking on a cable attached to a plug (as shown in this video) is never a good idea.   Better to push, pull and/or rotate the plug, which is designed to take that strain.
These seem far better engineered for durability than run-of-the-mill laptops.
Of all the fixes I came across on the internet, this one was the most straightforward and also the crudest:

Crudefix

Nice video showing the whole process on a laptop very similar to the one I have focused on in this post.   The difference in this video is that the power receptacle was replaced with a new one, I simply bypassed it with a wire to supply strain relief, not to mention it was much cheaper than buying a new replacement receptacle.

Fast forward to Sept. 2010, things haven’t changed much:

Yet another power jack malfunction:
From PC Magazine: Toshiba is recalling 41,000 laptops due to concerns about overheating AC adapter plugs.  “At issue is the DC-in jack, where the AC adapter plugs into the computer. In some cases, it has overheated to the point of melting the plastic base around the DC-in jack opening, the agencies said.
Toshiba Canada received 14 reports of excessive heat or smoke due to this glitch, with no reported injuries, Health Canada said. In the U.S., there were 129 reports of overheating computers, two reports of minor burn injuries, and two reports of minor property damage, according to the CPSC.
The affected devices were sold between August 2009 and August 2010.”

Update for 15 Dec 2011:    I just serviced a Toshiba A105-S2001 purchased in mid-2006.   Toshiba has changed its basic power jack design to include a power jack attached to a wire pigtail which is then plugged onto the motherboard.   This way a physical failure in the power jack generally won’t mean the motherboard has to be serviced.   This is very similar to the Lenovo power jack on a pigtail design.    The Lenovo power jack, however, is much more robust than the Toshiba power jack.

This blog describes the subsequent problem in the new Toshiba power jack on a pigtail design.    That power jack is simply clipped into place on the inside of the laptops case, and the clips and ridges holding the jack tend to break off with repeated make/break connections with the power adapter.   So the laptop has to be partly disassembled to somehow stabilize this connection.   The suggested means are replacing the Toshiba power jack with a substitute Radio Shack jack that is designed to be fastened to the hole in the case with a screw that wedges the jack fore & aft, a much more robust connection than the OEM.    It appears to me that epoxy putty might be used to create a block of plastic around the OEM jack that will stabilize it without the need to substituting another power jack.

Other tools, materials, and devices which are of great assistance in doing this work.

Volt-ohmeter / digital multimeter: a basic electrical tool every householder should have.   It measures voltages, checks batteries, indicates whether or not wires are continuous.   Harbor Freight often gives these away with coupons printed in local newspapers to entice shoppers to their stores.

Head-mounted magnifier with lights:  HarborFreight has the cheapest version, and this is the one I have.  I hardly ever use the built-in lights, since my work ares needs more light than this can provide.    These magnifiers are particularly useful when releasing the 1-millimeter size clamp devices on the ribbon clamps you have to release when disassembling a laptop.

Source of bright light.

Large flat work area: it is amazing how far a miniscule screw can bounce when you drop it.

Easy way to keep track of the different size screws you will be removing:

Find a photograph (or make one) of the bottom of your laptop.   Print it out as a gray-scale image, make it fit the piece of paper you are printing to.   (This printout with the tiny screws taped on, can be seen in the upper right hand corner of the image above.)  When you remove a screw from the laptop case, simply tape it to the printout at the spot where you removed it, or punch the screw’s shaft through the paper & tape it.    When it comes time to reassemble, picking the correct screw for a given spot on the laptop will be easy.   Taping the screws down makes it harder for them to fall to the floor.

Rotary tool with variety of bits and cutting devices.    Many people call these “Dremel” tools, although that Dremel is just one of many manufacturers of these electric tools, which are basically very small electric drills which can also grind, sand, chop and notch.    On one laptop I repaired a Phillips head machine screw was so tight, I was not able to use my mini-screwdrivers to loosen it – the tips of the screwdrivers just bent & broke.   I used a small cutting wheel on a rotary tool to cut a healthy notch across the center of the screw head, converting an impossibly tight Phillips head screw to a slotted screw that would accept a much larger and stronger screwdriver.    Suddenly the screw was easy to unfasten.   Unfortunately the cutting wheel also notched the plastic of the area around the recalcitrant screw, but this was really no problem.

Epoxy putty, sold at places like Wal Mart, Lowe’s, Home Depot.    This starts with a two-color lump of soft resin, which after needing to a uniformly off-white color, turns into a lump of soft plastic which adheres to many other materials and hardens in 5-10 minutes.  It takes a full 24 hours to cure completely.   The cured material is about as hard as the plastic case of a laptop.  It can be molded to fit a variety of spaces and applications, can be drilled, sanded, painted or tooled in many fashions, using small hand tools or the rotary tool.   You can inset reinforcing pieces of wire, nuts or bolts to fasten other items securely to the cured material.   Warning: epoxy resins are allergenic.   Allergic reactions (usually skin rashes) get worse, the more exposures you receive.  It would be best to buy a pack of disposable vinyl gloves when handling this material in its uncured form.   See this image for an example of the gloves in use, and how to cut off portions of the uncured material prior to mixing and using it.

A set of small picks and hooks, such as these from Harbor Freight.    Extremely handy for manipulating small parts and working in tight places such as those found inside laptops.

Thermal paste / thermal paste / thermal compound / – a specially formulated greasy material with embedded metal use to promote heat transfer from a computer’s CPU chip to its heat sink.    It is sometimes necessary to remove a laptop heat sink when fixing a power jack.   The photo below shows the CPU of a Toshiba laptop A105-S2001 after removal of its heat sink.     The mottled silver patch is the leftover thermal paste after the heat sink was peeled off.

The old thermal paste needs to be removed, and fresh thermal paste needs to be reapplied when the heat sink is reassembled on top of the CPU.

 

 

 

 

 

91% isopropyl alcohol can be bought at pharmacies & Wally World.   Use a Q-tip dampened with this material to remove old thermal seal paste from heat sinks and laptop CPU’s prior to apply fresh new thermal paste.    This alcohol is a basic home medicine chest item anyway.

 

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19 Responses to Recurring Power Jack Defects in Many Laptops

  1. The Recliner Commando says:

    Toshiba M35X-S149 complete disassembly guide

    Repair facility in Akron Ohio, carry-in or mail-in repairs, flat labor rate. Also provides IBM warranty services, used computers and replacement parts for many models.

  2. The Recliner Commando says:

    Toshiba Satellite M35X Power Jack and Battery Charge Problem from a web site titled "Laptop Repair Help"

    A bad connection between DC-IN power jack on the system board and the system board is a very common problem with Toshiba Satellite M35X and Toshiba Satellite A70/A75 notebooks. If your laptop is out of warranty, then you can fix the problem by resoldering DC-IN jack on the system board. If it’s still under warranty, it would be fixed at no charge to you.
    Problem symptoms:

    Laptop randomly shuts down without any warning.
    Power LED and battery charge LED start flickering when you wiggle the power cord or the AC adapter tip on the back or your laptop.
    The battery will not get charged.
    When you plug AC adapter, the laptop appears to be dead and there is no LED activity at all (DC-IN jack on the system board is broken).
    To fix the problem, you have to take your laptop apart, remove the system board to resoleder or replace the DC-IN jack.

  3. The Recliner Commando says:

    Bypassing a failed laptop power jack
    "
    I have a Toshiba A75-S209 for a year now. After the first 3 months it developed the exact same problem. Battery would not charge and I had to twist and turn the power jack to make the connection. Since it was in warranty, I returned it and they repaired and sent it back to me. The problem recurred again after about 4 months and I sent it again and they repaired it and worked fine for 5 more months and it failed. This is a design flaw with Toshiba. Now that I am out of warranty, I decided to repair it myself. Your guide for dismantling A75 was awesome. Thanks for the info. Now here is what I want to share with others. Resoldering the power jack with a new one does solve the problem for a while but it will reoccur. Hence I decided to bring out a wire with the Jack outside. Of course it looks dirty but it is a permanent solution. I am attaching the photo of the repair I did. I got the DC jack from ebay and insulated it with a electrical insulation tape. Now it is working fine, I do the connection and disconnection on the dangling power jack outside the laptop and hence no chance of breaking the soldering outside."

  4. The Recliner Commando says:

    Review of Laptop Power Jack Problems
    "Laptop Power Jack Repair: Does your laptop have a broken power jack? This page is here to inform you about this problem and how to get it fixed. 
    Below you will find:Symptoms of a broken power jack.The wrong information most repair centers give.How laptop power jacks breakGetting a new power jack installed by usFAQ
    Symptoms of a broken power jack:- The laptop only runs when you keep the power cord in a certain direction.- The laptop only runs on battery power.- The laptop will not charge the battery.- The laptop switches from AC power to battery power intermittently.- The unit suddenly shuts off- Sparks come out of the back of the laptop.
    The wrong information some repair centers give:While many conventional computer repair centers are aware of this issue and will refer you to us, most are not. Many, including the large nationwide stores and the laptop’s manufacturer, will either tell you the machine is not repairable or that it needs a new motherboard. These quotes usually range from $500 – $800.How jacks break:- Some power jacks fail under normal operation of your computer. After a year or two of usage, parts just ‘come loose’ on certain models.- Sometimes the laptop gets dropped and the cord yanks the jack loose.- People, pets and vaccum cleaners all trip over laptop power cords on a daily basis.- The laptop is moved around a lot. After the jack is moved back and forth enough times, it comes loose."

  5. The Recliner Commando says:

    Do-it-yourself Laptop Power Jack Repair

    "This guide will explain how to repair a failed or loose DC power jack on a laptop computer yourself. Here’s my previous post related to DC power jack related issues.
    Disclaimer: I’ve made these instructions only for people experienced with soldering and repairing computers. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this job, please do not open the laptop or you can permanently damage your computer. Take your laptop to a professional repair shop instead.Use this repair guide at your own risk.
    First of all, you’ll have to disassemble your laptop and remove the motherboard. Here you’ll find disassembly instructions for some major laptop brands such as IBM, Dell, HP, Compaq, Toshiba. If your laptop is not on the list, you’ll have to figure out yourself how to take it apart.
    For this repair you’ll need the following tools.1. Soldering iron or soldering station. I use Weller WES51 soldering station and for this job I set temperature to about 800-850°F.2. I use high-tech rosin core silver-bearing solder from Radioshack with diameter 0.022″ ( Catalog #: 64-013 ). I think standard rosin core solder will work just fine.3. Desoldering pump for removing solder around component leads. I use Edsyn Soldapullt pump, model DS 017.4. 99% isopropyl alcohol and tooth brash for cleaning the motherboard from flux.5. If you need a new DC power jack, you can find a cheap one here.

    Laptop DC power jack repair guide.

    As you see on the following picture, the solder drop on the positive terminal looks different than on other three contacts. That’s where the problem is. The positive pin is not making a good contact with the motherboard and because of that power to the laptop cuts off when I move the power plug inside the power jack.I’m going to desolder the power jack from the motherboard, clean contacts on both power jack and motherboard and then solder it back in place – this is the proper way fixing the power problem.

    Start desoldering process with adding some new fresh solder to all three contacts. This will make old solder more flowable, easier to remove.

    While heating one of the contacts, remove the solder from this contact using the desoldering pump. Repeat the same steps with all power jack contacts until you remove as much solder as possible.

    Grab the power jack and carefully try removing it from the motherboard. Most likely you will not be able to remove the power jack the first time because there will be some solder bridges left between the contacts and traces on the motherboard. Carefully wiggle the power jack without applying any significant force and at the same time heat up all contacts one by one. This will help you to remove the power jack.

    The DC power jack is almost removed from the motherboard.Be careful. Inside the positive hole there is a sleeve witch connects the terminal on one side of the motherboard with the traces on the other side. If you are removing the power jack with force, you can pull the sleeve from the hole. You don’t want to do that. So, do not apply any force and make sure the solder is melted when you are removing the power jack. I hope you understand what I’m talking about.

    After the power jack is removed, clean all oxidized contacts with a knife.

    Apply a fresh coat of solder to all contacts on the power jack.

    The power jack terminals will look dirty because of melted flux.

    You can remove the flux using the tooth brash and alcohol. It’s not necessary but it will make your job looking clean.

    Apply a fresh coat of solder to all power jack terminals on both sides of the motherboard.

    This side has been coated.

    And this side has been coated too.

    Now you can install the power jack back on the motherboard. Put something under power jack so there is no gap between the jack and the motherboard. Now you are ready to solder the jack back in place.

    Solder all power jack pins.

    The job is done and the laptop DC power jack is fixed. B-E-A-utiful!Now just install the motherboard back into the laptop and you are done.

    Entry Filed under: Laptop Tips and Tricks"
    I have done a portion of this work on my Toshiba M35X-S149.  I found the disassembly guide posted on this site for this model invaluable.  Unfortunately UN-soldering the power jack proved impossible.   The jack as I found it had been resoldered at least once, the left-over solder flux on the bottom of the motherbaord was the giveaway along with the Gorilla Glue added around the power jack in an unsuccessful attempt to stabilize the power jack.   I was able to remove some of the solder using solder braid, but I could never get the solder joints hot enough to use a solder sucker.  Eventually I decapitated the jack with a carbide disc cutter on a Dremel-like tool and pried the remains of the jack away with screwdriver.   This could have destroyed the motherboard.  I will be bypassing the jack completely, see the other link previously posted about this.

  6. The Recliner Commando says:

    " broken power connectors are probably one of the largest sources of laptopfailure industry wide. They all solder them, and provide no phyiscalreinforcement to hold them in place. Then the soft solder fractures from wearand tear, and the laptop won’t charge. Voila! Planned obsolescence"From a forum post

  7. The Recliner Commando says:

    Found a source for laptop DC power jack repairs near Twin Cities in MN.  Website looks impressive with photos & details about a great many laptop models.   Pomeroy Computing DC power jack; Blog about the company’s operations. [In 12/2011 their web site advertised a $65 flat rate charge for power jack repairs, carry or mail in.]

  8. The Recliner Commando says:

    Slide show of essentials of resoldering / installing a new power jack

  9. The Recliner Commando says:

    Most extensive list of laptop power jacks along with photos that I have found on internet.   You can search by your laptop’s model number.  The web site states the images shown are of the parts they supply.

  10. The Recliner Commando says:

    Power jack repair service in SW Missouri (Springfield on I-44)  They charge just $39.99 to work on a bare motherboard! Singled motherboards are very cheap to mail, but are fragile.

  11. The Recliner Commando says:

    Problems with power jacks for Dell Notebooks mentioned on this website which offers repair services for most laptop power jacks, out of Tacoma, Washington: 
    " I don’t carry or have the "Industry Unique"
    Original direct replacement jack to offer you as a replacement, as that
    DELL jack is proprietary specifically to DELL and of course they will not
    sell it or make it available.  But I believe my DELL DC POWER JACK
    SURGICAL REPAIR to be even better than a replacement due to the
    extra steps taken to help greatly reduce any future problems. I do
    have a couple of alternatives that do work and have help many, many  of my
    customers …to bring back from the dead their DELL laptops.  On top of
    that…as mentioned before…my surgically repaired DELL power jacks are
    much stronger than even a new replacement anyways…as far as life span
    goes.  I’ll give you all the information for my service and details along
    with my address to send in the laptop and the power adapter for the
    repair. Most likely your power jack is bad, as they go bad all the time
    with the kind of power jack that yours is using.

     

    The actual jack itself (in your laptop); is
    proprietary to DELL exclusively …all
    to themselves and they will not sell it. So the actual
    replacement jack is "next to impossible" if not impossible to get on the
    open market. But (talking with DELL), I’ve found that they will sell you a
    motherboard for between $400 to $800; …how nice of them!  I have
    however perfected a surgical repair on the original power jack that comes
    with these DELL’s having this unique "3 conductors"…that works (as long
    as the jack isn’t too badly damaged)."

  12. The Recliner Commando says:

    A blog posting on power jack problems with an HP laptop, and HP’s denial of any responsibility for it"Either HP is wrong, and they do have a poorly designed or
    manufactured component, which they should fix for free. Or give us
    coupons for purchasing a new laptop.Or HP is right, and this is
    just a usage problem.And as for the untold thousands out there with
    flaming jacks, well, it’s because we just wore them out, or don’t
    connect things properly to begin with, or whatever. And, well, we ought
    to just shut up, rather than blathering all over the blogosphere and
    riling people up. But with all the talk out there, you’d think HP could
    at least put something on their support site about "rumors" about the
    HP laptop jack problem, and how their investigation has proven that
    they are not at fault, or whatever way they want to spin it. (If it’s
    there, I sure didn’t find it.)Absent this, HP will not be on my list for this weekend’s new laptop purchase."

  13. The Recliner Commando says:

    The main page has been updated with info about the JerkStopper™, promotional video linked.

  14. Main post was updated today.

  15. Laptop Guy says:

    Your basic resoldering link is broken. The page is missing.
    Here’s one: http://www.laptoprepair101.com/laptop/2007/12/06/dc-power-jack-repair-guide/

    • Thanks, I have updated that link. This entire blog was migrated to WordPress a few months back, and many of my links were stripped out in the process. Others have become inactive.

  16. Nice blog! If you ever need to repair your laptop ie. Laptop Warranty there is a great place in Harrow. For Laptop Warranty website (it also has Persistent Power Jack Defects in Many Laptops | Recliner Commando section) or contact me at daveblythe@gmx.com. I had my laptop fixed there recently last Sunday. Hope this helps. Andy.

  17. It seems like you’ve attracted a pretty good following nowadays! I’m delighted to see it!

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