How to Fix a Broken Charger

Wherever your charger cord goes, so do these fixes

Whether you need to charge a smartphone, laptop, tablet, or another device, a broken charger can be frustrating and inconvenient. Without needing an electrician's license, there are several things you can take a look at to fix the issue.

A hand holding an electrical cord.
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Causes for a Charger to Stop Working

There are a few basic reasons why your charger would stop working:

  • The wall socket is off or damaged.
  • A damaged charger.
  • There is damage to the device power port.

How to Fix a Broken Charger

While some fixes may require a bit of rewiring, there are many fixes that you can try to get your broken charger working again.

  1. Make sure the outlet is turned on. Some European-style outlets have individual switches. American homes might use switched surge protectors, a light switch that controls the wall outlets, or a breaker. You may need to reset a tripped breaker.

  2. Make sure the cables are connected correctly. Unplug all the cables in the system, wait a few minutes, then reconnect the cables carefully and properly. When reseating, confirm that all the connections are tight and accurate.

  3. Look for lights. If you're working with a broken Mac charger, is the status light illuminated? The same goes for status lights in laptop computer chargers and portable charger battery packs.

  4. Reboot the charging device. The device controls a large part of its charging behavior, so rebooting the device helps with charging detection problems.

  5. Try a different outlet. Outlets are robust but can fail. To confirm an outlet works, check out our multimeter tips below.

  6. Check for damage to the charger. If you see a bare wire, stripped insulation, or wire shielding, that could be the source of the problem. Additionally, plug the cable in, then wiggle the cable at both ends. If the charger works intermittently as you move the cable, the cable's copper wiring is damaged. If possible, replace the wire with a new one.

    Do not attempt to wiggle the cable on either end if there are bare or damaged wires. This could result in an electrical shock.

  7. Check the components. Temporarily remove the adapter, outlet splitter, power strip, or surge protector, and any extra components so only the charger is plugged into an outlet known to work. If the outlet works, but the charger won't activate, the problem isn't with the wall socket.

    If the charger works when plugged into the wall, the problem lies in one of the removed components. Add the other pieces back one by one until the system fails, but don't stop there. Try adding the pieces in a different order or a different place. 

  8. Check the fuses. When you open the fuse box, look for a flipped breaker and flip it back. The switches in one column or row typically point in the same direction. If you see a fuse with its handle pointed in the other direction, it has likely been tripped. Find the fuse associated with the outlet you're using and reset it. It pops back into place with a springing sound.

    In countries that follow the U.S. model, a fuse box holds fuses that each control a section of a home's electrical outlets. In other countries, the fuse is built into the wall plug. When dealing with electricity in an unfamiliar country, check the details before attempting any electrical repair.

  9. Clean the charging port. If you don't feel a click when the charging cable connects, look inside the charging device. With both Lightning and USB-C charging ports, users have found that anything from pocket lint to a grain of rice caught in the port can prevent the phone from charging. Remove any garbage with plastic tweezers, a cotton swab, or a toothpick.

    Never stick metal in the charging port. If you stick a piece of metal in the charging port the wrong way, you can short out the connection and destroy the device.

  10. Try a different cable and power adapter. The biggest culprit of charger failure is the failure of the charging cable. The cable takes the most stress over time, so it tends to fail first. The charging brick connecting the wire to the wall can also fail, though it's not as common. Use a different USB charging cable and adapter and see if the problem resolves itself. Replace one at a time to pinpoint the culprit.

  11. Clear the USB port. If a USB port is physically prevented from making good contact by shielding, cable design, port furniture, or something else, removing that barrier can fix the problem. It's easy to bend the sheet metal housing of a USB port back in to shape if it has been deformed over time. With modern USB Micro and USB-C devices, bend the small tongue inside the charging port if it's out of place.

    To avoid electrocution, make sure the device is powered off before attempting any physical electrical repairs.

  12. Check the battery's age and health. While the battery might last longer than the useful life of the device, sometimes the relationship is reversed. Check the battery's health and age to see if it needs replacement. If your device has a removable battery, swap out the battery and see if the problem persists. You can also calibrate an older battery.

  13. Check the charger compatibility. It's easy to mistakenly use a physically compatible cable that doesn't fully work. Laptop chargers are pickier, as you can rarely swap one with another without issues. Furthermore, only the right combination of adapter and cable can take advantage of all the device's features. If you think you're using an incompatible cable, obtain one that's compatible with your device.

  14. Test with a multimeter. With a multimeter, you can check the cable and wall outlet to narrow down potential problems.

    • To check the outlet, connect the probes to the multimeter and set it to AC voltage, then insert the black probe into the neutral port, and the red probe in the hot or positive side of the outlet. If the outlet works, check the cable.
    • To check the cable, turn the multimeter's central knob to the resistance setting (Ohms, or Ω). Then, touch the same pin on opposite ends of the cable with the multimeter's two probes. If the multimeter shows 0, the wire is functional. An infinity means the wire is broken and needs to be fixed or replaced.
    • Check the adapter. With the multimeter set to detect AC voltage, plug the adapter into the wall and check the contacts that should be conducting power. If you don't get a measurable voltage from the adapter, it may not be providing power, and you'll need to replace it.

    A data-carrying cable like USB can only be tested on its two power pins, called the ground and voltage pins. Look at a pinout for the connector type and locate these power-carrying pins (often labeled ground, GND, V+, or 5V) on the diagram.

  15. Contact customer support. If you're unable to fix the device, contact the manufacturer to find out your options. If the device is not under warranty or will cost too much to repair, you may need to buy a new device.