Is it safe to use a laptop if the battery is swollen?

Swollen laptop battery problems
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    Have you ever noticed your laptop’s battery case bulging when you take it out? Does your laptop wobble on a flat surface? Do you hear popping or hissing sounds when you turn it on? Or does it struggle to hold a charge and suddenly shut down? If you’re nodding along, it’s time to stop using your laptop immediately!

    It’s not safe to use a laptop with a swollen battery. A swollen battery indicates a serious problem that could potentially lead to a fire or explosion. Swelling usually occurs due to the internal buildup of gases, which can be caused by overcharging, overheating, or old age.

    If you continue to use your laptop when its battery is swollen, you could be putting yourself and others at risk. Instead, you should stop using your laptop straight away, unplug it from the power supply, and safely dispose of the battery following the manufacturer’s instructions. You’ll then need to replace the battery or seek professional repair from a computer expert like Lee Harvey!

    Can I still use a laptop with a swollen battery?

    The answer is a definitive “No.” You can’t keep using your laptop if its batteries swell, as it is too risky! We recommend that you put the laptop somewhere safe, preferably on a concrete floor, and keep it away from naked flames or heat.

    How does a laptop battery become swollen?

    A lithium-ion battery – the type found in your laptop – is made up of cells with a balance of positive and negative electrodes. There is a barrier between the two parts, and, over time or in adverse conditions such as use in a very hot environment, this barrier can begin to break down. This is often called “battery degradation,” and this breakdown causes heat. Heat, or rather the gas produced by this heat, causes a laptop battery to swell and expand inside of your device.

    The cells might even sustain physical damage if the laptop is dropped, for example. Once this barrier is damaged, it can start an uncontrollable chain reaction when the battery is connected to a charger that creates far too much energy. This produces gas, and it is this gas that actually causes the swelling.

    This gas is highly inflammable, and one spark from a shorting battery can cause a fire.

    What do you do when your laptop battery is swollen?

    If you spot your laptop battery swelling, we suggest following these steps:

    • Turn your device off immediately using the “Shut Down” option or unplug it if it is charging.
    • Do not use the laptop. It may sound overdramatic, but you run a very real risk of explosion or fire.
    • Put your device somewhere that it is unlikely to be disturbed – preferably on a tiled or concrete floor. A garage is often the ideal location, but make sure there is nothing flammable near the device.
    • Do not attempt to remove the battery yourself. Handling swollen batteries is a job best left to the professionals, and a bulging battery can be potentially dangerous.
    • Call Lee Harvey Computing for assistance and advice. Swapping out a swollen lithium-ion battery with a new one is a routine job for an expert, and at Lee Harvey Computing, we have provided this service to countless customers. By replacing your battery promptly, you not only prevent the need for a new laptop but also minimise downtime thanks to our swift service.

    Professional battery replacement

    Previously, older laptops featured attachable batteries that could be removed at the touch of a button without the need for complex tools – making it a quick and easy process. You could simply unclip the faulty battery and clip in the nice new replacement.

    Yet, with the trend towards thinner designs, modern laptops often integrate internal batteries, which require disassembling the entire laptop for replacement. Swapping swollen batteries now demands expertise, specific tools, and eye protection. This is why we always recommend a professional.

    Swollen laptop battery

    What happens if you don’t replace a swollen laptop battery?

    As we’ve discussed, ignoring battery swelling is a high-risk strategy. The chemical reaction contained within the battery carries the very real risk of leading to a fire, explosion, or both. A bulging battery is a dangerous battery.

    How can I prevent swelling from happening to my replacement battery?

    As your battery ages, it becomes less efficient, but that doesn’t mean degradation and a swollen battery are inevitable.

    There are several factors involved and steps you can take to extend your laptop battery’s life:

    • Heat is the worst enemy of your laptop’s components – and the battery is no exception. Leaving devices in direct sunlight (this goes for mobile phones, too) can be very damaging. Heat is probably the most common cause of computer problems.
    • Extreme cold can also damage your battery. Don’t leave your device in the car overnight if sub-zero temperatures are forecast.
    • Your laptop’s components need cooling air flowing over them. Using your device in bed or resting it on soft furnishings can prevent the intake vents beneath the device from doing their job. And, as your laptop gets hot, the high temperatures cause internal components to sustain damage over time. This is true for batteries, too. This is why it is important to have a fully functioning cooling fan. To find out if your laptop fan needs replacing, check out our informative blog post.
    • In the past, users were warned about overcharging, but the electronics industry came up with the answer in the form of a battery management system. With your device plugged into a power source, the software will prevent the battery from overcharging and will stop the charge just before the battery is full. If you suspect your computer may have a power charging issue, then get in touch with us today!

    Worried about your laptop? Get in touch

    If your device shows signs of a swollen battery, call Lee Harvey Computing straight away. We specialise in sourcing and installing the correct components for your laptop model to prevent further damage from occurring.

    Remember, a swollen lithium-ion battery is a hazardous waste, and we can arrange to dispose of your laptop’s battery safely to avoid potential fires. Don’t risk improper disposal in bins or recycling centres.

    Contact Lee Harvey Computing today to schedule an appointment for computer repair at your home or business!

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    Lee Harvey

    Lee is an experienced computer repair engineer and operates across Cornwall from his base in St Austell.

    Computer Repair Cornwall

    About Lee Harvey Computing

    We offer full diagnostics and repair of any make and model of desktop or laptop computer, as well as any software repairs on tablet computers.

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