What to do With an Aged Battery

computer charging

Battery issues can manifest in a variety of ways. Sometimes, it’s as subtle as a message of “PLUGGED IN, NOT CHARGING” flashing on the screen for a second when you attach the power cord. Other times, it’s as dramatic as the computer—which could once last 10 hours on a full charge to suddenly shutting itself off after only an hour away from being plugged in an outlet. Though they’re designed to be durable and rechargeable, computer batteries just don’t last forever. As they get older and are subjected to more and more charge-discharge cycles, they begin to lose functionality and eventually stop working entirely. When a battery issue rears its ugly head, you essentially have two choices: (1) accept that your laptop computer is now a desktop computer, or (2) take action.

Step 1: Replace the Battery

Depending upon what kind of laptop you have, removing the old power pack can be as simple as flipping a switch on the bottom of the computer and popping it out, or as complicated as using a screwdriver to expose the inner-workings of the laptop and releasing the battery from the motherboard. Googling “[Vendor and model of your computer] battery replacement tutorial” can usually get you instructions, as can looking through your device’s instruction manual. Now, replacing a removable battery at home is considerably easier than replacing an “integrated” battery. So if you’re not very tech-savvy, it might be better to have a professional take care of it instead of digging around in there yourself!

If you decide to “DIY” the project, please be aware that different kinds of computers require different kinds of batteries—they’re not one-size-fits-all. You’ll need to know the manufacturer and model of your computer to find a suitable replacement. Again, this may be a time when you’ll want to consult with a professional. You can either visit a retail store that specializes in batteries, or call a licensed, reputable computer care company to see if they have what you need in stock (or can order it for you).

It’s worth mentioning that if your computer is relatively new and you’re already having battery issues, you should check to see if the machine is still under warranty. If it is, then you might be entitled to a new battery and/or repair service from the computer’s manufacturer, free of charge. However, all of the repairs will probably need to be done through the manufacturer, so call their customer service helpline before you get a third party involved.

Step 2: Properly Dispose of the (Old) Battery
So, you’ve installed the new battery, and it’s working and charging just fine. The only thing left to do, then, is throw the busted battery into the trashcan and catch up on your Facebook feed, right?

Wrong. Never throw an aged battery in the regular trash! Computer batteries contain chemicals and electronic components. If they leak or spark due to improper handling, it can be dangerous for the people, animals, or environment that they come in contact with. Just like you (hopefully) wouldn’t dispose of paint by pouring it down your kitchen sink, you need to dispose of computer batteries in a safe manner!

Fortunately, there are resources available to make this relatively easy:

  • Take your battery to a retail establishment that offers recycling services. These days, it’s becoming more and more common for electronics stores and superstores to allow individuals to bring in old electronic devices for recycling. Your local Best Buy, Target, or Office Depot / Staples stores are usually a safe bet, but you’ll probably want to call the individual store first to verify that they offer this service. Depending on the company’s policies, you might just need to drop your old battery into a labeled, self-serve receptacle, or you may actually need to speak to someone in the customer service department. Fortunately, most places that offer battery recycling don’t require you to have purchased the battery (or the computer itself) at that particular store to use this service; it’s a courtesy that they offer to anyone who needs it.
  • Hand the battery over to your city’s hazardous waste disposal unit. Most major cities have some sort of procedure for disposing of items not suitable for the regular trash, and batteries usually fit the bill. To learn what your particular city’s procedure is, check their official website, or Google “[City] [State] Hazardous Waste Disposal.” Depending upon where you live, you may need to go to a brick-and-mortar waste management facility, or show up at a mobile “Crud Cruiser” event. Please note that in both cases, you’ll probably need to provide proof of residency before your battery can be accepted.
  • Get in touch with Call2Recycle. Call2Recycle is a non-profit organization in the United States and Canada that collects old rechargeable batteries and cellphones in order to recycle them. Their website contains a directory of places that you can drop-off your battery, so it’s simple enough to find the one closest to you. You can get started on your recycling journey by accessing their website or calling 1-800-8-BATTERY.

The good news is that a failing (or completely busted) battery usually does not necessitate replacing your laptop entirely—computers do tend to have a longer lifespan than their power packs. The bad news is that replacing a computer battery tends to be a little more complicated than going to the nearest convenience store and picking up a pack of AAs. Whether or not you want to replace the battery yourself or have a professional do it, is up to you; many of us are fine with taking out a removable battery but balk at the idea of taking apart our devices and handling the inner-circuitry! Regardless of how you choose to handle the situation, though, please see to it that your old battery is disposed of in a safe, environmentally responsible manner.

If you think you’re experiencing battery issues but aren’t sure how to proceed, give us a call at 817-756-2241. Our technicians will be able to diagnose the problem, and—if necessary—replace the battery for you. Don’t be tied down by a laptop that can’t function without an outside power source; contact Computer CPR today!

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