We live and work in a cold, cruel world where our laptops can take a lot of abuse. Regardless of how gentle we try to be, our notebooks will probably be dropped, spilled upon or worse—sooner, if not later.

But if you think that all notebook damage can be repaired only by the manufacturer or a computer shop, think again. Many problems can be inexpensively and easily fixed with common tools, spare parts, and a little effort. Some repairs are no harder than high school art projects. That said, there are modern laptops that are very difficult to open and repair. If you can’t see any screws, you’re in for a tough time.

Using a couple of old, beat-up mainstream notebooks, we’ll show you how to fix everything from a broken case and frayed charger cord to a bad fan and scratched screen. Each restoration project has time and cost estimates, as well as what materials you’ll need to do the trick. Just follow the basic directions we’ve outlined for each repair.

Fair warning: Your system might be a little different, require special parts, or need a slightly different approach. YouTube is your friend.

One additional note: While we generally applaud improvisation and recycling old parts (especially AC adapters), there’s nothing like having the precisely correct part to do the repair. In fact, while fans and notebook keyboards may look similar, they can be very different. Each repair features links to where you can get the right parts, but they are just a sample of what’s available. If all else fails, try eBay, Newegg, Amazon, or CDW to get what you need.

Problem: Frayed AC adapter cord

Cost: $5 to $15
Time: 1 to 2 hours
Materials: Silicone sealant, painter’s tape (which is less sticky than regular masking tape), protective gloves (optional)

Because a notebook that travels needs to be plugged in and unplugged several times a day, the cord and connector can take a beating, leading to a frayed or otherwise damaged power cord. If this happens, it’s important to get a new cord or fix it right away, because it not only can damage the system’s battery through intermittent charging, but it can also be a fire hazard.

Fortunately, many laptop power adapters have removable AC power cords, which cost a few dollars and are available online or at electronics stores. On the other hand, if the connector that plugs into the computer is the problem, it can cost $50 to $75 to replace if you opt for the exact AC adapter for your laptop from your notebook manufacturer, Amazon, or eBay (search for your make and model name followed by “AC adapter”).



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