Few things can make a person panic as much as the sight of their battery running low. If you agree with that statement, you probably always have a charger on you. However, imagine that you start recharging your smartphone or laptop, and you suddenly hear a strange hum or a crackle. Aside from making you uneasy, this odd sound is probably going to make you wonder, ‘Why’s my charger making noise?’
There are a few possible causes for a noisy charger. While some of them can be fixed easily, others may require assistance from a professional electrician. In the worst-case scenario, you’ll need to replace your charger with a new one.
Should You Worry When Your Charger Is Making a Noise?
Sometimes, a noisy charger is not a cause for concern. The sound you’re hearing may simply be a by-product of the charging method on which the gadget relies. However, it’s always best to “investigate” the cause behind it since it may suggest a problem. Overlooking any unusual sounds coming from your charger leads to complications such as:
- A charger becoming damaged beyond repair
- Damaged device battery
- Higher electricity consumption
- Fire hazards
- Health- or even life-threatening electrocution
So, which noises are normal and which are not? The answer to this question depends on the charger you’re using and the sounds you’re hearing.
Not All Chargers Work Silently
Many people don’t realize this, but all chargers make noises when they work. However, in some cases, your ears can’t even detect the sounds because of their low frequency.
If your charger makes a noise that you can clearly hear, don’t panic yet. Its manufacturer may not have designed it to work silently. Maybe the transformer converts current through electromagnetic plates and they generate a vibration. As a result, that same vibration creates an audible sound.
Of course, it’s difficult to tell whether the charger model you are using is generally noisy or not. Therefore, when you buy a new one, always check whether it makes any sounds when it’s operating. That way, late onr, you’d be able to notice if something is off.
For example, your otherwise silent charger could suddenly start generating a noise that you’ve never heard before. Also, it could become noisier than usual. In either case, such a change is hardly ever normal. Typically, it suggests that there is an underlying problem.
Some Noises Are More Worrying Than Others
If you’ve never paid much attention to the sounds your charger might be making, don’t worry. Certain noises are normal, and others — worrisome. You just need to learn to differentiate one type from the other. Although that’s not always easy, there are plenty of videos online that illustrate how they differ.
Don’t be quick to panic when you hear a whine or a hum. As mentioned, the transformer’s plates vibrate when they work, and that vibration gets translated into whining or humming. A noisy charger is not as annoying as a noisy fridge, for instance. Nevertheless, some manufacturers put glue on the vibrating plates to reduce the sound coming from the charging device.
In contrast, scratching, buzzing, sparking, and crackling are sounds that suggest there’s something wrong with your charger. Usually, you’ll be able to hear these sounds when the capacitor starts to fail. This component’s role is to reduce the current that goes into the battery so that it prevents it from overheating. So, when the capacitor fails to do its job, the charger can easily become a fire hazard.
Another category of noises for which you should keep your ears open is that of non-uniform noises. If you hear an irregular sound, it may mean that one of the charger’s parts is damaged.
Possible Causes and Solutions for a Charger Making Noise
If you suspect your charger is making noise because there’s something wrong with it, you’ll need to find out the cause for the problem. What’s more, you’ll also need to find a solution to it. Luckily, I’ve compiled the following list to help you with both of these tasks.
Cause #1: Off-Brand Charger
Off-brand chargers don’t always carry the correct voltage. As a result, they often make odd noises. Unfortunately, many of them are poorly designed and they don’t always follow the key safety and quality standards. As a result, they often fail to work correctly, even when they are fresh out of the box.
The Diagnostic Method
Sometimes, you don’t really need special skills or equipment to tell if a charger is branded or not. More often than not, all you need is one quick look at it.
In most cases, off-brand chargers lack safety markings. Also, they tend to feel cheap since they are made of poor-quality materials. Another giveaway sign is an unusually light weight, which may suggest that some parts of the device are missing.
The worst thing about off-brand chargers is that they may not carry the voltage they say they do. Therefore, such devices can damage your device’s battery even after short-term use. So, if you suspect that your charger is not the real deal, use a voltage meter to check the voltage it carries.
If you find that you’re using an off-brand charger, replace it with a brand-name one immediately. Although branded devices always cost more, I think I don’t have to emphasize that they’re much safer to use.
Cause #2: Old Charger
Even the most expensive brand-name charger is bound to break down eventually. When there’s a problem with it, you may hear one of the weird noises listed above.
The Diagnostic Method
It’s not hard to tell when your charger is too old. If you have been using it for several years now, there’s a good chance it’s showing various signs of wear. For instance, its cable may be bent at several places or the charging port may have become too loose. Therefore, the sounds that the device is making are usually just one of the many problems it has.
There’s no point in trying to fix an old charger because that’ll cost you more than getting a new one. Fortunately, today you can easily find a replacement charger for almost any device.
Cause #3: Faulty Outlet
Are you sure that it’s the charger making noise and not the power outlet which you plugged it in? The wires in the outlet can sometimes become too loose, and that may create a hum.
Still, even if the source of the sound is the charger, the cause behind it may again be the outlet. What’s more, you may be dealing with faulty wiring in your home.
The Diagnostic Method
Try plugging the charger into another outlet in your home. If the noise stops, the power outlet is probably either under- or overpowered. If the sound persists, try using outlets other than those your home in case the issue is in your electrical system. Hopefully, one of these two methods will do the trick.
If the problem is in your outlet or home wiring, you can safely continue using the charger. However, you will need to do something about the electrical issue in your house. By ignoring the warning signs, you risk damaging your appliances, not to mention that serious electrical problems may quickly turn into a fire.
Cause #4: Physical Damage
While most people take great care of their laptops and smartphones, they often abuse their chargers. For example, they leave them on the floor where someone can trip over the cable. They also often heavily bend and twist the cord to make it fit in a bag. Over time, such careless habits may physically damage the charging device.
The Diagnostic Method
A clear sign that a broken charger causes the noise is when it appears suddenly. Nevertheless, before you go with this diagnosis, check for any external signs of damage. It can be anything from a cracked adapter case to a fraying cable.
Instead of trying to tape or glue the device back together, buy a new one. It’s rarely a good idea to “patch up” electronic gadgets with random household items. Do that only as a temporary solution.
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Depending on the type of charging device you’re using, you may be able to replace only the damaged part. For instance, most smartphone chargers consist of a USB cable and a power adapter. So, if the problem is in the charger cable, simply order a new one — no need to replace the whole device.
Cause #5: A Broken Charger Component
There are many different types of chargers, but they all have a similar set of basic components. Typically, these parts include:
Some models may also have a resistor and regulator chips.
No matter how different the structure of separate chargers may be, when one of their components breaks, chances are you’ll hear an odd noise.
The Diagnostic Method
Determining the exact component that is generating the sound is tricky unless you are an expert electrician. However, you can use a multimeter to check which section of the charger is faulty (cable or adapter).
Once again, even if the problem is fixable, it won’t be worth the money. So, skip this step and buy yourself a brand-new charging device.
Cause #6: Faulty Capacitor
The one component that you can diagnose without having special skills is the capacitor. Plus, you won’t even need to “crack open” the adaptor.
The Diagnostic Method
Measure the cable output with a multimeter to check for voltage fluctuations. If you detect any, it’s highly likely that the source of the noise is the capacitor.
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Changing the capacitor of a charger can be successfully done by someone with basic skills in electrical engineering. However, this component is so tiny that it’s mostly sold in sets of several dozens of pieces. Therefore, you’ll save time, money, and effort if you opt for a new charging device.
How to Properly Take Care of Your Chargers
As you can see, when a charger is faulty, it’s easier to replace it than to fix it. So if you want to avoid buying a new charging device every few months, you’ll need to take good care of the one you have. Here’s a list of six basic rules that will help with this:
Don’t Expose the Charger to Extreme Weather
Temperatures that are either too high or too low can damage pretty much any device. So, never leave your charger under direct sunlight or uninsulated in the cold. Also, to prevent the adapter from overheating, make sure to always place it on a hard surface when you’re using it. That will keep it as cool as possible.
Protect the Charging Device From Moisture and Water
It should go without saying that moisture and water are two things that can cause considerable damage to a device. Therefore, keep your charger in a waterproof zipper if you’re often carrying it in a bag along with items such as bottled water.
Unplug It by the Head and Not by the Cable
To prevent damaging the cable, unplug the charger while grabbing it by the head and not the cord. Consider investing in magnetic adapters or cable protectors to avoid premature wear of that part of the device.
Avoiding Bending Its Cables
Instead of bending and wrapping the cord when you want to put the charger away, arrange it in a loose coil. By doing so, you’ll not only prevent entangling, but you’ll also keep the wires inside the cable in good condition.
Rely on a Surge Protector
Power surges can destroy any appliance and device, including chargers. If you’re living in a home where the voltage suddenly spikes, invest in a surge protector. This gadget is quite affordable, and it will save you a lot of money and headaches in the long run.
Unplug the Charging Device When You’re Not Using It
Don’t be one of those people who always keep their chargers plugged into the power outlet. Even when there’s no device attached to it, the adapter will remain active, and it will continue to consume electricity. Furthermore, the components of the charging device will wear off sooner than you anticipated.
A charger making noise doesn’t always have to be a reason to panic, since the cause behind it could be completely harmless. However, to be on the safe side, you’ll have to carry out your own “investigation” into the matter. Only then will you be able to eliminate serious potential risks and consequences.
Still, remember that a noisy charging device is not always a mere nuisance. Sometimes it can damage the battery or even start a fire. Surely, neither of these two things is on your to-do list.