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Old 03-17-2009, 07:05 AM
 
Location: WV
617 posts, read 1,913,808 times
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My laptop is old but still runs fine. I recently set it up at my mom's house, in her spare bedroom, for her to use now and then. The laptop was fine when I set it up.

A month later I checked on the laptop and noticed that it was really slow and eventually would shut down on its own. I also realized that when it was turned off but still plugged in, the bottom was very hot.

I took the computer home and when I plugged it in here it ran fine and the bottom stayed cool. My guess is that the wiring in my mom's spare bedroom is pretty old and may be causing the problems with the laptop. I don't know much about home wiring so I'm wondering if that sounds feasible?

Anyone have an opinion?
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Old 03-17-2009, 07:28 AM
 
Location: Amelia View
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I don't know much about wiring and electricity, but what if you plugged the laptop into a surge protector/power strip at your mother's and see if that makes any difference.
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Old 03-17-2009, 08:23 AM
 
Location: WV
617 posts, read 1,913,808 times
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I'm taking the laptop back there today and I'll try that as well as trying a different room. Her house is old and the wiring in that room was last updated in the early 70s. My husband finished her basement for her about 7 years ago so that wiring is all new. I'm going to try it there.

After I posted, I remembered that she has problems in the kitchen when her microwave is being used, too. I really think it's the wiring and I'm not sure if a surge protector is enough to keep the laptop safe.

Thanks for the suggestion, though!
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Old 03-17-2009, 08:38 AM
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Location: Ohio
16,906 posts, read 33,648,732 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mawipafl View Post
I don't know much about wiring and electricity, but what if you plugged the laptop into a surge protector/power strip at your mother's and see if that makes any difference.
I was thinking that an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) would be a better choice, since it can smooth out voltage unevenness. It might cost as much as the old laptop is worth, though.

There could be the makings of an electrical fire there, so an electrician is the best choice.
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Old 03-17-2009, 08:55 AM
 
Location: WV
617 posts, read 1,913,808 times
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Yeah, a UPS might work but if I'm going to spend that, I'd rather just get her a tower from Dell's online outlet and use one of the old monitors I have here. My mom mostly plays cards and reads stuff online. My dad has Alzheimer's and the computer was a nice diversion for her.

My husband is a stone mason but has done a lot of electrical work. (He built our home and did the wiring.) He could probably rewire her home but she insists it's fine. I'll have to try to persuade her I guess.

Thanks for the input!
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Old 03-17-2009, 08:55 AM
 
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It is not the 'house wiring'. Assuming that the wiring is safe, meaning that the hot and neutral are not reversed (unlikely but possible) it's age doesn't effect the voltage, which is controlled by the power company.

Was it actually 'overheating' for just 'warm'. Laptops do get warm, and it is based on how hard the processor is working. What programs were running, was there an animated screen saver running, such as the "pipes" screen saver?

What was it sitting on? There are air vents that are usually on the bottom to draw in cooling air. It takes very little to block these. A laptop should never be placed on a soft surface, bedding, pillow, or even your thighs, as this blocks the air vents. Older laptops will also build up dust that partially blocks the vents, and the heat sink for the processor that will also cause them to overheat with heavy use.
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Old 03-17-2009, 09:15 AM
 
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What was it sitting on? There are air vents that are usually on the bottom to draw in cooling air. It takes very little to block these. A laptop should never be placed on a soft surface, bedding, pillow, or even your thighs, as this blocks the air vents. Older laptops will also build up dust that partially blocks the vents, and the heat sink for the processor that will also cause them to overheat with heavy use.

This gets my vote.

Buy a cooler for it if you need to.

Newegg.com - laptop cooler

You can find these at your local big box office supply store.
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Old 03-17-2009, 11:33 AM
 
Location: Somewhere in northern Alabama
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If it was plugged in but turned off and the bottom was hot, the issue is with the battery overheating during a charge. The charger is usually in a brick on the power cord, so you can rule that out as the cause of the heat.

If the laptop is set up with the power always connected, it doesn't need the battery anyway, so remove it. Normally wiring should not be an issue. Borrow or buy a multimeter and check the voltage at the socket. Anything from 108 to 125 is within range. If the voltage is lower than 110, you MIGHT get a heating issue. Polarization shouldn't be an issue, but there are plug-in socket checkers if you want to verify the socket is wired correctly.

FWIW, a UPS wouldn't be the device to correct a low or varying voltage problem. You would use a brownout protector. A UPS kicks on if power drops out, but otherwise does nothing. A brownout protector constantly shifts voltage to the correct levels.
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Old 03-17-2009, 12:50 PM
 
16,308 posts, read 25,273,417 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by harry chickpea View Post
FWIW, a UPS wouldn't be the device to correct a low or varying voltage problem. You would use a brownout protector. A UPS kicks on if power drops out, but otherwise does nothing. A brownout protector constantly shifts voltage to the correct levels.
No, what you described is an SPS, (standby power supply)

A UPS provides regulated voltage at all times. The power from the wall simply keeps the battery charged. In a UPS when the power fails the only thing that happens is that the battery is no longer being charged.

Quote:
There are two basic types of UPS systems: standby power systems (SPSs) and on-line UPS systems. An SPS monitors the power line and switches to battery power as soon as it detects a problem. The switch to battery, however, can require several milliseconds, during which time the computer is not receiving any power. Standby Power Systems are sometimes called Line-interactive UPSes.

An on-line UPS avoids these momentary power lapses by constantly providing power from its own inverter, even when the power line is functioning properly. In general, on-line UPSs are much more expensive than SPSs.
http://www.webopedia.com/TERM/U/UPS.html

But this is totally unnecessary on a laptop, as that is what the laptop and it's battery are doing anyway.
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Old 03-17-2009, 01:14 PM
 
Location: WV and Eastport, ME
11,750 posts, read 11,317,384 times
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Scorpy, have your husband check the polarity and the voltage on the receptacle in question, just to be sure.

What was the laptop resting on in each house? If it is on a hard surface, like a table, it can run cooler than if it is on something soft, like a quilt or upholstery.
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