When you smash your screen it’s obvious just by looking at your laptop what the issue is. But sometimes, it can be a little harder to tell. This HP laptop baffled its owners when it abruptly stopped working, but we knew what was wrong with it immediately. In fact, the problem was diagnosed without taking it apart thanks to the telltale bulge in the keyboard. 

The problem? 

The laptop had overheated and the battery had blown.

Well, we installed a nice shiny new battery, almost half the size of the old one we took out!

Prevent Laptops Overheating
Blown Battery Overheating Laptop

A blown battery is a major problem, not only because your laptop won’t work without a functional battery, but because of the potential knock-on effect it can have elsewhere. When we say the battery was ‘blown’ what we’re really saying it ‘it got so hot the battery exploded’. With the potential to cause physical damage to both your laptop and you, exploding batteries are not good! 

And all because things got a bit too heated. 

You want to avoid this at all costs. It can cause battery fluid to leak into your machine, as well as the physical distortion and breaking of internal parts that happens when a part sitting right under your keyboard is suddenly twice the size it used to be.

An overheating laptop is a ticking time bomb, the equivalent of a human with a grumbling appendix – at some point, it’s going to get ugly.

So, if you’re looking to avoid that kind of expensive damage to your hardware, and the prospect of losing your data, here’s everything you need to know about laptops overheating…

What Does It Mean If Your Laptop Is Overheating?

In simple terms, your laptop has a central processing unit (CPU) that runs the show – kinda like a brain. Keeping the CPU and other ‘processing’ parts like the GPU (graphics processing unit) cool is a problem faced by pretty much all manufacturers because as your computer runs, it generates heat.

That’s just physics – energy can neither be created nor destroyed, it can only be converted into different forms of energy. As your laptop runs, it uses power, which (among other things) generates heat. 

The problem for designers is they’re dealing with a system that generates heat, while enclosed in a casing that traps all that heat.

Cooling is usually done by a fan as well as a heat sink (a metal conductor usually made of aluminum or copper). Both the CPU and GPU in your laptop are connected to this heat sink using a thermal paste, which conducts heat, but not electricity.

The idea is that the system gets rid of as much heat as possible through the fan, heat sink, and vents in the casing which suck cool air up from the base of your computer and over your heat sink, before being blown out through the side or back (taking some of the heat with it).

Why Do Laptops Overheat?

In theory, all that careful design should stop your laptop from overheating. In reality, it’s a flawed system that’s very easily compromised. Fans, vents, and exhaust ports become clogged with dust and dirt over time. Dust is destructive to computer components, and when it gets inside your machine it not only clogs everything up it can bring corrosive elements with it. 

The more clogged up everything gets, the less efficiently your laptop can manage the heat it produces. Things start to get hot in there, and when that happens, your thermal paste dries up.

That’s a vital element of the heat reduction system, and when it’s gone there’s no way to conduct heat away from your CPU.

The result?

Meltdown.

Eventually, your computer will get too hot and everything will just shut down.

Signs Of An Overheating Laptop…

If you’re worried your laptop is overheating, it’s likely you’ve already noticed that it feels physically hot to the touch. There are a few other signs you can watch out for and, if you notice them, take action to avoid damaging your machine:

  • The fan is running constantly and makes a loud whirring noise.
  • Your laptop is struggling to perform basic tasks, such as opening a new tab in your browser.
  • Lines appearing on your screen.
  • Unexpected and non-specific error messages.
  • Certain parts on the base are hot to the touch – as if specific components inside, like your CPU or battery – are very hot.
  • Your laptop appears misshapen – as was the case with the HP laptop with the blown battery!
  • Your system suddenly freezes.
  • You’re suddenly faced with the Blue Screen Of Death.
  • Your laptop spontaneously shuts down of its own accord for no apparent reason.

While there are other potential causes for these problems as well as overheating, if you notice any of these problems crop up while your laptop simultaneously feels very hot, the odds are the problem is that it’s overheating. 

Need Help?

If you suspect your laptop is overheating take immediate action to cool it down and prevent further damage. Remember, the hardware components inside your laptop are very close together, so if one thing overheats, it will quickly take everything else with it. Switch your computer off, place it on a vented surface so air can circulate beneath it, and shut it down until it has cooled.

If the problem persists when you turn it back on again, your internal components need some maintenance. Give us a call on 01606 531631 or pop into the office – we’re just down the hill from Victoria Infirmary in Northwich.