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If I plugged my laptop AC Adapter power cable into a UPS, causing sparks to blast out (and being unable to insert it due to the UPS being seemingly not designed for this type of plug, for whatever reason), and possibly I thought I might have heard like a little bit of a popping sound coming from the computer or the wire when I was trying to plug it in, but I think that sometimes happens anyway when I first plug it in if it's been off or in sleep mode for awhile, but if, as I was told by someone else on this site (Steve, specifically), the cause of this was intermittent contact with the service voltage and capacitors in the power supply charging up (inrush current) then, my two questions are:

  1. Would this be likely to have caused component damage and/or failure within the computer itself?

  2. What means (software, hardware, or anything else) might I be able to use to determine conclusively whether or not damage had occurred and what steps would need to be taken to replace or repair any damaged hardware, software, or other within my notebook computer?

Edit: By the way, this question is NOT a duplicate. It's a related but new and separate question about an entirely different aspect of the same situation. I specifically asked about this on the meta and was informed quote “If its a related tangential question, sufficiently distinct to warrant its own question, you can refer back to the old one.”

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possible duplicate of Agghhh! UPS Back-Up, Laptop Charger, Sparks –  davidgo Jul 18 at 3:20
    
Please do not make duplicate posts - see post 784306 –  davidgo Jul 18 at 3:21

2 Answers 2

up vote 0 down vote accepted

Assumptions: I am assuming this is in refer to US, Canada, Mexico style plug (NEMA 1-15 or Type A) on an correctly working electricity utility service (aka hydro, AC mains, etc.) using single phase 120 Vac @ 60 Hz.

Plugs

being unable to insert it due to the UPS being seemingly not designed for this type of plug,

This suggests that you (unintentionally) attempted to insert a polarized plug incorrectly. A polarized plug has one blade slightly larger than the other.

Nearly all, if not all, NEMA 5 (Type B) receptacles (i.e. wall socket) are also polarized (as well as being grounded), including those found an UPS.

Sparks

I plugged my laptop AC Adapter power cable into a UPS, causing sparks to blast out

It may of been an inrush current, or rapid capacitor discharge, perhaps enabled by the accidental reversal of the Line (aka "Hot" or Live) and Neutral plug connectors. Causing a unintentional low-impedance path to discharge capacitors in either the output stage of the UPS (e.g. LC output filtering) or part of the laptop's power supply's input section.

Damage

Would this be likely to have caused component damage and/or failure within the computer itself?

Likely, no, but possible. I would expect the mostly likely place of damage is with the power supply / charger unit itself.

Testing

What means (...) might I be able to use to determine conclusively whether or not damage had occurred and what steps would need to be taken to replace or repair any damaged hardware ...

The most complete or accurate method would be to have the power supply / charger unit inspected by an electronics technician familiar with switch-mode or switching power supplies). If there is no damage to the unit, it is unlikely (far less likely) to have damaged the laptop.

The most basic test would be to use a voltage meter (typically a VOM or DMM) to check that the the charger / power supply is still producing the correct DC voltage output. The most common failures would be to produce no (zero) output voltage, or like commonly, too high an output voltage compared to it's label.

Note that most supplies are produced to approximately 5% tolerance, so a 18V output at 5% would be valid with an output in the range of ~17.1 to ~18.9V. Most laptop supplies are regulated outputs as far as I know, so they should not necessarily need a load to produce the correct voltage (common with many cheap old fashioned unregulated wall-wart AC power modules).

If the laptop's power supply catastrophically failed it may of caused voltage surges to be sent to the laptop beyond the laptop's power connector's input protection.

Repairs

The most likely resolution would be to replace the charger / power supply unit with a equivalent model with valid safety certifications (E.g. Underwriters Laboratories, Canadian Standards Association, etc.) which available from the original equipment manufacturer or from third-parties retailers online.

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Wow, okay, thanks! Yes, your assumptions are all correct (at least, I think they are… ). –  Josh Zmijewski Oct 24 at 16:04

Yes it could damage it.

I assume your question is how to find out if it is damaged.

  1. Check if the laptop turns on.
  2. Make sure the system boots all the way.
  3. Plug it into the correct plug and verify it charges.

Assuming all 3 of the above checklist items are fine then it didn't destroy anything. A mistake like that would either fry the motherboard or destroy the ability to charge the battery. (I have killed a laptop before trying to plug it into a docking station not designed for the laptop. )

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