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How to Fix a Laptop that Smells Like it’s Burning (STEPS)

a laptop that smells like it's burning

Why Does my Laptop Smell Like it’s Burning?

A burning smell from a laptop occurs when the cooling system fails. For laptops that have a cooling fan installed inside, it is often that the fan has stopped working due to clogging or other mechanical or technical glitches. The smell can also be due to overheated equipment or a battery issue.

Here are a few of the most common reasons that you’re supposed to pay heed to.

  • Clogged Cooling Vents

Dust or other particles can clog the cooling vents. Due to this, the entire cooling system of the laptop fails, leading to overheating. This in turn leads to a burning smell from the laptop.

  • Fan Turned Off

In some laptops, like Dell’s recent laptop range, there is a Power-saver mode that restricts the cooling fan from turning on. If the laptop is used at its full capacity while the power saver mode is on, it leads to a burning smell due to overheating.

  • Bad AC Adapter

Modern-day AC adapters cover almost all voltage ratings and are efficient with most of the standard voltage ratings. However, if the voltage received by the adapter is outside the rated range, it heats beyond the cooling capacity of the laptop and starts giving outa burning smell.

  • Defective Laptop Case

Often the cooling system fails to turn on due to a defective laptop case. The inside of a laptop case may prevent the fan from turning on leading to overheating of the laptop.

  • Overheating

Laptops dissipate heat in proportion to the workload that it is subject to. If the laptop is used heavily and the heat produced is beyond the laptop’s cooling system’s capacity, you may get a burning smell from the laptop.


How to Fix a Laptop that Smells Like it’s Burning

To fix the burning smell coming from a laptop, you can replace the AC adaptor and clean the cooling vents with a can of compressed gas.

A burning smell from any electronic equipment is enough to cause worry. More so when the gadget concerned is your laptop worth hundreds of dollars. A burning smell from the laptop is something most users would have experienced at some point in time.

There can be multiple reasons behind a laptop having a burning smell but they have resolutions as well. While some reasons could be dangerous enough requiring the laptop to be taken to the service center, most of the time it is just a setup glitch that one can troubleshoot with a few simple steps.

Throughout this guide I’ll outline all the possible reasons that might be behind the burning smell on a laptop.


Why is there a Burning Smell Coming from my Laptop Charger?

A burning smell from the laptop charger is an indication that the power is not traveling as intended between the supply socket and the laptop’s motherboard.

There are three connections in this circuit. A defect at any of these three points may lead to a burning smell from the charger.

Firstly, the connection between the charging port and the motherboard. If the smell is too strong and is still there when the charger is not at work, it is most likely that there is some issue with this connection.

Secondly, the connection between the charging port and power cable. A problem at this point might happen when a pin in the charging port or the power cable is broken or is loose.

Lastly, the power cable and the supply socket. If there is a bad connection within the supply socket, the laptop continues to get charged, but damages the charging port and leaves it overheated.


What to do When your Laptop Smells Like it’s Burning?

The first thing to do is to shut down the laptop immediately. Once it has cooled down, try restarting the laptop to find out the cause behind the burning smell.

Here are a couple of things you can do before calling a professional.

  • Check User Manual

Check the user manual of your laptop to understand the operation of your laptop’s cooling system. Most of the recent laptops have a cooling system that works at a certain temperature range. The cooling starts only after the laptop reaches a certain temperature. The user manual shows you this temperature and helps you with ways of getting it changed.


  • Check Cooling Vents

With your laptop completely unplugged and shut down, check if the cooling vents of your laptop are clogged by any debris. It would be better to remove the battery before doing this.

Troubleshooting a Burnt Laptop Smell

In case of a burning smell from your laptop, it is advised to seek professional help instead of trying to troubleshoot it yourself. The burning smell is indicative of a fire hazard and hence should be dealt with utmost care.

There are a couple of fixes though, which can be tried without risking a fire hazard.

  1. Clean Cooling Vents

If you notice dust or other particles clogging your laptop’s fan, unplug your device and try to clean it. A regular dust cleaner works well for cleaning the dust deposit on the vents. Avoid using vacuum cleaners or blowers as they might end up damaging the tiny components inside the laptop.

  1. Check Settings

In most laptops with a Power-saving mode, the fan is not turned ON until the laptop reaches a certain temperature. This can be changed from the Power-saver mode settings on the laptop. Turning off the Power Saver mode can also help.


How to Fix a Burning Smell on your Laptop

In case your laptop starts emitting a burning smell, it is highly recommended to take it to an authorized technician. Even if you are good enough with handling the insides of your laptop, do not try to fix it.

What you have to do is turn your laptop OFF and allow it to cool down to check for the reason behind the burning smell. It is better to remove the laptop battery when trying to identify the source of the smell.

It is recommended to contact an authorized technician of your laptop’s brand. Other technicians too can be of help, but may not be able to provide authentic accessories or components to fix the issue if needed.


Laptop Smells Like Burning Plastic

If the cooling system of a laptop stops working due to a clogged fan or for some other reason, the system may overheat causing a wire or some other component to burn, which in turn emits a burning plastic smell.

Chances of a burning wire are high and hence anyone trying to fix the issue on their own may end up getting electrocuted. Hence, you may contact the service center to find and fix the issue. Technicians may sound expensive, but a failed attempt to fix your laptop using DIY methods can turn out to be much costlier afterward when you have to take it to the service center.

You can try the troubleshooting tips listed above. Cleaning the cooling fan to remove any sort of debris is the best that can be done. After cooling, switch ON the laptop and check if the smell is still there. If the smell persists, immediately shut down your laptop and get your laptop to a technician.

Laptop has a Burning Smell and Won’t Turn ON

In case the cooling vent of a laptop is stuck while the laptop gets overheated, the components may end up getting damaged. This can result in the laptop not turning ON afterward.

Fixing this involves dealing with the I/O board and other critical components. The slightest mishandling can end up leaving the entire motherboard damaged. To avoid the excessive expenses of a new laptop altogether, it is better to let a technician look into it.

Also, before taking your laptop for a repair, backup the data you have on your laptop as the repair might require flashing up the drive.


MacBook Pro Has a Burning Smell

Apple has some exceptional service options available for its MacBook Pro users. If your laptop is emitting a burning smell, you can visit your nearest Apple official store or raise a request online for pickup. The operating hours of Apple’s service centers differ state-wise across the United States.

As for the cost of repair, if the MacBook Pro is under Warranty or is covered by AppleCare+, the entire repair, including any hardware replacement is free of cost. The online request is also not charged if the device is under warranty.

If your laptop falls outside of the warranty period, the cost will vary depending on the type of service required, the extent of damage and hardware replaced.. If there is damage to the battery, the cost of repair may end up at USD 199.

If the MacBook Pro is serviced at any unauthorized service center, Apple does not extend its support for such devices. The AppleCare+ charges USD 99 for screen or external casing damages while providing two accidental damage cover.

Other damages apart from the external casing will incur a charge of USD 299 with AppleCare+ warranty. You can raise a service request atgetsupport.apple.com.


HP Laptop Has a Burning Smell

If your HP laptop has a burning smell coming from it, you can take it to an HP ASP (Authorized Service Provider). It is usually returned after repair within a few days. In case you need your laptop repaired urgently, you can opt for HP Express Repair which returns your laptop within a maximum of 3 business days.

Customers can get the address of the nearest authorized HP service center by visiting www.hp.com/us/support. Besides visiting the store, customers can also get in touch with an HP technician at 1800-474-6836.

Before taking your laptop for repair, the technician will ask you to run a self-test trying to fix the burning smell. The cost of repair will be generated only after the technician’s initial assessment of the device.


Acer Laptop Has a Burning Smell

Acer provides complete troubleshooting of a laptop that has a burning smell coming out of it before taking it for repair. Customers are expected to check for their warranty as well with the SNID number printed on the sticker on your laptop.

You can look for help in the Acer Community, a user-based forum, and look for troubleshooting ideas there as well. Acer’s support number 1866-695-2237 is available 24/7 for customers across the US and Canada.

The cost of repair is covered if the device is under warranty period or else it depends on the type of damage the device has incurred. Technicalities of the warranty are available on your product’s warranty card as well as Acer’s support website – https://www.acer.com/ac/en/US/content/service-contact.


Lenovo Laptop Has a Burning Smell

If your Lenovo Laptop has a burning smell, it may or may not turn ON. You can check on Lenovo’s support website (https://pcsupport.lenovo.com/us/en/) and find a three-step check for your problem using in-built tools before consulting a support technician.

Lenovo’s support website does include a community forum link as well where you may find a possible solution for your device.

As your trouble is concerned with a fire hazard, it is advisable to take your laptop for repair to an authorized service center. You can raise a service request online by creating an account using your device ID.


Dell Laptop Has a Burning Smell

If you’re using a Dell laptop and you experience a burning smell from it, you can visit Dell’s PC Support Website – https://www.dell.com/en-us/shop/fix-your-pc-or-tablet/ab/fix-your-pc-or-tablet. You can reach out to them via their 24/7 support number 1800-288-4410.

The procedure is simple wherein the support executive on the other side will assess the problem and offer available solutions. Any repair, if required, will be assessed and an estimated bill will be suggested beforehand. Dell does provide support for all devices outside their warranty period as well.



To sum up, if your laptop gives out a burning smell, you can try a few troubleshooting steps that might fix the issue. However, since the problem involves a fire hazard, it is advisable to reach out to your laptop’s tech support at the earliest.

When changing any component, always go for genuine supplies to avoid another replacement in the near future. Also, never forget to backup your data before you give your laptop for any sort of repair.

Ernie Lo

Ernie Lo is a qualified web designer and web developer. He works as an IT support technician and website manager at Benleigh Vending, and he also fixes vending machines.

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