+Tip: Power Adapters

Whether you have just received your first Mac or are on your 50th, handling your power adapter properly can extend the life of your adapter.

Here are some tips for using your adapter properly.

Magsafe Power Adapter, correctly coiled

DO NOT tug on the cord for any reason.  Tugging on the magnetic end puts the weight of the adapter base (the white box) on the strenth of a small amount of plastic.  It pulls the plastic casing and causes the plastic to bunch up on the ends.  In the first picture, you can't see any sign of bunching.  However, in the photo below it is evident.


Bunched Casing, from tugging on cord

You can clearly see the bunches below the magnetic head and next to the adapter's box where the cord emerges.  Those bunches twist the wires inside and can increase the stress on the wires, causing them to break inside the plastic casing.  Those breaks can cause an electrical short and could possibly ruin the adapter or the computer and can even cause a fire.  

Discolored Power Adapter

Sometimes the adapters get overheated and can discolor.  The extra material in the bunches can cause overheating.  As a result, the plastic coating over the wires can even melt and burn.

DO lift the cord by holding onto the base and the magnetic end.  Lifting the unit as a whole means the weight isn't being pulled by the cord.  Never disconnect the adapter from your computer by pulling the cord.  Grab the magnet head and pull slightly sideways (if you pull straight the magnet won't come off easily) to gently disconnect the power.

DO NOT leave your adapter where it can be damaged.  The other common cause of shorts is a pinch or break in the cord.  In the photo above, you can see a mark in the plastic casing directly below the burn area.  These marks are often caused when the cord is shut into a door, rolled over by a chair, or chewed on.  

Teeth marks

Yes, chewed on.  The sharp teeth of cats and dogs can break the surface of the casing in many places and can even break the wires underneath.   If you have animals you should check for damage by sliding the cord gently through you fingers and feeling for rough spots.  If you find them, the cord should be replaced at once so you don't suffer from any damaging shorts.  People often try to cover these spots with electrical tape.  It doesn't work.  Remember, electrical tape hides the problem but it cannot fix the broken wires and, sooner or later, they will short.  

DO replace the cord if you notice any tears, frays, or especially exposed wires!  Always pay attention to where you have put your cord.  Make sure it is not near any cabinet doors or drawers that could pinch it. or across the floor where it could be caught by any chair feet or wheels.  

When you are not using the adapter it should be put it away, out of the reach of pets.  In the first image you can see the proper way to store the adapter.  Use these steps to store yours the same way:

1.  Make a small half loop where the cord connects to the base.  If you pull it too hard the cord can become disconnected from the base.  This could result in the adapter not working properly or wires becoming exposed and the adapter becoming a safety hazard.   Looping minimizes the chance that this could happen and lessens the stress on that connection.

2.  Wrap the cord loosely around the tabs.  All Apple power adapters have tabs to store the cord.  The tabs fold down when not in use.  If you wrap the cord tightly, the tabs can be pulled out of place or can cut into the cords casing, once again exposing the wire.  The tabs will hold it in place even when wrapped loosely, and there's a small sliding clip on the end nearest the magnet to prevent it from coming unwound.  

3.  Store it away from heat and pets.  

Here are some more tips for using your adapter:

Never put the base in direct sunlight (causes overheating) or near a heat source (like a radiator or central heating vent).  

Don't use the 2-prong adapter on a wall outlet- the weight of the adapter can cause the prongs to break or bend.  Instead, it is recommended to plug the adapter into a surge protector with the prongs facing down. 

Clean your adapter regularly.  Make sure you unplug it from the outlet and disconnect it from your computer before doing so! 

And remember, accidents happen, puppies chew, and sometimes it's safer to get a new power adapter.