388 What does it mean when your laptop “expands”?

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Occasionally someone will bring me a laptop that appears to be bursting at the seams. It’s important to know what this means.

laptop computer


You use your laptop all the time so you know what it feels like and what it looks like. When the look or feel changes, it’s not something to ignore.

What I’m talking about is when a laptop expands.

You know when you hold your laptop or when you look at it from either side, everything is usually flush. The top and bottom fit together, just as designed.

But when you see one part of the plastic start to separate away from the other part, that’s a cause for concern. Or you might see the keyboard start to “bulge” in a particular area, like this one:

swollen laptop


Or, the touchpad my rise up and break away from where it usually sits:

Swollen laptop


What’s happening is that the battery inside the laptop is swelling.

When the battery has too much current going through it, it causes a build-up of heat and gas. This is a problem that needs to be addressed immediately, for two reasons:

  1. The battery could swell to the point that it causes damages to the keyboard or other components.
  2. The battery could catch fire or explode, causing serious injury to anyone using it or nearby.

If you notice your laptop beginning to swell, don’t delay – get it to a technician. If you can catch it early enough, the simple repair is just to replace the battery.

If you can’t take it to a repair shop the same day, don’t leave the laptop inside your house overnight because of the risk of fire. Put it somewhere safe, so that if it does ignite, it won’t be able to do much damage.

And this is a good reason to have a backup. Don’t risk losing your important files and folders!



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Marge Teilhaber
December 27th, 2021

Pulling out the charger when it’s 100 percent charged + when shutting down would avoid this???

Scott Johnson
December 27th, 2021

Not sure that would help. I think this is mostly due to batteries being defective and failing over time.

Michael Solenberger
January 8th, 2022

Hi Scott,

I enjoy your emails every week. They really help sometimes!