Headphones Not Working Though Plugged In? (5 Solutions)

While technology is here to make your life easier, it can be frustrating when things don’t work the way they are supposed to. Wireless headphones have helped to make your music listening experience more seamless. However, some people still prefer the classics.

So, what can you do when your wired headphones betray you and stop working even though they are plugged in?

Here are some of the most common reasons why your headphones may not be working and what you can do to fix it.

1. Headphone Wires are Damaged and Need to be Fixed

Anything connected with a wire comes along with a warning that if the wire becomes damaged, the product won’t work the way it is supposed to.

When it comes to headphones, the most common damage you will see is a kink or even an exposed wire towards the plug-end of the device. Headphone wires are covered in a protective coating in order to keep you from getting shocked.

However, even though wired headphones last pretty long, if this coating wears off, not only will the live wire underneath become dangerous, but it can also make your headphones not work the way they are supposed to.

An unstable connection with the wires on headphones can cause them to not work. Most of the time, you will notice a weak connection when the sound coming through the headphones starts to become muffled. You may even notice sound only coming from one side of the headphones.

Here’s a quick fix you can try:

  • Electrical tape to wrap the exposed wire will help protect it from the elements and strengthen the connection.
  • However, once the wire has been exposed, it is only a matter of time before you will need a complete replacement.

2. The Headphone Port is Dirty or Broken and Needs Maintenance

When properly using wired headphones, it is important to remember that it is all about the connection. So, if you find that your headphones are not working even when they are plugged in, it might not even be the headphones themselves.

You might find that the problem lies within the headphone port of whatever device you are attempting to plug your headphones into.

A dirty port will weaken the connection from the headphone jack to the device you are trying to use. Luckily for you, this can be a simple fix.

  1. First, you want to unplug the device and ensure that no power is currently running through it.
  2. Next, use a microfiber cloth to clean the area around the headphone port.
  3. You want to use a small cleaning tool like a cotton swap to gently remove dirt and debris from the inside of the port.
  4. For tougher jobs, using a compressed can of air helps clear out that dirt. Best of all, air compressors come with skinny straws that can help you to get a more precise clean.

Just remember that when cleaning electronics, you need to be careful about what supplies you use. You want to avoid anything with harsh chemicals which can corrode the inside of the device, which will end up doing more harm.

In the case of a broken headphone port, you can usually replace one from anywhere from $30 to $70.

3. A Broken Headphone Jack Needs to be Replaced

The wires on your headphones are not the only thing that can break. A broken headphone jack is a surefire way to keep your headphones from working properly when plugged in.

While the headphone jack is designed to be pretty tough, accidents can happen. Most commonly, headphone jacks don’t always snap off, but instead, bend.

This happens when you pull the headphone cord from the port by the wire.

The good news about a broken headphone jack is that it is easy to fix, and best of all, you can even do it yourself.

You can purchase a new headphone jack for less than $10. After that, all you need is a strong pair of pliers and some electrical tape, and you can fix your headphone jack from home for very little money.

4. You Need To Check Your Device Settings

Sometimes when your headphones are not working even when plugged in, it can all be chalked up to a simple human error.

When using a device, like a personal computer, it is easy to mess with the audio settings and not even realize that you have turned something off.

Checking and updating your audio settings is a fairly easy thing to do, and may even be the problem when it comes to why your headphones are not working.

  1. First, open up the settings on the device and go to ‘audio settings’
  2. Pay close attention to the audio balance. If the sound is only coming from one side, you may find that the volume balance has been moved to one side only.
  3. You also want to make sure that the master volume is turned on as well.

Once you update your audio settings, restart your device to be sure that everything is working properly, and then you should be good to go.

5. Be Sure To Keep You Audio Cards Up To Date

If you are using a personal device, like a laptop, one reason why you may find that your headphones are not working is that your sound card is out of date.

Every computer has a sound card which is a peripheral device that will be built right into your computer’s motherboard. The main function of this audio card is to process and play sound that gets filtered through the motherboard.

If the audio card becomes corrupted or is out of date, your computer will no longer be able to play or even process sound.

There are many different ways that you can damage the audio card in your computer. However, the most common way that an audio card can be damaged is if moisture makes its way to the motherboard.

While a motherboard can be repaired if there is water damage, an audio card cannot. 

So, if you find that your audio card has become damaged, it will need to be replaced. Also, if you don’t know your way around a motherboard, you may want to consider getting it repaired by a professional.

It is important to note that a sound card only costs around $10 for parts, but paying a professional to install can run up to $200.

Final Thoughts

While having your headphones stop working right when you’re in the middle of a jam session can certainly be frustrating, most of the time, it is a pretty easy fix.

So, before you go running to buy a new computer or another pair of headphones, check your devices for these simple fixes before throwing a bunch of money at the problem. Good luck.


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