How to ground yourself from static?
Most of us have the urge to open the PC and explore its internal components, to quench our anxiety and inquisitiveness. Others do this as a profession to replace the parts of the PC or to build a new computer. If you have ever visited a computer repair shop or have visited any online tutorial on the ways to build a computer, you could have seen the wires tangling the host’s hand.
They indeed look like an artificial hands, as in robots surrounded by different coils of wires. These are used to ground the host, and to prevent damage from static electricity to the components of the PC.
Why is Grounding Important While Building a PC?
The reason behind grounding is simple, but it plays a major role in preventing oneself from being Static. When you rub yourself against a component that is known to let out static electricity, then you end up receiving static electricity in the form of negatively charged electrons.
This process is known as triboelectrification, in which the human body with positive charges rubs against a neutral body with negative charges, presumptively the PC will allow the electrons to pass, resulting in the build-up of electrical energy. This static electricity keeps building up as you continue to rub further, it could turn violent, similar to getting an electric shock or creating considerable damage to the PC component.
But you ground yourself, you deliberately make sure to pass charges from your body to the earth and ensure that there is no static accumulation on your body, even when you touch a component with a positive charge. This also ensures that you do not cause any harm to the delicate technology of the computer component while building it.
Safety Precautions to Follow to Protect Yourself From Static Electricity
If you are planning to perform computer repairs and upgrades by yourself, then you must ground yourself, before performing the work. Grounding helps in preventing the body from acting as a source of static electricity. The static current from the fingers can harm the resilient computer parts, such as the memory chips and the microprocessors. There are also chances for the graphics card and the computer hard drive to get damaged, by getting exposed to static. Here are some helpful and proven ways that could help ground yourself.
1. Create a Safe Workspace:
Before initiating any repair work, the first and the most important thing to do is to find a flat surface, which is sturdy enough to hold the unit. For that matter, even your kitchen countertop could be used or even a flat surface.
After choosing the work surface, make sure not to lay any tablecloth on top of the surface. Having such substances will conduct the electrostatic charges from the computer to your body and result in fatal results.
Ensure to keep pets away from the work surface and never use things such as pillows, and rolling tables as they could aid in falls and result in negative results.
Make sure that the work surface is free from any water droplets, grease, and debris. Ensure that the surface is clean to work at.
2. Invest in Anti-Static Mat to Work At:
The anti-static mats feature rubber pads that come with an alligator clip and a wire. They help to drain the buildup of static, wherever these mats are placed, and thus they help in protecting the sensitive hardware and grounding the work station. There are several anti-static work mats available from many leading brands and a simple online search, will surely help you to land on your appropriate anti-static work mat.
3. Wear Appropriate Clothing, Before Rolling Up Your Sleeves to Work :
We have mentioned that you should avoid using all woolen items from the surrounding while trying to build a computer. This rule applied to clothing as well. It is mandatory to avoid the use of woolen clothing and dresses made of synthetic fibers as they are good conductors of electricity. A good practice will be the use of cotton jeans and shirts.
Consider washing the clothes with the help of drying sheets, to keep static charge, to the lowest level. And while building the system, it is important to stay barefoot completely.
4. Get Rid of Door Mats From the Workstation:
You could be very cautious in avoiding woolen clothing and in avoiding woolen items from the room, in which you are building the PC. But make sure to concentrate on the door mats as well, as woolen door mats are no exception for conducting static electricity.
Ensure to remove all carpets, rugs, and woolen mats. OR shift to a room with supportive flooring. Even if this is not feasible, then you can try wearing appropriate footwear made of non-conductors while building the system. You can also try wearing a rubber slipper and shoes.
5. Disconnect Power:
This is an important step to do while setting up the PC. After you get ready with all the equipment, and you are ready to begin, ensure to unplug the system from the electrical outlet. Also detach the electrical items that come in contact with the system, including the keyboard, the mouse, webcam, etc.
The HDMI and the other cables should be disconnected as well, even if they are not connected anywhere else in the computer. Turning off the power supply is mandatory, as it eliminates the flow of electricity to the computer.
6. Secure the Hardware in Anti Static Bags:
It is a good practice to keep all the hardware components that are to be installed in the computer that you are assembling in anti static bags. This helps in cutting down the buildup of static electricity, even to the slightest extent. These bags will have a liberal coating of polyethylene and are available in black or silver colors This will help in protecting the hardware from static electricity.
7. Build Moisture in the Air:
If you are living in a dry area, consider moisturizing the air, as the dry climate supports static stagnation. To moisturize the air, you can try using a humidifier. This humidifier will help in boosting the levels of carbon dioxide in the air
You can also use a fan in your room and hang some rags on it. Make sure to keep this setup far away from the working station. A simpler technique would be to stay without fan in the room, if you do not wish to invest in a humidifier.
how to ground yourself from static? [7 Ways]
After setting up the environment and getting ready with all the safety precautions, you are now all set to build your PC. Before you start the process, you should ground yourself to protect yourself and the system from static. Here are some of the best ways to ground yourself and roll up your sleeves for the work.
1. Use a Wrist Wrap:
Wearing the wrist wrap is a must to do function before starting to build up the PC. These anti-static wristbands are available in both electronic stores and online markets. It is mandatory to wear the wristband around the skin tightly and it is best worn on the non-dominant hand of the user. After wearing the wristband, it is mandatory to clip the end onto a grounded metal object, preferably a screw. Make sure not to use wireless wristbands, as they will not be serving the purpose.
2. Use a Wire to Connect with a Metal Object:
One cheap and best way to ground yourself is by using a conductive wire such as copper to connect the body and a metal object. You can preferably use a copper wire and tie one end of it to your toe and the other end of the wire to a grounded object.
3. Ensure to Touch a Bare Metal Object Occasionally:
Before starting the PC building process, for additional safety, plug the computer with the PSU component. Touch a bare metal before touching the computer. This helps in dissipating any electricity that is built in the body.
Ensure to touch the metal object occasionally and to repeat the process every few minutes. These bare metal objects could be simple items that form our day-to-day environment such as a nail pinned on the wall, the metal door handle, etc.
By following this method, you can be sure that you are diverting some of the free electrons into the ground and perhaps you are equalizing the number of electrons with the computer. But keep in mind, that this is not a highly responsive method and it is not 100% effective. Thus, it should not be used as a sole way to ground oneself.
4. DIY Anti-Static Wrist Strap:
There is no need to invest in a commercial wrist strap for grounding, you can easily build your wristband. This also helps to reduce your energy and time, waiting for the product to be delivered. Here are the step-by-step instructions to help build an anti-static wrist strap.
- Choose any string or even a wire, and make sure that it is not made of plastic. Tie this around the wrist.
- If you have not chosen a metal band, then you can cover it with a sheet of foil and use it in such a way that the inner surface of the coil is in contact with the skin.
- Bind the foil with a copper wire and make sure that this wire is long enough to connect with the computer, and can stay in place, without disturbing the work.
- Fold one end of the wire and loop it. Or if possible secure one end of the wire with an alligator clip.
- Secure the clip or the loop to metal in the PC chassis.
5. Create a Ground With the Laptop Charger:
You can use the laptop charger to create a temporary ground to protect yourself from the static. The laptop charger’s DC plug is a very good conductor of electricity, and it is also capable of emitting routing electricity away from the body to the ground.
To make efficient use of the laptop charger, plug it at the wall outlet in the area where you are going to be assembling the PC, and ensure to touch the outer metal of the other end, often, during your assembling process.
6. Assemble the PC on the ESD Mat :
The ESD mats are available online and in stores and are rated for both conduction and dissipation of static. You can assemble your PC components on this mat and touch the mat occasionally in between the work. Some of these mat models will also have provision to clip the wristband onto.
If you have decided to use the ESD mats, you can opt to buy vinyl mats as rubber mats are expensive and are not required for the purpose.
7. Use the Computer Case to Get Grounded:
This is the easiest of all techniques to get grounded while building a PC, and to our astonishment, it is one of the most frequently used techniques by most PC builders. Before handling resilient PC components that can easily get damaged by the ESD, such as the motherboard, ensure to touch the metal casing of the PC, preferable the unpainted portion.
Alternatively, you can also place your non-dominant hand at all times, in the process, over the metal case, to ensure that the components are not getting damaged by static.
Some Safety Tips to Consider While Building the PC
Apart from setting up the environment and the safety precautions to follow, before assembling the hardware in the PC, there are additional principle to follow, that ensures make the entire process as easy as a cakewalk.
1. If you have to get hold of the components, you only have to grab their edges. You should refrain from touching any pin or the board circuits. The solder joints and other metal surfaces are no exception as well.
2. You should only be wearing anti-static band on your wrist. You should remove rings, bracelets, and all other accessories made of metal.
3. Ensure to keep your hand dry at all times as wet hands could conduct shocks.
4. Do not take water and other eatables near the work station. Food particles can actually be a shock trigger.
5. If you are not using a wrist brand, you can choose to ground yourself by keeping in touch with the metal components. But to ground yourself, in this way, you should keep in contact with the metal components, before you touch the other PC components.
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Frequently Asked Questions [FAQs]
Q1. What is grounding and what is bonding?
A1. Grounding is different from bonding. Grounding refers to connecting with the ground, with some tools to establish conductivity in metals. A classic example is house wiring that we can use, or the metal or copper plumbing. Bonding on the other hand by using a wrist strap when working on electrical components such as cellphones, computers, consoles, and gaming controllers.
Q2. How should I create the workspace for working with computers and electronics?
A2. While working with electronic components and computers, it is important to set up a workspace in an area without carpets or rugs. Pets should be kept away from the workspaces. The environment should have a humidity level of only 35 to 50 percent. The workspace should be free from trash and other unnecessary items. It is important to wear an anti-static wristband or strap.
Q3. I am planning to build my computer tomorrow. Should I get an Anti-static wrist strap? If so why?
A3. Yes, you should get and wear an anti-static wrist strap. These should be the first things that should pop into your mind when it comes to grounding yourself while building the computer.
Q4. Can I place the hardware over the anti-static bags?
A4. No, never place the hardware over the anti-static bags. The outsides of the anti-static bags are conductive and if you place your computer parts on them, then you have chance of frying the parts.
Q5. Is it okay to move around while building a PC?
A5. No, it is not recommended to move around while building a PC. This paves the way for distraction and could aid the buildup of static current as well.
Q6. What is the best surface to build a PC?
A6. You can choose to work on hard and flat surfaces such as concrete or hardwood. make sure the surface is not painted as paints do not allow to stay grounded. One of the worst options to consider is carpeting.
Some of the components of the PC such as the resistors, the CMOS, the CPU, etc., are very much vulnerable to static electricity. This static electricity is fatal for the PC components and might result in the instant breakdown of the chips, and could even result in fires and deterred failure. Thus, it is mandatory to get oneself grounded from static before working on the PC. We hope our techniques and safety precautions will help you to to know how to ground yourself from static while working on the PC components.