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How Electrostatic Discharge Can Ruin Your Electronics And How You Can Prevent It

How Electrostatic Discharge Can Ruin Your Electronics And How You Can Prevent It

Computers possess a number of components that are extremely sensitive to static discharge. Hard drives, processors, memory and even the motherboard may all be ruined if they receive enough of a shock. In many cases, the static electricity built up by your body and other items may be more than enough to cause irreversible damage. Fortunately, this is a problem that can be easily avoided, possibly saving you hundreds of dollars and a lot of trouble.

Avoid Walking On Certa

Before you begin working on a computer, it’s a good idea to avoid walking on linoleum or carpet if you can help it, especially with socks on. Doing so can cause large amounts of static electricity to build up in your body, which could be discharged when you touch a component made of metal, such as a hard drive’s casing or the die on a CPU.

Don’t Work on Carpet

Avoiding doing your work on a carpeted or linoleum-clad surface is as important as not walking on one. If you rub against the carpet or if the computer case slides around on it, sufficient charge can build up and ruin components once it is discharged. If possible, try to work on the computer on a wooden or tile floor. These materials can’t build up an electrical charge, which protects your investment against accidental damage. Another possible option, especially if your home lacks wood or tile flooring, is to use anti-static floor or bench mats designed specially for electrical work. You can usually find these at electronics and home office stores.

Keep Static-Prone Items Away

Any items prone to developing a static charge, such as clothes, televisions, appliances with a motor, balloons and some types of plastic, should be kept away from the computer while you’re working with it. It’s possible that accidentally touching these items while you’re holding a sensitive component could discharge the energy into the part and ruin it.

Touch Metal Before Starting

Before you touch anything inside of the case, it’s important that you discharge any static electricity that you may have stored. You can do this by touching something made of metal. Most people opt to touch the outer metal casing of their computer. This is a convenient way to do it and it won’t harm the delicate components inside since they don’t sit in direct contact with the case.

Anti-Static Wristbands

These devices are often considered essential when you’re working inside of a computer and may be used in conjunction with anti-static mats. They are usually worn on the non-dominant wrist and feature an alligator-type clamp that fastens a conductive wire to the computer’s case. The purpose of this design is to keep you grounded at all times so you don’t develop a static charge. There are also anti-static bands that, rather than using a wire connected to the case, claim to dispel static electricity through ionization. However, buyer beware. This design is widely considered to be ineffective.

Use Anti-Static Bags

If you’re going to store or pack a computer part, you should never place it directly in a regular plastic bag, styrofoam peanuts or bubble wrap. All of these items tend to build up static electricity. Instead, you should always put it in an anti-static bag first. These bags are made of as special plastic that blocks electrostatic discharge. They’re also convenient for setting items on while you’re working.

Mind Your Cleaning Tools

When your computer is full of dust, your first impulse is to use a dusting rag. Some people even use an electrostatic dusting cloth made for dry-mopping the house. This is a bad idea, though. Because they develop an electrostatic charge easily, you should save them for dusting the outside of the machine only. To remove dust from the inside, try using compressed air, cotton swabs or a stiff paintbrush.
Liesl H. is a writer with experience writing in a wide variety of industries, such as home improvement, electronics and technology.
How Electrostatic Discharge Can Ruin Your Electronics And How You Can Prevent It on June 3, 2016 rated 4.5 of 5

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