The discharge of static electricity can damage our sensitive electronic components. In this video, you’ll learn some best practices for avoiding electrostatic discharge.
You’ve undoubtedly experienced an electrostatic discharge before. You slide your feet across a carpeted floor and you touch a metal door knob and you can feel the static electricity discharge between you and the metal doorknob. Prior to you touching that door knob the electricity wasn’t going anywhere. It was static. And that’s where we get this name of static electricity.
It’s not harmful to computers as it sits there in its static form. It only becomes harmful when there’s a type of discharge. It’s this discharge you need to look out for. And you can see an example of what the discharge does whenever it hits a computer component. The silicon that’s inside of our computers is very sensitive to voltage. If you’re feeling this electrostatic discharge then you’re probably feeling somewhere around 3,500 volts. But to damage an electronic component takes 100 volts or less. So you can see why one single electrostatic discharge might cause a lot of problems for your computer components.
There are many different ways to minimize the instances of electrostatic discharge. One way to do it is to keep the humidity level over 60%. This won’t prevent every possible case of electrostatic discharge but it does minimize the number of instances. The problem, of course, is that in our air conditioned rooms, having the humidity at 60% is almost impossible. And if you’re working in a corporate environment or inside then you’re certainly are not going to have the humidity at such a high level.
In those cases then, we want to perform the proper procedures that would allow us to equalize the electrical potential between ourselves and the devices that we’re working on. One of the ways to do this is to touch the metal chassis of the computer that we’re working on. That way we’re equalizing the potential and we can now work inside of the device without causing an electrostatic discharge.
Of course, if you’re working inside of a computer component you never want that device to be connected to a power source. When you’re touching the chassis and equalizing the electrical potential, that has nothing to do with the ground that’s connected to your electrical system and you want to minimize any chance that you might be shocked. So never work on a computer where the power is still connected. One good best practice with electrostatic discharge is never to touch components directly. If you’re using just the edges or corners of devices instead of touching components directly, then even if there was an electrostatic discharge you wouldn’t be damaging anything vital in that particular component.
One way to maintain this equalization of the electrical potential between you and the device you’re working on is to use an anti static pad and to use a strap that connects from you to that pad. That way everything remains effectively connected to each other, even though you’re moving around and taking components in and out of a particular device. You accomplish this with a wrist strap that simply snaps onto a coil that is then connected to the pad and then of course everything else sits on the pad as well.
If you’re taking a component out of a device, you need to move it, you’ll probably want to put it in an anti static bag. This will prevent any damage from the outside and it will also minimize the amount of static that could possibly build up on the inside or outside of this anti static bag.