Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Static Shocks and How To Avoid Them

In the home, static charge build up is normally caused by friction between surfaces. Prime culprits are synthetic clothing such as lycra, acrylic, nylon, and PVC in the soles or uppers of shoes. When these materials rub against carpets, synthetic textiles in furniture and the polystyrene casings of computers or other equipment, it generates static. Wool or silk which are natural fibers, can also cause static buildup when they rub against other surfaces.
Static builds up on surfaces. Increasing humidity produces a microscopic layer of moisture which coats smooth surfaces, and gets absorbed by the surface of porous objects, increasing conductivity and allowing charge to drain to ground (earth). Normally it is desirable to decrease humidity in homes to prevent dampness, but you can increasing humidity by using a humidifier, placing bowls of water in rooms, opening windows when weather is damp outside to allow moist air in, having plenty of plants or even placing damp clothes on radiators.
Wear natural fiber clothing such as cotton, linen and leather shoes. You can also get shoes with soles which are impregnated with carbon to increase conductivity. These are worn by workers in factories where static sensitive components are being handled. You are right that static can damage electronics. I blew a $12 chip once which I touched after walking across a wool carpet. Always touch a grounded object before handling the pins of electronic connectors (e.g. the outer metal body of a plugged in or fixed appliance)

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