Rub your hand on a mat or woolen clothes and bring it near a tiny ball of paper. The paper will get attached to your hand. This is due to the Electrostatic charge.
The static charge does not have a significant effect on our body, and you may not even feel it. But it is similar to a lightning bolt for the internal electronic parts on your computer that works on precise low voltage.
So, when you handle the CPU, RAM, or other components while building a PC, they may get damaged due to the electrostatic discharge from your body. Hence, it is essential to ground yourself and dissipate the built-up static charge from your body.
In this guide, we have provided the most useful methods to ground yourself when building a PC or a laptop.
How to Ground Yourself When Building a PC
You can ground yourself by being connected to the grounding pin on your wall socket. However, the location of the grounding pin varies according to country. So, it is very risky, and you may electrocute yourself if you do not find the right pin. Thus, we do not recommend using the wall socket if you are not a professional.
Now, let’s move on to the methods right away.
Prepare Yourself and the Computer
Several objects in the room can generate static electricity on your body. So, the first thing to do is to prepare the PC building process by placing yourself and the computer in a static-free environment.
Here are a few guidelines that we recommend you follow while grounding yourself.
- Place the casing on a hard wooden table or floor. Soft surfaces such as a mattress, carpets, etc. cause static electricity to build up fast and in large amounts.
- If you use a laptop, place it over cardboard or the floor without a mat or carpet.
- Stand bare feet on the floor without a mat or carpet to ground yourself.
- You can wear rubber shoes or slippers if you do not have an empty floor. You can also go to a place with an empty floor once in a while.
- Do not wear woolen clothes as they are much more likely to generate static electricity and leak charges due to the presence of fur.
- Do not move your feet on the ground much as rubbing your body on the surface causes you to build up the static charge.
- A dry environment increases the chance of static buildup. So, work in a humid room, use a humidifier, or hang a wet cloth in the room to decrease dryness.
- Cats and Dogs have really dry furs, and their body consists of static charge in a large amount. So, avoid animals while building the PC.
Following these steps alone reduces the chance of static electricity generation and grounds you. However, it may not always be enough. So, let’s look at other ways you can ground yourself.
Touch an Unpainted Metal
Metals are good conductors of electricity. When you touch metal, the static charges on your body move to it to balance the charge between your body and the metal. This can happen even if it is not in contact with the ground.
But, when you come in contact with metal touching the earth, all the static electricity will pass directly to the ground from your body.
- You should touch a metal surface, either grounded or not while building up the PC.
- The best thing to do is to lay your one hand on the computer casing and perform the installation and removal of hardware. But the casing or the surface you touch should be an unpainted one.
- If your casing is painted or you are using a laptop with a plastic body, you can place another metal object near you and keep it in contact with the ground.
- You can remain in contact with the metal all the time. Or, just touch the object while you are about to handle sensitive motherboard components such as RAM, CPU, etc.
Use the PSU
It works in the same principle as touching a metal surface. The screws on the PSU or the power supply unit itself are mostly made up of unpainted metal. So, keeping in touch with the PSU while building the PC is also a way to keep yourself grounded.
Let’s see the steps to follow for this.
- Attach the PSU to the casing.
- Connect the power cable to the back of the power supply unit.
- Insert the power adapter from the PSU to a power source.
- Turn off the PSU by keeping the switch to the off state.
- If your PSU does not have the switch, connect the power adapter to the surge protector or multi-plug and keep it turned off.
Now touch the PSU once in a while or all the time while installing or replacing the hardware components.
Use an Anti-static Wrist Band
Anti-static Wrist bands or straps are the safety equipment that drains the static charge buildup from your body. It consists of conducting objects on both ends; The wire or metal in the form of a band on one end and a metal clip or loop on the other end.
When you tighten the band on your wrist and keep the clip attached to a metal surface or ground, the static charge passes from your body to the ground or the metal. Thus, it prevents harm to the sensitive hardware components by Electrostatic discharge (ESD).
Let’s look at the way to wear an anti-static wristband.
- Place the computer and yourself properly by following the steps in the earlier section.
- Wrap the anti-static band on your wrist in such a way that the metal surface is in contact with your skin. You can also wrap the band on any other part of your body.
- Make sure the band is not loose.
- Find the metal clip and attach it to an unpainted metal surface such as the PSU, computer casing, or a separate grounded metal object.
- If your band has a metal loop instead of the clip, attach it to an unpainted metal screw or any similar objects.
- Fasten some part of the wire at the clip end to any object, thus preventing the detachment of the clip or the loop.
Use Antistatic Mat
Another way you can ground yourself is by using an antistatic mat. It is mostly made up of rubber. The carbon in rubber makes it suitable for dissipating the static charges from your body.
The mat consists of a button-like port on one of its sides. And it comes with a cord having a clip on one end and a connector on the other that goes to the port on the mat.
Usually, the anti-static mat and the wrist strap are used together. Let’s see how you can use them.
- Unwrap the anti-static mat on the table or the floor without a carpet.
- Attach the connector at one end of the cord to the button-like port.
- Attach the clip on an unpainted metal surface like the computer casing, PSU, etc.
- Put the wrist strap on your hand properly and attach its clip to the mat’s surface.
- If you do not have a wrist strap, you can simply keep the mat grounded and touch the mat’s surface to ground yourself while handling the hardware.
Make an Antistatic Strap
If you did not find an anti-static mat or strap in your vicinity, you could make your own wrist strap.
Let’s see the way to do it.
- Obtain a flexible wire of length appropriate for you.
- Strip the outer PVC layer on both ends to expose the conductive copper layer. Make sure the length of the exposed copper layer is enough to wrap around a metal surface.
- Now, wrap one of the ends to your wrist and make the exposed conductive layer touch your skin. Make sure it does not get detached.
- Then, wrap the conductive copper layer at the other end to an unpainted metal surface.
It works exactly like the anti-static wristband found on the market.
How to Keep the Hardware Protected From the Electrostatic Discharge?
Normally grounding yourself is enough to save your computer hardware from the ESD. But, if you take the components out of your PC and place them on some surface, the static charge on that surface can damage it.
So, it is always best to keep the components inside an anti-static bag. These bags have a conductive outer surface to dissipate the static charge. The inner part is non-conductive to protect the components.
Let’s look at the steps to keep your hardware protected using anti-static bags.
- Get an anti-static bag. Usually, these bags pack the hardware parts when you buy them. You can also buy a separate one from an electronic store.
- Ground yourself by following any of the methods mentioned above.
- Disconnect the hardware safely and take them out of the motherboard.
- Keep them inside the bag. We advise you to place the bag over cardboard or wooden table to prevent larger static charge build-up.
Make sure not to place the components over the surface of the bags. The outer surface carries a large amount of dissipated static charge, which can damage your hardware parts.