What is ESD or Electrostatic Discharge?
Electrostatic discharge (ESD) is the release of static electricity when two objects come into contact. One example is the static electricity we feel when taking our clothes out of the dryer. Another event where ESD is produced is walking across a carpet and touching a metal chair, computer monitor or even a doorknob. Most ESD are harmless in our daily household activities but it can be a problem in industrial environments. Same is true when opening up electronic devices and attempting to fix them. It can damage integrated circuits (IC) found in most electronics like computers, communication equipment (phones) and the like.
Before opening up your gadget, make sure you do these simple things to avoid ESD from zapping your cool toys! These are simple hacks you can do at home.
1. Bare Feet!
Working bare feet will slow down the build-up of static charge. You can also use rubber flipflops if you want but not completely necessary for home projects. If you want to completely overkill – use ESD shoes. 🙂
2. Get Off the Carpet!
Carpets are notorious for generating lots of charges. Avoid working on a carpeted area. If your house is carpeted, put your rubber shoes on without any socks
Walking across carpet generates 35,000 volts at 10-25% humidity, down to 1,500 volts at 65-90% humidity.
3. Stand up!
It’s always a good idea to stand up when working with electronics. Sitting down on a cushioned chair and moving around can build-up charges
4. Less is Good and Avoid Wool!
Clothes made of wool and other synthetic fabrics build-up static charges so avoid using them when working with your gadgets. Less clothing slows down charge build-up. I usually wear cotton shirt and a pair of shorts. For more sensitive projects, wearing ESD smocks is advisable
5. Occasionally Touch Grounded Bare Metal.
Occasionally touching a grounded metal like PC case would lower the potential of ESD by dissipating any excess charges. Some would consider this a fallacy but it’s something I do and haven’t had any ESD issues.. os far 🙂 With that said, take necessary precautions when dealing if more delicate and expensive parts.
6. Use A Humidifier!
ESD is easily produced in dry air environments. It’s a good practice to humidify your work area especially in the winter. You can use a humidifier or if you don’t have one simply put a damp cloth over an electric fan.
7. Use Anti-Static Bags!
Keep all your components inside an anti-static bag at all times until you’re ready to install it. It’s also a good practice to hold the component from the edges or sides avoiding any exposed pins, metals or circuitry when handling components.
8. Use Anti-Static Wristband
Anti-static wristbands are very inexpensive but very important in preventing ESD. Strap it tightly around your wrist and clip it to a grounded object. This will keep you grounded at all times. Some have extra features that allows you to check if your properly grounded. It’s a worthwhile investment which can cost as low as $1 but will save you a lot of headache and $$$.
Additional tip: Moisturize the skin around your wrist when using anti static wristband. It won’t work properly if you have dry skin.
9. Use ESD Mat
I would say this is optional when you’re working with simple stuff but will definitely give you a piece of mind. If your an enthusiast then this will definitely be an investment. Price range differs depending on the material used but there are lot’s of cheaper options just make sure it’s rated as dissipative or conductive.
So far these are the preventive measures I take when opening and fixing some of my gadgets. If you have any questions or additional info just leave a comment below! I want to know what you think 🙂