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How to Ground Yourself While Working on a PC
Although building PCs has become easier over the years, one thing hasn’t changed — static electricity. It was a problem for PC builders decades ago, and it’s a problem now. Here’s how to properly ground yourself while working on your PC so a few zaps don’t turn a fun project into a pile of frustration.
Step 1. Prepare Your Work Environment
First off, you need to make sure that the actual environment you’re working on is not friendly to static electricity. After all, you don’t want to zap your computer on accident, and you definitely don’t want that to happen because of something you could have fixed before starting your work.
In order to properly ground your PC, you need to make sure your working environment is as clean as possible. Make sure you’re putting your PC case and all of the components — really, your entire working environment — on a flat surface. Don’t put it on top of a mattress, or a bedsheet, or a carpet, or anything of the like. If you’re going to do it on the floor, make sure the floor is clean, and if you’re going to do it on the table, make sure there’s nothing else on top of the table.
Also, make sure there’s nothing nearby that could possibly pass static electricity to your PC’s components. Socks? Plushies? Best to put those away for the safety of your PC.
And don’t forget pets! Your cat might have an intense interest in your project, but when your PC is cracked open, you should be in a room they can’t access (or they should be temporarily stowed away in another room).
Step 2. Prepare Yourself
The second step, right after grounding your environment, is, of course, to keep yourself grounded. Just because you secured your environment and it seems pretty static-free doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t have some on you. Maybe you just took your laundry off the tumble dryer, and now, that static electricity is all over you. Not ideal.
Avoid wearing socks, fluffy house slippers, or any thick clothing that might attract or generate static, as well as certain types of fabrics. It’s not just synthetic fibers you have to worry about. Wool? Silk? Polyester? Those are all no-nos, and you should avoid putting those on whenever you’re near bare electronics.
We’re not telling you to build your PC naked, but you might want to keep that fuzzy wool sweater in the closet. If it’s too cold, turning up the thermostat would be wiser. When in doubt, stick to cotton. A 100% cotton T-shirt and a pair of jeans or cotton pajama pants are a safe bet.
Step 3. Continuously Ground Yourself
The battle is not over. While you’re building your PC, you should also keep yourself grounded at all times. You might not have anything on you (or near you) that can worsen static electricity, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t get charged up at all.
The best way to do this is surprisingly simple. When you’re building your PC, take the power supply out of the box and plug it into your wall. Then, make sure the power switch is flipped off. The power supply will then act as a ground, pulling any static you’ve built up and making it travel through your wall to the ground, where it’ll then disappear.
To ground yourself, just touch the power supply’s metal chassis. Make sure to do this every so often while you’re building your PC in order to eliminate any static electricity that may have built up on you while you were building, especially so if you haven’t stayed exclusively in the work environment throughout the build process.
Bonus Step: Use an Anti-Static Wrist Strap
Finally, if grounding yourself constantly with little taps sounds too annoying, an alternative you could use is to use an anti-static wrist strap. We’ve covered them in detail before, and they’re quite helpful for keeping yourself continuously grounded throughout the whole build process.
iFixit Anti-Static Wrist Strap
This anti-static wrist strap by iFixit is perfect for whenever you need to work on your PC or, really, any electronics. Also, it’s fairly cheap.
Hooking it up to the plugged-in, switched-off power supply, all static electricity that may build up while you’re putting together your PC will travel out of you constantly. It’s the closest thing there is to a use-and-forget solution in this scenario. And hey, what’s $10 or less for an anti-static strap when you’re handling components worth hundreds of dollars?
RELATED: Anti-Static Wrist Straps: Do You Need One to Build a PC?