You may occasionally open your computer's central unit to install a new component (memory modules, motherboard or graphics card). It is a precaution to be taken, that of not carrying static electricity in order not to damage a component. There are several ways to get rid of this damn electricity!
Part 1 of 2: prepare the work surface
Step 1. Work on a hard surface
To operate, sit on a hard surface (formica table, boards) and clean in order to limit the formation of static electricity.
Never work on carpet, wool or synthetic textiles, all materials that easily generate static electricity
Step 2. Try to be barefoot when working
The ideal is to have your feet placed on the ground. Again, carpet and rugs should be avoided, as should socks.
- If you cannot do otherwise, consider discharging your static electricity regularly so as not to damage your electrical components.
- You can also use rubber surf shoes, even if it looks weird in a house: the end justifies the means!
- Any pair of shoes with rubber soles is enough to make you non-conductive, you are isolated.
Step 3. Wear clothes that do not generate static electricity
Avoid anything that is woolen or synthetic clothing, and prefer cotton clothing.
Wash and dry the clothes you will be wearing to work, remembering to put a ball of crumpled aluminum foil or anti-static foil in the drum
Step 4. Humidify the room if the atmosphere is too dry
Static electricity develops much more in dry weather. To limit static electricity, install an air humidifier. For a single intervention, it is not worth the expense either.
You can also moisten the air in the room by hanging a wet sheet to dry in front of a radiator
Step 5. Keep the components in their original packaging
Do not take them out until the last moment, they have been designed so that they do not accidentally get damaged.
Part 2 of 2: get down to earth
Step 1. Understand what grounding is
Electronic components are very sensitive to electric currents, even weak ones: they should therefore not be touched without having first discharged their static electricity. This discharge is obtained by touching a bare metal object in contact with the ground.
Step 2. Use your computer case to unload yourself
Many computer hackers have this habit of regularly touching a bare metal part of the CPU that is nearby. While some components are not too expensive, there are others that are very expensive, such as the motherboard.
As you have two arms, you can very well put your clumsy hand permanently on a metal part of the case, while with the other, you change the component … well, if it is possible with one hand
Step 3. Touch grounded metal often
It could, for example, be a radiator (in cast iron or steel), a simple sink faucet or a metal part of the casing of the central unit of your computer. The latter solution is most often used for its practicality.
The danger of toasting a component is limited. This would not affect a component for a few euros, but for a graphics card for several hundred euros, it makes you think
Step 4. Ground yourself with an anti-static wrist strap
For about ten euros, you will find them easily on the Internet or in a specialized store. The bracelet should not be loose or tight around the wrist. The small alligator clip should be attached to a bare metal object and grounded.
- Don't take those supposedly effective bracelets that don't have a lanyard: it's a scam!
- When buying your bracelet, check the tip that will be grounded. The most practical for fixing is often an alligator clip, but it also happens that it is a ring. In this case, imagine what you will be able to slide it on (for example, the valve of a radiator) to be well insulated.
Step 5. Ground yourself using a wire
This is the most common method: you wrap a conductive wire (metal wire) around the wrist and on the other side you attach it to a grounded object, i.e. metallic and not painted. This is what to do if you don't have a hard work surface and don't feel like stopping nonstop to unload yourself.
Step 6. Install your device on a small anti-static mat
For fifty euros, you can get a new one. Place it on your worktop, and place your parts and your box there. Touch this mat regularly with your hands and you will not experience any problems. Some of them have an alligator clip or a male banana plug allowing a simple connection with the grounding point.
- For this kind of manipulation, it may not be necessary to use a rubber mat, which is expensive and not easy to find. A simple vinyl mat is enough.
- Unless you change parts of your computer often, this is a purchase that is certainly redundant for a simple, occasional change.
- The manipulation of a microprocessor (CPU) is always done by taking it by the edge. Do not touch the gold pins or the graphite parts: in fact, do not touch anything outside the edge!
- This risk of damaging a computer is hardly applicable today. The components are less sensitive because they are made from other materials. Likewise, the boxes have been designed to limit the impact of an electrostatic discharge. Occasionally touching a metallic element connected to the earth will suffice.
- There is no need for a strong electrostatic discharge to damage a component, a simple transfer of current can be done (you do not feel anything) and your component is damaged. If you forget to unload yourself regularly damn electricity and accidentally touch your motherboard, even with the edge of your hand, you risk damaging it.