This guide was written for the novice computer builder. More experienced upgraders have by now already developed their own personal technique to avoid static damage.
Static electricity is present all around us. This harmless thing can turn devastating when dealing with computer parts. There have been plenty of threads here on “how to I avoid static shock” so I have made this guide for all of the new computer builders.
It only takes 400 volts to zap a computer part. You will not even feel the shocking sensation and this is what makes static so dangerous. The computer parts may seem just fine but in a matter of week could be dead. Static electricity can not be eliminated only discouraged and that is why I have made this thread.
You can control it if you are experienced enough, touching the computer case before touching each component but it is a risky procedure.
To minimize static the greatest amount possible, follow some steps.
The Almighty Wrist Strap
– now I am sure that all of you new computer builders have heard of the grounding strap. If you are using one of these anti-static straps, read the directions carefully as to how to connect it so you are properly grounded. You can buy an anti-static strap for as little as $10. An anti-static band is certainly better than just taking a chance with your new components.
– all of you new computer builders have also probably heard of these. I realize that you want to take ever precaution to avoid damage, but these are not needed. Unless you work with computers on a daily basis, these are not worth the price tag.
A Table – the best place to work on your pc is a clear table. Make sure that electronics and other electric devices are away from you. If you are on a carpet floor do not wear socks. Also avoid anything that is plastic around you; move it away.
The Rolling Chair of Death
– When you are working on assembling your new computer, stand up. A rolling computer chair creates incredible amounts of static and is something to avoid whenever working on the inside of your precious pc.
Is it Humid?
- Within limits, a humid area is ideal. Never work in a cold place where humidity is low. Static charges build up quickly in low humidity areas. If you can, it is not a bad idea to open a window on a summer day. Also avoid extremely hot days when your air conditioning is turned up high. Anything too dry should be avoided if possible.
WARNING: INSTALL THE ****ING STANDOFFS FOR YOUR BOARD - FAILING TO DO SO WILL RESULT IN FRIED BOARDS
– after being contacted by a user here...cough EGO_FREAK cough cough, I decided to add these to the list for new builders who are not already aware of their use. The motherboard needs some support underneath to stop it cracking when you push in the CPU or any of the PCI or ISA cards. Five small rubber pyramids were provided for this purpose and these were placed accordingly. The motherboard doesn't actually touch the case and sits on top of a series of spacers to stop any short circuits. The spacers should be fitted before placing the motherboard on top of these and the rubber support blocks. Carefully screw down the board. This is completely needed when installing the motherboard or else your computer will just be a big heavy box, that won’t power on. If you think this is your problem ask EGO_FREAK. He will be able to describe it thoroughly
Cleaning the Computer
It is important to clean the inside of your computer at the very least, once a year. I suggest, however, that if you use your computer regularly, to clean it at least every six months. Usually you can tell when the pc needs it because of increased heat of course, dust. The fans in your computer will keep the parts cool but unfortunately bring a lot of grime and dirt inside of the computer. This dust will cause parts to overheat and if left unattended to, failure.
The Keyboard and Mouse
– It is important that you do not leave these input devices out when cleaning your computer. Germs and bacteria find their way in between keys on the keyboard and buttons on the mouse. Your fingers also leave deposits of dead skin in between the keys.
- To perform a complete cleaning, which includes cleaning the power supply; you need to remove all the exterior electrical cords and cables from your computer case. Most computers, and system boards, do not ever fully power off as long as they are plugged in. Most computers use color coded cables, and most cables can only fit one way. To make it easier to reconnect the cables when the cleaning is done, make a diagram and label where each cable connects to the computer. You can also use a digital camera to recreate the cable connections, both outside and inside the case. Let the computer cool to room temperature (at least 15 minutes) before cleaning the inside of the case. It is also a good idea to wear an anti-static wrist strip to reduce transferring static electricity from your body to the computer.
Your computer should be placed on a clean lint-free surface. (Not laid on the carpet.) Since your body may have static electricity, do not touch anything on the inside of the computer until you either put on an antistatic wristband, or place your hand on the metal frame of the computer case.
Can of air
– using a can of compressed air is a simple and easy way to remove dust from the inside of the pc. Make sure it is tilted upright as if it is not the can will release harmful chemical that can damage not only components, but can burn the skin.
– It is perfectly alright to use a portable vacuum to clean the exterior of the computer, but the vacuum should never get near any of the computer’s internal parts as the static electricity will cause heavy damage.
Cleaning the Monitor
- Cloths used to clean eyeglasses and camera lenses can also be used to clean the delicate surfaces of LCD screens and CRT monitors. Do not use paper towels or an old rag to clean delicate surfaces of a computer. Paper products contain cellulose which can scratch delicate surfaces. In addition, avoid products that contain lotions which will leave streaks on your computer equipment.
Cleaning the Power Supply
- Never open the power supply case. Even an unplugged power supply can produce an electrical shock. When the power supply is working, it draws heated air (and grime) from your computer case. Some of this grime and dirt will settle on the vents and the blades of the power supply unit fans. The compressed air should be sprayed directly into the power supply vents from inside the case, so the grime exits out of the back of the case. Have a vacuum cleaner handy to collect this grime as it comes out.
If the power supply is dirty, then the air entering the power supply from inside the case was also dirty. That air comes from the vents, usually located on the front of the PC. The mostly decorative plastic bezel should be removed by bending a couple of plastic prongs. More than likely, you will be surprised by the gunk that has accumulated between the bezel and the case. The bezel and the front of the case need to be wiped with the moist cloth.
It is also important to never breath or blow onto components to clean them. The moisture of your breath can cause damage.
The last step is to raise the computer off of the floor and onto a desk. There is more dust trapped on the floor which ultimately will result in a dirtier computer.