Many people build computers because it gives them flexibility to create unique systems to meet their needs. If you build or repair computers in your home, it is important to safeguard your equipment to prevent costly damage.
Have A Dedicated Work Area
It is much easier to ensure your safety and prevent damage to equipment if you invest the time and resources into creating a dedicated work area. Ideally, you should choose an area of your home with a hardwood floor or other non-carpeted area. This can reduce the chances of creating static electricity by walking across the carpet to your work area. If you do not have an area without carpet, you may want to purchase wood paneling or underlayment to place on top of the carpet in your designated area. Your work area should also have a sturdy table, preferably one with little or no metal or at least metals that do not conduct electricity. Some options may include a large folding table or a workbench you create yourself.
Be Cautious About Your Clothing
You may want to have specific clothing items that you only wear when you are working on computers, such as cotton t-shirts and jeans. Avoid wearing items made with wool, because this material easily creates static. Make sure you read labels carefully, because many clothing items have wool blends, such as socks, hats, or outerwear. You can also reduce static by minimizing your use of the dryer. Allowing your clothing to air dry or only allow them to partially dry in the dryer can reduce the friction that contributes to static. Another tactic that may help is to make sure you are using anti-static laundry products when you wash or dry your work clothes. These products can take the form of fabric softener liquid and sheets or anti-static balls that you add to the dryer.
Control Humidity And Temperature
Since computers enjoy being cool, you should be able to regulate the temperature in your work environment. During the warmer months, you should have access to an air conditioner to prevent equipment from overheating. Personal fans are also helpful, especially during the cooler months, to regulate temperature in your work area when you are using a heating system. Regulating humidity in your work area can be just as important. A humid environment could potentially damage electronics, especially if it causes small amounts of condensation to form inside equipment.
If it is dry in your work area, you are more likely to have static electricity. Use devices to monitor the humidity inside your work area and adjust accordingly. Boxes of silica gel can be helpful to reduce humidity in smaller work spaces. When your work area is abnormally dry, adding a small humidifier in the area, but at a safe distance from electronics, could add moisture to the air.
Use ESD Devices
Electrostatic discharge (ESD) devices are critical for minimizing your chances of damaging electronic components as you work on them. These products are available in multiple forms, with the most common being mats that can be placed on your work area or ones you may stand on. They are used to discharge electrostatic before they can harm sensitive computer equipment, such as motherboards or memory sticks. Since small amounts of electrostatic can render your equipment useless, common safeguards such as touching metal to discharge static may not be enough. Other ESD devices worn on your body can also be helpful. A popular option is a wrist band, which can prevent your clothing from collecting static that may be discharged once you start working.
Whether you work on computers as a hobby or business, preventing static electricity from damaging your work is critical. Fortunately, there are several ways you can reduce the chances of small mishaps turning into costly damage.