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Static Discharges Now Turn on My PC?!?!?!?

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August 16, 2006 10:05:54 PM

Well, I'm already thinking it's a possible grounding issue. I've put my PC into standby many times before these incidents, but now, for the past two times, a static discharge has been occuring between my finger and case. I just went to wake up my PC, but when my finger got close to the case door, a static shock occured, turning on my PC and rebooting it (luckily, I had no important files open before suspend mode).

I already have all the standoffs in place, so not sure about what could be the grounding problem. My MB does, however, supply a small amount of power to keyboard (FAQ in manual says that it's normal... though I don't like it).

- My case is on the carpet, so could it be building up charges somehow?
- Or should I just try grounding myself before touching my PC from now on?

Any other ideas before I take apart the entire PC (which I really don't want to do just yet).

EDIT: Grammer

More about : static discharges turn

August 16, 2006 10:41:51 PM

The fact that you are discharging static when you touch the case suggests it's properly grounded [but doesn't necessarily mean it is, just that it's a greatly different potential than you are when you touch it]. But, you can go to a home center and get an outlet tester for $10 so I suggest you do that first.

If you do start to take the machine apart...move it off the carpet and take it to a static safe place, cause if you are having that much static you don't want to work on your machine like that.

Obviously the static is effecting the power/reset circuit and yes, you should just ground yourself before you reach for the buttons.
August 16, 2006 10:51:57 PM

You my friend are NOT a muggle! Hogwart's sent a letter out this evening, an owl will be arriving shortly.
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August 16, 2006 10:55:27 PM

Its your carpet man; change teh slippers. Nothing wron with your case there.
August 17, 2006 2:35:34 AM

Anyways, I just did it again... and my PC wasn't in standby this time. This is kinda odd...

Quote:

You my friend are NOT a muggle! Hogwart's sent a letter out this evening, an owl will be arriving shortly.

lol.

Quote:
The fact that you are discharging static when you touch the case suggests it's properly grounded. But, you can go to a home center and get an outlet tester for $10 so I suggest you do that first.

I might just try another outlet. Then I may just move the PC onto my wood desk. Only thing is, I can't find out how the static travels. I know how plastic wrap (and the like) can stick b/c of e- and whatever, but plastic doesn't conduct electricity does it? The reason why I ask is because I haven't found any visible bridge between my aluminum door to the metal case since a plastic panel separates the two.
August 17, 2006 2:44:06 AM

Actually, it might not be the PC or the outlet. It might be you. What I mean is that when you walk across the carpet you build up that static. Can you move that carpet out of the room? Or, maybe better, can you see if that also happens in a room with no carpet?
August 17, 2006 3:19:37 AM

I'm sticking to the wizard story...

though the carpeting idea is pretty good too...
August 17, 2006 3:40:54 AM

If you're at home where this is happening, there's a simple solution, just take off your shoes and socks and walk around barefoot and you'll continuously discharge any static charge. If you must wear socks, make sure they're cotton.

If when you touch the case and there's a static discharge, that means that your case is grounded, but you're not. If you're not careful and touch some of your computers internal components like a circuit board or ram, you could fry them. Touch the frame or case first. If your computer is pluged in, it's grounded unless you live in a very old house with antiquated wiring that's ungrounded and unsafe.

You can also discharge yourself by touching a metal door handle or a faucet. Hold a key or a piece of metal in your hand so the discharge goes out through the end of the metal and not your finger.

Just take off your shoes. You'll be grounded.

Believe it or not, they also make anti-static ankle straps that wrap around your ankle and under your shoe so that you continuously discharge through under your shoe.
August 17, 2006 5:31:06 AM

Well, I moved my PC off the carpet and onto my desk, which seems to have solved the problem.

Thanks for all the replies.
August 17, 2006 11:34:37 AM

Quote:
If you're at home where this is happening, there's a simple solution, just take off your shoes and socks and walk around barefoot and you'll continuously discharge any static charge. If you must wear socks, make sure they're cotton.

If when you touch the case and there's a static discharge, that means that your case is grounded, but you're not. If you're not careful and touch some of your computers internal components like a circuit board or ram, you could fry them. Touch the frame or case first. If your computer is pluged in, it's grounded unless you live in a very old house with antiquated wiring that's ungrounded and unsafe.

You can also discharge yourself by touching a metal door handle or a faucet. Hold a key or a piece of metal in your hand so the discharge goes out through the end of the metal and not your finger.

Just take off your shoes. You'll be grounded.

Believe it or not, they also make anti-static ankle straps that wrap around your ankle and under your shoe so that you continuously discharge through under your shoe.


If he's walking around on carpet with bare feet, he still isn't going to be grounded and may still build up charge. If the socks and shoes were causing the problem he would build up charge on a wood floor while wearing socks and shoes...which he may in fact do, but walking in bare feet on either surface won't completely solve the problem.

The anke straps you mention are for use on a grounded floor.
August 17, 2006 12:45:40 PM

Quote:
If you're at home where this is happening, there's a simple solution, just take off your shoes and socks and walk around barefoot and you'll continuously discharge any static charge. If you must wear socks, make sure they're cotton.

If when you touch the case and there's a static discharge, that means that your case is grounded, but you're not. If you're not careful and touch some of your computers internal components like a circuit board or ram, you could fry them. Touch the frame or case first. If your computer is pluged in, it's grounded unless you live in a very old house with antiquated wiring that's ungrounded and unsafe.

You can also discharge yourself by touching a metal door handle or a faucet. Hold a key or a piece of metal in your hand so the discharge goes out through the end of the metal and not your finger.

Just take off your shoes. You'll be grounded.

Believe it or not, they also make anti-static ankle straps that wrap around your ankle and under your shoe so that you continuously discharge through under your shoe.


If he's walking around on carpet with bare feet, he still isn't going to be grounded and may still build up charge. If the socks and shoes were causing the problem he would build up charge on a wood floor while wearing socks and shoes...which he may in fact do, but walking in bare feet on either surface won't completely solve the problem.

The anke straps you mention are for use on a grounded floor.

I'm sorry, but you're wrong about being barefoot and not being grounded. It's the shoes that keep your body from being grounded. They isolate your body from the ground. They are an insulator.

Read this from Jeremy Smallwood's science forum, which is here:

http://homepages.pavilion.co.uk/jeremys/

" A similar thing happens when you walk across a floor, when high levels of electric charge often building up on your body as you walk. The shock comes when you touch a filing cabinet, door knob, or other substantial conductive object, which may or may not be electrically grounded. (Sometimes people assume that the object gave them a shock, when in fact they themselves were the source). If the object happens to be a computer or other electronic system, the system can experience an electrostatic discharge (ESD) which can cause the system to crash if the shock is great enough. I once measured the voltage on about ten computer users after they had entered a computer room, and before they sat at their consoles. Few of them had a voltage of less than 4kV (1kV=1000V) before the sat down. Their body voltage normally increased substantially as they sat down, unless they happened to touch a conductive discharge path as they sat.

Photocopiers use static electricity in their operation, and also generate a fair amount of static on the paper or film as it runs through the machine. A person operating the machine for some time may find that some of this static charge builds up on them as the unload the paper from the output trays. This can, in extreme cases, cause unpleasant shocks to be experienced. A simple temporary solution ( which may or may not be acceptable!) is for the operator to take their shoes off! This often allows the static charges to drain to ground before they can build up to significant levels."

The floors in most homes are usually grounded
August 17, 2006 1:13:02 PM

I understand the concept of static, but the assumption that the floors in homes are generally grounded is the fault of this argument. I wouldn't recommend working on the insides of the machine standing on a carpeted surface in my bare feet, or standing on any surface in my bare feet, unless I still took proper static handling precausions, like wearing a grounded wrist strap or at least making sure I touched the grounded metal case of the computer before I went messing around inside the case.

The section of that article you pasted above is rather vague at best, and suggests removing ones shoes to help prevent static build up while using a photo copier. I would conclude that in that case, going bare foot may help some, depending entirely on the surface of the floor.

Lets just assume for the sake of argument that the carpet is laying on a concrete floor. The floor is going to be fairly close to ground potential. If you lay a carpet down, then you are insulated from the concrete. It may be more or less insulated depending on the material of the carpet, especially if it's not a natural fiber but is some man made product [read: plastic], humidity in the air, etc, but it is insulated. So, shoes or bare feet, doesn't matter.

It's not always true, but in many cases it's true that you can walk around on a wood, tile or other type of floor all day long with shoes on and not get shocked when you touch a door handle, but as soon as you walk across a carpeted floor, zap! If the shoes and socks were involved to a large extent, then you would be getting zapped when you walked on the wood floor, right? The reason the carpet plays a bigger role is likely the material from which it's made, and if it's contributing to the static problem it's likely some man made product that is holding a charge just like the paper will hold a charge in the photocopier example from that link.
August 17, 2006 1:35:16 PM

Check the outlet. It's probably a bad ground.

Electricity loves ground. Chances are your ground is bad. You computer case should be hooked to your ground pin through your PSU (The metal PSU casing is usually hooked to the ground).

If you were shocking the computer, your jolt would be going straight to the ground. Electricity always takes the shortest route possible to ground, so it shouldn't be making anything in your computer act funky en route.

Chances are, your ground is bad, and your computer is actually shocking you. The electricity built up in the case is using you to find ground, which makes more sense.

If you built your computer, check the screws. Any white-box system builder can tell you that they've had this probalem at least once. Make sure the heads are squarely withing the round metal pad (and not shorting a trace). Also make sure they're not screwed tight. Most motherboard have multiple layers, and torquing the screws too hard can short these layers. The screws should be "finger-tight".

Either way, an outlet tester costs US$4 at my local home-depot. It's a wortwhile investment for a $1,000+ computer. As long as the ground is good, having a computer on the carpet shouldn't matter. The case is always grounded via the PSU. A bad ground can cause your PSU to overheat and burn out.
August 17, 2006 1:42:51 PM

But he said that it was when he got close to the power/reset button that it caused a problem, and a charge big enough to jump through air and cause a spark is going to be thousands of volts and could very easily react with the power/reset circuits in the machine.

I'd be curious if it happens when he touches the back of the case close to the power supply, or only when he reached for the buttons. I think the fact that it's discharging indicates the case is properly grounded [but it may just mean it's at a largely different potential], but as you and I suggest, it's simple to test with a cheap outlet tester.

ADDED: There was actually a thread here a while back where someones machine kept resetting or powering on and off, or something like that. Upon investigation reading reader reviews on newegg for that particular case, everyone was having the same problem, and some of the motherboards actually were damaged. It turned out the design of the case and the plastic around the reset/power buttons was causing build up of static charge that was resetting the machine, and in some cases causing damage to the motherboard.
August 17, 2006 2:48:47 PM

In most instances, if you can see a blue-ish spark jumping from you to anything you have just discharged anywhere from 20,000 to 40,000 volts from your body. Most cars generate a 35kv spark at each spark plug when running.

That's right, your body can hold a charge of 40kv without you even knowing it till you discharge on something. It's not the volts that kill you, it's the amps.

Polyester clothing will charge you up just walking around even if you don't shuffle your feet.

It not good to leave your CPU on the floor (aside from the spark problems) because foot traffic stirs up the dirt on the floor, the static on/in the computer attracts the dust/dirt and pretty soon you have a heatsink full of dirt that doesn't disapate heat anymore. It's a big snowball effect that ends up with failed computer components.
August 17, 2006 2:57:06 PM

You guys need to read a little about how static electricity is generated. After reading the replies, its clear there is a fair amount of misunderstanding regarding grounds, static generation and prevention. Try this link for a primer_

http://www.school-for-champions.com/science/static.htm

As for the thread starter's problem, by all means check for proper grounding of the outlet and the computer PSU. However, that may not be the problem.

It's more likely the combination of the carpet material, shoe soles and humidity that's the source of the static build up. A simple solution is to buy an anti-static mat to place under your chair (cheap and available from any office supply store). Moving the computer case off the carpet is also important.

BTW, if you don't like power being supplied to your KB, buy a wireless KB and mouse. Microsoft version available from Newegg for under $40.
August 18, 2006 6:31:27 AM

Just thought I'd do a quick update. The shock is like a minature lightning bolt! I seem to be building up a lot of electricity lately, as I shocked myself twice just getting out of the car today. I've also tried touching the metal supports on another table (with the shock still occuring) and still having a minor jolt when turning on the PC. Maybe it is just the weather, as it's changing pretty fast here in Tahoe...

(Though as I'm writing this, it seems that I'm not building up a charge)

Also, I think the shock is going through the wiring of my LED lights. If you know what the Tsunami Dream Tower looks like, two LED lights are on the aluminum door. I just powered up my PC, and about a minute ago, the LEDs flickered, went out, and came back on. :?

I'll try to read that link to the Basics of Electricity later.

Thanks
August 18, 2006 7:12:23 AM

Damn, better B careful with that static man. Once I was Just cleaning out my computer, when i wnet from carpet with my socks straight to my mobo, cuz a little dust bunny was on it, then a spark from me to the motherboard caused my computer to boot up!!
Iwas fine and all, but thats the worst experience i've ever have. Since that day, I invested in an anti-static wrist band for $10.
Was it worth the $10??
You damn right it was 8)
August 18, 2006 4:44:52 PM

Have you purchased that outlet tester?
August 18, 2006 5:49:22 PM

That static is a big issue. About a year ago it caused me to purchases a new mother board and components, spurring a brand new computer all together because of the static. I went down stairs to get my son a drink of water and when I can up to finish my home work and when I hit the power button, sending a charge through to my mother board frying it! It took me months to RMA it. I had to build a whole brand new system out of frustration that has finally concluded after upgrade, after upgrade. I highly recommend getting to the bottom of the issue or getting a static mat for under your desk.
August 18, 2006 9:42:14 PM

No, not yet... But I don't think I need to because my UPS system "Fault Wiring" light has NOT lit up (sorry I didn't add that before). If you still reccomend I get one, I'll try to pick one up.
August 18, 2006 9:51:31 PM

Uh, I would...but my nearest store is Staples, and the price is $60. I know that my PC is worth a bunch more, but I have no money to buy that right now :(  . I may just have to ground myself each time before touching my PC
August 18, 2006 10:13:00 PM

If the case is made of plastic remove the carpet and put your case directly on the floor, if it's made of metal (aluminum or steel) the problem is you.
You must ground yourself just before touching the PC case. Electrostatic discharges take place when you and the PC are at different potentials, no matter if the PC is properly grounded or not and this is more frequent if air is very dry.
Discharge yourself through a water pipe or something else connected to ground before touching the PC.
!