It’s finally time that you’re adding parts or building a new custom PC, but if you feel troubled that you’ll mistakenly short out a vital component, grounding yourself while doing so is the best option. It helps you to refrain from damaging the computer’s internal parts from electrostatic discharge. In this article, we’ll show you how to ground yourself when building a PC and answer some other questions you might be curious about. 

We will walk you through how you can build a PC safely without damaging your parts as well as without hurting yourself. 

Also read: How to Stream Switch Without Capture Card 

Electrical Grounding

The term grounding means something that connects an electrical current to the earth; now, the human body can also act as a medium for electrons to travel to the earth.

Though human body also contains elements like sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium with a specific electrical charge. Our cells can use these charged elements, called ions, to generate a small amount of electricity. Since electrons love the ground, you need to make the path for this electron to travel to the earth instead of passing through the PC components; otherwise, PC parts can be damaged as well as you might also get yourself a static shock; we have explained it in detail below.

Why do You need to Ground Yourself?

As said above, the reason to ground yourself is pretty simple, but to understand it, we need to talk about some science behind it.

The atom is the building block of all the objects, but there’s something more in an atom’s structure: subatomic particles, i.e., electrons, protons, and neutrons.

Each of these particles has its own “charge” the electron has a negative charge, the proton has a positive charge, and the neutron is neutrally charged. The charges attract oppositely; considering a magnet, opposite sides attract.

So, all these charges are in equilibrium when everything is normal, but when one charge predominates over another, it is called static electricity.

Now, if we talk about the human body, when the skin is rubbed against some cloth or carpet. It accumulates some electrons that are apt to produce static electricity. These particles stay on the surface and grow when you keep rubbing them on the things, and then they jump off the skin when you come in contact with a PCB or metal surface such as a computer component having positively charged particles.

By grounding, you basically transfer all those negatively charged particles to the earth and balance the voltage between you and the components. This process is called Earthing!

Earthing

earthing
What earthing means – Image: Circuit Globe.

Earthing is important when you’re playing with your PC and its internal components so it is really important to understand what it actually is. 

Earthing is basically building a connection between oneself and the earth. The electric current tries to get into the earth in any available form and through any possible medium. This static energy builds up because of friction in PCs with nearby objects. 

So earthing yourself means you get hold of the static charge present and move it to any part of the ground where it cannot do any damage. As we know, the electric current continuously roams around for a path that is of least resistance, which means that if you’re not earthed, you can potentially harm sensitive electrical equipment, so earthing shields the motherboard, the computer components, and the user.

If we don’t earth our PC, the charge building up might reach a lethal level for the components. Now to get rid of the charge, you need to stand on a surface like wood or concrete. Whereas surfaces like carpets or socks will be bad for you and your devices as they generate more static electricity.

The Process of Earthing

While ensuring protection, you can earth your electrical appliance by connecting it to the earthing system or electrodes placed below the ground level or near the soil. Under the ground level, the earthing mat or electrode equipped with a flat iron riser is installed. It assists in connecting all the metallic parts of the equipment which do not carry current. 

There are three types of wires in homes; live, neutral and earth. Earth is connected to the buried plates made of metal, and live and neutral wire carries electric current from the power station. Appliances like refrigerators, televisions, and iron boxes while operating are connected to the earth wire.

Thus these devices are shielded from the faulty electrical supply. Moreover, local earthing is installed near the electricity meter of the house. 

Outcomes Of Not Grounding Yourself

What can happen if you don’t ground yourself while doing some repairing or adding some parts includes minor shocks as well as the failure of components.

While talking about PCs, the evolution from the early centuries to this modern-day made the components a lot more resilient. Things that resulted in ending the components are not much of a concern today as many of the protections are already built into them to ensure that they can endure some mishaps.

However, we can say that they are not completely shielded. Of course, you can get a bit unlucky and get shocked by something that was not protected, and that’s it. You’ve just lost a vital component. 

What we need to know is that the electrostatic discharge can potentially end the tender electronics found inside our graphics cards, Ram, processors, and various other PC components. 

Now, a factor that affects how much static electricity is going to build up is based on the humidity of your environment. If the room is dry, the risk is even greater. Moreover, while working with components, it’s better to place them on the anti-static bags that the components were packed in so you must not throw the bags away as they often come in use in the future. 

Safety Measures

PC Build
A PC Build With All Components. Image: DeepCool CK560 Article.

Apart from grounding yourself while building a PC, there are also some important safety precautions that you should consider while building a computer to make sure you and your components stay safe and sound. 

Working With Electricity

Electricity is an important factor to take into account when building a PC as it imposes dangerous outcomes on those ignoring it. So, while doing so make sure that the power supply is not connected to the PC from the mains and this includes all the network cables and telephone lines being properly disconnected. 

Static Electricity

Static electricity is a real danger that can cause extreme damage to your PC’s components. To stay safe from this you are advised to always wear an anti-static wrist strap when building your PC. Always handle the components by their edges and keep them in their anti-static bag until you’re ready to install them.

While building your computer, try to avoid build on areas with high static charge such as carpeted areas as well as clothing made of synthetics as they are known to create static. 

Lastly, use the tools perfectly suitable for building or assembling. Some of them are the Flat nose screwdrivers, anti-static wrist bands, Phillips screwdrivers, Nut drivers, and Pliers. 

Work on an Anti-Static Mat

Anti-Static Mat
An Anti-Static Mat, Image: iFixit

The best safety precaution is to buy an anti-static mat and then you can work without worrying about the static discharge. 

These mats are rubber pads that have a wire and an alligator clip that helps in absorbing static build-up from whatever object you place on it, which means it will ultimately ground the delicate hardware. 

Some of the best anti-static mats are: 

a. Bertech ESD Anti-Static

The Bertech ESD Anti-Static provides superior resistance to grease, oil, and any other common solvent. The company provides a wristband and a grounding cord of 15 ft in a package. This mat is only 0.08 inches thick with an impressive strength of 1000 psi, and resistance of 8×10e6-8 from surface to ground and 2×10e6-8 between two points on a surface. It drains the static charge in less than 0.01 seconds. 

This anti-static mat is made of ESD-safe 2-ply rubber material. The top layer has characteristics of premium electrical performance that drains the electrostatic discharge. It can be used for various purposes such as in electronic assembly, space technology, defense and data centers, aerospace, aviation, and high-temperature soldering.

b. Rosewill Anti-Static Mat

The Rosewill Anti-Static Mat has dimensions of 23.6” x 23.6” and the grounding cord is 10 ft long. It also has an impressive resistance of 10e7 to 10e9 Ohms. The top layer of the Rosewill Anti-Static Mat is made up of Ivory anti-static PVC and the bottom layer is of black PVC foam. 

c. StarTech Anti-Static Mat

The StarTech Anti-Static Mat brilliantly shields your delicate equipment from electrostatic discharge. You can add more safety by coupling it with their anti-static wrist strap. 

It is only 0.2 cm thick, making it convenient for this anti-static mat to be placed comfortably under your desk, whether at work or at home. Moreover, this anti-static mat has an ideal 24” x 27.5” size to fit your keyboard and VDT/CPU.

Making Connections

Never forget to turn off the power when connecting or disconnecting any component or cable. Once you’re ready to build your PC, unplug everything that has a wire from the outlet, including the peripherals like your keyboard, printer, mouse, webcam, and others.

You must also remove HDMI and VGA cables even if they’re not connected anywhere. Additionally, to turn off the power supply there’s a tiny switch behind your tower; slide it to the right side of the “O” side. To ensure this button works, check if the motherboard’s LED turns green to red. 

Moreover, you must apply even and gentle pressure while inserting cards into the motherboard and connecting cables. Oftentimes the connections are only one-way so if anything doesn’t fit, take a closer look to ensure what is the right way rather than putting more pressure on it so that no part gets damaged in the process.

Some of the devices contain tiny pins so avoid bending or breaking them as they get easily destroyed. You must go through the installation manual so you get a better understanding of how you should connect those pins.

Sharp Edges

If your desktop case is new then there’s a high possibility that you’ll witness some very sharp edges. If you’re not careful while putting your hands in some tight places, these edges will play the role of a razor and will give you a cut or possibly scrape off a piece of your skin and cause bleeding.

Electric Shocks

Electric Shocks
Electric Shock Diagram.

Never forget to disconnect the power supply when you work in your PC case to change any component or make any connections, cut the main supply or the supply of PSU. If your PSU isn’t working fine or gets fused, replace it with a new one and don’t try to fix it on your own.

Precautions are better than getting an electric shock!

Careful Handling

You should be very careful while handling the PC components as they are very expensive and delicate, especially do not touch the small metal parts attaching the circuit board and the chips.

Cleaning Computer Case

You will notice at some point that the interior and exterior of your case are becoming dusty. The case’s interior has to be handled with extreme care, although the outer part is easy to clean. When you start cleaning the inner side of the case, make sure to shut down the computer and completely unplug the power supply. Using an air duster is the ideal cleaning method, remove the sides of the case and blow out all the dust from inside. Here are helpful cleaning guides.

Some important principles

While building a PC, no doubt safety measures are the foremost need but after taking the precautions there are also some basic principles that one needs to follow while assembling the hardware. 

  • You must never put even a finger on solder joints, the metal surface of the sensitive components, gold pins or an exposed board circuit. It is always advised to grab them by their edges. 
  • To avoid electric shocks, work with dry hands at all costs. If you’re using a humidifier then ensure that the environment is not dry, as it prevents the liquefaction of vapours as well as electrocution. 
  • If you’re going to go with the method of touching metals instead of using an anti-static wrist strap then don’t forget to do so before touching any new component of your PC. 
  • Take off any ring, bracelet or any metal accessory you’re wearing other than the reliable anti-static wristband. 
  • Avoid eating or drinking while building your PC as the food particles might fall on your circuits and trigger a shock.

Preparation of Work Surface

A Safe Workbench

PC Workbench
PC Workbench – Image from DeepCool Castle 240mm.

First of all, place your PC and the components on a solid, non-plastic surface like a desk made of wood, a wide flat timber or maybe your kitchen countertop. Do not lay a tablecloth, blanket, towel, or any other woollen object on the top. Moreover, do not use wobbly equipment such as a pillow or a rolling table as it can make your tower fall resulting in a huge disaster.

You must either remove any carpets, rugs, or mats from the floor or move to a place with wood, ceramic, or tiled floor. If you don’t have such flooring available, then wear rubber or plastic sandals, shoes, or slippers. Always remember to avoid rubbing your feet on the ground as it can create a static charge. 

Make your pets stay as far as possible from the area. Remember that experiment you used to do when you were a kid where an object would stick to your balloon or a ruler after you rubbed it on your hair or a sweater? Items like these can do exactly this by creating electrostatic discharge and transmitting it to your PC but this is not a childish entertainment experiment and can get you or your pet killed.

debris, and grease away from it.

The last precaution you need to take about your workbench is to clean away any water drops, grease and debris you find.

Choose a hard surface

While building a PC, working on a hard and clean surface will reduce the chance of static charge. A plank of wood, a countertop, or a table will work perfectly well. Remember to avoid placing the computer as well as the parts on a surface like a blanket, towel, or carpet.

Bare feet on a hard surface

Stand in bare feet on a tile, wood, or a hard surface as carpet and socks can generate a static charge. If you don’t have any flooring available other than carpet then it is better for you to keep grounding yourself every few minutes. To completely block your connection to the floor, wearing rubber slippers is a good choice.

Get rid of static-friendly clothing

Wool and other synthetic fabrics are good at generating static charge; therefore remove them from your workbench as well as from your clothing and replace them with cotton. Another common idea is to wash your clothes using dryer sheets before working with the computer and its components, as it helps in reducing the static charge. 

Humidification

Humidity plays a great role in minimizing the static electricity build-up. If you live in a dry climate then run a humidifier. If you don’t have one then you can humidify your room by hanging a damp piece of cloth in front of a radiator or a fan. As this helps in increasing the humidity of the room and similarly minimizes the chance of static charge build-up. 

Use Anti Static Bags

All the new computer components must be kept in the anti-static bags they came in until you’re ready to install them; this helps keep the electrostatic build-up at bay. These bags are coated with polyethylene, which helps shield the hardware from the triboelectric effect. They mostly come in black, pink, and silver colors. 

Some of the best anti-static bags available in the market are:

a. Jackyled Anti Static Bag

The Jackyled 10 x 15 cm Anti-Static bag is made up of premium quality plastic polyethylene terephthalate (PET). They are semi-transparent and not wholly dark, which enables you to see clearly what’s inside the bag. They also come with resealable zip which helps in preventing the things from falling out. 

It also provides multi-layer protection. The outer layer is made of polyester, which provides protection against electrostatic discharge and the inner layer helps in halting the build-up of static electricity. 

The Jackyled 10 x 15 cm Anti-Static bag is available in multiple sizes to meet different needs. The size of 3.9” x5.9’ (10x15cm) is perfect for storing 3.5” laptop hard drives, 2.5” laptop hard drives, 2.5” SSD, hard disks, Bluetooth, USB charging cables, USB drives, exposed films, batteries, earphones, RAM stick, and other delicate electrical components. 

b. ANTISTAT Moisture Barrier Bags

The ANTISTAT Moisture Barrier Bag is a polyethene bag of size 6” x 12” that is perfect for storing and transporting delicate devices like circuit boards and other electronic components. They are opaque and light-resistant making sure the items inside are unseeable from the outside. The structure is flexible and it’s easy to vacuum. 

They are made especially to shield delicate products and equipment from electrostatic discharge and prevent moisture damage during storage or transmission. They are firmly sealed and laminated, which provides premium resistance from oxygen and vapour. The bags have a surface resistance of 108 to 1011 Ohms.

c. SiForce Store Anti Static Bubble Bags

The SiForce Store Anti Static Bubble Bag is a pink polyethylene bag of dimension 7” X 10.5”. It is a semi-transparent anti-static bag that makes the items visible and placed inside the bag. It also provides a document holder on the back of each bag for the purpose of easy labeling and organization. 

This bag offers two layers of anti-static bubble covering for superior shielding against electrostatic discharge. The inner layer dampens vibrations and absorbs shocks. It also has a resealable zip which makes the bag reusable multiple times and provides safety to the electronics for packaging, storing, and shipping. 

It is recommended for motherboards, memory cards, switches, controls, hard drives, circuit boards, relays, resistors, and other delicate static electronic components. 

d. Daarcin Antistatic Resealable Bags

Daarcin Anti-Static Resealable Bags are translucent bags that enable you to seal your bags easily as they are waterproof and damp proof and also have moisture resistance. It also helps to conveniently show your customers the products inside the bag and even put them on display without the fear of them getting oxidised or dusty. 

These bags are made from premium quality Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) along with an aluminized film which provides both low and high-temperature performance of ±500c. They are also eco-friendly, non-toxic and contain no smell. 

This bag also provides 3.15×4.72in for a 1.8” hard drive, 3.94×5.9in for a 2.5” hard drive, and 5.9×7.88in for a 3.5” hard drive. The storage for input/output memory card, button battery, earphones, RAM, and other electronic parts. It also has premium internal and external anti-static power. 

Ways To Ground Yourself

There are countless ways through which you can ground yourself while building a PC, but the simplest is to either wear an anti-static wrist strap or touch bare metal. 

If you’re at a place that is not prone to static discharge then touching a bare metal every once in a while will be enough. However, if you’re working on something delicate that you don’t want to accidentally ruin or you’re just a person that always has static follow you around or if you’re at a place that is too prone to static discharge then its better to get an anti-static wrist strap and attach it to a metal shelf, a metal desk leg or your case.

Touching the ground

In order to halt the static electricity from transmitting from you to a delicate PC component, you’ll need to discharge the static into a metal object that is touching the floor or touching a series of objects heading up to the floor.

Using the computer’s case

It is a common technique practised by builders. Prior to installing or touching something that can be damaged by electrostatic discharge, put your hand on the bare metal surface of the computer’s case. Moreover, while doing so, if you want to be affirmed that electrostatic discharge doesn’t harm the components just lay your non-dominant arm on the metal part of your PC’s case.

Touching grounded metal objects

If you’re going with this technique then you need to know that the object must be bare metal touching the direct ground such as the bay shielding on your PC’s case or a metal radiator. This is the easiest and the quickest option and so many people only go with this precaution while ignoring all others. However, there’s a tiny but definite risk that taking only this precaution will not be enough. You can only rely on this if you’re working on a small project that won’t take much time or if the components are not valuable.

Using an Anti Static WristBand

Items like these are easily available in online markets or at electronic stores. Wear an anti-static wristband tightly onto your skin and clip the other end onto the grounded bare metal object. If you find a wristband with a loop and not with a clip, it’s easier to slip it over the centre screw on a wall outlet plate. Moreover, never use a wireless wristband as they don’t function properly. 

Some of the best wrist straps available are:

a. ARCTIC EAGLE Anti Shock Wristband

The Article Eagle Anti Shock Wristband is made up of 7 conductive yarns, which provide high resistance up to 1 MΩ and great conductivity, which helps in efficiently releasing the static electricity in 0.1s. 

The premium quality elastic band feels comfy to wear and won’t scratch your skin. It also comes in adjustable sizes. 

The polyurethane cable is flexible as well as made up of ductile material so it’s really durable, which means it can be fully recovered after being stretched. 

The alligator clip can be connected to the lantern buckle tightly and it can be rotated to 360 degrees to prevent the wire from twining, making sure you work efficiently. 

b. KingWin Anti-Static Wrist Strap

This KingWin Anti Static wrist strap comes with a grounding wire as well as an adjustable strap that fits your wrist comfortably. 

It effectively helps in shielding your PC from static electricity and also provides an extra-long coiled cord for a wide range of movement. 

c. Vastar ESD Anti-Static Wrist Strap

Vaster ESD Anti-Static Wrist Strap is highly safe and strongly conductive, effectively reducing static electricity. The straps are adjustable and made up of soft, flexible, and conductive material that comfortably fits your wrist. 

The coiled cord is extra-long f 1.9 M and is flexible enough to increase the freedom of movement. The alligator clip made up of stainless steel has a firm clamping force and is not easy to fall off which increases the work efficiency. The buckle is also made up of premium quality PU material also has a button combination that you can split whenever you want to, it is practical and convenient. 

d. Rosewill Anti Static Wrist Strap Band

The Rosewill Anti Static wrist strap band has an impressive resistance of around 10K ohms. The strap is adjustable and fits your wrist comfortably. 

The coiled cord is extra long, an impressive 6 feet which is efficient for a wide range of movement. 

Using a wire with a grounded metal object

Another common technique to stay grounded while repairing or adding components to a PC is to tie a wire of good conductivity like copper, around one’s wrist or toe and the other end to a grounded bare metal object. 

Using an ESD mat

Purchase a conductive electrostatic discharge mat, then place all the components on the mat and often touch the mat while you work. Some models come with a spot to clip your wristband as well. Moreover, while repairing, work on a vinyl ESD mat as rubber is more expensive and isn’t very necessary for this purpose. 

Using a multimeter

This technique is essentially helpful if you’ve grounded yourself by certain methods and want to make sure that no electricity is flowing through the PC’s case and you have grounded yourself successfully. 

Turn on the multimeter. If it isn’t set at preset, then navigate to its VDC configurations to select the suitable voltage range so that it can read your PC’s voltage. Now, insert the red probe into the unit you want to check and the black one into a ground wire pin. You can now note the numbers on your multimeter. 

Summary

Summarising the whole article, now you’re well aware that grounding yourself is extremely important while building a PC, and there are a number of ways you can do it. If you’re just upgrading a component, working in a clean space away from materials that build static charge and touching the ground every couple of minutes is absolutely fine.

Whereas if you’re working at a place where components are constantly being repaired, shuffled around, and dropped, then proper anti-static protection is highly recommended.

Lastly, it is highly suggested that you must not ignore safety precautions for yourself, the components, and any pet you have at home; otherwise, the outcomes might be a bit hazardous. Kudos! You’re now a pro at building a PC. 

Common Questions & Answers

How dangerous can it get while building a PC if you don’t ground yourself?

The danger level varies, obviously, but it isn’t a matter of life and death. If there’s a chance you might break or damage something in the process, why not reduce that chance to an actual zero with little effort of grounding yourself by touching some grounded bare metal?

Which of the PC parts are considered the most vulnerable to static electricity?

The most vulnerable PC parts are the CPU, LEDs, CMOS, computer cards, motherboards, and resistors. For instance, CMOS has a near-zero current. So when the static electricity gathers on this part, it holds no chance to unload the current and will damage the circuit on the first touch. 

Are the wireless anti-static wristbands efficient?

No, they’re not. Use one with a wire and a clip. 

Is it okay to move around while working on a PC?

Yes, you can. You just need to ensure that you’re not near any static building, carpets, or fabric. However, walking around on wood or tile is totally fine. Contrary to this, if you’re working at a completely carpeted place, then keep your movements to the minimum, and wear an anti-static wristband.

How Harmful is electrostatic discharge?

Electrostatic discharge is very harmful to PC components, whereas almost harmless to individuals. It is only harmful to individuals if it occurs close to a flammable material that can lead to a blaze, blow-up, or burn.  ESD is the most common cause of fires in aerospace factories, automotive plants, and re

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Abdemanaf has been a creative writer since 2011. He first dwelled in the tech world in early 2015 and has since compared many product offerings by different companies. Abdemanaf started working for Tech4Gamers in February 2022 as a blog and comparison writer.