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Table Of Contents  How to Build Your Own PC - Save A Buck And Learn A Lot
 9  Chapter 2: Component Overview

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Static Electricity and Component Handling

It’s estimated that every year as much as a billion dollars of otherwise good computer equipment is destroyed by static electricity, also known as electrostatic discharge (ESD). Careful component handling and a few basic precautions can help assure that you don’t contribute to the pile of destroyed hardware!

Components sensitive to ESD include mainboards, memory chips, PCI and AGP plug-in cards, and the bottoms of hard drives. Any time you see a circuit board, you should take precautions to protect the board from ESD.

You’re familiar with static electricity. If you’ve ever touched a door knob and gotten a shock or if you’ve ever pulled a sweater over your head and saw your hair standing up like you’re in a horror movie, that’s static electricity. If you’ve ever crawled into bed on a winter night and saw a spark, that’s static electricity.

ESD is worst when it’s dry. Winter months are generally the worst for static electricity, because it tends to be drier in winter. Moisture dissipates the build up of charge. If you live in a dry climate or if it’s winter, you might want to purchase a misting spray bottle, the sort that’s used to spray house plants, and mist the room where you’ll build your PC right before you assemble your PC. Mind you, I’m not saying spray the mainboard and other components. Computers don’t need watering! But, go to the other end of the room and spray some water into the air. This will increase the humidity and decrease the likelihood that static electricity will build up.

Carpet floors are bad because the process of feet rubbing against the carpet tends to generate electricity. If possible, work in a room with hardwood or linoleum flooring. Otherwise, try not to move around a lot as you install components. For example, after picking up a component, install it into the computer without walking around. Have your components laid out so you don’t have to move around a lot. And, always touch the metal of the case before picking up a sensitive component. I’ve upgraded PCs on carpeted floors without a problem, but hardwood floors are better.

Professional builders have mats that have grounding straps that ground the mat. Then, they can set all the PC components on the grounded mat. As a nonprofessional PC repair person, you probably won’t have a grounded mat. And, it’s not really necessary. Just place your components on a flat, clean table. Or, you can set the components, like the mainboard, on the boxes in which they came.

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How to Build Your Own PC (http://www.PCGuide.com/byop/) on PCGuide.com
Version 1.0 - Version Date: May 4, 2005

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