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[ The PC Guide | Site Guide | Safety Warnings ]

Electrical Precautions

Pull the plug. Do not work on a system, under any circumstances, while it is plugged in. Don't just turn it off and think that's enough. Others have done this and fried things (or themselves!) by accidentally turning the system on while working. I have seen some people recommend that you leave the PC plugged in to make sure that it stays grounded. I strongly disagree with this philosophy; I'd rather find other ways to eliminate static that don't incur the risk of electrocution. Also, the wires that run from the power supply to the switch at the front of the box on an AT form factor system carry live voltage when the PC is plugged in, even when it is off. You could end up in the hospital over the slip of a screwdriver. I'd rather risk static than risk my life.

I have also been told of one technician's experience, where he received an electric shock by touching a modem that was in a PC that had the power cord unplugged, but the phone cord still attached to the modem. It is prudent to disconnect all external cables from the PC before opening it up.

Stay out of the power supply unless you know what you are doing. If there is anywhere in the PC box that you are most likely to hurt yourself, it is here. Similarly, do not open up your monitor unless you are absolutely sure of what you are doing. You can electrocute yourself even with the power disconnected when inside the monitor. There are components inside monitors that can hold a charge for a long time after they have been unplugged. I do not recommend opening the monitor for any reason and do not do it myself.

Watch out for components being left inside the box. Dropping a screw inside your case can be a hazard if it isn't removed before the power is applied, because it can cause components to short-circuit.

Next: Mechanical Precautions

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