electrostatic charge on various things .... dry air ? faulty grounding? what to do?

Recently I have significant electric charge on various electrical devices like receiver, computer or even a wall light switch. When touched it sometimes it gives a slight, but strong enough to be unpleasant electric shock. Can it be just a result of dry air? it is could (below freezing outside) but we do have a whole house humidifier? Or does it mean faulty grounding? How can I check it? Is there any other possible explanation? What can I do to diagnose it? thanks a lot
Pawel Skudlarski
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It's YOU that's charged up my friend. The stuff you are touching is all grounded, and you are discharging a static electric charge on your body when you get close enough for a spark to jump between you and them.
If you're walking awound on carpets and rugs, it's pretty hard to keep from getting charged up when the air is dry. You might try wearing different shoes, or just walking around in socks.
If you have bare floors, there are anti-static floor coatings which can help, but you might have to wear conductive footwear for maximum effectiveness.
If you can train yourself to do it, you can minimize the "shock" effect by firmly holding a metal object like a spoon or fork and touching that to the grounded objects.
Be carefull around electronics, some of them are not an static resistant as you'd like them to be and you can end up blowing stuff out by sparking to it.
Do a google search for "anti-static", you'll find tons of info.
Jeff
--
Jeff Wisnia (W1BSV + Brass Rat '57 EE)

"If you can smile when things are going wrong, you've thought of someone to
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This is Turtle.
Well , when i have anything like that in the house or car. I buy a can of static guard for clothes and spray the carpet and in the case of the car. i spray the seat with this stuff. A very light coat will kill off the charging up of the carpet.
TURTLE
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TURTLE wrote:

Even cheaper.
1 part fabric softener + 10 parts water in salvaged spray bottle anti-static spray.
Smells good, too.
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Carry a key or something and touch things with the key first. If you don't like the ``Whap!'' sound use a needle instead. It will hiss, the same principle as sharpened lightning rods.
--
Ron Hardin
snipped-for-privacy@mindspring.com
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Yes, it is due to the reduced moisture.
Getting the humidity up will help, but depending on your home construction, that may not be a good option, although I suggest it if possible. Some older homes with old style single pane windows may have condensation problems if the humidity is increased.
As noted there are two other solutions.
An anti-static spray can help, but it does not last forever and it does not help with the other problems of low humidity. From my experience the anti-static spray will need to be renewed daily to weekly. I used this solution to protect computer equipment and Point Of Sale devices at two businesses.
Carrying a key or like conductor and using it to touch whatever first may help. In my home my cats did not car for this solution.
I added an whole house humidifier, about $200 US and I am now a lot more comfortable.
Good Luck
--
Joseph E. Meehan

26 + 6 = 1 It's Irish Math
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Depending on the floor around your equipment, you can also make a very dilute spray with Downy or some other kind of fabric softener and accomplish the same thing as the static guard spray for less money. This will build up, however, and will eventually need to be cleaned, but that can be done when the season changes and the static isn't such a problem.
Also, other posters have suggested that you carry a conductor of some sort to use to discharge the static into instead of your finger. You can accomplish the same thing by mounting some kind of conductor to your equipment and making sure that you touch it first. Keep in mind that you want a conductor, but not a REALLY good one. If you have coins in your pocket, use the nickel instead of the penny. The penny (if it were an older one made out of copper) is a much better conductor and the charge passes through it to your fingers easier. A nickle or some other "not-quite-so-good" conductor like a key, makes the path, but has enough resistance to absorb the charge instead of passing it straight through to you.
trebor
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trebor4258 wrote:

Citation proving that statrement please, Trebor? (Or wuzzat a trol?)
The resistance of human skin is so much higher than that of any solid metal that the effect of differences in metal resistance couldn't possibly be noticed by anyone, not even someone as "sensitive" as my first wife.
Jeff
-- Jeff Wisnia (W1BSV + Brass Rat '57 EE)
"If you can keep smiling when things go wrong, you've thought of someone to place the blame on."
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Heh.
You can get a bad static shock by just touching someone else ;-)
If you want to avoid the "jolt", what you need to do is get the initial contact point _off_ your body. It's the spot heating and local nerve stimulation that causes the unpleasant side-effects of a jolt.
So, you take something metal that's already at your "potential", and use that to ground you, so all the pyrotechnics are at some remove from your body. Keys or coins in your pocket will do. Or the wire on a wrist grounding strap.
It's not a good idea to do this in any event, because it could _still_ fry electronics - even if you discharge to a grounded case.
Killing the static charge _before_ contacting the electronics is better. Humidification is the best solution.
--
Chris Lewis, Una confibula non set est
It's not just anyone who gets a Starship Cruiser class named after them.
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On 12 Jan 2004 19:55:31 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@nortelnetworks.com (Chris Lewis) wrote:

Just carry a resistor ?:-)
...Jim Thompson
--
| James E.Thompson, P.E. | mens |
| Analog Innovations, Inc. | et |
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Jim Thompson wrote:

<snipped>
Yeah, one of those 25 kv ones, about the diameter and length of a pencil. <G>
Like these:
http://www.cableform.com/hvr/index.htm
Jeff
<snipped> -- Jeff Wisnia (W1BSV + Brass Rat '57 EE)
"If you can keep smiling when things go wrong, you've thought of someone to place the blame on."
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I can't say WHY using a small metal object works, but it does. If I had to guess, I'd say that the extra electrons move into the key/penny object like one half of a capacitor, as it approaches the grounded object. This happens slowly enough to not cause a noticable shock, and then when the discharge happens, the only real current is from the key/penny to ground.
--Goedjn
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If you get a sharp snap, it's static electricty. Leakage from ac with give you a buzz, except when it is powerful.
Yeah, it is the cold air which has very little water in it. Normal, depending on what you wear and the flooring. To stop getting shocked you can increase the humidity, but often that's a problem; have carpet that has conductive threads in it, don't wear rubber shoes, ect.
Pawel Skudlarski wrote:

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