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How Static Electricity Hurts Electronics (and How to Stop It)

How Static Electricity Hurts Electronics (and How to Stop It)

Ahh, Minnesota winters—the time of year when you’re zapped by static electricity at least 10 times before leaving your home in the morning.

But what’s worse is when static electricity damages sensitive electronics and ultimately costs you hundreds (or even thousands) to repair or replace those gadgets.

Thankfully, there’s one surprising (and easy) way to prevent static electricity from forming. We’ll show you how to prevent static buildup in your home. But first, let’s take a closer look at how exactly static damages electronics.

What static actually does to electronic devices

While it may seem harmless, when you accidentally “shock” your electronics, you send uncontrolled electrical current through your electronics. And if that current reaches the sensitive circuitry inside the gadget, it will cause serious heat damage and eventually “fry” the electronic.

To give you a better idea of just how harmful a tiny ZAP of static discharge can be: the human body is capable of carrying up to 25,000 volts of electrical current from static buildup. But it only takes 4,000 volts to damage the sensitive circuitry of electronics

You see, static is basically a mini lightning bolt. And when lightning hits an object, the electrical current quickly tries to find earth and ground itself. Usually, the current will use the metal frame of your electronic device as a pathway to the ground (which is the least harmful scenario). 

But that tiny lightning bolt doesn’t create just one pathway—it spreads and travels along many paths as it frantically searches for earth. And often, that hot electrical current will find its way into the sensitive circuitry and cause heat damage.

So how can you protect your electronics? The easiest way is to stop static electricity from forming in the first place by adding moisture to your home’s dry air.

Humidity prevents static electricity

Humidity prevents static buildup from ever happening. You see, static electricity forms when two objects with opposing charges (negative vs positive) come into contact. The ZAP of an electric shock is basically those two objects exchanging charges in order to return to their natural “neutral” charge.

But humidity prevents objects from building up negative or positive charges in the first place. Since water is an excellent conductor of electricity, the water molecules in the air absorb positive and negative charges on object surfaces. The moisture in the air basically ensures that objects keep their neutral charge.

How to add moisture to your home’s air

According to the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors, humidity levels around 40% to 50% are sufficient to prevent static electricity from forming. If your home’s humidity levels fall below these numbers, try adding moisture to the air using the following methods…

  • Install a whole-home humidifier. This is the most effective way to add moisture to your home’s air. A whole-home humidifier is installed into your HVAC system and pushes moisture throughout your entire home. They can monitor humidity levels and adjust how much moisture it pushes out according to your home’s needs.
  • Add house plants. House plants “sweat”—a lot. Up to 90% of the water it consumes is released back into the air via tiny holes (which act like pores) in the plant’s leaves. We suggest keeping several houseplants in any room that has electronics.
  • Use anti-static spray. You may have seen anti-static sprays being sold online or in stores but it’s actually easy to create yourself. Just mix fabric softener and water in a spray bottle and lightly spray the carpet, couches, and other surfaces in your home.

Need help raising your home’s humidity levels?

We can help. Just contact us.

We’ll inspect your home and provide the solution that works best to keep your home’s humidity levels right where they should be.

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