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What should you touch before working inside of a tower

by tech_fantatic / August 31, 2006 6:32 AM PDT

I know your are supposed to touch unpainted metal before going inside of the computer case. But what should you actually touch?

Would like the metal that covers the open slots on the computer work?

Just thought I should check to be sure!


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Anything Grounded...
by Grif Thomas Forum moderator / August 31, 2006 6:39 AM PDT

I grab the internal metal structuring of the tower itself. A wrist strap that stays connected to the grounded metal solves those problems if you do it very much..

Still, I'm no electrician and there's probably 100 ways to solve this same issue.

Hope this helps.


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But a big BUT!!. . .
by Coryphaeus / August 31, 2006 6:52 AM PDT
In reply to: Anything Grounded...

In order for the stray current (static electricty) to drain, the power cord MUST be plugged in. Otherwise the difference in potential between yourself and the case will allow a spark.

Leave it plugged in while you're working on it and touch any part of the metal inside the case.


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That but has me confused!!!
by tech_fantatic / August 31, 2006 7:42 AM PDT
In reply to: But a big BUT!!. . .

But I thought anytime you read what to do (or watch the video) the biggest thing they tell you to do is unplug it.

Now true?

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I Disagree
by Darton Fury / August 31, 2006 7:51 AM PDT
In reply to: But a big BUT!!. . .

Unplug the PC first! Why take the slim chance of electrocution? Also, if you're doing something as simple as installing expansion cards, failure to unplug the PC first can result in destroyed expansion cards, motherboard, or both! If you don't have an anti-static mat and wrist strap, touch the power supply every once in a while as you work.

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When you say powersupply..
by tech_fantatic / August 31, 2006 8:00 AM PDT
In reply to: I Disagree

What exactly are you referring to? The cord, something inside?

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Power Supply Unit
by Darton Fury / August 31, 2006 8:09 AM PDT

The PSU is the big box in the upper rear of the case. Just touch the side of it as you work.

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by tech_fantatic / August 31, 2006 10:00 AM PDT
In reply to: Power Supply Unit

That is what I needed to know. I'm going to be attempting it in a few hours, so if I am back you know why!!!

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I'm done
by tech_fantatic / August 31, 2006 11:52 AM PDT
In reply to: Power Supply Unit

Well, I just got done attempting to install more memory........

And I'm happy to report that I am still a live Wink

And the computer is working great. A PDF that used to take 1+ minute opened in a matter of seconds. So, hopefully it will keep working this good.

No problems at all, I just had to push myself to "force" the memory in. I kept hearing Tom say, you have to push it and it will feel like you are forcing it, but it should go in.

Anyhow, I'm really happy with how things worked out.

So, if I do decide to change the video card, what is that going to improve? At this point, I'm more than happy with how things have turned out. But, a new video card might be a good thing as well!

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"So, if I do decide to change the video card,
by glb613 / August 31, 2006 9:34 PM PDT
In reply to: I'm done

what is that going to improve?"

Everything you see on your monitor. A lot depends on the video you currently have and what you want to install. If you play games or are into video/photo editing, having a high end video card is important. Even if you don't need a high end video card, having a good one will make a difference in how things look. You need to make sure your computer will handle a new video card. Not all computers are created equal.

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Wrong-o. . .
by Coryphaeus / August 31, 2006 10:28 PM PDT
In reply to: I Disagree

Think about this. You're walking through the house and you touch a door knob. And you get a shock. Is the door knob grounded? Nope. The difference in potential between you and the ungrounded door knob will allow current flow. Spark. If you are grounded (walking on the floor) and the knob is grounded there is no difference in potential, thus, no current flow, no spark.

Do as you wish but I've been teaching electronics since the seventies. I leave my machines plugged in and I either wear a wrist strap or make sure I'm in contact with the case.

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We Newbies Need A Definitive Answer
by dcmorris / September 1, 2006 4:01 AM PDT
In reply to: Wrong-o. . .

Here we have experts disagreeing on how to address a very serious situation. We are not talking about Firefox vs IE or AMD vs Intel or even Mac vs PC. We are talking about possible electrocution and/or possibly frying the motherboard and all that is attached to it.
If leaving it plug in minimizes the chance of static electricity damage but provides a chance of electrocution and unplugging it increases the chance of static damage but eliminates the chance of electrocution, I'll go for the latter.
But, as I said, we need a definitive answer.


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CompTIA A+
by Darton Fury / September 1, 2006 4:31 AM PDT

While taking this internationally recognized certification course, I was instructed to ALWAYS unplug the PC to prevent ESD and electrocution. We also use anti-static wrist straps and mats to create common potential. You can confirm this on page 18 of the CompTIA A+ certification manual. I don't think it gets any more definitive than that.

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Even an anti-static wrist strap ...
by Edward ODaniel / August 4, 2008 5:08 AM PDT
In reply to: CompTIA A+

will serve no purpose unless the pc is grounded.

This is why electronic shops use grounded metal work tables and anti-static floor pads on tile rather than carpet.

The average home owner does not have this type equipment and a simple test of shuffling your feet on carpet then touching an ungrounded pc case on a table near a TV that you can then proceed to touch should adequately demonstrate the residual static electricity retained after touching the ungrounded pc case.

The better power supplys have an on/of switch on the power supply - if turned off all power to the computer is closed off but the computer remains grounded. For computers wit power supplies without a switch a short extension cord with power pins removed but ground pin intact performs the same grounding function.

Grounding is why you don't step out of a car that has a downed power line laying across it.

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You Say Ground Computer??? To What???
by Jollyjasjas / August 4, 2008 9:39 AM PDT

I cleaned out the inside of the computer yesterday, I put it outside on a metal table cause of the dust that will fly.
I held on to the computer case at all times with my left hand and cleaned out with a can of air and a paint brush with my right hand.

Did I do this right?

I need to put in RAM in a few days and I really need to know just how to do this, I don't have an anti Static wrist strap.

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A little more definitive. . .
by Coryphaeus / September 1, 2006 4:43 AM PDT

If you are not going to wear a wrist strap, leave the unit plugged in. If you are using a wrist strap, connect the strap to the PC case and you can unplug the power cord.

But my thoughts on this. There are clearly marked wires coming from the power supply, they're impossible to miss. Don't unplug them if the PS is plugged in. Just common sense. I've worked on PCs for years and have never had a problem. I keep my fingers away from the PS leads.

Maybe someone is not understanding that when I'm working on the innards I do have the unit TURNED OFF.

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I Am Now Convinced
by dcmorris / September 1, 2006 8:19 AM PDT

Your definitive answers convinced me that messing around inside a computer tower is serious business and without proper precautions can lead to serious consequences.
Before I undertake any repairs requiring the removal of the cover I will make certain it is properly grounded by using a anti static wrist strap and mat.
BTW, I just Googled both items and they are readily available. I will be ordering them as soon as I log off here.


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The easy way to remove static
by jatos / September 1, 2006 9:23 AM PDT
In reply to: I Am Now Convinced

Personally, I think its much easier to deal with static by tapping a part of the the buildings wate system, usually where a radiator is. That will get of static with out the risk of leaving the PC power in.

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Something neither mentioned...
by Edward ODaniel / September 1, 2006 12:43 PM PDT
In reply to: I Am Now Convinced

is that if you are working on a carpeted area and moving your feet the least little bit you can still damage an electronic component even if grounded to the PC chassis by a static strip.

Work on electronic components should be done in either an uncarpeted area (Kitchen is usually good) or on a hard surface placed on the carpet (such as the surface often provided for wheeled office chairs in a business setting).

Personally, I have always preferred using the off switch on the power supply and leaving the cord plugged in which provides a constant ground.

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Dangerous voltage
by qwerty655 / September 7, 2006 7:54 PM PDT

For those newbies who are concerned about dangerous votages inside the PC case, you are barking up the wrong tree. The leads that come out of the PSU cary between 0 (ground) and 12V. 12V is not enough to cause an electric shock. All of the dangerous high voltages are contained within the PSU's metal case and therefor do not pose a hazard. While working inside of a PC, you should be foremost worried about the safety of the sytem and it's components, as there is no risk of electrocution even with the computer plugged in and operating.

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Let me get this Straight
by Jollyjasjas / August 4, 2008 4:21 AM PDT
In reply to: Dangerous voltage

I want to install RAM.
I'm going to unplug the computer and turn off the switch at the back of the computer.. Then I will move the computer to the table where it's easy to reach and work with in the kitchen.
I will then remove the caseing, and continue to hold on to the case with my left hand while putting the RAM in with my right hand.

Will this way injure the computer?

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That Should Be Fine.. I've Done It Just Like That.. ...
by Grif Thomas Forum moderator / August 4, 2008 7:37 AM PDT

...on a 100+ computers..

Hope this helps.


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Thank You Grif
by Jollyjasjas / August 5, 2008 3:16 AM PDT

Just what I needed to know Happy

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They are NOT concerned about electrocution, ...
by Edward ODaniel / August 5, 2008 9:49 AM PDT
In reply to: Dangerous voltage

they are concerned with electrostatic discharge which can easily damage electronic components with low voltage and amperage.

Save a tree - don't bark.

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But a big BUT
by winfordb / September 7, 2006 8:42 PM PDT
In reply to: But a big BUT!!. . .

Don't agree with this suggestion at all!! leaving the cord plugged in while working on any electronic project only invites disaster! for your own safety make sure the cord is unplugged. RAM is particularly sensitive to static electricity and your simple movement in and around the room can create very high amounts of static electricity. Play it safe and use a static electricity wrist strap. It is a very inexpensive investment and well worth it.

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Just touch the computer case
by konwiddak / September 8, 2006 4:20 AM PDT
In reply to: But a big BUT!!. . .

Just touch the computer case (plugged in with the power off or not plugged in makes not alot of difference) and your charge will be equal to the charge of the computer. This is far better than touching a grounded source because if your computer is charged and you are not then that will cause a static shock.
Besides you will be suprised how robust modern components are to a small shock.

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The obvious answer is Rapunzel's long hair...
by Edward ODaniel / September 1, 2006 12:48 PM PDT

which is what gets you into that tower.

Seriously, the answers you got are what you needed although all forgot to mention not doing the work while standing on carpeting which is a good way to build up a static charge.

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Now I'm scared
by tech_fantatic / September 1, 2006 1:01 PM PDT

Man, the more I read these messages about how to properly be grounded and such, the more scared I get. I'm glad I'm done.

I've now decided the best thing to do is (for me) to stay out of the case until the computer is not going to be used for an important purpose. That way, if I mess something up, it doesn't really matter!

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plug in or out when working on innards
by billzhills / September 2, 2006 12:02 AM PDT
In reply to: Now I'm scared

Many power supplies do not have a switch, thus leading to the experts having a disagreement. And as such, Darton and Wayne are both correct. Wayne can leave his power supply pluged in as it has a switch on it. This turns off the current to the MB but leaves the system grounded.

If you do not have a switch then you must un-plug the PS to prevent damage to the components installed or installatioin of components (power good current).

Their are a number of ways to ground yourself and system before working inside a system. I cut power cords, then re-splice only the ground wire to ground a system. (may have gotten this idea from Wayne or another member a long time ago).


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Would This Work?
by dcmorris / September 2, 2006 12:42 AM PDT

Bill's solution makes sense. But instead of cutting cords would the following accomplish the same thing?
Using a standard male/female adapter, remove the two flat prongs leaving only the round ground prong and plug that into the wall outlet and plug the PC power cable into the female side of the adapter. That way only the grounding wire completes a circuit. There would be no electricity reaching the computer's power supply.
Being ignorant of anything but US systems this only applies to US electrical systems.


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Grounding cable
by billzhills / September 2, 2006 1:42 AM PDT
In reply to: Would This Work?

Cutting the prongs will work just something I would not trust. Nor will the connection be tight.


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