Static and electrical components don’t mix well.
When building a computer or upgrading, you can cause static electricity to fry your components.
Anti-static wrist straps are the right way to avoid static ruining or degrading your components.
But a lot of users aren’t using their wrist straps properly.
If you want peace of mind in knowing that you’re properly grounded, you need to know the basics.
Electrostatic discharge is that shock you may have felt when touching a doorknob or another surface.
Usually occurring after you’ve walked onto a carpet, this shock may not harm your doorknob, but it will harm your electrical components.
Sometimes, you’ll simply degrade the component, but other times, you may render the component useless.
This can happen to your motherboard or graphics card, too.
Anti-static wrist straps, when used properly, will ground you so that you don’t pose a risk of frying your components.
How to Properly Use an Anti-Static Wrist Strap
You can wear the strap anywhere on your body, but most people choose to put the strap on their wrists.
There will be a metal part on the strap, and this metal part should be touching your skin.
If the metal isn’t touching your skin, you’ll need to readjust the strap.
Once you’ve done this, you can follow these steps to get started:
- Turn off your power supply. There will be a switch on the back of your computer that will allow you to turn off the unit.
- Plug the power cord from the power supply into your electrical outlet.
- Locate the alligator clip on the wrist strap.
- Attach the clip to the power supply screws or even on the metal grill in the PSU fan.
You need the clip to stay firmly in place, so make sure that it’s snug on the metal. You’ll be using your hand to move components inside of the tower, so it’s important that the clip doesn’t come off.
Warning: Don’t clip the clip onto painted metal. Painted metal may not have insulating contents, so it won’t be able to ground you properly. Always search for bare metal, as it’s the optimal choice.
This is a great method of grounding yourself to your tower, and it works very well. But there are other ways of doing this, too.
Grounding pins are also present, and this would allow you to ground to the pin while wearing your anti-static wrist wraps. You’ll want to place the strap on your wrist with the metal touching your skin just like in the previous method.
Warning: This method is very dangerous, and I highly recommend that you research where your grounding pin is located because every country has its own placement. If you don’t follow this method properly, you’ll be electrocuted.
Your outlet will have a grounding pin where you attach the alligator clip to, but you want to make sure that the power is off before attaching the clip to the pin or prong.
You Don’t Need a Wrist-Strap When Working with Peripherals
Wrist-straps are a great way to protect your computer, but you don’t need to use them every time you plug or unplug something from your system.
You’ll want to use your wrist-strap when working on the internal components, but you can work confidently on any peripherals without a wrist-strap.
- Plugging in your keyboard
- Plugging in your mouse
- Plugging in your monitor
Most components can be plugged in and removed without worry.
Wrist-straps are often ignored by a lot of people, and I know when I first built my first computer, I didn’t use a wrist-strap.
Nothing happened, and the computer and all of its components seemed to work fine.
But I did have an issue with a hard drive that I was adjusting and didn’t use a wrist-strap with.
I was lucky the first time because I didn’t have any shocks occur, but it’s a risk I don’t recommend anyone taking.
Now, when I am building my gaming computers or a Hackintosh, I always use a wrist-strap. It’s a cheap investment for peace of mind in knowing that if there is any electrostatic discharge, it won’t impact any of your internal components.