Scott - A2A wrote:
Static can blow circuits. When working on a PC,
1. Make sure everything is unplugged from your computer (carry it somewhere where there is a lot of light)
2. Keep your left hand on the metal case, like the power supply (to discharge your body of static electricity).
3. Be aware, you will likely get a lung full of dust if you are not careful. Anything you move will send dust into the air.
4. Don't go near or touch any metal on circuit boards.
5. Keep the vacuum cleaner away from these parts too, as this can carry static. Don't let the vacuum touch anything.
6. Suck in the opposite direction the airflow usually goes with the vacuum, to pull the most dust out
7. Don't use a magnetic tip screwdriver unless you know exactly what to keep that tip away from
8. Dropping a screw on the motherboard can blow something when you power it back up
9. Take your time, expect 30-60 minutes
I agree to most points.
1. It's even more important that the computer itself is unplugged from the power outlet.
2. Recommended. It's also better to repeat it ofter during cleaning process in case you build static electricity while cleaning.
4. If power is off from the computer, and I mean truly off and unplugged (not just shut down from power button which leaves many parts of motherboard energized in power saving state), metal does very little damage to PCBs... unless that piece of metal carries voltage of it's own (either from some power source or static), or unless that piece of metal is pressed with enough force to break things or have enough kinetic energy to it... or has heat enough to de-solder solder joints... or...
5. I don't even use vacuum cleaners. Except maybe by placing them next to the computer case while I use canned, pressurized air to blow dust out. Then the vacuum cleaner is there only to such the dust out before I inhale it myself. The reason I don't use vacuum is not only static electricity but also because vacuum cleaners are very heavy. Even if you move them slow, you can break things with it. You can suck air by not touching things but I've found you hardly get any dust removed by vacuum alone. You need something to detach the dirt from surfaces. Vacuum cannot do that from a distance. Canned air, brushes, complement a vacuum cleaner nicely.
6. Same applies to canned air: try pushing air from the exhaust side (or both sides).
7. Everything so far has been very sound advice (even though they can be supplemented with stuff like: canned air, grounding wristband, anti-static gloves, proper clothing does does not contain any wool, etc.) but this is something I'd call bullshit on. Magnetic screwdrivers don't do any more harm than non-magnetized metallic screwdrivers. They can short circuit (not possible if computer and peripherals unplugged), they can conduct static from your body, and they can scratch or knock off things if you're not careful. But magnetization itself does no harm. You need a very strong magnetic field to cause damage to HDDs for example. Either very strong magnetic source, or very close. But you can't get a magnetic screwdriver close enough to hard drive platters to erase data: the platters are encased. The only other components that could react to magnetic field are coils on motherboard, PSU, GPU, etc. If you have a strong alternating magnetic field, you can induce voltage into these coils. This is also the case with magnetic screwdriver tip in movement... but the voltages induced are just way too low to even be measured.
8. Sound advice. To minimize the risk I also recommend that after you think you're finished, you count the screws, see if there's any missing. Is a component that was removed and later replaced attached with less screws than it has holes in it? Did you run out of screws while reassembling it? Don't just take a spare screw and think "what the hell, screws are cheap". Even cheap screws are not capable of disappearing. It's somewhere. Motherboards are more expensive to replace...
So, the only point I do strongly disagree with is that warning about magnetic screwdriver tip. It's as harmless as any screwdriver tip is, meaning there's risks or static shock, there's risk of mechanical shock, etc. But magnetic induction? With a screwdriver tip?
Those magnets are from inside a hard drive. Now, how much damage can you do with a magnetic screwdriver tip? (Btw, those magnets are quite handy in restoring magnetization of old magnetic screwdrivers but not the other way around, so it's quite obvious which magnet is stronger.)
I recommend using magnetic screwdrivers because they reduce the risk of fallen screws. Of course if you pay adequate attention, a fallen screw is no disaster... the most it can do is that you have to take the entire motherboard away because the screw got lodged in some tight space and refuses to come out no matter how the computer case is tilted and turned upside down.