How to Check ESD Grounding with a Multimeter

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Have you ever tried to work on your computer’s internal components? Then it’s highly likely that you come across the ESD precautions when you’re doing an upgrade.

ESD is an abbreviation for electrostatic discharge. It is a fast transfer of static discharge between two matters with varied potentials, particularly when they come into contact or close proximity. 

For an ESD event to take place, it needs an accumulation of electrostatic charge. That charge is developed when numerous materials rub together, and one of those materials ends up being negatively charged, and the other is positively charged.

When that electrostatic charge touches with the right material, it’s transferred, and an ESD event takes place. That charge is the one destroying your electronic parts, as the intense heat produced could vaporize or melt the small components of the device. 

How is this electrostatic discharge made? 

At this point, you may be wondering how electrostatic discharge is made. Take note that humans produce high levels of static charges in the bodies. An ideal proof being the shock you experience when walking on a carpet and touching a metallic object like a doorknob.

For you to experience a static shock, you need approximately 3,000 to 4,000 volts in your body. Meanwhile, an electric current may only need 100 volts or even less to start massive damage. You see, that level of damage could be virtually present on your body without you knowing it or even feeling any effects.

Just imagine if two things with different voltages approach one another closely enough to touch or put in close proximity. A charge might pass from one of the objects to the other in a rapid electrostatic discharge. 

That course only lasts for only a microsecond or less. Nevertheless, the peak discharge current could be several amps, and the peak power could even be in the kilowatt range. Shocking, isn’t it? What’s more, that high voltage ruins them if subjected to ESD-sensitive components such as chipsets, processors, memory, and other objects.

That’s the reason why ESD is the major cause of a lot of semiconductor device malfunctions in the electronic field. 

What are the major causes of electrostatic discharge? 

Bear in mind that ESD could be caused by electric charge buildup of static electricity that’s often made when the separation of electric charges happens when two objects are brought into contact and then are separated.

That’s typical because the friction between the two materials makes a difference in electrical potential that then results in an ESD occurrence. The other cause of ESD is electrostatic induction. That takes place when an electrically charged object is positioned close to a conductive object isolated from the ground. 

You see, the charged object makes an electrostatic field causing electrical charges on the surface of the other object to redistribute, making regions of excess negative or positive charges. 

The impacts of ESD on electrical and electronic devices

Below are the two types of damages an ESD can pose to any electronic device. 

  • Latent damage 

This type of damage will allow you to as if the component is working fine after an ESD attack. However, you will notice that the component will sometimes fail in the future. 

  • Catastrophic damage

This is a no-brainer. As the name indicates, this damage causes the overall failure of the electronic device after it encounters an ESD problem. That will be as an outcome of a semiconductor junction or a connection metallization having been damaged by the electrostatic discharge. 

How should you test an ESD grounding? 

One of the most practical ways to test an ESD is through a digital multimeter. For this example, we will test an anti-static mat. It can be a flat surface that an electronic device such as a keyboard can rest on to discharge static electricity. This mat is either grounded or treated in such a way that it absorbs static electricity. 

Make sure you lay the anti-static mat on a clean and nonconducting surface. Follow the steps below on how to test your ESD grounding with a digital multimeter.

  1. Get your multimeter and turn it on. Attach the probe to the clip or metal grounding rivet of the anti-static mat. Attach the other probe to the further point on the top surface of your mat.
  1. Your multimeter will show a reading. Other meters will feature a resistance gauge, while a few have different resistance lights from good, low, and high. A good anti-static mat will give a reading of 1 megaohm to 10 megaohms, or it must show a “good” light. 
  1. Now, remove the probes and touch the metal contact of one probe to a point on the mat’s edge. Change the probe to other points around the match but make sure it has the full width of the mat between them. Your digital multimeter should give you a consistent resistance reading, or it should give you a “good” light. 

Taking care of your ESD 

You will find many different ESD precautions you can take to safeguard your computer parts from being damaged by ESD. Some tips you can use are the following:

  • Use a grounded rubber mat. Did you know that ESD mats are created to drain the electrostatic charge from the objects placed on them? They are categorized into two types: ESD tabletop mats or ESD worksurface mats.
  • Use an anti-static wrist strap. That’s normally worn on the writs. There’s a wire hooked on the other end of the wire using a crocodile clip to the chassis. 
  • Spray anti-static products. You can also spray these solutions into your work area to lower the buildup of static.

Final Thoughts

Keep in mind that ESD always poses a massive threat to electronic parts, particularly in motherboard components. That’s why you need to get in touch with a computer technician or anybody working with the ESD-sensitive parts to ensure that they observe the necessary ESD precautions.

We hope you find this post informative and educational. Share your thoughts with us by leaving your comments down below!

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