Static electricity is generally a problem in a home when the weather is cold and dry, but it can even occur in our warm, humid Coastal Bend area. Learn the reasons for static electricity, and how to keep it under control.
What Causes Static Electrical Discharges?
Atoms are composed of a nucleus with protons and other particles, as well as electrons outside the nucleus. Most atoms are neutral, with equal numbers of negatively charged electrons and positively charged protons. But the electrons tend to be unstable and when one material — say, a highly non-conductive plastic shoe — makes contact with another material, such as when your feet skid across the non-conductive surface of the carpet, the electrons may jump to another atom, causing an imbalance and an electrical discharge, and giving off the spark you see or hear. When conditions are humid, it’s more likely the charges will be dissipated into the damp, conductive air.
Why Prevent Static Electrical Charges?
You might think static electrical charges are mere annoyances, such as occur when you try to brush your hair on a dry day, but actually, they can be harmful and even dangerous.
Static electricity can damage the delicate electronics in computers and sound equipment. It can also adversely affect cardiac pacemakers.
Although such occurrences are rare, static discharge can also ignite certain chemicals. If you had a gas leak and fumes accumulated in your home, it’s possible a static discharge could ignite the fumes.
Preventing Static Discharge
Increasing humidity in our Coastal Bend homes is something that’s not usually necessary. However, to reduce static discharge, you may want to temporarily up the moisture level in wintertime. Here are some ways:
- Add plants to the home.
- Take longer showers.
- Boil water in pots on the stove.
- Use a portable humidifier. A whole-house humidifier will do the best job of allowing you to regulate humidity, but in our climate, such an installation is probably unnecessary unless you have circumstances in your home that require precise humidity control.
For more on static electricity, contact CCAC. We serve Corpus Christi and the surrounding area.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in Corpus Christi, Texas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about your HVAC system, download our free Home Comfort Guide or call us at 361-678-2495.
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