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Reducing static shocks in furniture

  1. Mar 31, 2012 #1
    I searched the last few months of static topics to get a basic understanding how how it happens, but I don't know how to solve my problem.

    I have a new couch that causes me to shock metal things I touch after standing up. I also have a computer floormat that seems to cause the same thing.

    I am hoping for some permanent solution, rather than rubbing laundry sheets on it weekly.

    Is it possible to run a grounding wire from a lamp to the fabric of the sofa? If I did that on the right side of it, would static electricity from the left side move across to discharge through the wire?

    I tried to test things out last night, but shocks will sometimes happen and sometimes not happen under the same test. I can't figure out why that is, and it's preventing me from going further. What is a good test?
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 31, 2012 #2


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    Try increasing the humidity in the house.
  4. Apr 1, 2012 #3
    For the last year, I've used a humidifier for this reason only. It is a huge chore, filling the water up twice a day, and the windows here need to be kept open so it all gets drained anyway.

    I am looking for a solution to rig and then require no further maintenance.
  5. Apr 1, 2012 #4
    It may be that the fabric of your couch and floormat make a particularly good "charging by friction" combination with the fabric/material of yourself, clothing and footwear and that these combinations are particularly good insulators.Different combinations may ease the problem.
  6. Apr 1, 2012 #5
    That's what I was trying to test for, but I would rub and area with polyester cloth and get a shock. I would try again and get no shock. I'd try with cotton, get a slight shock. I can't figure out what is causing the static to sometimes come and sometimes go.

    If fabric would discharge by touching metal, wouldn't that mean that if we had clothing with static cling, we could touch it to metal and all static would clear? Does the metal have to touch every part of the fabric to discharge? Does static move really slowly in fabric, so maybe it would gradually discharge out a grounding wire if it was left 24/7?

    I can't find the answers to these questions.
  7. Apr 1, 2012 #6
    I think it is the body that discharges and not the fabric.In general fabrics are good insulators and charge is unable to flow freely through them.The body is a reasonably good conductor and charge can flow the current depending on conditions such as resistance and connection to the earth.
    I may be wrong but I think that our current understanding of static electricity is very limited.
  8. Apr 2, 2012 #7
    But if it was static going from the body to the fabric, why is it that when I get up and touch something metal, a shock happens? Shouldn't it be out of me, and no transferrence would happen when I touch anything?
  9. Apr 2, 2012 #8
    I think charge gets transferred to the body possibly by friction and or by contact or possibly by other mechanisms.When the body is earthed there is a momentary flow of charge which is responsible for the shock.
  10. Apr 2, 2012 #9
    oh, sorry, I thought I read you saying the body sends its charge into the fabric instead of the other way around.

    It seems to me that electricity will conduct most easily through metal, and secondly the body, and the slowest through fabric. So as it is, I'm taking the static from the sofa and giving it to the lamp.

    I want to find a way to eliminate the middleman and make the electricity go directly to the metal, which is where the grounding wire idea came from. I just don't think grounding the sofa is going to suck all of the static out of the couch perpetually.

    I don't know how electricity travels that well (downward is all I know).

    I've damaged a computer monitor by giving it too many shocks when hitting the power button, so I've been trying to eliminate it at the sources (sofa, computer floormat).
  11. Apr 2, 2012 #10


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    Touch a non-metallic surface after getting out of your chair/couch, and then go about your business. You'll be fine.
  12. Apr 5, 2012 #11
    I don't know how that will help, and it's not a solution, I have to always touch metal now in order to discharge. I'm looking to prevent static from being a problem or to make it go directly from the couch to the ground.
  13. Apr 5, 2012 #12


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    Try it. Touch a non-metallic surface to allow a gradual discharge before touching a metallic surface. It works. I always touch the top of our home-entertainment console for a second or so (wood-and-composite furniture) when I get out of my office chair. No more shocks.
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2012
  14. Apr 6, 2012 #13
    The electrostatic charge buildup is a result of the fabric of the couch. If you want a permanent solution, unfortunately you will have to reupholster your couch with a better fabric. Connecting a grounding wire will do nothing because the fabric is an insulator, not a conductor, so the static charge is fixed in place and will not flow. The only way to discharge is by touching something.
  15. Apr 6, 2012 #14


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    And touching something massive and non-metallic will allow the charge in your body do discharge gently with no "zap". It only takes a second or two, even in the driest winter weather.
  16. Apr 7, 2012 #15


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    Does this happen if you walk around barefooted? I realize that for part of the year this may not be practicable, but it will provide leads to a possible solution.

    What is the floor covering?
  17. Apr 10, 2012 #16
    I never walk barefooted. The floor is carpet.. I would guess it's berber. Looks like this http://www.worldfloorexpo.com/images/ALDD-CRP/simplyawesomeii.jpg

    Socks are cotton. (bless 'em)

    The floormat under the computer chair is probably clear vinyl. It's very easy to build up a charge on it.

    a chart I found:
    Sliding across a foam cushion 10-14 Kv
    Walking across a vinyl floor 8-12 Kv
    Walking across nylon carpet 2-4 Kv
    Walking across computer grade carpet <2 Kv

    Good to know about the electricity not moving across fabric.
  18. May 30, 2012 #17
    Now a days microfiber piece of furniture is best and latest furniture because it has become a very popular fabric choice for couches, love seats, and chairs, but it is also a good conductor of electricity.
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