How to Measure Static Buildup With a Multimeter

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Static buildup, or Electro Static Discharge (ESD), is a common occurrence. Most of the time, static buildup results in a minor annoyance, such as causing plastic film to cling to your clothing or the sensation of minor shocks. However, static buildup becomes a problem when it damages electrical devices, which is easily done — electrical devices can be damaged with as little as 100 volts of static electricity. Measuring static buildup with a multimeter is one way to know how prone your home or office environment is to static buildup, and how at much risk you may be exposing electrical devices to.

Use a multimeter to measure the static buildup on a non-electrical surface such as a metal doorknob. Make sure the doorknob is not connected to any electrical devices such as a computer.

Turn your multimeter on. Navigate through the main menu on the multimeter to set the reading to “volts” so that you can quickly determine if the amount of static buildup in your home or office is capable of damaging sensitive electrical devices. Locate the black wire coming off of the multimeter. Stick the metal end of the black coated wire to the doorknob. Hold the wire in place with a piece of clear tape.

Locate the red coated wire coming off the multimeter. Hold the non-metal portion of the wire in your hand.

Take off your shoes and make sure you are wearing socks. Walk around on the carpet in front of the doorknob shuffling your socked feet on the floor for one minute.

Touch the metal end of the red wire to your hand or arm. Read the voltage level figure that appears on the digital screen of your multimeter. Write down the figure, especially if it is above 100 volts.

Wait one hour. Repeat the test, except this time, put on a pair of shoes and don’t walk around beforehand or shuffle your feet first. Turn the multimeter on, connect the wires as before and touch the metal end of the red wire to your hand or arm. Write down the resulting figure and note if it drops significantly and whether or not it drops below 100 volts.

Purchase a humidifier to increase the humidity by 40 to 50 percent in the room or area where static buildup is occurring particularly if it is above 100 volts. Protect electrical devices and yourself from static shock by wearing leather soled shoes and considering changing the flooring in the area to cement or wood.