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I don't know what it is about this office, but it seems everything I touch (doorknob, bathroom faucet, edge of kitchen sink in the break room), I get zapped by static electricity. It's getting old. I feel like that scene in Office Space.

I've worked in other offices and it's not nearly this crazy. This has been going on for months so it's not the weather.

Why does this happen and is there any way I can defend against this evil?

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Possible duplicates: and links therein. –  Qmechanic Jul 11 '12 at 18:13

5 Answers 5

up vote 6 down vote accepted

My chair usually creates a lot of static, so the same happens to me. What I usually do is to touch any big metal object before I get up (my desk is metallic, so I use that) to discharge myself. Another popular trick is to touch the doorknob, faucet, etc with a metallic object, so that the discharge goes from that instead of your fingers. Or you can use an antistatic strap, if it really bothers you.

Regarding the physical processes, when you rub against other materials (e.g. a carpet) you can get electrically charged. That's called triboelectric effect. If you then touch a metallic object, there will be an electrical discharge, like a tiny ray, that goes from your skin to the object and can be painful but not dangerous. If the air is dry (like in an office with air conditioning), you'll build more charge because the humidity makes the air ore conducting and you will slowly discharge with no sparks.

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shoes with leather soles should help as well if the charge is generated by walking... –  Christoph Dec 9 '11 at 21:31
If touching the metallic doorknob creates a shock, then how does first touching a big metal object help -- isn't that the exact same thing as touching the metallic doorknob, so won't it also create a shock? –  oyvey May 6 '14 at 7:45

Touch it with a key or something metal first.

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Lay an earthed conductive doormat in front of the door, so when you walk on it the built up static charge on your body is drained through the mat.

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I developed a habit years ago of always touching the door first before touching the doorknob, or touching anything non-metallic before touching metal. It doesn't always work, but usually helps by transferring some of the charge to something that's not a good conductor (but hopefully not a good insulator). In Michigan during winter, this is a useful habit!

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My main suggestion would be to try a different pair of shoes.

Do you wear slippers and/or does the floor feel like plastic?

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protected by Qmechanic Mar 5 '14 at 17:01

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