General Question

jdvanderk's avatar

What should I do about the static electricity in my apartment?

Asked by jdvanderk (155points) January 21st, 2008

The past few weeks everything in my apartment seems to be shocking me, especially blankets, furniture, and my cats. Its just started to get cold here and the furnace is running more, could that have something to do with it? How do i get rid of it?

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9 Answers

paulc's avatar

You, my friend have an excess of electrons! When you or other items move about in your house they can accumulate an eletrostatic charge due to friction. When you come in to contact with another object that is positively or neutrally charged the charge will attempt to balance itself and thus you get shocked.

You can reduce it by humidifying your house (which can be very difficult in a cold, dry winter and because of the furnace drying things up) or spraying fabrics and carpets with fabric softener. You can also wear some rubber-soled shoes or slippers – rubber is an insulator.

If you want to get rid of a static charge on yourself you can hold a conductive item (fork, keys, something metal) and touch something that is grounded. Usually a plugged in metal appliance will work. The charge will jump from the object you’re holding to the grounded object and shouldn’t cause you any pain.

It is also worth noting that cat hair can hold and dispense a lot of electrostatic charge – so I suggest wrapping your cat in a large amount of rubber leaving holes for the eyes, nose, mouth and unmentionables. Blue rubber works best for this. Suspending the cat in midair can also help reduce friction. Be sure to discharge before and after petting kitty.

Also be sure to ground yourself before using your computer – there’s a chance you could damage it with a shock.

Spargett's avatar

Hahaha… poor kitty.

syz's avatar

I recommend an ultrasonic humidifier – they are quiet, cool and fun to play with.

artemisdivine's avatar

ditto on answer by syz. you must compensate for the lack of moisture.

Proper humidification allows you to maintain a comfortable living environment, while protecting your investments, and eliminating static shock. Conditioning the amount of moisture in the air is necessary to maintain comfort. Optimal comfort is considered to be achieved at 45–65% humidity. Most homes heated to 73 degrees can have a relative humidity approaching 15%. In comparison, the typical humidity in the Sahara Desert is 25%!

Static electricity is a direct result of very dry air. Humidifiers minimize the static electricity which causes havoc with electronic equipment, especially expensive computer equipment. Proper humidification can greatly reduce static ‘shocks’ and reduce the hazards of ‘zapping’ yourself and those around you.

The most comfortable relative humidity for the human body 45–65%RH
Ideal relative humidity for prophylactic and curative purposes 40–50%RH
Computer and telecom apparatuses 45–65%RH
Furniture and musical instruments 40–60%RH
Libraries (books), art galleries and museums 40–60%RH

If winter in your home means dry skin, scratchy throats and lots of static electricity, you may have a problem with low humidity. Humidity refers to the amount of water vapor in the air. When you close the windows and turn the heat on in the winter, you begin to reduce the humidity in your home. Lowe’s is happy to provide this information as a service to you.

Don’t simply look at cost when purchasing a humidifier. Capacity is an important factor. A humidifier’s capacity should match your household’s needs. Capacity is measured in gallons per day of operation. One method of estimating the capacity you need is to determine the square footage of the you want to humidify. Use the chart below to determine what output level is best for you:

Area Output Rating (Gallons per day)
500 sq. ft. or lower 1.5 — 2.0
530–600 sq. ft. 2.2 — 2.5
700–800 sq. ft. 3.0 — 3.5
900–1000 sq. ft. 4.0 — 5.0
1000 — 2000 sq. ft. 7.0 — 9.0
Over 2000 sq. ft. 10.0 or higher

mac316's avatar

When you want extra humidity, don’t overdo it. A good investment is a Hygrometer, a humidity measuring instrument. Too much humidity can cause the growth of mold.

Hygrometers are not expensive, and absolute accuracy is not the point, you are looking for a general range of relative humidity. While the chart offered by the previous poster is a guideline, your home’s construction and method of heating, will change the result.

Emdean1's avatar

Just wanted to say that I have been searching for something to help me with the same problem. Just this morning I went to get out of bed and lifted the covers and i could see the electricity between the blankets. It was nuts. I will surely get a humidifier.
Thank you

lyw7219's avatar

DO NOT GET A HUMIDIFIER UNTIL YOU TEST THE HUMIDITY LEVEL IN YOUR HOME FIRST! You could be dealing with a mold problem and adding humidity will only make things worse. Trust me, I know because we just left our home due to toxic mold and excessive static shocks was a symptom.

KRISTY's avatar


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