Why Do We Get Static Electricity From A Door Knob?

31 Mar 2020
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Hair raising

Despite being the catalyst for a shocking experience, It’s not actually your doorknob’s fault – it’s the way you’re charged up with static and moving from room to room. The ancient Greek philosopher and mathematician Thales of Miletus discovered static electricity in 500 BC, by rubbing fur on amber. He noted that the charged amber pieces could attract hair and other lightweight objects, and thus one of the earliest party tricks was born.

Atoms and asperities

The science of static electricity is still being explored. It’s all about electrons and atoms, asperities and insulators - but it pretty much all boils down to friction. In a similar way that a boy scout might rub two sticks together to create fire, we all know that rubbing any two surfaces together can create static electricity.

When you walk across your carpet in stockinged feet, the fibres rub together and build up static which can then be discharged with a shock when you touch a door handle. If both your socks and carpet are man-made, then the shocks will not only happen more often but could be more forceful.

Cold and dry?

You may notice that these sort of shocks are more prevalent during winter. That’s because static electricity can build up in the home during cold, dry weather.

If you’re not ready to upgrade your nylon carpet to a more natural alternative, how can you fix this? For a start, you can reduce the conductivity in your feet. If temperatures allow, go barefoot on the carpet. You’ll notice an immediate reduction in static shocks. If your plastic or rubber-soled shoes are causing the friction, invest in a pair of leather-soled shoes or slippers. Like magic, you’ll be unshockable.

Something in the air

Although friction causes static electricity, the atmosphere affects how it works. We’ve mentioned cold, dry winters. Even if it is wet outside, modern houses have insulation and heating systems that maintain a dry atmosphere indoors during winter. However, using a humidifier in the house or office can prevent shocks by adding moisture to the air. Humidifiers are a portable and cheap way to reduce the spread of winter germs and improve air quality when you have your windows closed during winter, so are well worth investigating.

Shock treatment

You can also treat your carpet with anti-static chemicals to reduce the build-up of static in the fibres, and rub tumble dryer sheets on your furnishings – the fabric softeners on the sheets reduce electrostatic charges on fabrics and prevent shocks.

Armed with this information, you should be able to make the changes that banish static shocks from you home. But if you’re still unsure, contact us at Door Stop for advice on door handles, door knobs and accessories and all other hardware. Our door experts in Perth know that different metals can reduce conductivity, with non-metal door handles taking the risk of a shock away altogether.

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