How can I prevent getting electric shocks constantly in my apartment?
January 5, 2011 3:19 PM   Subscribe

I am getting constant electric shocks in my apartment, no matter what surface I touch (including other humans.) This is really annoying and doesn't happen in other locations. Is there anything I can do to prevent these shocks?

I get more shocks after I cover myself in blankets from the couch -- but I still get shocks when I touch any surface, even when I don't touch a blanket.

Also, I think I started getting more shocks when the weather got colder (I'm in Philadelphia.)

Is there anything I can do? This is driving me a bit bonkers.

Thank you.
posted by melodykramer to Home & Garden (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Humidifier. Previously on askme
posted by cosmicbandito at 3:22 PM on January 5, 2011 [2 favorites]

Especially since you think it gets more pronounced when the weather gets colder, my guess would be that it's static electricity caused(?) by low humidity. Furnaces strip an awful lot of humidity from the air, and the little static shocks usually set in once the humidity falls below about 35%. The obvious fix for this is to get a humidifier or, for a lower tech solution, keep a pot of water on the stove with the burner set to low.
posted by DrGail at 3:23 PM on January 5, 2011

Ah, I searched for electricshock and nothing came up. Thanks.
posted by melodykramer at 3:23 PM on January 5, 2011

Neutrogena body oil. Any oil. After ever bath/shower. Seriously, this works.
posted by marimeko at 4:27 PM on January 5, 2011

Also, dryer sheets. In the dryer and take a sheet and rub it across your upholstery.
posted by marimeko at 4:31 PM on January 5, 2011

Do you wear Crocs at home? They have that effect on me.
posted by The Toad at 4:45 PM on January 5, 2011

I have this problem at work - it's been bad enough that I've caused big blue sparks from time to time. Acrylic fabrics and nylon carpets will cause you to build up a static charge with minimal movement. Try wearing as much natural fiber as possible. DrGail's suggestion regarding humidity is spot-on. If you can't afford a humidifier and don't want to boil water, you can use a spritz bottle from time to time. Putting a little bit of fabric softener in the water has the same effect as dryer sheets and smells nice too.

Failing that, you too will develop the habit of touching doorknobs with the back of your hands before grasping - it'll still zap, but it'll hurt less. :)
posted by ninazer0 at 5:04 PM on January 5, 2011

While raising the humidity will reduce the incidence of static electrical shock, you want to be careful that the cure isn't worse than the disease. Depending on the construction of your home, particularly the amount of insulation and vapor barriers, you could have excess condensation of water which can lead to mold either on the interior surfaces or within the walls of your home. Don't overdo it with the humidifier in cold weather.
posted by JackFlash at 5:11 PM on January 5, 2011

Manufacturing areas that are static-sensitive will often require employees wear grounding straps. They're basically straps that go around the shoe and include a small metal plate on the bottom. I suggest doing something similar - the easiest way would probably be to get a strip of fabric and "weave" a few paperclips into it and then tie it around your foot. Or, if you have slippers with thick rubber soles, you could push a small thumbtack in to each heel.
posted by backseatpilot at 5:50 PM on January 5, 2011

Thanks -- I think it's probably a combo of the (cheap) carpet in my rental apt., cold weather, and the dryer. I'll get some dryer sheets and try to stay grounded.
posted by melodykramer at 5:20 AM on January 6, 2011

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