With the rise in popularity of carpeting, along with better insulation and heating, static electricity has become more prevalent in homes.
There are many variables that contribute to static electricity, including the physiological makeup of an individual, weight, walking habits, and the type of shoe soles worn; the face fiber and construction of the carpet, the backing, type of cushion under the carpet, and the kind of floor; the cleanliness of the carpet; and the amount of moisture in the air.
However, humidity is the biggest factor. Moisture in the air is absorbed by carpet fibers. The more moisture in the fibers, the more an electrical charge is dissipated and the less the chance of a shock.
The earliest method used to control static was to place pans of water on the stove or radiators. Moisture is added to some heating systems today by placing a humidifier on the furnace. If sufficient water is added to the air, it will eliminate the static problem, but too much moisture can produce condensation on windows.
Another method of reducing static is to spray the carpet surface with an anti-static agent. It is not a permanent treatment as it is slowly removed by the soles of shoes. If these agents are sprayed in the fall, they will probably be effective until spring, which is the usual time of year for static electricity problems. If static becomes a problem before spring, the traffic areas can be retreated.
Some anti-static agents are sticky and will cause dirt to adhere to the carpet. A carpet retailer should be able to supply an anti-static agent that will not accelerate soiling. If you are in the market for new carpeting, inquire about the types with special fibers or treatments built into them that eliminate the static electricity problem altogether.
Article courtesy MSU Extension
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