When storing products, there are many environments that can cause damage to printed circuit boards. Although these units may be able to sustain high amounts of electricity and the movement of an immense amount of data from one component to the next, simple atmospheric and chemical interactions can render PCBs inert and useless. Some of these environments are overlooked often and can be incredibly damaging to circuitry. What circumstances do you need to be leery of when storing or placing these electronic devices?
Areas High in Static Electricity
Static electricity can do a great deal of damage to circuit boards especially if these devices are currently being used. Even statically charged dust can cause damage such as cleaning a computer case without shutting off the power. Your storage or project area should be free of any static creating products such as carpets and other kinds of fabric. Although it takes more static electricity to damage inert components, there is still the risk that it will.
Areas High in Moisture
Humidity and dampness can destroy electrical components. It is this reason that many project developers will utilize dehumidifiers within the project area or dry storage. While a television can certainly withstand some water damage without sustaining permanent, direct damage, any water crossing two channels on the PCB will cause a short unless it is completely dry. This is aside from the capability of developing molds on certain devices due to cold and damp areas.
Direct Animal Damage
In many warehouses and storage areas, mice and rats can deal damage to electronic products by turning wires and other PCB components into nests. Animals such as cats can ultimately destroy circuit boards by spraying urine on them. As feline urine is a similar composition to ammonia, it has the capacity to melt away many of the components on the PCB itself.
Areas High in Dust
Aside from statically charged dust particles, dust itself can be damaging if not cleaned from the PCB before use. This is often seen in electronic devices such as computers, televisions and other entertainment devices that have open ventilation. Dust acts like insulation that will reduce the efficiency of heat dissipation within any particular electronic device.
Chemical Storage Areas
Storing cleaning solutions and other chemicals near electronics can have adverse effects as well. As the fumes of some chemicals are corrosive in nature, these mixtures can slowly eat away at a PCB eventually destroying the unit. Some organizations have witnessed this outcome due to storing networking switches in cleaning closets and other areas where chemicals are often placed.
While quality PCBs can withstand more abuse when it comes to usage, most will be affected by any of the above situations. If your project is planned to be in direct contact with any harmful environment preventative measures can save you a lot of money and time.