Troubleshooting Grounding Issues and How to Spot Them

Troubleshooting Grounding Issues:

“Grounding” or “Grounding Out” is the act of the system short circuiting due to contact with metal or conductive parts within your system.

Grounding issues can be caused by numerous problems. The most common causes are problems that were overlooked by the builder, or a defect or non standard case feature.

The symptoms of grounding issues can range from a No POST situation, to random reboots and in some cases I have even heard of people being shocked whenever they touched any metal part of their case.

The best way to try and avoid running into grounding issues is to double check all your parts before you build your system. Look at the size and shape of your motherboard and how it will fit into your case. Are there any obstructions or overhangs it might touch once you install it. Check the metal plate in your case that your motherboard will be screwed down to. Is it completely flat? Does it have raised areas and if so, do they present a problem or special build consideration. Is the back plate for your motherboard straight and will it be seated flush when it’s installed into your case?

These are just general considerations you can make when you are getting ready to assemble your case and system. This guide will cover the most common grounding issues and ways you can resolve them.

Below is a list of item and areas to check if it seems like you are running into grounding issues. Follow the steps below to ensure your system is properly assembled to avoid any type of grounding issues.

01. Check the IO Shield back plate. Trace the edges of the plate with your eyes and make sure all the sides are flush [top to bottom, left to right] and make sure one is not sticking out a little bit. Double check that the back plate is firmly in position. If it looks good but you are unsure remove the back plate from the case, and reinstall it. Usually if it is a perfect fit, it will snap into place. If it’s not double check all edges and make sure they are flush with the back of the case.

02. Make sure to use the exact amount of standoffs as required for mounting your motherboard in your case. Make sure they are aligned with all of the screw holes in your motherboard. If there is 1 extra standoff or one that is touching the bottom of the motherboard, this could lead to grounding issues.

03. In the screw hole directly below your memory slots [middle of the motherboard] make sure to use a plastic standoff instead of a brass/metal standoff as this can sometimes lead to grounding issues.

04. For front panel connections from the case, make sure you only have the Power Switch lead connected, with the colored wire oriented towards the rear of the case. You only want this 1 lead connected for the sake of POST testing the motherboard.

05. The mounting pins themselves may be grounding out the motherboard. If the problem persists then you can insert small, cardboard washers between the screws and motherboard on the top side of the motherboard. If the problem persists, then you can insert the washers between the mounting posts and motherboard on the bottom side of the board also.

06. Check the bottom of the motherboard and the mounting surface inside your case to make sure there are no spots where the metal solder points on the motherboard might be touching the metal plate in your case and grounding out.

07. Make sure the screws you are using are the smaller internal case screws for mounting the motherboard into your case, and not the larger external screws like the ones that hold on your side panels.

08. Make sure the metal pads that surround the mounting holes are getting a good contact, so that the screw is resting flat against the board, but at the same time make sure you do not “over tighten” the screw as this in itself can lead to grounding issues. [Rule of thumb is to hold your screwdriver with minimal pressure, and turn until it would require force on your part to make it go further, at this point you should stop.]

At this point you have covered all the most common grounding issues that can develop during a build. If you are still running into issues you may want to check out our:

POST Test Guide

This can help you further diagnose any boot issues you are running into with your system.

Hopefully this guide helped you in resolving any issues related to grounding problems with your case and motherboard. This should now give you a better idea of what grounding issues are, where they happen and what to look for when they do. You can now feel confident that your case is being assembled correctly to avoid problems while building your system.


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