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I was soldering components onto a circuit board that was placed on a rubber-like soldering mat on a table. Simultaneously, I was listening to audio from my desktop computer, using wired headphones. The computer and the soldering iron were plugged into different power outlets within the same room. I hear electric pops through the headphones every time the tip of the soldering iron and the soldering wire simultaneously touch the metal parts of the components that I’m soldering.

Is this normal, and is it something to worry about? What is it a sign of?

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    Either static or RF emissions. Hard to say without knowing more about your solder project. At an rate, not really a home improvement topic. – isherwood Apr 20 '18 at 16:13
  • I suspect your soldering iron is causing a ground fault. Try with a different soldering iron, preferably new out of the package. As @isherwood points out this isn’t exactly on topic—you can make it more on topic by clicking edit and instead asking if there could be an issue with the plug involved or the circuit feeding it. Also was the circuit board grounded? You say it was on a rubber mat, which implies no grounding, but was it connected to anything? – Tyson Apr 20 '18 at 16:23
  • @isherwood The contents of my soldering project are irrelevant, because I can produce the sound merely by touching the tin wire with the solder tip directly, it doesn't require the solderable component project in between. I thought it would be more appropriate for this board than the "electrical engineering" board for example: anyone who's experienced at electrical wiring related home improvement might see what's happening here. It's about how this room was built and what's in it. – user158589 Apr 20 '18 at 16:25
  • @Tyson What technically happens when there's a ground fault? This soldering iron is only a few months old, albeit inexpensive. The building is so old that the power outlets in the dry rooms don't have a ground pin (contrary to what would be mandatory for new installations today). The circuit board is not grounded, and it was in the center of the rubber mat. I was also only using the board as a stand for assembling a series of components together, so the components aren't even soldered onto the board, and there are no power sources or anything complicated going on on it. – user158589 Apr 20 '18 at 16:30
  • That does add a lot of valuable information that really should be made permanent via an edit to the question. I’m not certain a ground fault is occurring anymore, but to specifically answer the question, a ground fault is a leak of current, in most cases 100% of the current delivered via the hot wire returns via the neutral wire, if any current leaks anywhere that is a fault to ground. Does the capacitance of your body have effect? Specifically what are you touching? Try holding the solder with insulated needlenose instead of your bare hand. Does this change anything? Are you grounded? – Tyson Apr 20 '18 at 16:42

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