The go-to tool for diagnosing electrical problems is a multimeter. With it you can investigate and address many different electrical problems. Learning how to read a multimeter will at the very least help you better diagnose the problem and take the right steps for a solution. With that in mind, we at Peterkin Electric would like to list how you can read a multimeter to test an outlet. Even if you are not electronically savvy, you can still learn to use the multimeter to give you better idea of what is going on with the electronic dilemma.
What Does a Multimeter Test?
A multimeter properly read, can help you determine the following:
– If the outlet is actually getting power.
– If the wiring within the outlet is reversed.
– If the outlet is efficiently being grounded.
How to Use a Multimeter to Test an Electrical Outlet
1) Learning the essentials of safety during outlet testing. Keep in mind the outlet is live, with power running through it you have to practice caution and ensure both meter probes are held in the same hand. This will keep from electric shock passing through your body. You can create a hazardous short circuit, by allowing the metal portion of the probes to brush each other or touch.
2) Understanding the electrical outlet. The outlet has 3 slots; one for neutral (which is the longer slot on the left), one for ground (which is the half circle), one for hot (which is the shorter slot on the right).
3) Adjusting the multimeter. Set the meter to measure voltage. Often depicted with a wavy line, select the alternating current (AC) function on the multimeter.
4) Connect the leads. Known as the “banana plug” push the short, thick connector of the BLACK lead into the connector labeled “COM”; it may have a minus symbol beside it. Labeled with a positive symbol or a horseshoe symbol; which is the Greek letter Omega.
5) To determine if the outlet has power, measure the voltage. Insert a probe into each vertical slot on the outlet using the same hand. The black into the larger slot and red goes in the smaller slot. A reading of 110-120 volts is given for a properly functioning outlet. Check the wiring on the outlet if there isn’t a reading.
6) Determine if the outlet is efficiently grounded. Remove and place the black lead in the u-shaped slot, or the ground outlet slot. The reading should be the same. The outlet is improperly grounded or the wiring is reversed if it is not the same.
7) To check if the outlet wiring is reversed. Into the left-hand slot, place the red lead and in the into the ground. The outlet is not grounded if there isn’t a reading. The wiring is reversed if you get a reading. This can be an issue for sophisticated appliances, but it shouldn’t affect simple electronic devices such as lamps.
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Though this will help you understand if the electronic outlet and devices are getting power, do not attempt any electronic repairs on your own. Call the licensed electricians of Peterkin Electric and let our specialists take care of your electrical needs.