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A multimeter continuity test can help troubleshoot electrical items in your home, including extension cords, outlets, and light switches.
But using a multimeter can be difficult — especially with all those alien-like numbers and symbols it has.
To make things easier, I’ve made a simple guide so that you can quickly learn how to check for continuity. As long as you follow our step-by-step guide, you’ll be fine. To learn more about multimeters, make sure to read from top to bottom.
What is Continuity?
To run a multimeter test for continuity, you first need to know how electricity works. Simply put, electricity is the flow of electric charge. You could think of it as electrical atoms constantly moving or water flowing through a pipe.
However, these electrons need a continuous path to return home, also known as continuity. Continuity or a closed circuit is defined as a complete path for electrons to flow. If there’s something wrong with the path, the electrons won’t flow freely, leading to electrical problems.
Therefore, checking for continuity is extremely useful in verifying electrical devices at home.
Load And Non-load Components
As you’ll soon find out, understanding the difference between load and non-load components is a must if you truly want to run a continuity test on a multimeter. Although this might seem intimidating, let’s break it down for the sake of convenience.
Load components are defined as electrical devices that consume active energy, including heating elements, solenoids, your lights at home, and oven bakes.
However, all these electrical devices need a specific resistance value to work. Otherwise, they wouldn’t work at all. For instance, an oven bake should typically have anywhere from 20-40 ohms.
Non-load components, on the other hand, provide an unrestricted path for the electrons to flow through. Non-load components include switches, thermostats, and fuses. Typically, they’ll have a resistance reading of 0-1 Ohms.
How to Use a Multimeter to Check Continuity
Now that we’re on the same page, here’s how to run a multimeter continuity test at home:
1. Set Up the Leads
Before getting started, grab the red lead, put it into the VΩ slot, take the black one and insert it into the COM slot.
Next, inspect your multimeter and make sure it is working. Avoid using a multimeter that is no longer in great shape. Furthermore, always grab the multimeter leads by the insulated handles.
2. Identify the Symbols
Multimeters can look a little different. However, all multimeters have the same settings. But to run a multimeter continuity test, you only need the continuity mode, which has a sound wave icon going to the right side.
That said, turn the wheel to continuity, and you’re good to go.
However, if your multimeter does not have the continuity symbol we described, turn the wheel to the resistance. The resistance setting has the Greek letter Omega, which looks like this “Ω.”
3. Put the Multimeter Leads Together
After setting up the multimeter, please grab the red and black leads and put them on top of each other.
When doing this, the multimeter will beep, indicating that the unit is working. However, keep in mind that the multimeter will either show zero or a low value. So if the unit does not make any noise, make sure you’re actually on continuity.
4. Disconnect the Power
Before checking for continuity, please disconnect the power and remove the wires or connectors you want to test.
5. How to Multimeter Continuity Test
Grab the leads of your multimeter and touch each probe to each component terminal. If the unit does not have continuity, the multimeter will display OL or Open Loop, indicating the component stopped working and must be replaced.
But if your unit has continuity, the multimeter will get a reading above 0 OHMs. However, keep in mind that the resistance will change between load or non-load components.
Need more info about the multimeter and all its settings? Here’s an excellent video that’ll walk you through everything you need to know:
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Not quite there yet? Then here’s more information about running a continuity test with a multimeter to step up your game:
What is the symbol of continuity in a multimeter?
The symbol for continuity looks like a “U” upside down, also known as the Greek letter Ω. However, your multimeter might also have an icon, which looks like the WIFI symbol on your phone.
Is Ohms the same as continuity?
Yes, it is the same. In fact, continuity is measured in ohms. So, for example, if there’s something wrong with your cord, you would have to set the multimeter to continuity or ohms.
How do you check continuity on a wire?
Disconnect both ends of the wire. Once that’s done, set the multimeter to ohms, and then grab the negative and positive terminals and put them on each end of the wire. Your multimeter will now pick up the continuity and display it on the screen.
How many ohms should a transformer read?
Your multimeter should read 1-10 ohms when checking for continuity on a transformer. Anything higher than that indicates that the transformer stopped working.
Running a multimeter continuity test is quite simple, even if you don’t have an electrical background. As intimidating as it might look, this is a crucial skill that any homeowner should master. Just follow my step-by-step instructions above, and you’ll be fine.
Electrical devices break pretty often. Hence, learning how to use a multimeter can get you out of so much trouble. But if you still can’t pinpoint your problem, get in touch with a certified professional for further assistance.