How to Use a Digital Multimeter to Test Household Current

Written by harvey birdman
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How to Use a Digital Multimeter to Test Household Current
Multimeters are just a fuse box, a display and a rheostat. (multimeter image by dinostock from Fotolia.com)

The health of your household's electrical system is vital to the proper functioning of your house. However, due to the nature of electricity, you can't inspect the system visually. You will need to use a multimeter to read the current running though the house's electrical wiring. This is a simple process of hooking up the multimeter probes to the wall outlet and then testing for voltage, amperage and resistance. Once this is done, you can compare the readings to your house's electrical specs to see if there are any deviations.

Skill level:
Easy

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Things you need

  • Multimeter

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Unplug any sensitive components from your house's electrical system. In a electrical system that has been properly maintained, there is no danger of shorting. However, an electrical system with damage can short itself when tested or subjected to higher loads that testing may place on it.

  2. 2

    Plug the probes into the voltage holes on the face of the multimeter. Turn the dial to "Voltage" and make sure the probe tips are not touching. This lets the multimeter know what the zero level of current is, and letting them touch would bring up an error code. Place a probe in each hole in the wall outlet, then read the voltage displayed on the multimeter. Write this number down.

  3. 3

    Disconnect the probe from the wall outlet. Shift the probes from the voltage holes to the amperage holes. Turn the dial to "Amperage" while keeping the probe tips from touching each other. Place the probe tips into each hole on the wall outlet port. Read the number displayed on the multimeter and write it down.

  4. 4

    Disconnect the probe from the wall outlet. Shift the probes from the amperage holes to the resistance holes in the multimeter. Turn the dial to "Resistance" while keeping the tips separate. Place the tips in the wall outlet and read the number displayed on the front of the multimeter front. Write this number down.

  5. 5

    Compare the values you found for your house's electrical system with what the values should be. If they deviate by more than 10 per cent, you should consult an electrician to have your system checked further.

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