It’s every homeowner’s nightmare: you go to turn on the lights, only to find they’re not working. You may have a faulty circuit breaker on your hands, but how can you tell? Fortunately, the answer is right in front of you--your multimeter!
A multimeter is an invaluable tool when it comes to electrical fault finding, diagnostics, and repairs. It’s an inexpensive piece of equipment that every homeowner should own—especially if you’re planning to tackle any electrical projects yourself. Today, we’re going to look at how to use your multimeter to check for a faulty circuit breaker.
To begin, you’ll want to make sure all power sources are turned off. This includes the circuit breaker you’re testing as well as any other connected circuit breakers. Grab your multimeter and make sure it’s set up correctly. Check to make sure the meter is on the “VAC” setting, select the resistance setting (ohms), and check to make sure that the fuse status is good.
Next, we’ll be connecting the probes of our multimeter to the circuit breaker. Make sure the black probe is connected to the common terminal and the red probe is connected to the test terminal. If the circuit breaker is working properly, the multimeter should read “OL” or “overload.” If the reading is anything other than that, you’ll want to replace the circuit breaker.
Finally, you’ll want to recheck that all power sources are off and that the meter is disconnected from the circuit breaker. To ensure that you don’t have any electrical shock hazards in your home, you should also double-check all connections to make sure they are secure and that nothing is arcing or sparking.
When it comes to checking a circuit breaker with your multimeter, the process is relatively straightforward. With just a few simple steps you’ll be able to identify and replace a faulty circuit breaker in no time. And, once you’ve gotten some practice with a multimeter, you’ll be ready to tackle all sorts of electrical repairs and maintenance around the house.
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