How to Find a Short Circuit with a Multimeter?

how to find a short circuit with a multimeter

Besides many other functions, a multimeter is also used to check any appliance’s continuity current. Just in case you don’t know, the continuity is explained as transferring the electric signals from one side to another wire. A short circuit happens or occurs when, somehow, this continuity is disturbed, and the regular flow of electricity is distracted. This disturbance that leads to the short circuit may be any kind, like a wire’s breakage or connecting switch’s issues.

It’s tough to locate the source of the short circuit most of the time, and you may end up dismantling the whole appliance or device only if the multimeter doesn’t exist.

How to Find a Short Circuit with a Multimeter – Step by Step

A short circuit results from the unintentional connection between the neutral and the ground wires.

  • If you face circuit breaker tripping, again and again, it’s a clear sign that any of your appliances is undergoing a short circuit.
  • Another sign that indicates a short circuit is that you would hear popping or bursting sounds.

If these symptoms are left unattended, the outcomes can be severely disastrous and life-risking. Conversely, taking any of the symptoms lighter can cost you a life or sometimes lives!

No worries, keeping a strong check of short circuits can keep you and your loved ones safe. Here’s how you can use a multimeter to find out the short circuit.

Step 1: Check the Equipment

Focus on the signs of short circuits and try to locate the source through a physical examination. For example, you may find a visible burn, burning-like smell, or a kind of flickering light over the wire or the metal piece.

As you locate the source, set your multimeter to the Resistance or the Continuity Setting to check the Voltages. Finding a lower resistance (from the average values) is the most potent short circuit indication.

Step 2: Test and Repair the Appliance

As you locate the source, turn off the power supply and process with the multimeter again. Please set it to the Resistance Setting and convert it to the AC mode, then insert the switch’s metal connectors (probes).

Your multimeter will probably show 0 Volts, meaning there isn’t any electricity flowing through the wires. Contrarily, if you find any Volts, probably you haven’t turned off the correct breaker. Repeat the process and make sure there isn’t any current running through the wires. Read More about the Multimeter Symbols

Step 3: Look for the Terminal Boxes

As you confirm 0 Volts, shift your multimeter from Volts to Ohms and retake the reading.

  • If it shows a value that reads OL or the infinite ohms, the short circuit is caused by a low current flow through the wires. If so, you need to fix the issues from the main panel.
  • Contrarily, if the multimeter reads the continuity, this means there’s a sub-standard breaker, naked copper, or a defective switch causing the short circuit. Observe and replace the faulty part to tackle the issue.
  • Just in case, if the multimeter still reads the continuity, there may be a bare copper wire that’s touching around to trigger the short circuit.
  • Carefully check for every little detail and once you’ve sought out the problem, screw up all the cables in their terminals like before and install them again inside the wall plate.

Hopefully, now you have a better understanding of tackling a short question, but if you are still confused about certain factors, here’re some FAQs that may help you out.

How to find a short circuit in a car with a multimeter?

It’s easy! Just set your multimeter at DC setting at a value of approximately 20Volts followed by connecting it to the fuse holder. You’ll notice a voltage reading if there’s any short circuit inside the car.

How to find a short circuit continuity inside the home?

You may observe plenty of physical signs around the appliance that’s suffering a short circuit. Once you locate the breaker tripping source, you can use a multimeter to find further and reconstruct the short circuit source.

How to fix a short circuit?

In following simple steps, you can fix a short circuit like a pro;

  • Locate the source of the short circuit
  • Make sure the sockets show 0-Volts on multimeter reading
  • Shift the multimeter from Volts to Ohms and retake readings
  • Find the issue based on the multimeter values. (As explained above)
  • Replace or fix the part of the appliance causing the issue
  • Set back all the wires and continue standard operating

What are the ways to prevent a short circuit?

Simple lifestyle adjustments can keep you safe from riskier short circuits, and that is;

  • Carefully check the outlets before using them
  • Check your appliances for any visible damage before use
  • Make sure to completely cut off or lessen the electricity usage in unacceptable weather conditions like storms or heavy rain
  • Learn and keep practising essential tips to maintain the circuit breaker
  • Let the electricians inspect your Electrical Connections for any unheard faults for at least a year

Is there a life-threatening risk from short circuit?

Obviously Yes! A short circuit can be extremely dangerous, especially if it’s through a High-Voltage source of power. A short circuit in this situation can produce excessive heat and spark, leading to fire ignition and aggressive explosion.

Read More: Test a Chainsaw Ignition Coil

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