How To Use A Multimeter To Check For Shorts In Your House Guide

Updated on: April 30, 2021

This guide will reveal you how to make use of a digital multimeter (DMM), an essential device that you can use to diagnose circuits, discover about other individuals’s digital styles, and also how to use a multimeter to check for shorts in your house.

One of the most standard points we measure are voltage and also current. A multimeter is additionally wonderful for some fundamental sanity checks and also troubleshooting. Is your circuit not working? Does the button job? Place a meter on it! The multimeter is your first protection when fixing a system. In this tutorial we will cover measuring voltage, current, resistance as well as continuity.

Every fixer needs to understand their means around a multimeter, which has just north of a zillion makes use of for testing electronic parts and also circuits.

In this tutorial we’re going to reveal you exactly how to make use of a multimeter. This tutorial is mainly dealt with for newbies who are beginning out in electronics and also have no idea just how to use a multimeter as well as just how it can be beneficial. We’ll explore the most usual attributes on a multimeter as well as just how to measure current, voltage, resistance as well as exactly how to inspect continuity.


What is a multimeter and why do you require one?

A multimeter is a measurement device definitely essential in electronics. It combines 3 essential attributes: a voltmeter, ohmeter, as well as ammeter, and also in some instances continuity.

The tool allows you to understand what is taking place in your circuits. Whenever something in your circuit isn’t functioning, it will certainly aid you repairing. Below’s some circumstances in electronic devices tasks that you’ll locate the multimeter valuable:

  • is the switch turn on?
  • is this wire conducting the power or is it damaged?
  • just how much current is really streaming through this led?
  • just how much power do you have remaining on your batteries?

What can multimeters measure?

Virtually all multimeters should measure current, voltage, as well as resistance.

Quite a few multimeters have a continuity check, causing a noisy beep in the event that two points are electrically connected. This is handy if, for instance, you are building a circuit and connecting cables or even soldering; the beep indicates every little thing is connected and nothing has actually come loose. You can additionally utilize it to see to it two things are not attached, to assist protect against short circuits.

A lot of multimeters also have a diode check feature. A diode resembles a one-way valve that only allows electrical energy circulation in one instructions. The specific function of the diode check can differ from one type to another. If you’re dealing with a diode and can not inform which means it goes in the circuit, or if you’re not exactly sure the diode is functioning appropriately, the check attribute can be quite useful. In the instance your DMM has a diode check feature, checked out the manual to discover out specifically how it works.

Advanced models may have various other features, such as the ability to measure and also determine other electrical parts, like transistors or capacitors. Considering that not all of the multimeters have these functions, we will not cover them in this tutorial. You can read your multimeter’s guidebook if you need to utilize these attributes.

What do all of the symbols mean?

There’s a whole lot going on when you check out the selection knob, but if you’re just going to be doing some fundamental stuff, you won’t even use half of all the setups. All the same, here’s a review of what each symbol implies:

DCV or Direct Current Voltage:at times it will certainly be denoted with a V– rather. This setup is made use of to measure direct current (DC) voltage in points like batteries.
Alternating Current Voltage (ACV): Sometimes it will be represented with a V ~ rather. This setting is made use of to measure the voltage from alternating current resources, which is basically anything that links into an outlet, in addition to the power coming from the outlet itself.
Resistance (Ω): This gauges just how much resistance there remains in the circuit. The reduced the number, the much easier it is for the current to move via, and vice versa.
Continuity: Usually signified by a wave or diode sign. This just evaluates whether a circuit is total by sending an extremely tiny quantity of current via the circuit and also seeing if it makes it out the other end. Otherwise, then there’s something along the circuit that’s triggering a trouble– find it!
Direct Current Amperage (DCA): Similar to DCV, however rather of offering you a voltage analysis, it will certainly inform you the amperage.
Direct Current Gain (hFE): This setup is to examine transistors as well as their DC gain, yet it’s primarily worthless, given that most electrical contractors and hobbyists will utilize the continuity check instead.

Your multimeter could additionally have a specialized setup for examining the amperage of AA, AAA, as well as 9V batteries. This setting is normally represented with the battery symbol.

Once more, you possibly will not also make use of half of the setups shown, so don’t obtain bewildered if you just know what a few of them do.

Just how to use multimeters

For beginners, let’s review several of the different components of a multimeter. At the really basic degree you have the device itself, together with 2 probes, which are the black and also red cable televisions that have plugs on one end as well as steel tips on the other.

The measurement tool itself has a screen at the top, which provides you your readout, and there’s a huge selection knob that you can rotate around to pick a details setup. Each setting may additionally have various number worths, which exist to measure different strengths of voltages, resistances, and also amps. So if you have your multimeter collection to 20 in the DCV section, it will certainly measure voltages approximately 20 volts.

Your DMM will certainly likewise feature 2 or 3 ports for connecting in the probes:

  • the COM port represent “Common”, as well as the black probe will certainly always connect into this port.
  • VΩmA port (in some cases signified as mAVΩ) is simply a phrase for voltage, resistance, and also current (in milliamps). This is where the red probe will link into if you’re measuring voltage, resistance, continuity, as well as current less than 200mA.
  • the 10ADC port (often signified as simply 10A) is used whenever you’re measuring current that’s more than 200mA. If you’re not exactly sure of the current draw, start with this port. On the various other hand, you would not utilize this port whatsoever if you’re measuring anything apart from current.

Caution: Make certain that if you’re measuring anything with a current more than 200mA, you plug the red probe right into the 10A port, rather than the 200mA port. Or else you might blow the fuse that’s within the multimeters. Furthermore, measuring anything over 10 amps might blow a fuse or damage the multimeter as well.

Your measurement tool might have completely different ports for measuring amps, while the other port is specifically just for voltage, resistance, and also continuity, yet the majority of cheaper multimeters will share ports.

Anyway, allow’s obtain begun in fact utilizing a multimeter. We’ll be measuring the voltage of a AA battery, the current draw of a wall clock, and the continuity of a straightforward cable as some examples to get you began and also accustomed to using a multimeter.

Components of the DMM

Multimeters are composed by four vital sections:

  • Display: this particular is just where the measurements are displayed
  • Selection Knob: this picks what you intend to measure
  • Ports: this is where you connect in the probes
  • Probes: a multimeter features two probes. Usually, one is red and also the various other is black.


  • “COM” or “–” port is where the black probe ought to be linked. The COM probe is traditionally black.
  • 10A is utilized when measuring huge currents, above 200mA.
  • µAmA is made use of to measure current.
  • enables you to measure voltage and resistance and test continuity.


COM represent common and also is usually connected to Ground or ‘-‘ of a circuit.The COM probe is conventionally black but there is no difference in between the red probe and black probe apart from color.


10A is the unique port used when measuring big currents (more than 200mA).

Selection Knob

The selection knob allows the user to set the tool to check out various points such as milliamps (mA) of current, voltage (V) as well as resistance (Ω).


2 probes are plugged into 2 of the ports on the front side of the unit. The probes have a banana kind adapter on the end that links into the multimeter. Any type of probe with a banana plug will certainly collaborate with this meter. This enables various sorts of probes to be made use of.

Probe Types

There are various kinds of probes readily available. Here are a few of our favorites:

  • Banana to Alligator Clips: These are great wires for connecting to huge cords or pins on a breadboard. Great for performing longer term examinations where you do not need to need to hold the probes in position while you control a circuit.
  • Banana to IC Hook: IC hooks work well on smaller sized ICs as well as legs of ICs.
  • Banana to Tweezers: Tweezers come in handy if you are needing to evaluate SMD elements.
  • Banana to Test Probes: If you ever before damage a probe, they are low-cost to replace!

Measuring Voltage

To begin, let’s measure voltage on a AA battery: Plug the black probe right into COM and also the red probe right into mAVΩ. Establish to “2V” in the DC (straight current) array. Mostly all mobile electronic devices make use of straight current), not alternating current. Link the black probe to the battery’s ground or ‘-‘ as well as the red probe to power or simply ‘+’. Press the probes with a little stress against the positive and negative terminals of the AA battery. If you’ve obtained a fresh battery, you must see around 1.5 V on the screen (this battery is new, so its voltage is a little more than 1.5 V).

You can easily measure DC voltage or AC voltage. The V with a straight line implies DC voltage. The V with the bumpy line suggests AC voltage.

To be able to measure voltage undertake all these steps:

  1. Set the mode to V with a curly line if you’re measuring AC voltage or to the V with a straight line if you’re measuring DC voltage.
  2. Ensure the red probe is attached to the port with a V alongside it.
  3. Attach the red probe to the silver lining of your component, which is where the current is coming from.
  4. Link the COM probe to the opposite side of your component.
  5. Review the worth on the display.

Pointer: to measure voltage you need to connect your multimeter in parallel with the component you want to measure the voltage. Positioning the multimeter in parallel is putting each probe along the leads of the component you intend to measure the voltage.

Measuring a battery’s voltage

In this example we’re mosting likely to measure the voltage of a 1.5 V battery. You recognize that you’ll have around 1.5 V. So, you should choose an array with the selection knob that can read the 1.5 V. So you must pick 2V in the situation of this multimeter. If you obtain an autorange one, you do not have to stress about the range you require to choose.

Begin by turning on it, connecting the probes into their corresponding ports and after that setting the selection knob to the greatest number worth in the DCV section, which in my situation is certainly 500 volts. If you do not know a minimum of the voltage series of the point you’re measuring, it’s always a good idea to start with the greatest value first and afterwards function your means down up until you obtain a precise reading.

In this case, we recognize the AA battery has a very low voltage, however we’ll start at 200 volts just for the sake of instance. Next off, put the black probe on the unfavorable end of the battery as well as the red probe on the favorable end. Have a look at the analysis on the display. Given that we have the multimeter collection to a high 200 volts, it reveals “1.6” on the screen, suggesting 1.6 volts.

However, I desire a more accurate analysis, so I’ll relocate the selection knob reduced down to 20 volts. Here, you can see that we have a more precise reading that floats in between 1.60 and 1.61 volts. In case you were to ever before establish the selection knob to a number value reduced than the voltage of the point you’re evaluating, the multimeter would simply read “1”, indicating that it’s overloaded. So if I were to establish the handle to 200 millivolts (0.2 volts), the 1.6 volts of the AA battery is too much for the multimeter to handle at that setting.

In any type of situation, you may be asking why you would require to check the voltage of something to begin with. Well, in this case with the AA battery, we’re examining to see if it has any kind of juice left. At 1.6 volts, that’s a fully-loaded battery. Nonetheless, if it were to review 1.2 volts, it’s close to being pointless.
In a much more sensible circumstance, you might do this sort of measuring on a car battery to see if it could be dying or if the alternator (which is what charges the battery) is going bad. An analysis between 12.4-12.7 volts suggests that the battery is in great form. Anything lower which’s evidence of a passing away battery. Furthermore, start your automobile up as well as rev it up a bit. If the voltage doesn’t raise to around 14 volts or two, then it’s likely that the generator is having concerns.


What occurs if you select a voltage setup that is as well reduced for the voltage you’re attempting to measure? Nothing bad. The meter will just show a 1. This is the meter attempting to inform you that it is overloaded or out-of-range. No matter what you’re trying to check out is excessive for that particular setup. Try changing the multimeter handle to a the following greatest setting.

Selection Knob

Why does the meter knob checked out 20V as well as not 10V? If you’re wanting to measure a voltage much less than 20V, you resort to the 20V setting. This will certainly permit you to check out from 2.00 to 19.99. The very first figure on lots of multimeters is only able to present a ‘1’ so the ranges are restricted to 19.99 rather than 99.99. For this reason the 20V max array rather of 99V max variety.

Measuring Resistance

Plug the red probe right into the best port and also turn the selection knob to the resistance area. Then, connect the probes to the resistor leads. The way you attach the leads does not matter, the outcome coincides.

Normal resistors have color codes on them. If you do not recognize what they suggest, that’s ok! There are lots of online calculators that are simple to utilize. Nonetheless, if you ever locate yourself without net accessibility, a multimeter is really handy at measuring resistance.

Select out an arbitrary resistor and also set the multimeter to the 20kΩ setting. After that hold the probes versus the resistor legs with the same amount of pressure you when pushing a trick on a keyboard.

The meter will check out among 3 points, 0.00, 1, or the real resistor value.

In this situation, the meter reads 0.97, implying this resistor has a worth of 970Ω, or concerning 1kΩ (remember you remain in the 20kΩ or 20,000 Ohm setting so you need to relocate the decimal 3 locations to the right or 970 Ohms).

If the multimeter reads 1 or shows OL, it’s overloaded. You will certainly need to attempt a higher mode such as 200kΩ mode or 2MΩ (megaohm) mode. There is no damage if this take place, it merely indicates the array knob needs to be changed.

In case the multimeter reads 0.00 or nearly zero, then you need to decrease the setting to 2kΩ or 200Ω.

Keep in mind that lots of resistors have a 5% resistance. This implies that the color codes might show 10,000 Ohms (10kΩ), yet because of inconsistencies in the manufacturing procedure a 10kΩ resistor might be as low as 9.5 kΩ or as high as 10.5 kΩ. Do not stress, it’ll function just fine as a pull-up or basic resistor.

Generally of thumb, it’s unusual to see a resistor much less than 1 Ohm. Keep in mind that measuring resistance is not ideal. Temperature level can impact the reviewing a whole lot. Likewise, measuring resistance of a tool while it is literally mounted in a circuit can be very difficult. The bordering elements on a circuit board can greatly impact the reading.

The mockup generally looks like with a fundamental clock running of a AA battery. On the silver lining, the cable going from the battery to the clock is separated. We simply put our two probes in between that break to complete the circuit once again (with the red probe linked to the power source), only this moment our multimeter will certainly read out the amps that the clock is drawing, which in this instance is around 0.08 mA.

While most multimeters can additionally measure alternating current (AC), it’s not truly a good suggestion (specifically if its online power), considering that AC can be hazardous if you end up slipping up. If you require to see whether an outlet is working, use a non-contact tester instead.

To measure current you require to bear in mind that parts in collection share a current. So, you need to attach your multimeter in series with your circuit.

IDEA: to put the multimeter in collection, you require to place the red probe on the lead of a component as well as the black probe on the following component lead. The multimeter acts as if it was a cable in your circuit. If you detach the multimeter, your circuit won’t work.

Prior to measuring the current, make certain that you’ve connected at a loss probe in the ideal port, in this instance µAmA. In the instance listed below, the exact same circuit of the previous instance is used. The multimeter is component of the circuit.

How To Test For Continuity

If there is really reduced resistance in between 2 factors, which is less than a couple of ohms, the 2 factors are electrically linked and you’ll hear a continuous sound. If the sound isn’t constant or if you do not listen to any audio whatsoever, it implies that what you’re testing has a faulty link or isn’t connected whatsoever.

WARNING: To test continuity you need to shut off the system! Shut off the power source.

Touch the two probes together and, as they are connected, you’ll hear a continuous sound.To test the continuity of a cord, you simply need to connect each probe to the cable pointers.

Continuity is an excellent way to evaluate if two SMD pins are touching. If your eyes can not see it, the multimeter is typically a terrific second testing source. When a system is not functioning, continuity is another thing to aid repair the system.

  • Establish your multimeter to the continuity setup utilizing the selection knob.
  • The readout on the screen will quickly read “1”, which indicates that there isn’t any type of continuity. This would be proper given that we haven’t attached the probes to anything yet.
  • Next off, see to it the circuit is unplugged as well as has no power. After that link one probe to one end of the wire as well as the other probe to the other end– it matters not which probe goes on which end. If there is a full circuit, your multimeter will either beep, show a “0”, or something besides a “1”. If it still shows a “1”, then there’s an issue and also your circuit isn’t total.
  • You can additionally examine that the continuity attribute works on your multimeter by touching both probes per other. This completes the circuit as well as your multimeter need to allow you know that.

A continuity test informs us whether two things are electrically attached: if something is constant, an electric current can stream openly from one end to the other.

If there’s no continuity, it indicates there is a break somewhere in the circuit. This could indicate anything from a blown fuse or negative solder joint to an inaccurately wired circuit.

Changing the Fuse

Among the most typical mistakes with a brand-new multimeter is to measure current on a bread board by penetrating through VCC to GND. This will quickly short power to ground via the multimeter causing the bread board power supply to brownish out. As the current hurries via the multimeter, the inner fuse will certainly warm up and after that melt out as 200mA streams with it. It will happen in a split 2nd and also without any kind of real distinct or physical sign that something is wrong.

Remember that measuring current is carried out in collection (interrupt the VCC line to the breadboard alternatively microcontroller to measure current). If you try to measure the current with a blown fuse, you’ll most likely discover that the meter reviews ‘0.00’ which the system does not switch on like it should when you affix the multimeter. This is since the internal fuse is broken and also serves as a busted cable or open.

To change the fuse, locate your handy dandy mini screw vehicle driver, and also start securing screws. The parts and also PCB traces inside the multimeter are created to take different quantities of current. You will damage as well as perhaps wreck your multimeter if you mistakenly push 5A with the 200mA port.

There are times where you require to measure high current gadgets like a motor or heating element. Do you notice both locations to place the red probe on the front of the multimeter? 10A on the left as well as mAVΩ on the right? If you try to measure more than 200mA on the mAVΩ port you risk of blowing the fuse. Yet if you use the 10A port to measure current, you run a much lower threat of blowing the fuse. The compromise is level of sensitivity. As we spoke about above, by making use of the 10A port and handle setting, you will only be able to read down to 0.01 A or 10mA. The majority of systems make use of more than 10mA so the 10A setting and also port works all right. If you’re attempting to measure very low power (mini or nano amps) the 200mA port with the 2mA, 200uA, or 20uA might be what you need.


You’re now all set to use your digital multimeter to begin measuring the globe around you. Really feel free to begin utilizing it to respond to lots of concerns. A digital multimeter will certainly answer several questions about electronic devices.

A multimeter is definitely a necessary device in any electronics laboratory. In this guide, we’ve shown you #main_kws:t#. You’ve learned exactly how to measure voltage, current and also resistance, as well as just how to inspect continuity.