If ever you encountered an outlet power failure issue in your home or office? Your coffee machine suddenly went out of power or you found that your mobile isn’t charging even when the adaptor is plugged in properly. In this situation, a person’s first step should be to check the mains power supply and circuit breakers. We will give some basic tips below to teach you how to test outlet with multimeter.
For doing this task accurately one should be literate enough about electrical installations and multimeter functionalities. We don’t want you to be an expert and have standard electrician’s multimeters but sometimes lack of knowledge may be disastrous. Electrical and tools safety equipment are a must keep things when we have to work on live electric circuits e.g 220v/ 440v AC.
By testing an outlet one can find whether the power supply is reaching an outlet or not, if the outlet is properly grounded, and if the wiring within the outlet is ok?
Check outlet physically
Our first step should be to analyze the outlet physically. In physical tests focus on the wiring arrangement of outlet, any type of visible damage like torn, fire signs, and water leakage. Check wiring thoroughly because sometimes wiring can be burned due to extra loads. Physical examination is so important before testing an outlet with the meter.
We’ll suggest you check for other outlets also if they are live or not. Because an outlet may go out of power due to several factors. For example, it’s maybe due to main breaker trippings or electricity load sheddings from the grid.
How to test an outlet with a Multimeter
First of all, make it clear that the multimeter which is being used for the test has valid safety certifications. Also, be assured that the meter has a higher voltage range than the outlet supply voltage value otherwise you may end up with a burnt multimeter.
- First of all check multimeter physically if it’s up to the mark for the required tests. Test leads are ok or not?
- Set meter on feasible voltage range, for checking a 120v outlet set meter on 220v ac range.
- Observe outlet points to find out which are phase, neutral and ground points before using multimeter on them.
- Don’t ever try to touch testing probes bare parts while testing live circuits to avoid shock and short circuits.
- Verify that multimeter jacks are placed into the right sockets, black one into socket named COMM and red into socket with volt, and ohm symbols.
- Now turn on button and connect meter leads to the outlet points.
- Connect the red probe with smaller slot and black or common with larger slot which is actually a neutral point.
- A functional outlet will give reading of 110-120v or 210-220 v as per yours country’s domestic voltage system.
Check if the outlet is grounded Properly?
After testing voltage you should check the ground as well because a ground issue may also result in an electric outlet’s malfunction. Now while testing outlet’s voltage keeps the red probe into phase point and connects black to ground (u shaped larger slot in outlet) . Now see the results on screen, if the voltage is same as phase-neutral points then the ground is working properly. If you get a different reading then it means that outlet is not grounded well.
You may skip this if your outlet is not grounded or doesn’t have a ground point.
Leo Maxwell is basically an Electrical engineer and hobby tech writer, having 13 years of experience in the electronics and instrumentation industry. He has hands on experience working in various fields like Powerhouses, solar, automotive, and FMCG.
During his career, he has used many power tools and meters in electrical projects. Now his aim is to explain tools and troubleshooting in easy guides to help people. Other then it, leo loves traveling, reading books and DIY tasks.