How to Check Continuity with an Analog Multimeter

What You'll Need
Analog Multimeter
Test circuit or other device

The point of checking for continuity with an analog multimeter is to determine whether the circuit you're testing is closed or open. An open circuit will not function as the electric current is not being channeled properly or it is being stopped by a break in the system. For a light switch or an outlet to work, it has to be on a closed circuit. This means that the current can move from positive and negative to your device, making it run. As an example, an electrical outlet is an open circuit end or plug that becomes closed when you plug a cord into it, as the cord closes the circuit.

Step 1 - Shut Off the Device

Before checking for continuity with your analog multimeter, you will want to shut off or disconnect power to the device to avoid electrical shock or damage to your multimeter. If you're testing wall outlets and connections, be sure to turn off power to that part of your home or office from the circuit breaker. Be sure to reverse the process once your testing has been completed.

Step 2 - Set Multimeter to the Ohm Setting

Now you will set your analog multimeter to the Ohm setting, represented by the Greek letter omega. On your device you should see a number of other settings as well, these are for other operating frequencies and tests that involve current checks. The Ohm setting is used for sending a small electrical charge through the line to check for a closed or open circuit.

Step 3 - Read the Multimeter

When the analog multimeter is not connected to anything, the needle will read infinity. When the connectors are not connected to anything and read an infinity reading, that means its an open circuit, so it would read this on a circuit that is not closed during a test. When you touch the two ends of your meter together, it then will read 0. This means that the circuit is closed or complete and functioning properly. This means that it will hold an electric current and the device will function properly without loosing its current.

As an example, shutting off electricity to a socket, and then testing the outlet itself, by placing one tip in each opening in the outlet, ignoring the ground hole, you should get a complete circuit or a reading of zero. What is happening is a small charge is sent through the line from positive to negative, where it travels through the wires and back to the meter. If there is a broken wire or lost wired connection in your circuit, the meter will read infinity, which lets you know the circuit is open or broken. If it can not complete the loop, the line will not hold an electrical current and could be an electrical or fire hazard in the example of an electrical outlet.