How to Test a Socket with an Electronic Multimeter

a man checking the voltage on an outlet with a multimeter
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  • Beginner
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What You'll Need
Electric multimeter
What You'll Need
Electric multimeter

When you want to test out your electrical outlets, an electronic multimeter can be a very inexpensive and invaluable tool at your disposal. There are different types of electronic multimeters, but they all perform the same function.

A multimeter will measure different aspects of your electrical system. They will measure the volts in alternating currents (VAC), the volts of a direct current (VDC), or the ohms of an electrical current. Using the electronic multimeter to test your electrical socket is something that a homeowner can do very easily.

Step 1 - Use Right Setting

When you are going to use the electronic multimeter to test the electrical sockets in your home you are going to want to use the VAC setting. Turn on the multimeter device and then turn the dial to the appropriate VAC setting. If your particular multimeter does not have the VAC setting, it may just read "Volts".

Step 2 - Connect Test Wires

There are 2 different wires that you will be using to test the electrical socket in your home. One is colored red and should be connected to the "volts" input on the multimeter. This may have a red ring around it. There is also a black wire that will be connected to the "com" input on the device. This may have a black ring to distinguish it as the right one.

Step 3 - Insert Leads into Socket

Once you have the leads connected to the multimeter you can then begin to test the wall socket. To do so you need to insert the leads into the socket itself. Usually when you work around the electrical sockets you want to turn the power off so you do not cause yourself an injury.

However, to test the current you need to keep the power on. Keep this in mind as you are inserting the leads into the socket. It is important to get the right lead into the right slot.

Step 4 - Start with Red Lead

Begin placing the leads into the socket by starting with the red lead into the right hand vertical slot. Place the black lead into the left vertical slot.

Step 5 - Check the Reading

Once you have the leads in place you must check the electronic multimeter to see what the reading is. With a standard household current you should either have a reading of 110 VAC or 120 VAC. If you do not see a reading like this then you know that there will be a problem with the outlet.

Remove the black lead from the slot and place it in the oval slot in the center of the socket. If you do not have a reading, then there is a problem with the circuit.

Step 6 - Remove Leads

After you have tested the electrical socket with your electronic multimeter you will then need to remove the leads. As much as it is important to know which vertical slot to place the leads into, it is also important to remove them in the same order. Remove the black lead from the vertical oval slot first. Then take out the red lead from the slot that it is in.

Step 7 - Replace Socket

If you find that the electrical socket is not working correctly, then you will be able to replace it at this time. If the multimeter is functioning strangely, there are a few things you can try to repair it.