When it comes to appliance repair sometimes the damaged part is pretty obvious, for example a broken hinge or a snapped belt. But when it comes to electrical components, it’s not a simple as looking for the broken or damaged part. Sometimes it takes a bit more investigating to find the culprit.
Parts like fuses, switches, coils, heating elements, circuit boards, and disc thermostats can be functioning improperly but appear to be perfectly fine with no signs of damage or corrosion. So how do you test these parts? With a volt-ohm meter, more commonly referred to as a multimeter. With a multimeter, you have the ability to check for continuity and/or resistance relatively easily.
Continuity is when electricity can freely pass through the component without meeting any resistance, or a closed circuit. Resistance is opposition to the current flow, when resistance is too high it can leave the part unable to function, especially in the case of infinite resistance or an open/broken circuit.
Depending on the type of part, the level of acceptable resistance will vary. You should always check the manual or the troubleshooting tech sheet to verify this before testing a part.
A multimeter is a tool used to measure current, voltage,resistance/continuity, and in some cases temperature. They can be found in both digital and analog formats. The testing procedure is very similar for both, although it is important to note that an analog meter will have to be calibrated before testing
Today we’re going to focus on the procedure for testing a part with a digital meter. If you don’t already have a multimeter, you can find them on our website here.
WARNING! Before attempting to work on any appliance, make sure that all power (electricity) and utilities (water and gas) have been turned off and/or disconnected on the appliance. Read this before you start any repair.
Before you get started:
- Safety first. We strongly recommend that when working with any type of circuitry or electrical components you wear safety gloves.
- Disconnect the power and wiring to the part you wish to test. Not only is this for your safety but it also helps to avoid false positives when testing or blowing the fuse inside of the meter.
- Only touch the insulated parts of the multimeter’s leads. The test leads are live and can potentially shock you if not used properly.
Testing your part:
If you haven’t used your multimeter before, set up the test leads. Plug the black lead into the common or neutral jack, and the red lead into the ohms jack. These will typically be color coded.
Switch the knob to the quadrant labeled with an Ohm (Ω) symbol. Your meter is now set up to measure resistance.
Adjust to the appropriate range. For low levels of resistance, choose the 200 setting. Some meters are designed to automatically adjust to the correct range. If you have one of these, you can skip this step.
To test the part, touch one lead to one terminal and the other to the opposite terminal or contact point on the part. A contact point could be metal, bare wire ends, etc.
If you get a reading of zero, this means that the part has good continuity.
If you get a reading that is higher than recommended or your meter displays “OL” it means there is a problem with the continuity of the part causing a break in the circuit and that it needs to be replaced.
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