How to Check for a Broken Wire with a Multimeter?

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A multimeter is an electronic test instrument used by almost every electronic technician and engineer. It is primarily used to measure voltage, current, and resistance, which are the three fundamental electrical characteristics. It can also be used to check for continuity in a two-point electrical circuit.

This device is essential for quickly detecting and resolving circuit problems. You can select different electrical parameters for measuring electrical properties using a rotary switch on the front panel.

It can be used as an ammeter, voltmeter, or ohmmeter, among other things. It’s a handheld device with positive and negative indicator needles, as well as a digital numeric LCD. It’s useful for a variety of things, including checking batteries, household wiring, electric motors, and power supplies.

Types of Multimeter

  • Autoranging Multimeter: The auto-ranging multimeter is the most user-friendly of all digital multimeters, but it’s also the most expensive. It has fewer settings and a central knob. This instrument is great for beginners and home electricians alike because it can be used for simple projects.
  • Digital Multimeter: Signal conditioning and an analogto digital converter is included in the internal circuitry of the Digital Multimeter, as well as an LCD and a knob for selecting different variations of the three electrical characteristics. It has a direct display of the measured value, high accuracy, and the ability to read both positive and negative values, among other features.
  • Analog Multimeter: The analog multimeter, also known as a VOM, is made up of a moving coil meter and a pointer that indicates the scale reading (Volt-Ohm-Milliammeter). A moving coil meter is made up of a coil wound around a drum and placed between two permanent magnets. It has the advantages of being inexpensive, not requiring a battery, and having the ability to measure reading fluctuations.
  • Fluke Multimeter: A wide range of collaboration features can be added to the Fluke digital multimeter. It’s used to measure voltage and electrical resistance, and it usually has a big display. Its main function is to calibrate currents, volts, and other electrical units.
  • Clamp Multimeter: A clamp digital multimeter is used to measure the flow of electricity. When the probes measure volts, the clamp feature on this multimeter measures amps. The appropriate feature is used when measuring.

Advantages of Multimeter

  • The o/p is automatically displayed.
  • The meter’s measurement results can be saved in memory and synced with a computer.
  • Auto-polarity features are available.
  • Charging the battery has no effect on the accuracy of the meter’s readings.
  • Everything is double-checked.
  • Multifunctionality
  • Resistance to mechanical harm
  • Measurement ranges can be manually or automatically selected.

Disadvantages of Multimeter

  • The need for a power supply as well as issues with isolation
  • It has a hard time dealing with changes in measurement.
  • The LCD is primarily powered by an external power source, such as a battery because when the battery is discharged, the LCD becomes dim and difficult to read.
  • The meter must be used in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions as well as the category rating; otherwise, the meter will be damaged and the equipment will be lost.

How to Check for a Broken Wire with a Multimeter?

Step1                                                     

Disconnect the power source from the vehicle or piece of equipment that contains the wire you’re trying to fix. If you need to disconnect a battery cable, you’ll need a wrench.

Step2                      

If the connections at both ends of the wire are easily accessible, inspect them for damage. To ensure that the wire ends are securely attached to the connectors, gently pull them together.

Step3

With your index and thumb, trace the length of the wire, paying special attention to any faults in the wire insulation. Use a small mirror and a flashlight to reach around areas where you have limited access if necessary. If the insulation shows signs of damage, such as darkened spots that could indicate overheating, which could have caused the wire inside the insulation to break, you should suspect a problem.

Step4

Check for damage by unplugging the connector to which the wire is connected. Set your digital multimeter to continuity mode, which is the lowest range on the Ohms scale.

Step5

Link one probe to the metal terminal connecting the wire to the connector, as well as the other probe to the exposed area of the wire where it enters the connector. As you probe the terminal, wiggle the wire to see if there’s a false connection. Zero resistance should appear on your multimeter readout. The wire is not properly connected to the terminal if the display reads infinite resistance. If the wire is equipped with a connector, test the terminal on the other end as well.

Step6

One of the meter probes should be connected to one end of the wire, while the other probe should be connected to the other end of the wire. Keep the probes attached to the wire ends by using alligator clips. At various points, wiggle or gently bend the wire. Your readout will display infinite resistance if there is a break anywhere along the wire.

Step7

Place a pin about two or three inches away from the suspected break on the wire. On the other side of the wire, where you suspect a break, insert a second pin. Wiggle the wire at the breaking point while connecting the multimeter probes to the pins. When you wiggle the wire and the multimeter display reads infinite resistance, you’ve found the wire break.

Useful Tips and Tricks

  • Unless you want to measure the power or have taken adequate precautions, never check wires while they are connected to the circuit.
  • While testing, always wears insulating hand gloves.
  • Always use a wire connector or nut to connect a faulty wire instead of manually connecting it with electrical tape.
  • If the wire is part of a system that generates heat, a ceramic wire nut should be used.

Conclusion

How to Check for a Broken Wire with a Multimeter?

Once you’ve mastered the operation and components of the multimeter, the process becomes quite simple. To use a multimeter to check for a broken wire, simply follow the instructions above.

Related: How to Test an Earth Rod with a Multimeter?

FAQs:

  • How do you use a multimeter to find a wire short?

Set the multimeter to “continuity” on the settings knob. A small microphone symbol indicates the continuity setting. This setting compares the ohms discharged from one end of a wire to the ohms discharged from the other end. A short in the wire is indicated by unequal ohms measurements.

  • Is it possible to get shocked while using a multimeter?

If the meter and test leads are not properly maintained, shock hazards can arise. Arc flash can happen if the meter is not properly rated for the voltage, is exposed to transient voltages outside of its operating conditions, or has defective parts or components.

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