How to Troubleshoot Electrical Problems
A step-by-step process will help you isolate your electrical trouble
By Daniel Ray
Troubleshooting electrical problems is an art. Like a detective, you must work backward to find the problem. Electricity can be thought of as water, flowing from the main power line to individual devices. Faulty or damaged components can stop the flow of electricity. We will use an incandescent light as an example. The theory is the same whether you are troubleshooting a light or a dryer. Isolate and check each part of the circuit until the problem is found.
- What You Need to Know
- Purchase a digital multimeter or lead kit, both of which will help you test your electrical measurements, such as current and voltage, at your local hardware store. You may also need a few common tools, such as a wrench, screwdrivers and wire cutters.
Check to see if the lamp is plugged in and turned on. If it's not working, change the light bulb. If changing the bulb doesn't do anything, then the lamp may not be in proper working order.
Find the circuit breaker for the circuit where the lamp is plugged in. Check to see if it is tripped. This can be caused by a loose wire, wires touching each other, or water or moisture making contact with the wires. No matter what the cause, you'll need to reset the circuit breaker.
Plug another lamp into the outlet. Turn the light on and see if it has power.
Set the multimeter to AC voltage. Measure the voltage at the outlet. If no voltage is present, remove the outlet and measure voltage at the wiring. If voltage is present, replace outlet.
Measure voltage at the breaker. If voltage is present, then wiring is the problem. Repair or replace the wiring. If there is no voltage, call a licensed electrician.
About the Author
Daniel Ray is a contributor to DexKnows.com.
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