Have you ever wondered if electricity is actually reaching your plug or outlet? We’ve all been there, and luckily, there’s a simple way to test if your outlet is charged or not. Just use a multimeter. This tool is essential to outlet testing and can give you most of the answers to your outlet questions. But be warned, this device works when the power is on, so proceed with extreme caution. Ready to learn how to read a multimeter? We’ve got you covered. 

What is a multimeter?
A multimeter is a go-to tool for testing outlets. It can let you know if your outlet is getting power, if black and white wires are swapped and if it’s properly grounded. Overall, this tool can help you answer questions and start the process of solving most outlet issues. 

How to test your outlet 

First, remember to proceed with caution. Any time you are working with the power on, there is danger. So be careful or, if you feel uncomfortable, call your local electrician to help. Follow these steps to check out with a multimeter. 

  1. Get to know your outlet. 

Most outlets have three slots: a rounded half-circle (ground), a long thin slot (left/neutral), and a short fat slot (right/hot). 

  1. Measure voltage.
    First, set your multimeter to voltage. Insert a probe into each slot (black lead on the left and red lead on the right). Then read the measurement. For a properly functioning outlet, the reading will be 110 to 120 volts. No reading? Check the wiring, then call your electrician. 
  2. Determine if your outlet is grounded.
    Insert the red lead into the smaller slot on the right of your outlet. The move the black lead to the ground or rounded slot. The reading should not change. If it does vary, your outlet isn’t properly grounded. 
  3. Check for reversed wiring.
    Insert the red lead into the larger slot to the left and the black lead in the right slot. If you get a reading, your wiring is reversed. While reversed wiring won’t affect simple appliances like lamps, it can damage more advanced equipment. 

Have more questions about your outlets? Give us a call. We’re here to support you with licensed and trained electricians.