This article will discuss how to check if a wire is broken using a multimeter and provide you with a complete guide.
A single broken wire can shut down a whole appliance, car, or even the electrical circuit of your home or office. However, checking for the broken wire and figuring out the issue can save you from a lot of hassle. Luckily, today, we have multimeters that are extremely helpful for checking if a wire is broken.
Using a multimeter is a skill, and you will know how to use it for checking broken wires in this article. Make sure you follow all the details in this article and don’t miss any point at all.
How To Check If Wire is Broken With a Multimeter?
For checking broken wires, a multimeter alone wouldn’t be enough. You will need some other tools, including a flashlight as well as a wrench. It is advised to get rubber gloves for safety purposes, as you will be exposed to electric current while checking for broken wires.
Other than these few tools, you won’t need anything else, so you are good to go if you have them all.
1. Know the basics before getting into the work
Knowing the basics is as important as anything else when checking for broken wires. Basic knowledge about electricity and everything that it may entail is essential. The electrical wires work both as conductors and resistors for those who don’t know.
The resistance in a wire entirely depends upon the length and thickness of the wire, and it may vary in different types of wires. The resistance of a thick wire may be less than the resistance of a thin wire as the thin wire thinner wires carry a fewer amount of electrons to carry the electric current.
Once you know the basics, you can move on to the continuity test.
2. Check the settings of your multimeter before use
However, before you start the continuity test, you may want to check the multimeter settings. First of all, see if the multimeter is set on “ohms.” In most multimeters, the measurement scale is OL (open-loop), but sometimes, a device may require you to use the continuity button every time you do a continuity test or check for broken wires.
Now, talking about the wires in a multimeter, generally, all of them have two wires which are red and black in color, respectively; these wires also have a ballpoint pen end. The red wire generally refers to the positive wire, while the black one is negative.
The black goes into the COM jack, while the red one is for the V jack. Ensure both the wires are fixed adequately inside their respective jacks; if not, the readings may go wrong.
3. Perform the continuity test
A continuity test may be the easiest test one can perform on long wires. However, never forget to turn off the electric power source of the wire before performing the test, as it can be dangerous for you.
Now that you have turned off the electric source grab your multimeter because now the test begins. For a continuity test, you need to check the wire’s resistance, power, and voltage in everything, including the switches, wires, electrical connections, as well as circuits.
By checking the resistance in the wires, you will be able to see if it’s damaged or the current can perfectly flow through it.
4. Now check for the broken wires
For checking the broken wires, you need to set the multimeter at 200 ohms. If you check for minimal resistance, you can set the multimeter on a lower range; however, the value only goes higher if the resistance you need to check is maximum. Remember that finding resistance is what will determine the continuity or damage in some wire.
Now, you need to put the black/negative lead of the multimeter on one end of the wire and the red/positive one on the other end. If the resistance is more than zero, the wire is fine; however, the wire is broken if the resistance is zero. Keep doing the test on wires until you locate the broken one.
Once you have found the broken wire, fix it or get it fixed, and that’s pretty much it.
What can be the reason behind a broken wire?
Like any other thing, wires are subject to aging and wearing out over time; however, some other issues can cause them to break or damage. For example, if you have an old house, the wires are more prone to damage and can end up rotting or eroding faster than a wire in a newly built house will.
Another reason can be rodents or mice chewing up on wires that result in breakage. Lastly, if the wires are poorly or loosely soldered, there’s a major possibility of them breaking away.
How can you fix a broken wire?
Once the broken wire is located, it’s easier to fix the issue. You will have to replace the broken wire with an entirely new one most of the time. However, before you install the new wire, test it with a multimeter as well. Sometimes, people end up replacing a broken wire with another damaged one, which only adds to the tension and workload altogether.
If the wire breaks are minor, they can be fixed with joints or splices, or you can use electrical tape to cover or solder them if needed. Remember that there are several different types of wire splices, and each of them is used based on the type of wire you need to fix.
How to prevent the wires from breaking?
With every electrical appliance come wires and cables, but it can be a struggle to keep these wires from breaking. We cannot stop the cables from wearing out, but we can prevent them from breaking down and making the whole appliance stop working.
It’s not easy to keep replacing wires all the time, as it costs a lot of money and time. So here are some tips that may help in preventing the wires and cables from breaking:
1. Avoid squishing or bending the wires
Instead of being stuck somewhere tight, wires and cables should have enough room. Ensure that they are not being squished under or behind something, as the pressure may become a reason for them fraying or breaking down.
When wires are left in a bent position for a long time, they become more prone to damage than those kept straight in an open space. Leaving some clearance for the wires will prevent them from breaking and save you money as well.
2. Use the wires gently
Sometimes people tend to use cables and wires recklessly, which is like breaking the wires with your own hands. Pulling, pushing, and putting unnecessary pressure on wires is not how you should use them. Be a little more mindful and start handling the cables with a more gentle hand. This tip applies to almost all kinds of wires, whether it’s a charging cable or an electrical wire; each of these wires is meant to be handled with care. Remember that even the sturdiest wires, such as power cords, can break if you don’t use them correctly.
3. Prevent fraying by using a spring
You may not know this trick, but using springs to wrap up wires can prevent them from fraying and breaking. It’s simple, just take any metal spring (a retractable pen spring is preferred) and twist this spring over the endpoints of any cable or wire. This will keep the wire flexible but also stop the possibility of it breaking down or fraying.
Here’s a little reminder that this trick will work for a few wires; you cannot really get springs out of hundreds of pens to cover a bunch of long cables. You can go for commercial cable protectors for more than a few wires. These protectors don’t cost much and can even allow you to reinforce multiple cables at once.
4. Use electrical tape to cover cables and wires
Electrical tape is the best option if you want to take preventive measures beforehand or to keep an already frayed wire from completely breaking away. It’s better to wrap up wires with electrical tape right after you start using them. However, if you haven’t done it yet, then it’s the right time to do so.
Make sure that you wrap the tape two to three times around the wire to completely cover the whole thing without leaving a spot. Another thing to remember here is that electrical tape doesn’t look very pretty. So, if you don’t want the new wires and cables to look weird, you can just stick to using electrical tape to prevent further damage only!
Why use a digital multimeter?
Digital multimeters are easier to read and work faster than analog ones. Taking measurements through a digital multimeter is more manageable, as the device displays the digits on their LCD or LED screen, making it easier to read. If you are a technician, then this is everything you need to worry about.
However, for a better understanding, let me explain a little more. Digital multimeters can don’t only measure but also automatically convert the values of the quantity. While in an analog multimeter, you will need to read the scales and manually calculate the final values, which can be a headache for most. Using a digital multimeter will avoid possible human errors, meaning the results will be more accurate.
Not just that, a digital multimeter has the ability to measure higher voltages with better accuracy because its own accuracy is generally anywhere between 1 to 10 M. on top of everything, the auto-ranging feature of a multimeter is extremely helpful because, at times, the measurement range is unknown.
Lastly, if you are just a beginner, an analog multimeter is not something you could use at all; however, a digital one can come in handy at any time. Analog ones have become a fairy tale because digital multimeters are easier to use and more accurate than ever, and people prefer them over analog multimeters.
Wrapping it up
With this article, we hope that you will now be able to locate broken wires with the help of a digital multimeter quickly. It’s better to locate and fix the broken wires as soon as possible because of not treated, and they can cause other significant issues and hazards. Also, remember that you cannot fix all kinds of damaged wires, so instead of making things worse, consider hiring a professional to help you out with it. I hope this article has been helpful for you and you have found the information you were looking for.
Ayesha Ahmed is an English Literature graduate. Right now she is working as a teacher as well as a home, DIY writer. Apart from that she is also a home enthusiast who loves learning and writing about different home maintenance topics.