How to Test for AC Voltage

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How to Test for AC Voltage. Checking the AC voltage is a simple process if you a multimeter, a device you'll find in most hardware stores. Here's how to use the device.

  • Change the settings on your multimeter to read "AC." There may be several other settings on it, including "V" or "VAC."

  • Place each probe into the slots on your electrical outlet. Touch only the plastic or insulated part of the probe and not the metal part. Touching metal with the probes puts you at risk for injury.

  • Read the voltage on the multimeter.

  • Use care when removing each probe from the electrical outlet. The probes cannot touch another object or each other.

  • Find out how many volts your outlet is supposed to have. Standard outlets have a voltage of 110 or 120. A basic multimeter measures the voltage and confirms whether if the outlet is working, but it does not tell you about the sustainable voltage coming from the outlet. Other more specific outlets (like for air conditioners or other large appliances) run 220 to 240 volts.

  • Move onto the next outlet. If you have a reading that differs from what is normal, call an electrician.

Tips & Warnings

  • Checking the AC voltage of an outlet can be very dangerous. Be careful when working with live electricity. If in doubt while doing anything with electricity and electrical outlets, call your electrician.

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