How to Test an Electric Outlet

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Electrical problems can cause a short in a line and dead circuits, which are a nuisance and safety hazard combined. Many homeowners can test an electrical outlet with supplies on hand. There are also simple tools to help with the process. Luckily, learning to quickly and accurately test an electrical outlet is a simple process.

  • Plug a lamp into the electrical outlet as an initial test. Turn it on, and check the bulb. This is the simplest way to see if there is a working electrical circuit. Ensure that the lamp works before using it to test an outlet.

  • Check the breaker or fuse box to make sure the circuit breaker has not been tripped. Flip the necessary switch (indicated in your breaker box) or change a blown fuse before proceeding. This step may fix the problem.

  • Test an electrical outlet by plugging a simple voltage meter or outlet tester into the outlet and observing the meter or indicator lights. These testers or voltage meters are available online at Global Test Supply and at electrical stores.

  • Interpret the lights on an outlet tester as explained on the manufacturer's chart. A pattern of lights will indicate whether the outlet is wired incorrectly, which wire is not connected or if the outlet is correctly wired. If the tester has a meter, look at what the needle indicates.

  • Contact an electrician to further diagnose the problem if your outlet is dead or its power is compromised.

Tips & Warnings

  • Ensure that the outlet tester is equipped with fresh batteries.
  • Electricity can be dangerous. Always turn off the power and consult with an electrician before attempting electrical repair.

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